Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What You Should Have Heard #7

Rock Sugar - Reimaginator

I like mash-ups. Some who believe in the purity and originality of music may scoff at this like and deride the “genre” (term used loosely) as unoriginal and nothing but a fad. But have you heard DJ Dangermouse’s Grey Album? Have you heard of the Beastles or Linkin Park and Jay-Z “Collision Course” collaboration? That’s talent right there, my friends. It takes sampling to its logical conclusion of blatantly putting two songs together rather than slyly (or maybe not so much) trying to incorporate somebody else’s work into something original. I find good mash-ups to be fun and clever and professional sounding.

Rock Sugar is a different beast. Where DJ Dangermouse and dj BC take existing songs from established artists (Jay-Z and the Beatles for the “Grey Album” and the Beastie Boys and the Beatles for the Beastles) and use creative mixing and (probably) extensive computer work to make something quasi-original, Rock Sugar is a real live band that arranges and performs their mash-ups. Their gimmick is mashing ‘80s pop with hair metal classics.

But ultimately, a gimmick is all it is. It’s somewhat clever at first, until you (at least I) realize that you’re listening to nothing but a cover band. A pretty creative, imaginative and talented cover band, but still a cover band. Where I’ll defend well-done mash-ups, I have the opposite feelings for cover bands. If a group had enough real talent, they wouldn’t be a cover band, they’d be popular for their own music, whereas a mash-up artist’s talent is in mixing and producing, not creating purely original music.

I do applaud these guys for taking the time to figure out a way to mash up what they’ve mashed up then learn to play it, but I can’t fully get behind it. I’d rather hear Journey, Metallica, Queen and AC/DC mashed up, not guys who sound kinda like them.

So do I like Reimaginator? Yeah, I guess I do, but it’s something I’ll listen to once every few months, maybe. It’s not something I can listen to over and over. It’s just novelty, a well-produced gimmick that doesn’t have much staying power. I’m entertained for a bit, but that wears off rather quickly.

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