By John Buckley/Tulip Frenzy/November 5, 2016
Rock’n’roll is a derivative art form that as a genre of popular music has lasted an unusually long time. The distance stretching back to when the Beatles hit our shores is longer than the period between World War I and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Yeah, World War I.
So one factor that surely influences our appreciation of artists is which antecedent sensibilities inform their work — can we hear traces of the Rolling Stones or the Velvet Underground in what they do? Is it clear they listened to punk rock in its day? Yes, of course, the work should be judged on its own, but since rock’n’roll iterates off a simple four-chord standard, the artist’s vantage point really matters.
We recently wrote about Tim Presley, whose bands Darker My Love and particularly, White Fence, have been important to us. And of course when we listen to Presley, we know exactly how much this guy who grew up with the last name of rock’s first superstar enjoyed the Who and the Kinks, punk rock and David Bowie, and it adds to our appreciation of him.
The great Austin troubadour Alejandro Escovedo has always worn his influences on his sleeve: Mott the Hoople, Lou Reed, the Rolling Stones, Texas songwriters like Townes Van Zandt. He’s finished sets with covers of songs by Mick Jagger and David Bowie. And he himself embodies distinct periods in musical history, from his San Francisco punk band The Nuns, to an early stab at alt.country, Rank and File, to ’80s Austin power rockers True Believers. He can write gorgeous ballads and thrilling rockers, and the protean assemblage of musicians he takes on the road or into the studio can include cello players and violinists, pedal steel and guitar virtuosi, kick-ass drummers or no drums at all.