(Savages | Siouxsie & the Banshees | PJ Harvey)
LIVING IN A VACUUM
Defining bands according to ‘genre’ or comparing them to bands that came before can be off-putting to most bands. After all, when you are serious about your music, the last thing you want (or need) are non-musicians pigeon-holing you into some consumer-friendly label or category. Music is an art-form and thus should not be treated as a product.
All of which would apply only in an ideal world, of course. In reality, music is a product and thus record labels, promoters and journalists require that in order to facilitate easier marketing and promotion, music must be defined and categorized like items in a supermarket.
On the other hand, bands should volunteer their crucial musical influences as a way to pay tribute to the musicians that made a difference to them. This also operates as a means by which bands can educate their fan base – to point the way to seminal inspirations so that their fans might be edified.
So it’s a fine balance between the two polar extremes, I would argue. In this manner, new bands can be assessed on their own merit (without the unnecessary weight of the past on their shoulders) but at the same time, without unrealistically ignoring their debt to the past either.
Of course, all this breast beating only makes sense if you as a music lover give a damn about music to begin with. Meaning: music as a significant art-form as opposed to music as throwaway entertainment. Like it or not, the reality is that in 2014, the latter probably holds more sway especially with video games and apps capturing the imagination of the younger generation in the manner in which music used to.
Does it matter? Only if you think it does.