September 18, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 12  

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Song writing is evolution, baby

Maggie Wrobel

Gazette Staff

Be honest: when your parents get old, are you going to take care of them and humour their senile ramblings or are you going to ship them off to one of those "facilities?"

The same question can be raised when it comes to certain musical artists. I'm not talking about "hit makers" like Skye Sweetnam (who we all know actually had nothing to do with her hit) or fake gangsta rappers like 50 Cent. I'm talking about those bands and singers that make whole albums of music, instead of a decent song or two, plus ten filler songs. Take a band like Halifax indie pop darlings Sloan, for instance. Their latest album, Action Pact, marks their seventh full-length release in 11 years as a band.

If you ask me, there is great merit in continuously producing new, original material, no matter how badly experimenting with a new sound sometimes (arguably) goes awry. As a music fan, this seems like a reasonable enough opinion. I've followed a few bands/artists through decade-long careers and have come to accept the fact bands will sometimes try new things and change up their sound.

However, I am constantly amazed at the number of fans that lash out at seemingly established artists the second they realize that "this latest album sounds nothing like the last one!" Wow, really? Why don't you buy another copy of the last one then and sell this one to City Lights where I can buy it for ten bucks cheaper than HMV?

I know a lot of people take music personally and a change in an artist's sound can sometimes be heartbreaking to a long-term fan. What we need to remember is that change is a natural progression in art as it is in life and that we should give those whom we respect and admire the space and motivation to create more music in the future.

In his 21st century anthem entitled "We Will Still Need a Song," flamboyantly earnest singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman sings the lines "The poets let a generation down/ but modern music can be the healing sound/ it's the only way." Workman's sincere plea strikes even more of a chord with the listener when it is placed within the context of circumstances surrounding his latest album, Lover/ Fighter.

On his online message board, the singer is already being attacked by resentful "fans" who claim his latest outing is too polished and lacks the quirky charm of his past two releases. This kind of behaviour not only exemplifies the fickleness of some music fans today, but it also opens the "sellout" can of worms, which we'll save for another meal, kids.



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