A personal blip:
There are plenty of reasons to despise or resent or revere these acts, but I’d like to think on the gtr playing loosely associated with this market (‘genre’ isn’t the right word for such a grouping).
I think what bums me the most is the sort of loose-wristy, white-funk, jazz-chord acoustic strumming that each of these acts gets into. Do you know what I mean? I dig Richie Havens, Joni Mitchell and BJ, all of whom do the wrist strum…so I think my problem has something to do with the marriage of said style with all diminished chords. This is weirder still, as I love dissonance as one element among others within the song form…
I suppose an example’s in order. At the Fall of Fall 3 I played with a really talented woman – she kinda clawpicked, come to think of it – who obviously had more musicality in her elbow than i have in my whole ethos, but… maybe the sorts of vocals that often appear in this milieu also have something to do with it. The triumvirate mentioned all do this precious, talk-sing-y thing, spilled out in a diction that telegraphs their rhyme schemes, thus undermining their ‘writing.’ There’s a weird emotionalism (not emotionality) that obtains, too.
Anyway, I’d say that this tendency is full-bore hegemonic amongst the U of O’s strumming-on-the-quad crowd. I want somebody to explain the appeal to me. I mean, Ani at least mobilizes some activism/angst on her behalf… the other dudes, however, seem to be totally content with malapropistic (sic) tales of leisure and sentimentlism. That makes sense, as their demographic is a leisurely one…but this brings me back to the jazz chords and effed up syncopation. It is from whence? Does it connote funky or soulful for this crowd?
Seriously, I’ll take Toby Keith or the Counting Crows any damn day over this stuff. But that don’t mean I don’t wanna know how/why it works, or more importantly, what it means to the people for whom it’s meaningful.