The Time Is Ripe For The Return Of ‘The Nevermind Man’

by Shelt Garner

The band Garbage is one of my favorites. And, as I understand it, the band is the brain child of Butch Vig. I keep ranting about the need for him to produce someone like Dua Lipa or Olivia Rodrigo or even Taylor Swift, but lulz, no one listens to me.

But I’m frustrated AGAIN and at how bad modern pop music, so you get this. This happens every once in awhile. Something is warping modern pop music to make it so bad. Now, of course, it’s possible that I’m just old. But it is notable that what I feel would otherwise be happening — the return of pop rock in the guise of something akin to NeoNew Wave, isn’t happening.

All I got is rap is sucking up all the male creative energy that would otherwise be giving the momentum to a general pop rock revival? Because rap is far more creative an interesting than anything else going on, the best minds in music gravitate towards listening to and producing rap music instead of the more white-oriented New Wave?

Because right now, there is no organized genre for people who like pop rock. It’s all these little deep echoes of a by gone era that pop out here and there. No one has the guts to put out a Neo New Wave (Rona Rock) album that might fail horrible because it’s too hip for the room.

But if there was one person who could pull it off, at least on the producer side, it’s Butch Vig. Too bad this will never, ever happen.

A New Era: Let’s Rock

by Shelt Garner

Ugh. Why is everything so dumb.

Nothing I write here will make any difference. But tonight I’ve been watching a a Netflix documentary about Studio 54. It has gotten me thinking about the macro trends that prompted the popularity of Studio 54.

The key issue at hand is getting COVID19 behind us. But success requires risk and a willingness to get ahead of the curve. Yet let me be clear — this is just me mentally masturbating. Or, put another way, this is the tycoon version of me in late 2006 – early 2007 in Seoul who was both DJing at the best expat dive bar in Seoul while publishing a monthly magazine for expats.

I’m hungry.

And I’m not suggesting that any of this means anything — it doesn’t. I would have to win the lottery to make any of these dreams come true anytime soon, but I just wanted to note that once we finally get over COVID19 that people are going to want to party.

But all I’m saying is there’s a good chance that we’re just about to enter A New Era of some sort. It’s risky to make any assumptions on just your gut, but how else are you supposed to “disrupt” anything?

This, only in New York City.

I think back on Nori in Seoul, the little dive bar I used to DJ at and think about how much fun that was. What if you could transfer that dive bar’s great vibe to a bigger venue in New York City somewhere? Say, maybe the East Village. You get basement space that’s Studio 54-big, but design in such a way that it feels really intimate and the dance floor would be so tight that people would get all hot and sweaty and exited when just the right song was played.

Meanwhile, where’s our Spy Magazine? We have the undead Gawker, but it just doesn’t have the snarky spite of the old Gawker. And music, why is it so hard for rock music to come back as popular form of entertainment?

I think what I’m feeling is nothing more than nostalgia. That’s it. For what I want to have happen, happen, I would have to have access to several million dollars — at least — and connections, a shit ton of connections.

Anyway, I just had to get that out of my system.

Ugh, Tik-Tok Has Done It Again — I Discovered A Great Song Via It: ‘Wake Up,’ by ‘Cheese People’

by Shelt Garner

I have to give Tik-Tok credit – it really is a great way to discover new music. I hate that. But the latest song I’ve discovered via it is from Cheese People — “Wake Up.”

It’s very short — barely over a minute long. But it’s probably the best song I’ve heard all year so far. It’s just the type of post-post-post punk song we need at the moment. In its few minutes, it even has time to throw in a very The Prodigy-influenced wall of noise.

Anyway, in an ideal world, the Tik-Tok whipperstappers would know good music when they heard it and we would find ourselves with a New Sound, which I call Rona Rock.

But…ugh, I just doubt that’s ever going to happen. Or, if it does, it will happen out of the blue when we least expect it. For the time being, we’re stuck with shitty music being pop.

Yes, Tik-Tok, People Want To Dance — Just Not To Fucking Disco

by Shelt Garner

Maybe it’s because it’s a song-and-dance app, but I’ve seen a lot of disco-themed dancing on Tik-Tok of late. I generally fucking hate most disco because I’m more of a dance pop rock person. I like at least a bit of edge to what I listen — or dance — to. I’m well aware of the meta-social-gender aspect of how great and wonderful the Age of Disco was because the patriarchy was slayed and everyone was free to be gay and do coke off a twink’s ass.

Ok, I get it. And that’s a valid argument –I still fucking hate most disco.

I want music that’s got a beat and you can dance to it — but of the pop rock variety. We’ve had almost 20 years of shitty music that inhabits a vague space known as “Adult Contemporary.” It’s bland, corporate and non-threatening. And, yet, oddly enough, in just the last few years, it’s clear that a number of huge artists are hot on the trail of The New Sound.

For instance, Miley Cyrus keeps covering old rock and New Wave chestnuts as if she knows what she wants to sing — but she can’t find it in modern music. Her latest album is soooo close to what I imagine Rona Rock, the New Sound, would be like.

Meanwhile, Olivia Rodrigo is doing something similar. Her debut album has a lot of wink and nod references to New Wave music. And, yet, it’s still a pretty safe album. It’s pretty much just a pop album full of songs that could be safely played next to an Ariana Grande song on existing Top 40 radio.

It’s Chvrches’ “Screen Violence” album that is exactly what I’ve been looking for. It’s an album that is essentially a throwback to the good old days of dance pop rock by way of Chvrches synth stylings.

More of this!

But the point is — all I would need is the first 10 seconds of “How Not To Drown” and I would play it at Nori in Seoul on a Friday night in late 2006. (Another song from that album, “Nightmares” is a banger, too.) And I think if Miley Cyrus and Olivia Rodrigo swerved in that direction with their next albums that it would be a two-fer: old farts like me would love and the youngins who know jackshit about music produced before cellphones would also sit up an take notice.

And, yet, absolutely no one listens to me.

Join The Dark Side Of Pop Dance Rock, Kacey Musgraves

by Shelt Garner

I don’t care what Anthony Fantano thinks — Kacey Musgraves is producing good music. And, yet, there’s something missing. A few songs on her latest album “star-crossed” hint at it, which is she needs to embrace what she really is: a gay pop rock icon.

So, if I had her ear, what I would do is say, fuck country, and hook up with someone like Timberland or Butch Vig and come out with a Rona Rock album that would be somewhere between Nelly Furtado’s “Loose” and, say, a Robyn album.

The songs would be very dance friendly, so much so they could be played at a gay club on a Friday or Saturday night without any remixing. Right now, because she’s straining so much to have a toe in country, she’s producing good — but rather bland — music. It just doesn’t have much personality, even though it’s obviously very imitate and personal.

Here’s what I would do.

Take this song

Then throw in this vibe….

And lastly, pour this into things.

There you go, a huge hit!

Rona Rock: Chvrches’ ‘How Not To Drown’ Is A Bop

by Shelt Garner

I’m natively good at a few things. Among them is, apparently, being a pop rock DJ. Just in the last few months, I’ve started to notice an uptick in the type of music I would have played at Nori in Seoul. I call it “Rona Rock” because, well, lulz, that sounds cool.

But the song that hits the sweet spot for a good tune that I would have played at Nori the moment I heard it is Chvrches’ new song “How Not To Drown.” It’s definitely got that pop rock vibe to it. The type of song that you could play in primetime on a Friday night at the bar and people might endup dancing on the tables before it was over with — especially if it was the first time they had heard it and they really liked it.

It’s very danceable and it has that thump-thump-thump bass needed to get people out shaking their grove thang.

Source: Internet

The thing I would note is — whatever Chvrches is doing, they need to sprinkle it in the drinks of Olivia Rodrigo and Miley Cyrus. “How Not To Drown” is exactly the “new sound” those two women seem to be struggling to discover. It’s pop rock, people! People want to dance to rock music! Why is this so hard for the corporate shills of the modern music industry to understand?

That The Cure’s Robert Smith is involved in “How Not To Drown” is a testament to exactly what I’m talking about. It pains me to no end that Olivia Rodrigo and Miley Cyrus and thrashing about, looking for the New Sound and they probably won’t notice that Chvrches has found it.

Let’s Talk Halsey (& NIN)

by Shelt Garner

Thanks to Spotify, I’ve found myself obsessively listening to Halsey the last few days. I’m surprised how good she is as a singer and song-writer. Her latest album, “If I Can’t I Have Love, I Want Power” suits my middle-aged white male musical sensibilities quite well.

LOS ANGELES – MARCH 14: Halsey attends the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards on March 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Glenn Francis/Pacific Pro Digital Photography)

I do have one quibble, though — a number of the songs sound….vaguely derivative? But the only reason why they do so is my age. If you were the intended audience of a young tweener girl, you would never catch one song’s reference to NIN. There’s so much NIN drifting through this album that I wonder if Trent Reznor is her producer. (I checked: HE IS. Which explains why I keep hearing NIN musical cues throughout the album.)

I will note there’s a little bit of Tori Amos dripped into this album, too.

Anyway. If you were too young to know The Downward Spiral, you would never catch how Reznor is plagiarizing himself. His influence is so noticeable in the album that it’s at times rather distracting. But Reznor is a great producer and the overall product is exceptional, given how shitty most modern music is. I applaud Halsey for picking Reznor and Atticus Ross to produce what is otherwise a pretty mainstream pop rock album.

Anyway. I really like this album. The thing about Halsey is she has an extremely unique vocal sound. Her voice really sticks out for how unique it is. It’s like that one hot chick in college you knew who had stunning eyes — Halsey’s unique voice is her greatest strength because of its distinct personality.

It does seem as though we may be slowly, in fits and starts, drifting towards what I call “Rona Rock.” This would be the traditional pop rock that dominated the charts for about 50 years. It died out about 20o8-ish. It would be cool if it came back. It would make me so happy.

One way for that to happen would be for some sort of girl supergroup to be formed with one of its members being Halsey.

We Live In A Cultural Vacuum

by Shelt Garner

The interesting thing about the modern era is, well, we’re not in an era. I guess the argument could be made that we’re in either the post-Trump Era or the pre-autocracy era or even modern Antebellum era. But, really, when it comes to culture none of those are true.

We’re not in just a cultural wasteland, we’re in a cultural vacuum.

The current era began, I would posit, with the introduction of the first iPhone. In a broader sense, I guess, we’re still in the post-9/11 Era. I thought Rona would do something to jiggle our culture, but that really hasn’t happened.

If I want to make myself feel better, I would get all excited and say we’re one unexpected hit in music, movies or TV for some sort of major shift in our culture perceptions to occur. That’s usually how such eras begin. Some young outlier produces a song, or an album or whatever that is so unexpectedly popular that it shakes everything up.

I guess, in a sense, I am looking forward to a new Nevermind or Pulp Fiction to pop out to really rattle hyper modern pop culture. In a sense, maybe, you might say that Tik-Tok is a precursor to what I’m talking looking forward to. Tik-Tok is making new era stars in a currently unnamed era.

Tragically, of course, the Something Big that changes everything might be some huge news event that is the Day The Earth Stood Still, like 9/11. We’re just about due for something like that to happen.

But I can’t predict the future. I have no idea that is going to happen.

‘Rona Rock:’ I’ve Seen The Face Of Pop Rock And Its Name Is Olivia Rodrigo

by Shelt Garner

I’ve written at length about this before, but Olivia Rodrigo’s release of her album “sour” has me thinking about it again — now that the United States is getting out of the pandemic, maybe it’s time for pop rock to return.

I call this neo-pop rock, “Rona Rock.”

Let me give you some context. There are millions of old farts like me who love rock that has a beat and you can dance to. Maybe a few dozen million. And, at the moment, they are forced to listen to “classic rock.” Not a lot of new pop rock is coming out and that which is coming out is almost exclusively Miley Cyrus doing covers of old pop rock songs.

Sour is so close to being a traditional pop rock album. It still, however, lacks the edge of a true pop rock album. It’s more a POP rock album. So it seems to me that of all the popular acts out there that Rodrigo is the most likely to come out with an album produced by someone like Butch Vig of Nirvana’s “Heart Shape Box” and the band Garbage.

In fact, I would go so far as to say if Rodrigo did go that route that a lot of GenZ people would experience a significant amount of musical future shock. They wouldn’t know what hit’em.

There is another, safer, direction that Rodrigo could go that would be almost just as good — the Nelly Furtado option of teaming up with someone like Timbaland. The album they did together is one of my favorites of the Before Times when some form of pop rock still existed.

And, yet, I doubt this will happen in any way. It’s too risky for an established act to make such an abrupt break with existing musical tastes. If my dream of “Rona Rock” is going to happen, it’s going to happen because a pop rock song becomes unexpectedly popular on Tik-Tok.

‘Shadow Banned’ — #Lyrics To A Pop-Rock Song

Phoebe Bridgers in “Kyoto” is sooooo close to what I think of as “Rona Rock.” In fact, all that would need to happen is Miley Cyrus and Phoebe Bridgers mix and match whatever it is they’re doing right now and you would have “Rona Rock.” You would have pop rock. You would have music with a beat that you can dance to. Sadly, this will never happen. Fuck. But, anyway, here’s a quick big of doggerel from me.

by Shelt Garner
Please give credit if you produce or perform

no one wants to read my shit anyway
but here I am cooling my heels
seeking cheap thrills
waning days are afoot
for my relvanance
’cause I’ve been

shadow banned
shadow banned
shadow banned

if you’re not careful
you’ll be taken off the platform
with no where to squeal
people don’t believe it’s true
but it is
one day they’ll see
when they’re

shadow banned
shadow banned
shadow banned

let the sun in
make things bright
we’ll scale the hights
to something out of sight
we’re done in
’cause of our sin

shadow banned
shadow banned
shadow banned