What makes a good band? Of course it’s a matter of taste, preference, and your background, but what’s the universal marker? Is there one? If there is, what is it?
Today, my roommie and I were talking about the prospect of seeing The Ataris together at some point this weekend or within the next week. We both love The Ataris. Someone decided to shit on that idea. “They suck.” Having a history with this kid, he probably doesn’t care whether or not The Ataris were good or not, but at one time they were popular and, thusly, bad. He just wants to set himself apart because that’s who he is. Admittedly, I still do this to a certain extent, but I’ve been trying to stop this behavior. It’s short-sighted, alienating, and altogether in poor form. What I don’t think he understands, and what I believe people realize as they get older, that music is intended to be there for you. It’s a personal experience. Despite whatever musical background we might have, our favorite bands all share the element in our lives, that’s being there at the right time saying the right things.
Now, for me a great band is one that can do that through an entire album and consistently. Like all human communication, some words or actions stick and others don’t, but this is my rubric. A great album to me has to be emotionally dynamic and musically challenging. I want to feel what the other person is trying to emote, but that process to be almost seamless. It’s almost impossible to write an album like that, let alone a loose collection of songs. That’s why we admire those that touch us through music. That talent is something that most of us don’t have or believe we don’t have.
The difference between two bands might not be how great they shred, how sick their beats are, or how grandiose their arrangements might be, but the basic elements of bareness, authenticity, and heartfelt passion separate the great from the good from the mediocre.
Anyway, I’m going to see the Toadies this weekend.