Call It a Lesson Learned About Music

I’m waiting for the heartache to come, but it doesn’t come at all

Being a hardcore fan is a tough gig. It involves a certain level of commitment that would be considered stalking by some district court judges. Frankly, I couldn’t be arsed devoting that amount of time and money to one entity but then I’m Gen Y and not a Scientologist so that explains my apathy.

Truthfully, my excuse is that I couldn’t pick one band or artist to love above all others. I have friends that will invest everything into their artist du Choix and I applaud their efforts, but I just couldn’t do it. If I was born 5 or 6 years earlier then perhaps I would have thrown in my lot with Crowded House and that would have been it for me. I would’ve scoured the earth for rare German pressings of lesser-known singles, gone into 90 days of mourning when they broke up in 1996, and subsequently become quite opinionated online when they reformed last year.

Instead, I merely love Crowded House and their music. The difference? I have a similar passion for about ten other bands as well, all to varying levels of interest – the common denominator being I will, at the very least, buy all their studio albums.

Some of them (Oasis for example), I would go out of my way to collect all their B-Sides. Others (Ryan Adams) I will use up precious download limits to possess bootleg recordings of scrapped albums.  I will listen to what they have to say in interviews but will respectfully disagree on some points (Manic Street Preachers, Oasis again) and listen to their lyrics and think that every line was written with me in mind (Bruce Springsteen – Despite the fact I don’t live in New Jersey or own a car worthy enough to enter in an illegal street race).

Because I don’t have that one band to obsess over, it opens me up to the possibility that one day I will stop doing my very minimal duty: buying their albums.

It has already happened in fact with R.E.M.

I fell out of love with them after buying Reveal back in 2001. It was a nice album and all but it wasn’t enough and I simply stopped caring about them. In hindsight, I should have cashed my chips in when Bill Berry left the group in 1997 but a quick cut and run would have been disrespectful not only to the band but to myself. This is a band responsible for one of my favorite albums (Automatic For The People) so I felt obligated to employ Bono’s mantra of: “Two crap albums (in a row) and you’re out.”

So it was with this measuring stick that I debated whether to purchase the new album from You Am I? For those of you unaware of You Am I, they are an Australian band that has never really found an audience outside of Oz (Unless you happen to be Evan Dando or Lee Ranaldo) but all the same, have delivered quality rock tunes and blistering gigs for the better part of 18 years. Their mid-90s releases Hi Fi Way and Hourly, Daily are essential listens and near mandatory purchases. I would go as far as to say they should be added to the school curriculum but that is why we have elected officials who make those sorts of decisions and not me.

The last couple of albums though have left me a little indifferent. Both have had killer first singles (‘Who Put The Devil In You’ from Deliverance is a choon) but not the lasting effects of previous records. I didn’t find myself returning to them to mine the album tracks as I had done on the rest of their back catalog.

Ordinarily, that would equate to an amicable Adios Muchacho and a non-purchase of their new album Dilettantes. I was even nonplussed when the radio played the first single ‘Erasmus’ so it didn’t bode well. But come last weekend I decided to give them one last shot because after all, I’m a sentimental guy deep down. The cynic in me however was convinced I would be disappointed for the third time.

I was waitin’ for the heartache to come, but it didn’t come at all.

Dilettantes are the sound of a band still with something meaningful to say eight albums down the line. Where 2006s Convicts was all rawk and little substance, on Dilettantes they find a neat groove they haven’t really explored before and singer Tim Rogers is back in fine storytelling mode (check out the title tack and album closer ‘The Piano Up The Tree’). With claims like: “You ain’t seen the best of us yet” (from the track ‘Frightfully Moderne’), I am sold on their optimistic outlook.

I am honestly surprised by how great the album is and am man enough to admit Bono’s mantra doesn’t always work (But why would Bono lie to me?  The scamp!).

Knowing when to let go of a band it seems is as tough as being a hardcore fan. How does the line go?


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