While America contemplates its fiscal cliff, mainland Europe ponders the consequences of a returning recession and the Middle-East realises that a democracy is not just for Christmas, Britain has more important things on its mind such as: Will 2013 finally be the year that alternative guitar music, created by indigenous white guys with guitars, finally rescue our eardrums from insipid pop tunes?
Britain has experienced a drought of staple guitar music since circa 2005, with the charts now populated by interminable by-products of singing television talent shows and torpid American pop music. The situation is so bad that the last few crops of British teenagers are unwilling to even acknowledge that being a good singer is not always about holding a note and showcasing vocal range. For these guys, Robert Smith of the Cure and Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground will never be celebrated singers, principally because they don’t sing in tune, regardless of the raw feelings and brazen emotions emanating from their distinct vocal deliveries.
But 2013 must not be a repeat of the last eight years during which the music industry played it too safe, manufacturing fly-by-night pop stars and reheating stale middle-aged rock groups that have long outstayed their welcome. This year will be different, and those that can do something about it have already promised the change sought is well and truly happening. BBC Radio 1′s Head of Music, George Ergatoudis, a guy that has the power to alter national taste, stated a few months back, “The public appetite for guitar bands is definitely building back up.” Even David Joseph, the guy in charge of Universal Music, which is the world’s biggest record company, has prophesised that white guitar music will flourish in unprecedented ways this year, tipping south London’s Bastille as the ones to watch. Even an ancient white guy relic like Paul Weller is extolling the new wave of British alternative music, saying: "I've just started getting excited about what's going on again [because] it's been shit for the last few years. That whole indie thing has just got really boring, but [there are] just a few bands I've heard who seem to be doing it for the right reasons.”
Below are some videos from new guitar bands that will bring about a pristine generation of rock ‘n’ roll splendour. All of these bands are extremely young and totally British. (The Strypes are Irish, but they’ll no doubt relocate to Britain if they want to avoid paying higher taxes, not that they seem old enough to pay income tax in the first place.)
Palma Violets Best of Friends
The 1975 Sex
Savages City’s Full
The Strypes You can’t Judge a Book by the Cover
It will be disingenuous to suggest that any of the bands featured above are reinventing alternative music in ways we didn’t see coming. They are, in fact, churning out songs that sound remarkably like tunes that could have been released any time during the last 50 years, but there is something totally reassuring about that. These guys are making the kind of music many of us didn’t think a new generation wanted to embrace. Their youth and charged personalities mean there’s every reason to believe that British guitar music can get back to being uncensored and gloriously obnoxious again. Some of these bands will be genuinely interesting enough to capture public attention and inspire a new raft of kids to embrace six strings. That is really important if we, as a nation, are to preserve a vital component of our post-war cultural heritage.
In the spirit of equal opportunities, it’s important to realise that we’re now in an enviable position where marginalised British black music, which became totally mainstream over the last decade, can nestle comfortably with indie alternative rock. In fact, hearing an upcoming British artist like Laura Mvula is a reminder of just how much urban music in our own country has evolved. It’s gone from being a facsimile of generic American formula and become something entirely its own. Due to the fact that Mvula is not a predictable London soul singer and hails, instead, from middle-England, is further cause for celebration.
Frankly, if we’re entirely honest, all the emerging British alternative music feels somewhat derivative, though that doesn’t mean it won’t sound remarkably fresh to a 15-year-old coming to it with virgin ears. Still, these white guys may need more than guitars to do battle when going up against something as astounding as Mvula. Hers is a sound that makes Britain truly auspicious. Hers is a voice that transcends time and space. Absolutely sublime, she is.
Laura Mvula She