‘guitar music is back’ say the music biz but are Haim the end of alternative music?Guitar music is back…according to head of  BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra Head of Music George Ergatoudis and a load of high profile music industry figures who reckon that public taste swinging towards guitar music in 2013.

This seems to miss the fact that guitar music has not really gone away (maybe they just ignored it but everyone else kept on being into it)  with most of the big festival headliners and the bands selling out stadiums being big rock acts and metal acts. Do they really mean that, like fashion designers deciding that green is next year’s colour, they have got something new to sell?

Haim are being pushed as an example of guitar/alternative music making a big breakthrough but are they alternative? they are very good at making polished mid seventies style soft rock and are back but the big machine- that’s along way, on every level, from being alternative. This doesn’t make them a bad group- it just raises a question mark over what is alternative.

The list of bands they are pushing as these big guitar acts are not quite what we are thinking of as guitar music- you kinda think of something noisy and exciting but these bands don’t seem to have entered their narrow radar with them quoting bands like Haim and Palma Violets.
 Ergatoudis said: “Rock and alternative guitar acts are going to find public taste swinging their way.” try telling that to someone like Rammstein who got 20 000 people at their recent Manchester show with zero radio play.
 Palma Violets are a good solid guitar indie band, I’ve seen them live a couple of times and they are sprightly and energetic but are they generational goal post shifters that some people are hoping that they could be? is such a thing possible when the real alternative culture has moved along way away from the music business and creates its own revolutions outside the machine? and in these fast moving, fractured times do people still need bands to play this role?
Haim are the BBC new band tip of the year but is their mid seventies, Californian Fleetwood Mac style soft rock really representative of some sort of shift towards guitar music? there seems to be some sort of confusion here mixing Haim up with alternative music but maybe that’s a sign of how non alternative, alternative music has really become in the last few years.  Nowadays it’s a marketing term- safe music dressed up as being a bit edgy to make the listener feel ‘cool’. When most radio stations play alternative music, it sounds really mainstream, the alternative stations have suffocating play lists and there is a very definitive idea of what alternative music is meant to sound like and anything that drops beyond the ‘good taste’ barometer is conveniently edited out
…Is it time to drop the term alternative and stop pretending that there is such a thing? is guitar music on the way back or has it always been around and does it really matter what instruments music is played on?
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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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