This is a slightly more thought out version of something my bandmate Carol mentioned here.
It all comes down to Pissed Jeans. The band, on Sub Pop. A slightly compressed version of the story:
Band practice. Working on a new song. The song was being contrary. I was completely frustrated and in a bad mood. We took a break and I said something like, "Fuck this, it's not working. It might as well be Pissed Jeans." Carol (the singer) and Alex (the drummer) gave me a weird look. They often give me weird looks during practice. I explained, "Pissed Jeans. They're this band on Sub Pop. They're supposed to be the new Jesus Lizard, or at least JL gets tipped a lot in the reviews, etc... And they are kind of like the Jesus Lizard, if you took away the songwriting, the musical ability, you know, the talent. Their disc makes Blue* sound like Liar. Carol looked skeptical, so I played a Pissed Jeans song. I can't remember the name. It's the one w/the shitty noise guitar and the guy yelling over the bass and drums. I suspect that's most of them. After listening for a couple of minutes, Carol broke in, "Does it keep going like this?"
So I shut it off. I don't quite remember how the rest of the conversation went but essentially I said something like: If this is what's cutting it as 'rock' then what's the point? I mean, PJ are a perfectly ok band. But that's the problem. They're ok. And that's it. What annoys me about them is that this is the state of semi-underground rock. (And no some noise guy doing 20 copies of his 'rawk' project doesn't count.) They're not some major label play-to-the-aging-Gen Xers (see Heritage Rock) like Nickelback, Foo Fighters, or The Bravery kind of thing. They're not even fake indie a la Yeah, Yeah, Yeah's or The Kills, who can at least write songs. They're not even the Black Keys (Hey man, cut the bullshit white boys from the middle of nowhere thing, yr. dad played in Tom Waits' band...) or Black Mountain. And this what's depressing. Pissed Jeans don't do anything. Music is supposed to push you, to engage you, to move you. When it doesn't, what's the point? I mean even that Scarlett Johannson album is compelling in a, "How did this happen?" way.
But Pissed Jeans? Which brings me back to the question. Is this really what people are going for? The A+R people at Sub Pop must dig 'em. The bloggers seem to dig 'em. (That's not saying much though, look at nu-rave...fuck...) And if so, where does that leave the rest of us? If the Jesus Lizard or Laughing Hyenas came along now, would anyone pay attention? (c.f. Federation X, a kick-ass band and probably the closest thing to the JL, in spirit if not in sound going right now.) 'Course it really doesn't matter either way. To put things in perspective, the entire time I've been writing this I've been humming The Time Warp. Why? 'Cause a busker in the subway was rockin' it on an accordion the other day and blew everyone w/in earshot away. And really how can you compete w/that?
*I should note that Blue, while not the best Jesus Lizard disc by a long shot, is still a pretty good album, comparatively.
Also, tangentially related and on a much more positive note: The way out of print Boss Hog Am Rep stuff has been posted over at Xhol Desert. Get it.
*Addendum to the Pissed Jeans thing...*
Fucking hell. After all that I hear this. Yep, U R My Fucking Sunshine U Cunt. What else can I say?