The Onslaught

Recombinant Rock in the Valley of Dub

The Gore Gore Girls, though, would be my exhibit Number One of bands that seem to be hiding in a cutie-culty Way Back Then but have a sound and passion that could bring us beyond Right Now. Up All Night is girl-group and hot-rod music of the early '60s but played with cheap rawness, clatter, and a searching, slashing guitar style that comes from a Stones-Stooges sensibility of calamity and anger that in its time had superseded music like that of the girl groups, put it out of business. The Gore Gores come off as neither girl-group sweetness nor Stooges fury. So I don't know what I'm feeling when I hear this, but I'm feeling something.

The Brazen Hussies' Ya-Ba EP pointedly draws on the past without seeming at all past, mixes and matches without coming across as a mishmosh. They play punk, glam, prog, metal, disco as if each were an extension of the others; they pull it off because each genre really does extend to the others. The Hussies sound like cheerful sprites who grasp the common goofiness of '70s metallers Blue Öyster Cult and '90s techno-ravers 4 Hero, so naturally will flit from one to the other.

Rock had once laid claim to the future ("Hail hail rock 'n' roll, deliver me from days of old"), and not even the retro rockers are trying to be traditionalists. Whatever Mooney Suzuki, the Greenhornes, the Gore Gore Girls, et al. are doing, it's not traditionalism. (More likely they want to stay true to some spirit or reanimate an ideal, as well as find musical forms to play with.) But basically, since the Recombinant Dubsters—particularly in hip-hop and techno—have usurped the official role of Conveyors of the Future, this frees rockers to evolve in all sorts of directions without worrying about which way is "forward." The forward spot is already occupied. (And the rock bands that do make a point of their modernity—the industrial acts like Wumpscut—always sound like they're playing catch-up, anyway.) So metal especially can mutate and reconfigure itself all over the place while still being a subcult rather than a "trend." I won't generalize as to whether being free of the future is good or not. It's safer, and safety can free up some people and make others lazy. But at the moment, the space is wide open and everything's for the taking.

One-step Brooklyn boulder-holders Oneida
photo: Courtesy Jagjaguwar Records
One-step Brooklyn boulder-holders Oneida

Record labels: Booty Olympics,; Brazen Hussies, Peanut import; Clouddead, Mush; Decoded Feedback, Metropolis; Field Mob, MCA; Gore Gore Girls, Get Hip; Greenhornes, Telstar; Kay Hanley, Rounder; Isis, Ipecac; Kaisers, Get Hip; Kultur Shock, Kool Arrow; Montgomery Gentry, Columbia; Morsel, Small Stone; Oneida, Jagjaguwar; The Only Blip-Hop Record You Will Ever Need Vol. 1, Luaka Bop; Opeth, Koch; Pharoah's Daughter, Knitting Factory; Puffy AmiYumi, Bar None; R.A.F.R. Volume Three, R.A.F.R.; Resonars, Get Hip; Rondellus, Beg the Bug import; Six by Seven, Beggars Banquet; Sole, Anticon; Tarwater, Kitty-Yo/Mute; Transplants, Hellcat; Ugly Casanova, Sub Pop; Wumpscut, Metropolis. The Booty Olympics play Don Hill's December 28.

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