Friday, August 26, 2016

Retrospective: Moshiach Oi!, or When Nostalgia Fails You

You ever revisit something you loved years ago, only to find it's not as good as you remember it? And then agonize about sharing that disappointment with a budding internet audience who might still really like that thing?

I remember first coming across New York's Breslov-based hardcore punk band Moshiach Oi! back in high school and getting extremely excited. As an enthusiastic fan of hardcore (fine, metalcore and post-hardcore, but same umbrella) who had begun to sour on Jewish music, I saw their early songs as the starting point for a slew of heavy Jewish bands who would compete with Christian metalcore acts like Demon Hunter and Norma Jean. Obviously that hasn't happened (yet) but I was still fascinated. I was even more excited a few years later when I heard their second album, This World is Nothing, with its darker lyrics, heavier tone, and mosh-worthy lead single (see below).

So naturally, now that I have this here blog thing that spreads my ramblings all over the web, I had the idea to do a retrospective on them. So a few days ago (before some computer problems left me unable post for those few days) I sat down, re-listened to both of the band's albums, and...

...And then something happened. All of sudden, I started to notice flaws in the music: the sincere-but-kinda-simplistic lyrics, the somewhat repetitive songs that all started to blend together, the way frontman Yishai Romanoff seemed to be struggling to keep up with the music, the weird bits of country and reggae-ska that now were less intriguing experimentation and more out-of-place distraction.

To be clear, I'm in no way dismissing Moshiach Oi! as a band. Romanoff can shred his throat with the best of them; guitarist Mike Wagner, bassist Mitchell Harrison, and drummer Paul Alpert are all excellent musicians who consistently provide a solid groove behind said throat-shredder; and "Got Nothing On Me" is still an awesome song. I'm sure time and future albums will only improve their sound. Yet their albums so far still feel a bit flat when listened to without the filter of youth and adrenaline.
Now, obviously I'm not the first to experience this kind of thing. Nearly everyone over a certain age has felt the crushing disappointment of trying to indulge your nostalgia after your critical brain has already kicked in. (For those who haven't yet, re-watch Space Jam.) Some things just can only be fully enjoyed within a specific time frame.

So I'll turn it over to you guys. Do you have a favorite band from your past that doesn't quite hold up now? What are you nostalgic over? And how much do you hate me for dissing both Moshiach Oi! and Space Jam? Let me know in the comments below, and have a great Shabbos!


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