Every band has influences. If they didn’t, they would be trying to basically reinvent music, and that would seem insane. However, sometimes bands really wear their influences on their sleeves. I mean, they really wear their influences on their sleeves. There are bands that practically sound like tribute bands toward their influences. Some musical artists, simply put, sound essentially like an earlier, and usually more popular, artist. That brings me to my question: How do you feel about bands that sound almost identical to their influences?
This question came to mind because recently I was asked if I had heard the new album from the band kiwi jr. I had not, so I threw it on. As I was listening to the first song, my friend said to me, “I was curious if you had heard it because it sounds so much like a Pavement or Jicks album. At first I thought a cover song had shown up on my Spotify.” I had been pointed in a certain direction, but even so after that immediately it sounded so much like an early Jicks album. It was all I could hear.
Now, Pavement is my favorite band, and I like some of the Jicks albums Stephen Malkmus made after that. There are a few ways one could feel about this. You could think, “Hey I love the band they sound like. I love this kind of sound. Why wouldn’t I enjoy it?” You could also feel like, by sounding so much like another band that is more famous, and perhaps better, that they can never live up to that sound. It’s like all those Quentin Tarantino knockoffs that came out in the wake of Pulp Fiction. Or, of course, you could consider it a total rip off and dismiss the artist entirely.
So which path do you take? Are you cool with bands that are a little too influenced by other bands? Or does it bug you and make you dismiss them? As for me, well, I thought the kiwi jr. album was pretty good.