Saturday, May 7, 2011

This Is a Thing: Hipster Rockabilly

Get ready, because it's coming. Rockabilly is going to be the new thing. I'm kind of okay with it. In fact, I'd like for all this stylish rockabilly that's surfacing to take over. At least for the summer. It would be a nice diversion. The fashion victims in my neighborhood would dress up in gingham and hairnets, all acting like they invented them.

Hanni El Khatib
Three is a pattern and I count at least three of these guys so far, which almost guarantees that there are more on the way. My favorite is Hanni El Khatib. He's been up to this stuff for a little while, the album is coming out this summer, and I like how his songs are pretty spare. But they're overly streamlined. Like, he makes rock 'n' roll that Charles and Ray Eames would get down to. 

The song "Loved One" is okay and the video is cool, but kind of Vice-ey. "Dead Wrong" is another good track, but that one opens a can of worms for me that I'll deal with some other time.

Then there's Bosco Delrey. He's on Mad Decent and he has a lot of hair and a song called "Space Junky." His stuff is a little more interesting. It reminds me of early British rock 'n' roll novelty songs like "Rock with the Caveman" by Tommy Steele. But, again, it's a little too stylish and a little too emotionally distanced from its inspirations to really be enjoyable.

Bosco Delrey

This dude Devin Therriault is doing something closer to actual rock music, but still a little too precious. He's got hair like Stray Cats-era Brian Setzer and it's hard to look at it with a straight face. "New Horrors" is a pretty good song. He seems as though he's really into music but more like Lou Reed  music than Carl Perkins music. I'd go to see him on a bill with Xray Eyeballs or somebody after I'd had a few.

This stuff is not going to coexist well with the kind of garage rock I post about on here, because so far it seems to be a mainly aesthetic exercise. But, as an aesthetic exercise, it's awfully successful. I just doubt if it will go much further than a brief fashion trend. But, as a fashion trend, it makes me want this Betsey Johnson sweater that costs too much money. But, like, rockabilly style is amazing. And, hey, even Carl Perkins was pretty into his shoes.

Devin Therriault
And now listen, I love Gene Vincent as much as the next nerd, so I was kind of into the idea of young people outside of the old rockabilly cult getting into rockabilly and giving it a fresh coat of paint. It's always bummed me out that it was one of the few forms of music that the indie crowd considered beneath their notice. But now ... I don't know, I was hoping they'd show it a little more respect.

Maybe I'm just hating because I've always fetishized creepers and yet, having only gotten into The Misfits later in life, I feel forever debarred from wearing them. So now I'm pissed at these Eddie-Cochran-come-latelys for just waltzing in and appropriating all that shit.

So, take it with a grain of salt when I say the buzz around these bands is obviously a conspiracy to sell shoes. Unless it is a conspiracy to sell shoes. In which case, I told you so. 

But what's causing this now? It's a cool thing, what with Wanda Jackson getting some well deserved love and working with Jack White. But, why now? Are we done exhuming the '60s so now it's time to start rifling through the '50s again? If that's the case, I'd still rather listen to the more punk rock approach of Shannon and the Clams and other Oakland/San Francisco-based bands like Nobunny. Now that's how you rip off the '50s

It's interesting that this current crop is all dudes. A couple years ago I was getting memos about a woman named Kim Lenz and another woman from Ireland named Imelda May. They both do more traditional rockabilly revival, which is not that interesting, but I think they have their respective cult followings.

I am ultimately hopeful about this as a trend. See, I definitely think that one thing that's been missing from music scenes lately is subculture-based brawling. And since hipsters are basically mods -- confused middle class kids into clothes, drugs, and obscure music -- it's unfortunate that they don't have a real rocker counterpart that wants to fight them and who they want to fight in return like, in Quadrophenia. Maybe now there will be a new cult of fashion rockabillies and they can fight the synth heads! Either that or there will be a new race of super messed-up art school black metal kids and everyone will run. Either way, I'm dusting off my knuckle dusters.

I mean, just imagine how the real rockabilly fans are going to react. But, who knows, maybe they'll be stoked and have these young guys come and play their weekenders and car shows. I'd go.

But, knock on wood, I'll be getting my greaser fix from Guitar Wolf at the Knitting Factory next week.  Come find me. I'll even fight you if you want.

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