Thursday, May 5, 2011

Forever, In the End

Las Cruces is an eternal spectator that watches those passing through, not with envy but with spite. The city is in all its vain glory, a wilted weed that desires to be a mighty sunflower. It is nothing more than a vacuous way station on the road to somewhere else. It lacks El Paso's sleazy south of the border ambiance, it also lacks anything that would distinguish it from anywhere else.  It's home to many a dull boy and of course NMSU, a school that totally screws with the entire concept of higher education. NMSU is a cow college that endearingly embraces its farm boy roots. They even have livestock on campus, and that of course is just too tempting for drunken frat boys, who invariably get into the corrals and as the local paper reports "harass the farm animals"  Maybe it's the barometric pressure or the curvature of the earth that causes the locals to drawl out their words and gives them that vacant malevolent expression. Gertrude Stein once famously described her feelings about being from Oakland, Ca., I think it suits the city of the crosses perfectly: "It was not natural to have come from there, yes! write about it if you like or anything if you like, but not there, there is no there there." In Las Cruces nothing of significance ever happens, it is the center of nothing, the birthplace of mediocrity, an elephant's graveyard for intelligent thought, progressive ideas and Mexican food. You would think that a city with such a large Hispanic population, would have better Mexican food. It could be an anomaly, but for sure it's a crying shame.  
The demographics of Las Cruces are very similar to El Paso: mostly White or Hispanic and very young, probably much younger than Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Rio Rancho. This abundance of young people means that the music scene along this stretch of the border is much different than the Duke City.  A few years ago latin and ska or a mixture of both styles seemed to be the music of choice, then metal music of all types took over and now it's crunky, screamo and emo that dominates the local scene.  There are any number of musicians or bands of that nature in Las Cruces and El Paso. None have enjoyed breakout success and most hang out at the bottom of the bill at festival type concerts. Some of these concerts may feature up to thirty different bands, all playing on the same day, fighting for the hearts and dollars of pre-teen boys and girls. My Genuine Find (an "artist" I already profiled) and Forever in the End, headlined  a tour that consisted of appearances at Hot Topic stores, most of which are located in malls and specialize in music and pop culture inspired fashion. Forever in the End was MGF's bff until Forever's Ronnie Johnson went against all conventional marketing wisdom and forged ahead with a change in musical direction.  That ill-advised move resulted in not just a name change but a life change as well. The Sun.The Moon.The Sky appears to be a blatant attempt at crossing over into Christian Rock or Praise music. Ronnie Johnson is smarter than your average pierced yokel, this new identity could work for him. However, as Adam Ant once said "You can't sing, can't dance, what can you do?"
Ronnie wears his heart on his sleeve, he writes sad droning songs and he sings them in a monotonous monotone backed by actual musicians. He's light years ahead of MGF's Bobby Mares in both vocal and songwriting skills and he gets credit for minimal use of that last resort of singing scoundrels, the dreaded auto tune. Ronnie is an earnest fella who has a clear view of the path to stardom. His only real obstacle seems to be that he's just not that good at anything he does. Are young folks under the age of 16 totally devoid of musical taste, is the ability to appreciate good music not fully developed during that age period? I ask because so many of these young screamo, emo bands are terrible, but our parents most certainly said the same thing about The Beatles and The Stones. In any case, the music's repulsive nature goes against the entire principal that drives popular music, which is, that it should appeal to a wide spectrum of music fans. A simple and basic concept that is understood by every pop producer, songwriter and artist. Lady Gaga knows this well, you write a song that sticks in people's brains like a fucking goat head, and the world is yours.  I won't review Ronnie's music tracks, in this genre the music really is unimportant, although I will say that he is far better than most of his peers. The fans of My Genuine Find and Ronnie Johnson really can't differentiate between good or bad music, for them it's just part of a virtual experience. So, I must ask, are we at a cultural nadir, where each successive generation dumbs it down another notch?  If that's the case, 2012 can't get here soon enough, take me home Captain, there is no sign of intelligent life left on this planet.