- Counting Crows: Without them, white boys with dreads would live in shame.
Arthur is a free New York music rag that's become something of a bible for the hipster avant-garde. Besides running a monthly column devoted to "the latest emanations from the deep underground," written by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and rock crit Byron Coley, Arthur highlights the obscure and the peculiar, such as the treasures of Southeast Asian thrift stores, the Scandinavian black-metal scene, and the legal sale of magic mushrooms in England.
Back in the September issue, a number of respected scenesters -- including Bay Area musicians Ethan Miller of Comets on Fire and Nathan Shineywater of Brightblack -- tried to set the indie world straight on one of its favorite punching bags, the Grateful Dead. Writers came forth to postulate that Jerry and pals were experimentalists of the highest order rather than mere dope-smoking morons, and that some of their music was as freaky and psychedelic as any by the Japanese longhair bands of today.
Bay Area musicians seem to have a natural propensity for this kind of cultural contrariness. (Recent cases in point include tributes to such redoubtable icons as John Denver, Bread, and Kris Kristofferson.) Not to be beaten to the punch, we're looking into our crystal ball to tell you which craptastic artists will be reevaluated next, and why.
Unlike what you've heard, Starship was not the last, money-grubbing gasp of a once-proud '60s psychedelic band. Instead, it was a hit-making juggernaut with hidden countercultural tendencies. For one thing, the group, which eventually came to feature none of the original members of Jefferson Airplane, concocted a sound so incredibly synthesized that it seemed more inhuman than anything Kraftwerk or Ladytron could come up with. Also, the band's use of outside songwriters to fashion hits placed it in a fine lineage of jazz and orchestral musicians, making Grace Slick into Billie Idol Holiday, or something.
Indie musicians share many of the same philosophies as Huey Lewis & the News. They understand that it's hip to be square, with their thick-framed glasses, trucker hats, and laptops. They also want a new drug -- one that won't spill, cost too much, or come in a pill. Lord knows, these artists comprehend that working for a living sucks big donkey balls. So what's not to love about Mr. Lewis? The fact that the News' bar-band sound was scrubbed so clean that a yuppie could have snorted coke off its ass doesn't matter, especially since the outfit piled up enough indie cred to last forever by backing Elvis Costello on his first LP. Also, Huey's rumored to have one of the biggest cocks in rock, and who wouldn't want to emulate that?
The white-guy perms, the flared trousers, the ladies' frame shades -- this is easy-listening, soft-rocking godhead. Not to mention the funky backbeat, the studio-wizard organ, and all the swishy island lyrics you can choke on, an equation that adds up to Steely Dan sipping mai tais with the Little River Band on Michael McDonald's back porch.
'Round here, people hate Adam Duritz. Maybe it's because he's beautiful, maybe it's because he sings like he's got a mangina, we don't know. But let's look at how influential his band has been. Without Duritz, no one would've bought the last five Van Morrison records, and chubby kids with dreadlocks would have to live in shame.
Third Eye Blind
Three words: the Fucking Champs.