Bands I like, but shouldn't

    Anyone that knows me knows that I like music which is..., how do I say it, more artsy fartsy.  In most cases, this means rock and pop which is more technically advanced in both playing ability and writing ability.  (MUSIC SNOB! I hear you yell.)  To some, this can conjure up the dreaded "P" genre.  "PROGRESSIVE ROCK."  Yes I like my music with some widdley widdley on the keys and guitar, some boom boom ba boom ba on the drums, bum bum ba ba do da do bum on the bass, and some la la la la on the vocals.  Artists such as The Beatles, Genesis, Marillion, Yes, Rush, Dream Theater, Kate Bush, Jethro Tull, I.Q., Radiohead, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Bats for Lashes, to name a few.  While these artists may sound different from each other, they all have one thing in common, the ability to shy away from the 3 or 4 chord simple pop song format.  And I love that.

    However, every once in a while I come across an artist which embraces the more simple things in music, and I still end up becoming a fan.  Take The Cure for example.  Their technical ability as players is pretty questionable but a bulk of their material just moves me.  I think it must be their use of minor chords and swirling textures which I really enjoy.  Songs such as "Want", "Plainsong", "Faith", "The Top", "End" and "Promise" go nowhere with regards to chord sequencing, song structure, and individual instrumental technique.  However, songs like these don't need any of that as in some cases, they simply build in texture and intensity.  The Cure do this so well that in my opinion, nothing more is needed.  As a side note, they could take a listen to the Yes song "Soon" to hear how a textural build can be integrated with a slightly more advanced chord structure.

    I recently read a whole magazine dedicated to The Cure (or Robert Smith) where he mentioned that he thought Queen was rubbish and pretentious.  This coming from a guy who thinks that playing the same chord progression over and over again while building in texture is considered better then anything that Queen did.  Perhaps if Robert expanded his influences beyond Susie and The Banshees, Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen he would realize that although he didn't like Queen, they certainly weren't rubbish.  But I digress, what The Cure do, they do well, no matter how technically limited they are.

    R.E.M. is another band which I enjoy, especially their older stuff from Fables of the Reconstruction through to Out of Time.  I think it's their energy, their rawness, and in many cases their simplicity in their music. Sometimes I just don't feel like listening to loads of big expansive complex themes, and REM suits this mood just fine.  Plus, listening to Michael Stipe sing gives me a boast of confidence with regards to my own vocals, as does listening to Robert Smith.

    I guess the crunch of this ramble is the question, is one band or style better then the other?  Are the bombastic sounds and techniques of Prog Rock better or not then the technically striped down REM or The Cure?  The answer is, technically Prog Rock IS better as the players and writers do have a wider palette to draw from.  However, in the end, the song and style is still what really matters and that is subjective, no matter how well or not well it is played or written.


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