Swearin'

BEST OF 2013: Thor's Picks

BEST OF 2013: Thor's Picks

10. Arctic Monkeys - AM

Seeing the Arctic Monkeys live is the closest thing in 2013 to seeing one of the monolithic classic rock bands of yesteryear in their prime. The Arctic Monkeys have consistently found a way to make great rock albums, fill big venues, and all the while be one of the closest things to a proper mega-star rock band we can get. Their latest album AM takes a bit of the laidback melodies they dived headfirst into on Suck It And See and throws a gorgeous R&B twist onto them. They still know how to crush skulls, though; just listen to the Zeppelin groove of album highlight “R U Mine?” 


FEATURE:“Pop-punk” “Power-pop” “Proto-pop-wave-gaze”: When genre labels outlive their usefulness.

FEATURE:“Pop-punk” “Power-pop” “Proto-pop-wave-gaze”: When genre labels outlive their usefulness.

The new Swearin’ album, Surfing Strange, was released last week and has been receiving critical praise, with which I agree. However, in my own love of the album, I find myself coming into conflict with the genre-tags affiliated with their music. At what point do titles like “pop-punk,” “shoegaze,” and “power-pop” stop outliving their usefulness as a way to distinguish music and actually start to hinder our consumption of it? In Swearin’s case, people are throwing around the term “pop-punk” to describe their fuzz-laden alternative rock, yet it seems unfair to use a term descriptive of such a specific time period and group of bands to describe anyone in 2013. Maybe my problem with the title comes from a feeling of protectiveness for the band. Maybe I don’t want them to be lumped in the same headspace as The Offspring or Blink-182. Or maybe I fail to see the association with those bands. But I guess the real question is, are genre descriptors evocative of not just a sound, but of a time and place?