The Blues Brothers

There’s something that seems innately stilted about country music. Maybe it’s the conservative politics, or the fact that they dress like they’re still in the 1800s, but I can never shake the feeling that country singers, and country music by extension, just can’t be “modern”. But in putting together this week’s radio show (WHICHYOUCANLISTENTOONSUNDAYATTWELVEPM) a couple of the tracks I included made me feel the keen sting of folly.

Other Lives’ first single from their upcoming album, Tamer Animals, ‘For 12’, is a whirlpool of a track, dark acoustics and strings shimmering into the centre of your attention before being sucked away again, but amonst all of this lies a constant guitar and percussion hoofbeat, amended by occasional electric twangs – almost art-country in its own peculiar way. Milk Maid’s ‘Girl’ on the other hand marries an unbelievably memorable melody with an undulating country rock guitar to supremely catchy, cool effect; making a lo-fi garage track that dares to be comprehensible. In choosing to pick up stale tropes and freshen them up, it’s bands like these that force me to realise that music will always reinvent and that originality stems from innovation rather than inspiration most often.

Other Lives – For 12 (YSI)
Milk Maid – Girl (YSI)
The Blues Brothers -Them From Rawhide (YSI)

After watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (again) last night, an odd connection formed itself in my brain. Despite being decades apart, the aforementioned Edgar Wright project shares a huge similarity to one of my other favourite films, The Blues Brothers. Think about it; both are born out of the comedy styles of their times (internet and video game meme humour and Saturday Night Live sketch comedy respectively), they share an oddly non-naturalistic feel (incredibly well-choreographed fight scenes or incredibly over the top chase sequences) and, most importantly with regards to making this post the slightest bit relevant to this blog, both films centre their emotional and narrative hearts around an affectionate ribbing of their chosen style of music.

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi created their characters out of a mutual love for all things blues, gospel and soul, adopting and affecting the clichés, mannerisms and odd back stories (in this case, being brought up in a Catholic orphanage by Cab Calloway) of their favourite performers. Bryan Lee O’Malley and Edgar Wright created a text saturated with the essence of modern indie – obscure references, tongue-in-cheek hipster (all) knowingness and a soundtrack created by Beck and Nigel Godrich, perhaps two of the most prominent, well-known and downright cool indie musicmakers of recent years. Each film shares an unbridled love of the foibles as well as the successes of their genres they portray, and it’s that willingness to mock as well as memorialise that makes each a true celebration of their music.

Maybe that’s why each has become, or (in Scott Pilgrim‘s case) is becoming, a cult film – that love of a niche is in itself inaccessible to a wider audience. But then again, maybe that’s the point, these films wouldn’t be what they are if they appealed outside of their own genre, because they’d lose any sense of that knowing affection that makes them so endearing, or the music just so good.

The Blues Brothers – She Caught The Katy (YSI)
Sex Bob-omb – Summertime (YSI)