A couple of times last year people pointed me in the direction of a young band called Yuck. I guess they though I’d always liked bands that sounded like them, so maybe I’d like these guys too? When I played their eponymous debut album on Spotify, I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing.
‘Yuck’, by Yuck, has had a good year. It was NME’s 23rd album of the year (“a sound which was authentically brazen, naïve and measured”) and Yuck were also a Rolling Stone ‘Band to Watch’. Slant Magazine put it in at 25, Spin at 31, while The Guardian’s Adam Boult had it 3rd on his personal list. MTV’s Gil Kaufman had it at number 1, but then there’s always one.
So what’s all the fuss about? Well, I’m buggered if I know. You’ll find about as much originality seeing the Bootleg Beatles, who at least spend a few quid on costumes. It’s said Yuck take their influence from Pavement and Dinosaur Jr; My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth; Jesus & Mary Chain and Pixies. Take influence is one way of putting it; taking the piss is another. This is pure daylight robbery, with some ‘original’ sixth form poetry drivelled over the top.
There are a few things I can take from the popularity of Yuck, with very few of them good. First, if this is one of the best albums of the year, what does it say about the rest of them? And I’m not saying there aren’t good bands out there making good music – there clearly is. But if this twaddle is making more of an impact, what does that say about those who are buying/rating music?
So what are Yuck? A tribute act, perhaps? If so, they could at least have let the corpse go cold first. I’ve seen Pavement, Pixies, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr in the past few years or so; some are more well-forked than others, but certainly not dead. But again, that’s not really the point either. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and these bands certainly deserve a bit of flattery.
Even if the original bands they’re burgling from aren’t doing too much (still holding out for that My Bloody Valentine album, eh?), then the people who founded them can be found doing all kinds of cool shit solo, or in other bands. Why settle for second best?
But for me, once again it just shows the dearth of real attention grabbing originality in music over the last decade, or even two. That robbing 20 years of grungy indie noise wholesale can score you one of the albums of the year is a pretty damning indictment of the music map as it stands. And worse still, it just seems to be OK to do it – no one cares that yet another band has simply waddled along, ripped off the music back catalogue without bringing anything to the party, and said thank you very much.
Who was the last band, or what the last sound, that really took the western world by the balls and slapped it about a bit? Was it really the left/right combination of rave and indie 20 years ago? Has it really been that long since someone stumbled upon a sound or movement so in step with the times that it simply couldn’t be ignored? That burst through and, despite being unknown, simply made sense?
You’d think that a Tory government getting back into power, in the midst of a global economic crisis, would be enough to stir the passion, politics and pure bloody mindedness of the creative youth out there into some kind of response. Perhaps nowadays, even with all the shit flying around us, we’re still well enough off in general to not really care. I certainly don’t; I’m just surprised, that’s all.
So good luck to Yuck. If it gets a bunch of teenagers to look behind the parody band to the inspired music it was born from (and the music the likes of Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth were inspired by before them), then job well done. But they leave me cold, as well as ever more desperate to hear the next genuinely new and exciting era of music to be born.
I probably won’t like it, now that I’m a grumpy old git, but hey: I deserve, nay demand, the chance to not understand the music of the younger generation. Instead, it all just sounds the same as the CDs (remember them?) that I already have on my shelf.
Come on young-uns, do something that’ll surprise and/or excite/repel me in 2012, rather than something your folks would be proud of. I want some radical shit, I want it to change and mould a generation, and I want it now.