Do the crash

So maybe I've been listening to a bit too much dissonant 80s indie rock as an antidote to all the poppy 80s sounds I've been hearing. But I will admit to wondering why more folks aren't going full buzzsaw and meandering into early and mid-80s Minneapolis territory. You know, when the 'Mats actually scared people and when Husker Du was absolutely tearing holes in the universe. Back when when Soul Asylum was actually good and the Jayhawks were a country band. You know, the stuff that inspired Uncle Tupelo to pretty much rewrite the history of "American" music.

Sweet John Bloom
Weird Prayer
(Tiny Engines)

I'm overstating (by a lot), but you get my drift. Those were awesome bands that blazed across the sky in what increasingly appears to have been a singular time in music. Despite the dramatic drop in the price of creating and (particularly) promoting and distributing music, there are not nearly as many independent outfits out there. And the big boys aren't nearly so big. Music as a cultural force seems to be ebbing. Maybe that's because the music itself isn't grabbing enough folks by the 'nads.

Sweet John Bloom has a real appreciation for the music of the great sundering (my term; I'll probably explain it once I figure out why I think it's so appropriate). These shorts blasts of sonic chaos hold some beautiful ragged hooks, but mostly they simply bash. My boys look at videos of mosh pits from the 80s and ask, "Why are those people crashing around like that?" My answer is to play stuff like this, and they instinctively begin jumping into each other. My almost two-year-old is perhaps the most drawn to these sounds. He throws pots into the wall and generally goes berserk. It must be primal.

I know, it's just the human attraction to rhythm and noise. Paul Mooney has a great riff on how all African-American kids immediately start grooving when they hear James Brown. True enough, though I'm sure Mooney knows that all kids start grooving when they hear James Brown. Then they lift their heads and shout when Maceo starts wailing. But I digress.

The fourteen songs here clock in at around a half an hour. The time passes even more quickly. Once again, I'm left saying that while no new ground is covered, this stuff is amazing. The noise, the intensity and the hooks are first rate. And if you're looking to get the neighborhood kids moving, this is a good place to start.

The 80s were remarkable for the wide range of sounds that permeated the era. And if you allow for a bit more than a decade, pop music of the time included disco, heavy metal, new wave, Prince, Madonna, Lionel Richie, Journey (the Imagine Dragons of yesteryear, though I must admit a geezers preference for the boys from the Bay), and the usual blend of Beatles knockoffs, nostalgic retreads and manufactured major label tripe. Oh, and "Islands in the Stream." The breadth of sounds from that decade becomes more and more impressive as time passes.

And then there's the non-pop music of the era. The rough-hewn indie rock stuff never hit commercial radio, but it deserves to be repurposed as much as anything else. Sweet John Bloom gives this sound the treatment it deserves. Bashy crashy lovely.

Jon Worley

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