Goddamn do I hate the cliché of the snarky blogster.
And now, thanks to The Morning After Girls, I’ve become one.
See, there’s good news and bad news:
The good news is that all indications from new music on TMAG’s myspace page are that after six years, they might have finally realized their 60s pop-meets-shoegaze mission statement. After walking mostly on the wrong side of their influences with their previous effort — Shadows Evolve — a new line-up and a new home base (NYC rather than their native Australia) may have finally helped shape in practice the band that looked oh-so-very good on paper a few years ago.
The bad news is that it also appears that they’re still wielding unwarranted pretensions as fervently as ever.
You could certainly do worse than taking a Dandy Warhols’ approach to marrying 60s’ psychedelic rave-up numbers with My Bloody Valentine’s trademark wall of sound and shitting tambourine all over it, and to that end, TMAG has done well for themselves. Their initial efforts garnered them enough success to earn a choice spot opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in the States, where they found an easy audience already thoroughly ignorant of or apathetic toward second and third-generation genre robbery, er, “influence” (see also: early BMRC and the Jesus And Mary Chain).
Apparently this was enough to convince TMAG that though the closest thing they had to a hit in the U.S. was their acutely juvenile and vaguely sinister-sounding screamfest “Hi-Skies,” (an incongruous throwaway which lacks all the nuance and promise of their other material), they were entitled to espouse self-aggrandizing statements and behaviors in league with the likes of say, Oasis, who, though very much derivative themselves, had the common sense to write the anthems of millions before running their mouths and acting like pricks.
Of course, it’s completely unfair to generalize. So let’s run through the evidence:
Exhibit A (from a WOXY “Lounge Act” interview and performance in 2006)
WOXY INTERVIEWER: Is it hard — do you guys get recognized now, pretty easily, here in the States?
TMAG #1: Uh, what — walking down the streets?
WOXY: Yeah, I’m just curious.
TMAG #2: No.
TMAG #1: Yeah. Well, I don’t know man.
TMAG #2: You do?
TMAG #1: Yeah, each time we come back, I guess.
Now, let’s clarify that question and its response:
Q: “Do you, The Morning After Girls, get recognized walking down the street in the United States?”
If we can, for a moment, consider the nameless, faceless guys in Nickelback, who inexplicably sell out arenas and then go unrecognized the next day standing in line in front of their own display at Best Buy, it’s fair to wager that TMAG, who has sold less than 28,000 records in the United States, who can’t sell out clubs which aren’t located on either coast (and sometimes those that are), and who – for Jude’s sake – have a picture of their backs on their myspace and facebook pages, DO NOT get recognized walking down the street in the U.S., by anyone, ever, probably not even their fans who paid good money to watch them perform and then let them eat their food, drink their booze and sleep at their place the night before.
When performing a few years ago at that world-renowned bastion of indie cool, Silverlake’s Spaceland (capacity: 260), not only did the band fail to even remotely sell out the show on the heels of their BMRC opening run, they inconceivably possessed enough sense of entitlement to set up their gear after the opener, do a line check, and then leave the stage and wander around the venue for 45 minutes before going on, apparently convinced that though more than a dozen fans had already arrived, waiting patiently to see TMAG perform, they actually had nothing better to do and that AT ANY MINUTE, rabid hipsters who had RECOGNIZED THE BAND walking down the street earlier in the day would magically overrun the doors and pack the venue to capacity. At midnight. On a weeknight.
It also might have helped if TMAG had then actually played well, despite the absence of said throng of hipsters, instead of offering a muddied, inarticulate display in which all songs sounded exactly alike.
EXHIBIT C (From the band’s myspace page)
“over the past year and a half, the morning after girls have taken the time to reflect upon their journey so far. in this time of fast development, transient communication, and transparent meanings, they felt it was their responsibility to take the time to really contemplate what life, music and basic human existence means for us all today. what resulted from this, is a new album, resting on the creative base of sacha lucashenko and martin b. sleeman. over the past year, the album has journeyed through different times, different places, different relationships, different personalities; all of which are so vital to gaining a complete representation of what it’s like to live through the days of this thing we call ‘life’.”
That’s right. TMAG’s new album is a complete representation of what it’s like to live life. Not a representation of their lives – but life itself, for everyone. It’s a mutherfuggin’ contemplation of “what life, music and basic human existence means for US ALL today.” [caps added for emphasis, just in case the point wasn’t clear enough the first time.]
Proper. Maybe that’s why their single “Alone” is reminiscent of Spinal Tap’s “(Listen To The) Flower People.” Move over, Wyld Stallynz.
In light of the fact that TMAG are recognized walking down the streets of the United States, they have chosen to perform two special events to showcase material from their upcoming album – one in New York at the megalithic Mercury Lounge (capacity: 250) and the ginormous Viper Room (capacity: 250) – no doubt to provide a chosen few hundred of their fans – who are legion – with special experiences they can treasure for always, along the lines of say, when the Cure (who sold out the Hollywood Bowl last summer) played the Troubadour (capacity: 450) a few months ago. AWFULLY NICE of the guys, dontcha think?
Perhaps if they can get over themselves for an instant, TMAG will grace the Viper Room with the band who gave us “Straight Thru You,” “Who Is They,” “Always Mine” and “General Public” rather than…well, whoever it is they think they are the rest of the time. If they can manage that, I can forgo the cliché blogster snark.