This is a great story. Well, I think so. Its about a boy who loves music more than he loves almost anything else, and can find the best bits out of almost any genre, and embraces all that is good in the sonic realm. And yet this boy was feeling disheartened – it seemed that the music world that was once governed by the big bad wolf that was music company behemoths was now surreptitiously being led by internet powerhouses that masqueraded as little blogs that could but actually were slicker than thou whoremongers pushing what was cool down all and sundry’s throats. The magic of Myspace has dissipated, Spotify was a patented crapfest, and the few people that really cared about all things aural were being pushed further into the shadows.
This boy was even more disheartened by the current trend of hipster lo-fi recordings, people with trust funds and schooled in denim, thousand dollar haircuts and a disdainful air put out albums that aped every wholesome 60s image from the Shangri-Las to the Beach Boys and squeezed through every orifice that a scenester has (there are at least twenty) til it began to bore a hole in the boy’s skull and place a stick of dynamite in the hole – a ticking timebomb…
Then a friend of him gave him an album that he really, really liked. OK, so this is an old album – almost 15 years since its inception. Photograph Burns was its name. And it came about that it was his favourite album – for that week at least (competing with Twin Stumps’ Seedbed – this one wins because he was more in awe of it than scared as shit by it). When he delved further though, the real problem was finding out anything about its creators, V-3. He knew they come from
And here is the serendipitous climax to the story. Turns out that its creator, Jim Shepard, was very much a lo-fi creator of music of his own. And he had none of the scuzzy, beach-themed, mumbling, sometimes droning lo-fi sounds that the bands of the generation that came after him embraced and falsely claimed as their own (although he had to admit that some such bands were actually good – it was just that so many were generic to the point of being footnoted as early 21st century consumerist pap). In fact, his offbeat rock stylings, also seen in bands such as Vertical Slit and Ego Summit, were not only ‘refreshing’, but did more to bolster this boy’s belief that rock is the future than any number of so-called in the know ‘rock journalists’. And a reminder – this music was 15 years old! He realised that the only way to retain any semblance of credibility in the musical world is to sift through the murk and the muck of self-proclaimed harbingers of all things cool to embrace only what he deemed to be worthy. After all, music is all about a matter of taste – and no one should tell him otherwise.
Good story eh? Sure there are plenty of flaws in it – V-3 themselves aren’t anything new, there were and are bands doing the same thing (Pavement, Guided By Voices; to a lesser extent Japandroids and Ariel Pink, even though the latter is not to the boy’s taste, and is also being rammed down his throat as an act he must accept as genius or forever be labelled a musical lightweight, a veritable pariah - and Japandroids are tiring…). And the fact that this boy himself writes a music blog is a matter of great debate – does he who points the finger create the same sins of the Big Brother he claims to despise yadda yadda yadda? Whatever – the moral here is to like what you like, don’t be told what to like, regardless of the supposed integrity and ‘finger on the pulse’ (dis)credibility of the source. Also, it is imperative that V-3, and all of Jim Shepard’s contributions to the annals of music history, be sampled and accredited as being worth something - and that’s something many of today’s ilk will not be able to lay claim to.
RIP Jim Shepard – 1958-1998
V-3 - American Face