Saturday, May 28, 2005It's good to be back
It has been a long time, hasn’t it? Worry not, Abstractboy is safe and well, having endured an exhausting diet of 2nd year exams at UCL. Having been working ten hour days in the library since the end of March has left little time for writing, gigs and adventure, but it’s over and I can focus on having no constraints for the time being, and then on moving to Berlin in September.
One of the few gigs I did manage to get to over the last few months was JJ72. JJ72 have released two albums, their eponymous 2000 debut, for which they are best well known, and 2002’s I to Sky, which did not deliver the same sales as its predecessor. JJ72 will always remind me of 2000. It was a funny time. Britpop had come and gone, the millennium had turned without catastrophe, and the New Rock Revolution (NME, 2001) had yet to happen. I like to think of this era in indie as “Post-OK Computer”, with a big emphasis on sensitiveness, melody and introspection. Super-league bands like Muse and Coldplay had released their first albums and endured relentless Radiohead comparisons just as bands on the up now cannot avoid being likened to the Strokes or (if they have a female vocalist) Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and bands like My Vitriol, Six by Seven, Thirteen:13 who didn’t quite make it through 2001 were very popular among us indie-eager 15 year olds.
JJ72 are interesting because they stuck at it, never to repeat the success of their debut, but are now getting ready to release their third album. Vocalist and chief songwriter Mark Greaney is clearly the driving force for their survival. Looking back he has always had an irrepressible self-believe. In 2000 he proclaimed (much to some of my friends’ distaste) that they would be the “Manics who wouldn’t let you down”, and then in 2002 they were “as genius as the Smashing Pumpkins”. An interview has yet to be booked in 2005 for Mark to profess his Godlike genius, but we can be sure Kerrang will soon allow him to do so. Though their moment may have been obliterated passed, and that period of my life may have passed, there is something quite likeable about the cocktail of sensitive teenage angst and sweeping doom rock soundscapes. Listening to the first album again, I initially find myself cringing at overly sensitive lyrics, thinking “oh just go down the Rhythm Factory and score some smack off a Libertines groupie”, but otherwise it reminds me of a formative and funny time in my life, particularly with regard to my music obsession…ahh nostalgia.
JJ72 and so many other bands from their time have clearly not stood the test of time, they have been unwilling (or perhaps unable) to ride the wave of the indie-buying-public’s changing consciousness. Even since it became cool to be cool again in 2001, a significant proportion of bands been touted by NME have failed to keep hip to be square (innit). The Vines (née the New Nirvana) played their second album to uninterested audiences, the Strokes’ second album lacked the spark and edge of their debut, and so many other bands hyped to the max have also sunk into obliteration. In an increasingly harsh industry, it is admirable that bands like JJ72 have continued to do what they love, in spite of sneering critics questioning their relevance. The notion that any type of music is ‘relevant’ is problematic. What does it even mean? Would Razorlight’s tales of the London streets be ‘relevant’ to a fan living in, say, the Western Isles? JJ72, our moment has passed, but I salute you!