I Say it’s Prog-Rock, and I Say to Hell With It

Saw Deerhoof last week.  Was kind of underwhelmed.  Loved the amazing drummer Greg Saunier, who beat the hell out of his kit in a Keith Moon/ Animal-from-the-Muppets way.  They all play their instruments really well (they are “classically trained,” some of them anyway) and there are some great riffs and moments, but in the end it feels like what we 30-somethings (only for a few more months, yikes!) used to call prog-rock.  Showing off, jamming, rococo elaboration for its own sake.  And I haven’t warmed to Satomi Matsuzaki’s keening vocals, sometimes in Japanese, sometimes nonsense in English (quite likely also nonsense in Japanese, but I can’t tell).  I can think of singers, like Joanna Newsom, whose vocals at first struck me as affectedly weird but came to make sense to me.  But Matsuzaki mostly just seems like someone keening in a discordant/precious way with no particular payoff.

Punk/post-punk cycles dialectically through austerity and minimalism, and then back to the elaborate and rococo, fueled by the constant need for novelty.  It’s partly just a matter of taste, but the new-rococo/ prog-rock often feels contrived and arid to me.

I don’t hate Deerhoof, was just, again, underwhelmed.  Have not checked out the new album, though.

Here’s the great 1928 E.B. White New Yorker cartoon.  Apparently broccoli was somewhat exotic in the 20s.

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