Report From Abroad
As I write this I’m sitting in an apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina is an incredible place- especially during the World Cup. The culture is different, the language is different, even the weather is different (it’s the beginning of winter here) but the one thing that does not change is the people’s love of music. While there are many different types of music available, the youth seem to have the same love of underground music as we do. I’ve observed posters for punk shows with bands ranging from local bands to big names like H2O (they played the day before I got here or I would have gone). I’ve also seen kids walking down the street with buttons and shirts for bands like From First to Last, My Chemical Romance, and Green Day (American Idiot). While these are not the bands that I would be telling the Argentine youth to listen to, I’m happy to see lesser known bands, and rock bands in general, gaining fans outside of the U.S, Canada, Europe and Japan.
I’ve been interested to watch the recent surge in popularity for “ambient” rock bands. Since The Strokes’ 2003 release, many bands have moved toward more mellow sounds while moving away from their heavier beginnings. The music world has really seen this change over the past year with the release of Thrice’s Vheissu, Thursday’s A City by the Light Divided and A Fire Inside’s decemberunderground. Each of these albums represents a serious change from the author’s original sound. With these three albums coming out on major labels (Island, Island and Interscope respectively) and the signing of other “ambient rock” bands such as The Killers, The Bravery (both Island) I believe we may see the end of real ambient rock in the underground scene. Much like post-hardcore early in the decade, ambient is getting too popular too quickly. We can see the effects of hardcore’s rapid rise to fame when scanning PureVolume: there are very few straight-ahead hardcore bands. They have all melted into other less heavy bands. I believe this is the fate of ambient rock and I also believe it may also signal the end for the leader in signing ambient rock bands, Island Records.