The Null Device

Whither artrock?

From the Fly (a monthly free street press publication in London, with a bias towards populist NME/Carling/Xfm new-wave/garage rock; The Wire it ain't), and specifically, its review of the next Franz Ferdinand album:
"And yet, there was no warning in pre-Franzworld that artrock was just about to grab the world by its neckerchief and force it to put its dancing shoes on."
Which is proof that "artrock" has lost its meaning. It used to mean artistically conceptual rock music, from Bowie to Radiohead. Now, "artrock" is a fashion stance, copying a small subset of actual art rock bands from around 1980, and a narrowly circumscribed checklist of elements. Staccato guitar line lifted from an Interpol record? Check. Describable as "edgy" or "angular"? Check. Sharp suits? Androgyny or sexual ambiguity? Check. It's artrock. Just like The Killers, that NKOTB of the Carling New Wave.

There are 3 comments on "Whither artrock?":

Posted by: datakid http:// Thu Sep 22 00:25:26 2005

What can I say? Watching you slowly build this head of steam over "artrock" and bands that sound "new wave" or "like the gang of four" is excellent...I feel like one day I'm going to come to dev/null or kinetic factory and there's just going to be a big black hole or a splatter of blood from where you have exploded in frustration and anger...maybe you should drop the pop fascination and go for the angst ticket to ride? It's about time that grunge/angst became fashionable again (it's called revolution, cos it goes round and round) - you could start the trend...

Keep up the good work...it's better than reading a punk zine that doesn't exist (but would have when new wave or art rock meant something) anyday...

Posted by: dj http://deej.bah.id.au Thu Sep 22 07:22:50 2005

I never understood the whole 'artrock'=fashion terminology either. Speaking as a librarian, I wonder how music librarians catalogue it?

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Thu Sep 22 08:38:04 2005

Probably laziness among the more meretricious music journalists. (Which would probably include those writing for The Fly and other promotional publications.) Gang Of Four were described as "artrock", which, for those not inclined to think on the meta-level, means that "artrock" is "things that sound like Gang Of Four".

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