I talked to Natasha from Resident Records (who often has her baby in a sling in the shop and is thus officially a Mum Who Rocks) about why she put those together and she said it was just “a very quick, commercially-minded message that wasn’t meant to pigeonhole anyone, just offer an alternative to the soldiers/vicars/firemen or X-Factor crap that usually gets pedalled at the ‘mum’ market”. Exactly, in fact, what that vom-inducing Independent article is trumpeting as the easy-listening heart’s desire of mums the country over (Mick Hucknall? Michael Bolton? Michael Bublé? And to enhance the mickey-taking, Katie sodding Melua?! The housewife’s choice, says the Independent, where the insult is to the ‘housewives’, not those chosen. Nein danke.).
So there’s your wider context to ‘alternative’ because in Pitchfork World the bands mentioned are, of course, an alternative to fuck all. Do they even have Michael Bublé in the Brooklyn?
Natasha also had this to say: “Your tastes don’t change just coz you’ve given birth – although I would say you have less time/ inclination/peace/concentration to listen to more challenging music with kids around, so it helps if the music is more immediate and instantly engaging and even better if it’s something they would like too.”
It’s true that my tolerance for – as a random example of the un-instantly engaging – the Cardiacs and their frentic pronky ilk, such that it ever was, has diminished considerably postnatally, but, as she says, motherhood doesn’t alter fundamental musical predilections: if you loved the Fall and Throwing Muses pre-kids, you’re gonna love ‘em still and keep on listening. (Then you get the heart-swelling moment of joy when you overhear children singing ‘Totally Wired’ to themselves as they get up in the morning.)
But this lot, the bands Natasha picked out and the Arcade Fire cohort, they’re all about immediacy and safety: music that is as about as edgy as a marshmallow and as scary as Peppa Pig. With beards. And sincerity. Things I would once have yelped at and brushed away as fast as I could. Easy listening for grown-up grunge kids. But as I tried to suggest up there, some of it is wonderful. It’s just not about being challenged; perhaps it really doesn’t always have to be. So I can take the mumrock tag, s’long as you let me keep my Rolo Tomassi and Micachu CDs and accept that if you really want to talk mumrock, you should A. ask why it’s all about the boys (shh, don’t mention my Matt Berninger mega-crush) and B. go read/listen instead to Kristin Hersh, who is the mother of all rockmums and, thankfully, still keeps the edgy in her back pocket.
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by Everett True
My name is Everett True. I am a music critic. This is what I do. I criticise music. The clue is in my job description – music critic. I do not consider myself a journalist, as I do not research or report hard news. I do not consider myself a commentator as I believe that everyone should be a participant. I criticise people and in return I am not surprised if other people criticise me. It is part of the whole deal of being in the public arena. I am Everett True. Believe in me and I have power like a God. Quit believing in me and I no longer exist.