Genre of the Week: First Generation Ska Revival

This one annoys me. I guess many of you will have heard of ska. A supposed "revival" of this sound was done in the late seventies/early eighties, known as second wave ska revival. Then in the nineties there was a pop-punk-influenced third wave of ska revival. Do you spot the fucking gaping hole?

That's right, where on earth in this very common story (retold countless times) is the first wave of ska revival? A lot of people just slate over it and pretend second wave revival is in fact just "second wave ska", but the standard nomenclature suggests otherwise.

It would just be a meaningless quirk of music history if first wave ska revival didn't exist. But it does, however briefly and trivially.

In 1969, by then ailing ska legend Prince Buster released a rocksteady-tinged early reggae track called Big Five, a "slackness" (bawdy) cover of Brook Benton's Rainy Night In Georgia. It was a moderate hit among the skinheads, but Buster was unable to follow it up properly. So a previously unknown london night club bouncer named Alex Hughes stepped in and released a follow-up (Big Six) under the name Judge Dread, and had a substantially bigger hit with his version. Then he spent the rest of his surprisingly long career releasing a number of other novelty reggae tunes, including obvious re-follow-up (and substantially bigger hit) Big Seven and a cover of Je T'aime.

They all sound a lot more early reggae than ska but there was a lot of nomenclature confusion in the early seventies, and Prince Buster was (supposedly) a "ska" artist so Judge Dread got labelled one too. There are also some ska artefacts in his music, like the harmonic progression. And anyway, sounding much more early reggae than ska never hindered later ska revival artists.

Judge Dread is a crucial bridge in the seventies between the ska of the sixties and the "ska" of the eighties. These days he's occasionally lumped together with the (by then dying) skinhead reggae, and sometimes with the later second wave, but he stands all on his own as the bearer of tradition and as the first wave of ska revival.


The Conflation of Modes of Expression: A Continuing Trend for 2007

Time for my New Years' reflection.

This post stems from a conversation I had with a group of friends from my class a couple of months ago, and I've been meaning to blog it ever since. We were discussing the future of music and tried to point out trends that were coming for the future, touching on new forms of distribution and the related changes in music, on a potential for anti-music, on the rise of Japan as a musical center and a bunch of others. But one thing stood out as something we all could agree on from our vastly different backgrounds (punk/kraut, synth/goth, geekcore/metal and my, er, hip-hop/disco/reggae): we saw our genres' hardened limits of expression quickly being eroded.

At a certain point in the evolution and fragmentation of popular music, probably around the mid-seventies, strong instrument taboos appeared even outside folk and trad genres. Giorgio Moroder proudly claimed "only electronic keyboards were used on this recording" in his liner notes while heavy metal adopted a staunch, almost traditionalist anti-synthesizer stance. In commercial products the guitar's atmosphere and the keyboard's punch were mixed together, but the offending instrument was buried deep in the mix so as not to be too obvious.

As late as the 01/02 season this division into guitar-based music and computer-based music was fully intact. The trendy sounds of the moment were detroit garage rock with its distorted sweat-based creed and electroclash, detached and distant. Hip-hop was at a synthetic peak. Metal had brought out the turntables but the synths were still buried deep in the mix.

Today's situation is in complete contrast. Bands from every vaguely vital genre have seemingly abandoned all rules and are using strong, distinct, highly-mixed live instruments and equally distinct computer instruments together. The 06/07 season has seen bastion after bastion of self-contained music fall to the lure of combinatronics, and met little resistance from the fans that a half-decade ago would have spit on them.

To begin with, those good ol' trendy garage/electro sounds have completely crossed-over. A band like CSS fully merges both living guitars and robotic synths, while even a austensibly pure elctro band like Does It Offend You, Yeah can afford to add live rock'n'roll drums and put on a rocking live show. Old bands that fit the new "strong electro, strong garage" idiom, like Polysics, are suddenly becoming huge stars.

At the edges of metal, the music has turned a corner and suddenly bumped into IDM. 65 Days of Static can unproblematically use a whole bunch of glitch percussive sounds and bleeps. Every self-respecting avant-metal band uses at least a loop pedal but more likely all sorts of dirty synth sounds, like the very hip These Arms Are Snakes.

Over at the dance end, bands like The Presets, Cut Copy and Digitalism are going completely indie on us. Or just mixing little bits of guitar music in there. Last year's nu rave hype with bands like The Klaxons is obviously a flirtation the other way.

And then there's hip-hop where live instruments have been crashing in again after many years of being frowned upon. You don't even have to make them "sound like samples" à la Dr Dre, just party like a rock star and interweave guitar riffs to your heart's delight. With producers like The Runners or Montana Traxx, live instruments are turning up all over the mix and blurring indistinguishably from the synthesis.

I guess this development is a kind of fracturing, really, but the splinters are becoming so small it's all turning into a smear along the horizon from the vantage point of this quickly speeding train called music. The social divisions are still there, of course, and subcultures are in no danger of dying out, but it seems no-one is condemning any way of making music anymore. Whether that's a good or bad thing time will only tell, but this trend can only continue and deepen as we dive into 2008.


A Christmas Novelty and a Big Question

I was browisng through the 'tubes to see if I could find good christmas songs in various interesting genres. One of them was manele, at least sort of:

Now, a commenter helpfully informed me that the melody of that track is borrowed from the 1976 Bollywood classic Kabhi Kabhie:

Which is rather fun and makes sense in the Asia-obsessed world of manele. I quite understand why it was chosen, too - it's a very pretty melody, even when detached from its original context like this or when Nelly Futardo sings it.

There's definately something Indian about it too. I'm sure there are many connoiseurs of Indian music who would readily be able to analyse the melody and recognise its quality of "Indianness" even if it weren't for the fact that it's a known filmi track. In general, the melodic construction of indian popular music has, I hope, been well studied and I definately need to read up on the subject since it interests me a lot, a melody detached like this from its cultural context.

There's another side of the same issue though which interests me even more, and that's the Romanians' perception of Indianness. When Denisa and Florin Peste sit down and chose a song with Indian qualities, what is it they're actually hearing? And when they're creating a new track which they want to sound Indian, how do they construct the melody?

The concept of someone else's conception of a musical system fascinates me, and the Indian one is unusually widely spread. What do the Greeks, the Indonesians, the Tanzanians, the Guyanans see as Indian melodic structure? What do second-generation, culturally detached diasporadic immigrants in Britain and the US? What did the hippies in the 60s?

If I ever get around to doing higher-level research in this subject, that's definately a strong contender for something I'd consider studying.


Genre of the Week: Christmas Carols

I'm on christmas vacation in the north of Sweden (therefore the lack of posts this week), so what could be more appropriate than a rather older and more festive genre of popular music? I was originally going to do christmas pop songs, but the history of carols proved fascinating enough to do on their own, so I'm saving that one for next year.

So what's a christmas carol? A "carol" is a type of English secular song that has some sort of seasonal theme, starting in the middle ages but blossomming in the renaissance. They often have religious components but were not performed in church or at religious events. A lot of original carols still exist in print or manuscripts, especially from the late renaissance onwards, but precious few are still sung regularly. (The ones that do have usually moved into the church setting.) The practice died out with the puritan interregnum when festivities were banned.
No, a christmas carol isn't a real carol at all. It's a pastiche. Or a bowdlerised update. (Who would write a carol about slaying children today?) The vast majority are written during the romantic era of the 19th century, when fascination with folk history and early popular music was at its highest and most warped. With little attention to actual history (and a lot of attention to "grand traditions" and "morality"), the Victorians cut up, rewrote, nicked melodies, copied and parodied in order to create acceptable music for the young national spirit.

Take, I dunno, "Deck The Halls". It's hundreds of years old and has absolutely nothing to do with christmas originally (being a new year's song). In 1881 a new lyric was written by a man named J. P. McCaskey and suddenly it became a "traditional" christmas carol. "Ding Dong Merrily On High" is a few notches worse, with its ridiculous faux-mediaeval lyrics (from 1924!) and its melody stolen from a renaissance French dance book. "Good King Wencelas" is (funnily enough) Swedish originally, and a spring song at that, updated in 1850s by an english pastor.

Quite a few others, like "We Three Kings" or "O Holy Night", are original compositions. A few ("Joy To The World", "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing") are resecualrised hymns and probably the most "genuinely traditional" of the bunch. But practically none are actually carols...

So what's so special about the 19th century that has left these songs behind and imprinted them so deeply into tradition? This period is when a lot of today's christmas traditions first appeared, of course, like christmas trees and santa claus, but that just raises the futher question of why all the traditions seemingly originate here.

I think it's because this period of increased modernism and the accompanying industrial revolution was causally accompanied by a move towards secularisation - carols, trees and santas represent the establishment of a rival christmas tradition to that of the church. That might also explain why the new carols were based in spirit on the older secular tradition and not on the bountiful christmas tradition of church music.

Once our secular christmas tradition was established it seemingly became very hard to move. I've not found any frequently performed christmas carols written later than 1941. After that, everything carolesue has been classified as a christmas song, and that, dear children, is a different story entirely.

Merry Christmas everyone!


Music's top 10 most influential countries

Okay, I realise the ideas of "national" music and geographical bounding of music is probably fallacious. And that the concept of influence is extremely vague at best. But nevertheless I've often caught myself wondering: what countries in the world have had the greatest impact on today's popular music? And I mean that on a worldwide, decentralised basis, where Africa is the strict equivalent of Europe.

I think I've listened to a fair bit of the world's contemporary musical expressions, but obviously it's still a sisyphean task. So this will be my own subjective ranking based on guesswork and feel. Feel free to criticize it if you can think of any reasons to change the countries or the order.

1. The United States
For every obvious reason imaginable. The driving force behind every major worldwide genre from Blues and Jazz to Dance music and Hip-hop and the reference point for the very concept of "popular music" in just about the entire world. I'm not sure I need to delve deeper into this one. 2. Jamaica
Now it gets a tad more controversial. But if you count in the dancehall-derived reggaeton and its huge recent infleuce across the Latin world, I think it just edges it. That's obviously on top of being the main influence of most young popular music across Africa, very important in large parts of Asia, and a crucial background influence on both dance and hip-hop via dub and deejay toasting.

3. India
Now this one will take some explaining. Mostly it's this high because of its truly worldwide reach, just as the Indian diaspora is worldwide. Indian-tinged musics appear from the caribbean to indonesia and everywhere in between (across africa, the balkans, the middle east) and everywhere they feed back into the national traditions. Nothing else (except the western tradition) is so widely dispersed.

4. The United Kingdom
Obvious sparring partner for the United States throughout and a big part of worldwide commercial pop sounds, but the only truly british tradition to have a global reach is Heavy Metal.

5. Cuba
Mostly its influence lies in the past but much of what we think of as "latin" music originates from here.

6. Egypt
Main country in the extremely strong middle-eastern musical tradition which is important in african, asia and the balkans.

7. Japan
Okay, another controversial one as the music there is crap. But what would music stand today without the TR-808, the Technics turntable or the DX7?

8. The Democratic Republic of Congo
Soukous has been a huge influence on music throughout africa and the caribbean.

9. Germany
Two artists: Kraftwerk. Giorgio Moroder. Enough said.

10. France
Instrumental in the development of Zouk and a clear reference point for all Francophone countries.

Bubbling under:


Genre of the Week: Takeu

Sheer and beautiful with a punchy bite of euphoria. International and unplacable yet very closely linked to its place of birth. American, European, Indian, Arabic, Caribbean but very clearly African. Modern and danceable without clichéd masculinity. It's takeu, quite possibly the best of all the genres coming out of the incredible musical boiling pot in East Africa.

And it starts here. Mr Nice is East Africa's by far most popular performer, an R Kelly-type figure touring the world among adoring fans with a supposed 4000 dollar a night fee. In some ways, takeu is his style. He's its most high-profile performer, his albums are called things like "Takeu Style" and "T.A.K.E.U" and most prominently, he named the style - an acronym of the three principal countries in East Africa, TAnzania, KEnya and Uganda.

And indeed, you can feel the presence of all three countries in the music. Some stuff is clearly related to pan-regional trends, like the fascination with ragga, most convincingly realised in Uganda. You can also feel the influence of the last generation of regional styles, like taraab and musiki wa dansi.

But also, somehow, the best aspects of the music of all three countries have been combined in takeu. Ugandan artists, for instance, tend to be very good at sharp production both of fairly copyist material and of hotted up traditional fare. But the identity can sometimes be lost and that's not at all the case with the very feel-oriented takeu. Kenyan genge has an effortless pop sensibility and a great upbeat feel, but the production often tends towards being, well, just standard pop under a different name. Takeu certainly isn't.

Tanzania's bongo flava scene has of course dominated the region's music output for over a decade now and its synth carpets, melodic basslines and heavy top emphasis are significant contributors to the takeu sound. The Asian influences in bongo flava that I like so much are also noticable, and you can feel how bongo flava's thrust of innovation has been the spur that's driven takeu's. But this new genre has none of bongo flava's dourness and predictability, it's much more playful and dynamic. And of course, it has features (like that occasional deep sub bass and that epic euphoria) that seem to have sprung up on their own.

Takeu's performers come from all over the region. Tanzania provides a large portion, but some of the best are from Kenya, Uganda or even Burundi (!). Such a large spread means there's inevitably a lot of local innovation constantly taking place in the strangest of places, though the center of the style's popularity tends to be somewhere in northeastern Tanzania.

I've been trying to figure out why I like all these songs and I think there's something in the sentimental bigness of their approach that reminds me of the most euphoric period of 70s disco. I think a lot of local producers have latched onto this similarity (and that to the most epic dance sounds) and there's plenty of stuff in takeu that lies a lot closer to electronic dance music than to hip-hop:

It is perhaps this nature of takeu as East Africa's trance mixed with East Africa's R&B that means it's never going to have a major breakthrough outside its regional borders. Because no matter how brilliant, how modern, how innovative it is in terms of pop values, it doesn't have the booty-oriented starkness that is all the rage in hipster circles, nor the exoticality and oldness of traditional world music. Still, I firmly believe in these post-ironic age that there is a definite place for deleriously, innocently, euphorically happy music, and I sincerely hope that we will grow to embrace takeu as well.


One final thought on mapouka

So I (finally) got a response on my one post about something sexual, which probably goes to show that sex does indeed sell. And I think the fact that these are African girls shaking their behind hardly hurts either. There's plenty of examples of that kind of exotica titilating the white western middle class, from Paul Gaugin's paintings of nude Tahitians and contemporaneous depictions of harems to today's "Savage" pornography.

I think that helps to explain mapouka's rise to internet popularity and its descent into pornography. Doesn't this BBC News report linger a little too long on the "nude" aspects of the dance? Journalists have to sell copies too; anything with a sexual undertone will be put into the spotlight. (Especially in Britain!)

I'm wondering, does this apply to booty music as well as to booty dance? One of the first mentions of Brazilian baile funk in the mainstream western press was in a very similar story in The Independent, about a series of graphically depicted sexual acts including the infamous "chair dance" which in hindsight supposedly was just an urban legend... The sexual fantasy of the westerners entering into shallow-breathing myth.

Is part of the obsession recently with hard, sexualised, third-world genres a product of exotic titilation with their subjects?


More African dances

Since I actually got a response to my last post, I'm gonna make this week Africa week. Look out for a rather enjoyable genre of the week this weekend.

But to begin with I thought I'd see how many modern African dance types I could readily find on EastAfricanTube, the panafrican Juju Nation, plus international sites YouTube and Dailymotion. If nothing else, these genre names should give you an idea what to search for on the various sites if you want to find out more... All are fairly sedate (compared to mapouka) but inevitably involve females and/or males swinging their hips in a way that might be deemed inappropriate in an office environment.

Somali niiko:

Ivorian wolosso:

The inevitable coupé décalé (of which, by the way, at least a couple of others are novelty variants):

Cameroonian bikutsi:

The also inevitable (though brilliant) kuduro:


Kwaito (aka inevitable entry #3):

As far as I know Zimbabwean Urban Grooves doesn't have an official name for its dancing styles yet, but here's a video:


I'm sure there are many more and I'm just scratching the surface, please add more if you have any.


Dancing Clean and Dirty on EastAfricanTube

EastAfricanTube is one of my favourite YouTube clones, being totally superior in finding genge and Bongo flava videos. But it also has a great depository of dance videos that besides a "traditional dances" category is broadly divided into two sections: mapouka dance and Bongo dance.

Mapouka is the archetype of a risqué dance style (yes, even more so than perreo) and some of the videos featured on the site are definately not safe for work, bordering on the pornographic. Or, in some cases, blasting right through the border. Looking around the net (do, or rather don't do, a google image search), "mapouka" is well on its way towards becoming a code-word for pornography in general.

This kind of forbidden dance (literally forbidden in the Ivory Coast!) as a vehicle for youth rebellion is common throughout the history of music. The incredibly obscene waltz, the tango, ragtime, Elvis shaking his hips, Line dancing if you're Ian Paisley - all once subject of parental and social dissaproval and thus irresistable to perform. There's plenty of interesting things to look out when it comes to this socially rebellious kind of dancing, but right now I'm more fascinated by its opposite.

Where mapouka is dangerous, Bongo dance is extremely safe by african standards. "Bongo" is a nickname for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and one would expect a connection to bongo flava based on the name. Indeed, some of the videos that have made it into this category have fleeting connections to that style, but most are extremely sedate swahili dance music/musiki wa dansi of the old style.

In sharp contrast to the modern Coupe Decale used in mapouka videos the music is slow, light, controlled, high-end-oriented and conservative. The dancers, of mixed gender, are shown from the front and only swing their hips gently. Everyone dances alone or barely touching each other, salsa-style. Often, group choreography is involved. The performers are conventionally good-looking and the feel is generally rather boy-band.

It's fascinating to see social dance as a vehicle for conservatism and good family values as well as for change, especially seeing as the Bongo dance videos outnumber the mapouka ones by 2:1. The edgeless commercial alternative seemingly wins out even in a country like Tanzania with its quickly progressing music industry...


Genre of the Week: Eurocrunk

What do you do when your internet connection is broken and you have to blog the Genre of the Week from a public library computer with no sound in twenty minutes? You inevitably pick a genre that's brief enough to match the time. And that, bascially, will have to be a one-band genre.

Now, bands who try to name their own genre have always existed and some have been successful where others have failed. For instance, I see real possibilities for Bongo bhangra to succeed as there's no better way to describe the music coming out of Tanzanias indian community. Whereas "softgrass" (which I spotted off TV the other day) is just a vanity name for country pop.

Eurocrunk you can't be certain about. On the one hand, the american genre that gives it its name is pretty much gone, which means it should search for another name. On the other hand it seems to have established itself pretty well. Search for the term on Youtube and you get 28 different videos which is a decent start, and not all of them by french artists either! Plus it has a comprehensive last.fm page and a (small) french wikipedia entry.

Not so bad for a genre created a couple of years ago by a very small Swedish hip-hop band - Stacs of Stamina coined the term back in 2003. Since then it's spread to mostly the francophone world, where the band has many connections. To be perfectly honest, at this point there is little more to eurocrunk than a subset of the dirtiest dance sounds mixed with conbtemporary american hip-hop, but hey, what great genres haven't started out that way?


Radio's lost seventies

Sweden didn't have a baby boomer generation or a generation Jones. Our big birth periods are the early forties, during the war, and the late sixties/early seventies. And that makes this list of the most played songs on US radio incredibly fascinating to me from my Swedish perspective. I'm struck by just how much of the music never made it across here, and if it did it certainly doesn't get played on the radio these days.

Most of the music on the list, generally the oldies hits of the sixties and a lot of the eighties material, is obviously familiar to me. But it's interesting (considering how much I love music, and especially American music) that there's so much stuff from the Soft Rock side of the late sixties and early seventies that I've quite simply never heard of. I'm obviously missing out on huge chunks of American culture!

Already in the top five there's a song that I'm only very vaguely familiar with: Never My Love by The Association. I'm not sure if I've ever heard it before, and it's actually fairly good, slightly folk-rock, slightly Beach Boys. Apparently there's a whole (hugely successful) genre of "Sunshine Pop" that almost completely passed us Swedes by: Up, Up And Away by The Fifth Dimension is another top 25 song I've never heard of, what a totally psyched-out hippie track to make it that high up the list! It is about drugs isn't it?

The top 25 has some more unusual surprises: two astoundingly cringeworthy whitebread covers of soul classics Baby I Need Your Loving and (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher by some guy named Johnny Rivers and some woman named Rita Coolidge respectively. I thought that practice died out in the fifties? Apparently not! I'm also positively surprised at the inclusion of a song about masturbation in the top 25, but that one I've obviously heard before. Still great though!

The questions keep amassing as I go down the list. Like, who on earth are these clean-faced bozos?

Why does this obscure early soul track and this obscure soft soul track rate so highly? Why does this get played more than anything else Don Henley has ever been involved in? Who is Anne Murray? Matt Monro? Mason Williams? Eddie Rabbit? Bertie Higgins?

It also answers a couple of questions, like: Why did Carol Williams do a cover of More as her big number at Salsoul? The original was a huge hit! (It doesn't feature on Youtube, just like a surprising number of tracks on the list.) Why does the Monkees last hit Daydream Believer get played so much more in clubs than their other stuff? It's a radio favourite!

It's certainly been an interesting dig through lots of crap going down the list. But it's definitely been worth it to find the glimmers of gold. Who knew Brook Benton did such menacing Doo-Wop? The intensely weird Little River Band and the wonderfully weary-voiced Sammi Smith are two other acquaintances I'm definately looking to make again.


Genre of the Week: Power Pop


Usually it's a term that means that the music is merely great and possible to cover across generations. A lot of pop music aspires to it, the best stuff usually ends up there by accident.

But then there's music that's actually without a time - whose characteristic sound doesn't limit it or pin it to any one musical period. I guess country music fits but within the rock'n'roll idiom you'd be hard pressed to find something quite as universal as power pop.

Not only does it sound pretty much the same in 1971 and 1991, but in neither age does it feel conciously retro. There was never a power pop revival movement. (A few revitalisation movements, sure, but not a major gap followed by a historically accurate revival.) Nor does it feel outdated at either time, in fact I don't doubt a lot of people would identify the Teenage Fanclub sound as being typical early nineties just as The Raspberries are typical early seventies!

Of course, you could (trivially) say that the combination of sweet vocal harmonies and jangly Rickenbacker guitars (as borrowed off The Byrds) with the empty "power chords" (of The Who or The Small Faces) is a fairly natural one with the combination of sweetness and bite. But that doesn't explain why the sense of melody and chord progression suggested by those bands (and some Beatles songs) also survived in the power pop world for over twenty years, only being majorly influenced by other music some time in the mid nineties. Today, "power pop" sounds significantly different in many ways - mainly due to the influence of the closely related genre of pop punk, itself once clearly influenced by power pop.

But for most of it's history it's been almost too consistent. Starting out in the hands of The Raspberries and Badfinger in the early seventies as a kid of counterreaction to the heavier rock sounds and insipid pop of the time, it was quickly supplanted by the similarly hard-sweet glam in the UK and became a very clearly US-centered phenomenon. Then while those two originator bands were imploding in insipid commerciality and drug-fuelled suicide respectively, a series of awkward, off-the-map squares appeared to take on the reins.

In Memphis, Tennesee, gawky former child star Alex Chilton and his band Big Star created perfect little pop symphonies to practically no audience. In Berkeley, California, a bunch of bands on the tiny Beserkley label (including the increasingly weird Jonathan Richman,
the well-haired Rubinoos and the puntastic Greg Kihn) barely charted despite some of the sweetest pop ever created. Virginia foursome Brat became Artful Dodger and struggled in vain on a bad major deal and folded below a non-comprehending audience. A group called Cheap Trick consisting of a fat man with a moustache, a silly-hatted guitarist, a fair-haired girly man and a ludicruous 18-string bassist didn't chart anywhere but in Japan.

But then suddenly the genre, still sounding pretty much the same, broke through commercially. With the advent of New Wave, it was suddenly hip to be square. Cheap Trick was probably first (with live classic "At Budokan"), but The Knack's My Sharona was probably the biggest hit. If you feel that's a touch too New Wave, listen to one of their other songs:

That coupled with other hits by great groups like the dB's, Nick Lowe, The Records, The Romantics etc. created what's seemingly one of the greatest period combining good music with commercial viability in history. Strangely, this period barely had time to die through overproduction before it got a new shot in the arm through bands like the aforementioned Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet, Material Issue and the Posies, and that carried it into the nineties. Still not really cool, but this time helped by a new sweet-and-hard genre, indie rock...

It's so interesting to see how the genre has always had a fruitful relationship with other softish, sensitive lower-middle-class white male genres, influencing and being influenced by glam, new wave, indie and pop punk in turn. Power pop has always run through as a universal streak and now it's turning up again in bands like The New Pornographers and Babyshambles. Perhaps the answer as to why the sound stays the same is that it's actually truly timeless, buried deep down in the collective conciousness and always sounding fresh because it's always the sound of the young, awkward, slightly feminine boy whose image is deeply ingrained in our minds.