Where have all the good bands gone? It’s a question we should ask ourselves everyday. As complacency and convenience become the front running principles of daily life, the focus in music has clearly shifted from being a force of change to matters of practicality and ways to earn our keep. Everything has become so simple and menial; obtaining the latest music is done from the comfort of our own home, discovery is as easy as stumbling on to some trendy website and the process of thought has seemingly become obsolete (who needs to think when we can pay others to do it for us?). It is a uniform policy that stretches throughout our modern culture; it has all become commodity, gossip, hype and passing fancy.
Remaining within the bounds of music, it seems that in this day and age any ignoramus with a guitar has access to tools that will help him or her on their path to fame and fortune. Anyone who can raise their hand and say “I’m going to start a record label” has the resources to be the next label flag bearer of a musical sub genre and any asshole with basic HTML knowledge can proclaim their new website to be “the #1 source for discovering new music”. In truth, these advances are not to blame for the downfall of quality; they merely act to blind perceptions of achievement and popularity. We, as in the majority of us, are to blame for the complete mess we find the general state of music in. It is because we have sat back and said, “Yeah, sure, I’ll buy that crap” that hordes of fledgling artists continue to break ground for truly insipid and uninspiring. In terms of punk, this once drastically outcast subculture has become the inside lining of pop’s biggest joke; helmed by its proprietors of shaggy hair, tight t-shirts, hoochy-coochy melodies and the insulting fascination with broken hearts and teary eyed tales.
From the outside looking in, it is as if the music has distorted itself for the purpose of looking good on magazine covers, getting MTV2 rotation and a spot on the Warped Tour. It is this sightless perspective of success that has indelibly turned raw bitterness into saccharine humanization. And as those who follow this blueprint continue their excursion into mediocrity, there are few that teeter on the balance; seemingly undecided on whether to explore the hazardous path into social revolution or slide into distinct indifference.
S.T.U.N. are such a band; carefully molding their brew of rangy guitar modes with the alleyways of punk’s past in hopes to bring forward a new musical and social upheaval that has been absent since the early 90’s. While their discordant helpings of The Clash and Blitz do much to add to that sense of rebellion, there are clear moments of confusion and misguidance. It is easy to slap the tag “Get Your Mind Back” to your CD case (as S.T.U.N. do), but it is how the band influences you to do so that will ultimately make the statement.
Keen to display a brazen aura of energy, Evolution of Energy is a non-stop trek into voices of rebellion; albeit in a very broad sense, as S.T.U.N. tackles the subject on all fronts. However, their nonchalant approach often leaves a sense of partial progress; a call to arms that lacks edge. In “Watch the Rebellion Grow”, they drive the message of unity (“You need us / we need you / if we’re ever going to break through”) and a statement of uprising (“Watch the rebellion grow / We won’t give in / Until the new visions begin / Let’s get the boys and the girls together”), but it leaves the listener unsure as to what exactly they are rebelling against (perhaps they are rebelling against “everything”). One can say they strive to fight the system (“Movement”) and conquer the reigns of apathy (“Here Comes the Underground”), but they seemingly lack the conviction of their calls with their general lyrical methodology.
It doesn’t help that they veer into moments of bland melodics (the very Proclaimers sounding “Annihilation of the Generations”) and stunted misdirection (the tedious rock flared “We Will Come to You”); it reinforces the idea that even in uprising, modern musical traps are of no escape. The assumption is however, that S.T.U.N. will progress after Evolution of Energy; they certainly have the solid foundation and musical veracity to bridge their reach to the masses. And at all cost, they must avoid the utter stupidity that eventually consumed other notable major label “radicals” like Rage Against the Machine.
It would be foolish to think that S.T.U.N. are THE predecessors of the torch once carried by iconic figures of years gone by, but perhaps with the evolution of the music industry, true energy has to evolve as well – ultimately resulting in a new face for hope and urgency. Where have all the good bands gone? They’re out there, somewhere. And they’ll remain there until we refuse to listen to the garbage – until we tell the shitty bands to reap the very waste they propagate. And in their convoluted way, S.T.U.N. have, at the very least, captured moments of that ever elusive spirit, the active outlook that can make music a truly great thing.