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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Postmodernism, Punk, Post-Punk

Devo Dan, originally uploaded by Theresa K.

This is Dan Elektro, of the Woggles, a contemporary band from the South - mostly around Atlanta, though Dan is a catfish farmer in Alabama. They play a righteous kind of garage rock (a genre that is punk's antecedent and its successor - oh, how postmodern is that?!) that mixes R&B with rave-up rock. They inject a young, punk attitude in their cover of the Animals' hit, "It's My Life," a song that despite its "classic rock - oldies" bloodline, is a pretty damn punk rock message.

The point? What is punk anyway? Well, since it is a firmly-ingrained way of doing music now, and has been for going on three decades, it is prime fodder to scholarly discussion, and you can study it at your finer Ivory Towers these days!

Postmodernism - something few people can define well in a sentence - but that many invoke. Well, I think Dan's wearing of this aluminum mixing bowl as a hat, paying homage to Devo is a postmodern tip of the hat. A facsimile of a facsimile, though I'm not sure was Devo was poking fun at in the first place when they donned some of their head-gear.

I am defining Punk itself as the musical movement - zeitgeist, if you will - that coalesced when the Ramones came into being, recorded and released an important, primitive rock record sans the usual R&B influence, and unleashed themselves on the UK on the date of America's bicentennial anniversary of its freedom from that Mother Country. Punk music, punk attitude! Before the Ramones, you had some punk attitude in the likes of the New York Dolls, whose trashy execution of glam and garage rock created a whole new thing which they dressed up in a deconstructed, trash version of glam, also. Does anyone remember that Mumps mastermind, Kristian Hoffman, quite a visual artist as well as amazing composer and musician, did the line drawing of the girl bent over, looking between her knees on the innersleeve of the first Dolls' record?

So anyway - you know where I start punk. Where does it stop being the first wave, and starting being "post punk?" I guess when the initial punk rockers made their noise, made a name for the genre, made enough of an impression that mainstream elements started co-opting punk aesthetics into every day life in the form of consumer products such as jewelry, graphics, clothing, design and the much-dreaded result of record company executives telling their front line A&R guys to "find me the next Clash!"

Well, it took 25+ years to find the next Clash. It is the Libertines from London and Mick Jones produced their record!

How's that for postmodern, post-punkism?

Anyway - what is your opinion?

PS - Happy Birthday to David Letterman and David Cassidy. Two Davids, couldn't be more different, and both kinda punk when you think about it.

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