Columns - "Under the Radar" 06.01.02

New Wave is Total Ass (or, I'm Old and Remember the '80s)

It seems we underground music-types are always in search of the new or cunningly recycled. I say "we" because yeah-sure, I'm all for a shiny twist, turn or artificial limb. A true artiste knows that reverence/irreverence is a delicate balance and that his/her output means shinola if there isn't a unique, personal stamp applied.

Didja' hear? -- Keyboards are, like, cool. Yeah, like, the Piranhas and Lost Sounds have keyboards. And there's this whole new (neu) wave revival going on right now. Just throw sum key-noise on toppa' yer shit-mix and awaaaay you go! Or mimic the cheeseball "new wave hits 'o the '80s." It's hip! It's refreshing! It's boss-killer-kool-gear-fab! The Emperor truly has no colostomy bag!

New wave FUCKING SUCKED! Yeah, there were some folks who played the machine angle well (Gary Numan, post-guit-band Devo), and several others who faxed over some fun hits (Berlin, Depeche Mode, Human League and whoever), but new wave is GIVING UP. It's saying that rock 'n roll is passť. That playing INSTRUMENTS is passť. It's ironic. It's British. It's all the things I hate set to a bippity-bop sequencer. It's passionless and two-dimensional. It SUCKS intrinsically.

Beyond that, why mimic it precisely? It's like the Casualties or Total Chaos ripping off the Exploited -- cartoon mockery of something that was vapid and valueless to begin with. Keep on making suck-copies of suckage until you have so much suck it becomes meta-. Like the retarded final copy of Michael Keaton in "Multiplicity" -- this noo-noo wave shit works to suspend disbelief and cozy up so’s it can get close enough to shoot its cretinous load into yer willing ear. Before you know it, you're stupid. And there ain't nothing you can do about it.

But Todd Trickknee, you like the Lost Sounds. How can you reconcile the fact that at least one of the songs sounds like Berlin? Didn't you think the Epoxies were OK? What exactly is your deal, TT?

Well, son, beyond the occasional (here or there) element, who do they mimic? They sound as much like the Reatards as Animotion (from the fine state of Wisconsin! Please absolve us!). The Epoxies can write the occasional great hook, which almost always overrides stylistic trappings.

Todd my boy, you're always going on and on about the Piranhas. Piranhas this, Piranhas that. Why don't you marry 'em? Furthermore, they have keyboards and you like them. Them being the Piranhas… Explain.

You're starting to get on my nerves. Just because a band has keyboards does not make it new wave in intent. You can integrate them into a functioning band (Lost Sounds, Piranhas) or toss a buncha' noise on top (Simply Saucer, Mission of Burma, Pere Ubu). The early Cleveland/Debris/Simply Saucer model of art/noise/keyboard punk is one that needs to be inspected more often. Brit-pop new wave was poked, prodded, milked and gang-raped in every pore 15 years ago. The two are very dissimilar in intent.

Finally, retro (new wave) is an oxymoron. And so are you. Fuck non-rock. Unless it's good… Only I hold the key.


To find out why a band using a drum machine is not a rock 'n roll band, locate a copy of Joe Carducci's incredible "Rock and the Pop Narcotic." It's the best rock deconstruction tome ever written.

Big Black, Metal Urbain and Breaking Circus still kick ass, of course.


Thanks a load to our friends at Horizontal Action for hosting the Chicago Blackout. The bands were great (especially the Compulsive Gamblers, Spits and Sexareenos), the people were cool, and I'm already looking forward to next year's extravaganza.


Everybody wants to know what's going on with me and my multinational conglommo, Trick Knee Productions. Well, Skippys, I've got the best band in the red-hot state of Wisconsin (the Mystery Girls) going into the studio right around the time this column goes to "print," and expect their debut long-player out by July. The Mystery Girls are going on a 3-4 week tour in August, and may in fact stop by yer neck of the neck. Go see 'em -- they're amazing. Here's a lil' interview w/ 'em done by "Wrong Way" Dale Merrill, the autistic genie behind Smashin' Transistors:

920 Blues II to follow! Unreleased Last Sons of Krypton! Kill-A-Watts! Catholic Boys! Aluminum Knot Eye! IFIHADAHIFI doing Stevie Wonder! Hooray!


Lies lies lies yeah:

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