Tuesday, March 22, 2011

OBCBYL: Mission of Burma

Third in my little celebration of the 10th anniversary of Our Band Could Be Your Life: Mission of Burma.
When I originally bought Our Band Could Be Your Life years ago, when I was first getting into college radio and wasn't the paragon of musical knowledge I am now, I ended up buying a lot of the albums by the bands profiled in the book. Azerrad writes about all of them so passionately, and makes them such cornerstones in independent music that it makes you want to learn more. For Mission of Burma, I bought their EP "Signals, Calls, and Marches." And while I liked one or two tracks on it, it didn't click with me like Black Flag or Beat Happening did. But that's because those bands are immediate. Black Flag writes straight ahead punk songs, and Beat Happening is pure, sloppy pop joy. Mission of Burma, though, are far more challenging and arty, penning songs about celebrities of the Dadaist movement and making references to lesser-known Philip K. Dick novels. Beyond simply the lyrics, the music is less pop/rock-centric, relying on liberal tape-loop use in the live setting, and being more angular and accomplished, musically. But, of course, under the "art" lies pop sensabilities. Mission of Burma just made you work for them. And that IS a cornerstone of the independent music scene: bands that will challenge listeners, not just lay out simple poptunes for easy digestion. Playing hard to get is always a turn-on, right?


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