|The Deptford Soul Club|
There is currently a 'twee' revival in America. You can tell because twenty something girls are dressing like Zooey Deschanel in their Tik-Toks and forty something men are writing about Sarah records.
The latest piece, by Ian Wang, https://tribunemag.co.uk/2022/01/twee-fashion-indie-music-industry-sarah-records (despite a header photo so inappropriate it almost runs as a paradox against the actual text. You won't sell political pop with a photo of Stuart Murdoch's masturbation fantasy) is very, very good. If the brief was 'describe Sarah records to someone who has never heard of the Field Mice' then it more than succeeded. It's a great read. It's fresh twist, brilliantly, was to give props to Decolonise fest and to Sandy Gill, someone who for the past decade or so has been a wonderful talisman into the calling out of the good, the bad and the ugly in the indiepop scene.
I remember vividly the blog post by the owner of a particularly cuddly indiepop label in America, about how much hip hop disgusted him. Now, we have surely learned enough about Morrissey to hear alarm bells about someone publicly airing their views about their hatred towards black music and black culture. Not only does such an article exclude people who are non-white from their Utopian little scene, it also shows a frankly bananas narrow mindedness towards music. You think Blueboy were political mate? Go and play a Public Enemy record.
I also a remember a piece from Sheffield, England. The gist was that their lovely little indiepop night* was ruined because a 'townie' man dressed in casual wear asked for an Arctic Monkeys record. I'll admit I took this rather personally. Despite of having a musical taste similar to the indiepop DJ, I have much more in common with guy asking for Arctic Monkeys. We came from the same estates, stood on the same football terraces, He could very easily been my brother. I had never seen class as an issue in the indiepop scene before, but this was pretty clear, if you are from a council estate then you'll be viewed with suspicion, and I suddenly felt pretty unwelcome. So if I attended your night in a Postcard t-shirt I would be OK, but if asked for the Stone Roses I was clearly an oik and beneath contempt?
Fuck that, listen, despite Ian Brown coming unhinged recently I will always hold the Roses dearly to my heart for two reasons, One, they made being mad keen about music in a rough state secondary school acceptable, not being ashamed of really, really loving a record was a big deal to me at 14 and I'll never forget that. Two, from Roses interviews I learned about Situationism, the Clash, Jackson Pollock, James Brown, Sylvia Plath, Derrick May and the Parisian May '68 riots. I learned about politics from Sarah records of course, but that was when I was in the 6th form faintly well read, but the Roses got to me when I was 14, when it mattered. I can hold my head above water in a discussion about culture or ethics or values. That's not thanks to school or university, but records and books. The education of the working class.
The end of Wang's piece discusses the future of the indiepop scene. To save the soil covering indiepop's coffin completely is not down to the elders sitting in rocking chairs telling the same old grandad stories about the past. Yes, fucking yes, of COURSE Sarah were and are important and vital, but not as important as the future.
At the moment in England there is a club night called The Deptford Soul Club, and basically it's 19 year old kids getting into Northern Soul music. Instead of following, the talc and baggy trousers rules and cliches of people reliving their past in the current Soul scene, it's a fresh, inclusive, anything-goes exciting night out, were the youth go and get drunk and dance to incredible music. And this, essentially, is what chin stroking articles like this and Ian's are forgetting. How much fun the music was. Obviously, it's only fun if it's fun for absolutely everyone, but I hope against hope this is the future. Young politically and well read kids ignoring our old duffering and putting on nights where they can dance to Atta Girl and Sensitive with big huge grins on their faces, whatever their colour, gender, sexuality or upbringing may be, in happiness, togetherness and safety. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
Public Enemy t-shirts, Sarah t-shirts, and Stone Roses t-shirts on the same dance floor. Imagine that.
* The indiepop night in question was not, for the record, Offbeat, which is a very cool Sheffield institution and run by a man I have a lot of love and respect for.