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Article: Pilferage
Writer: Brinepacer
Date Posted: 23/12/00

Everyones giving out about pilferage at the moment. It wasn't an issue until Oasis came along. Now, only a fool could have missed the similarities between Oasis' anthems and those of their heroes (the one that sticks out in my mind being 'Cigarettes and Alcohol', an almost straight rip-off of 'Get it On' by T-Rex), but the question must be asked, is it really such a big deal? As long as what is coming out is essentially new, who cares?

Essentially, when writing a song (and i've done my fair share of that, believe me), you're trying to string together a handful of chords from a maximum of twelve, and hope it sounds ok. I mean, pop punk, the whole thing is based on the same three chord riff. NOFX branched out and use four instead, but essentially, the tools are limited. However, the results vary. The same three (or four or five) chords can evoke completely different emotions when played in different ways.

Lets take an example here. Lagwagon's 'Owen Meaney' from the 'Lets Talk About Feelings' album. Now, this track is a genuinely beautiful song, fantastically arranged and a perfect closer to what has been for almost two years my favorite album. That exact same guitar pattern was used by Hi-Standard in the song "My Sweet Dog" a year earlier on their 'Angry Fist' album. Here it is poppy, slightly funky, and shares none of the same emotions as Owen Meany.

Another example would be the Ramones, who made a long lasting career out of all the same chords. They have always been the quintessential dumb four chord punk band, these four chords usually being the same. Watching a video of The Ramones live from (i think) Lollapalooza, one never knew what song they were performing until Joey started to sing, cos it was the same all the way through.

Personally, i don't see pilferage in music (being either intentional or coincidental) as being any bad thing. I will admit to having gone off punk pop of late due to this tendency of all using the same chord progressions, but also because it has become accepted to the point where a lot of bands don't try anymore. However, ever so often, a new band, like Saves The Day or The Ataris, will come along, using yesterday's chords and infusing them with a passion that makes you sit up and listen, and not care who played them before, because the songs just wrap you up in them and everything sounds fresh. And what more do we want?