As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Summer Flake.
I’ve long held onto a theory that I believe it’s time to share: the widespread acceptance and accessibility to the internet has put us in a culture stasis. A generation of now 15 years removed from their college years entered into the halls of academia and given the keys to internet the speeds of which they never imagined. No more dial-up modems, crackles, and slow load times. We were bequeathed Napster, Audiogalaxy, Soulseek, Wikipedia, and a host of message boards wrapped in manila nostalgia. We were milquetoast and we were satisfied.
So were the emerging seeds of new pop culture. Rather than pushing forward through the morass of the past as tastemakers had done since manifest destiny of television enveloped most American households, the buck stopped. Pop became bubblegum again, the mainstream embraced the blind patriotism of the 50s—it was all white picket fences and apple pie. And though the advances were seeping into the idealized reset world, it was but the fringes that seemed eager to keep pushing toward a greater goal. The 90s seemed to end abruptly, in its place a wave of retro-future entertainment that placated us for far too long.
Now the cracks are beginning to show. The internet is more than a toy, but a vehicle of mass dissemination and information. Though its faults are many and its porn bountiful, it is also beginning to thaw the ice age of cultural advancement that ushered its prominence. Call this all a silly theory, especially in the guise of a music review, but the pattern mainstream and independent music has largely taken points to the resurgence of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. And now the 90s, a 20-odd year after its pop culture arrival was heralded in every corner of mainstream culture.
What does this have to do with Australia’s Summer Flake? Plenty and all of it good; with the embargo of the 90s ending, we can finally wrap up the decade and dedicate ourselves to getting back out and making modern history rather than reliving it through rose-tinted glasses. You Can Have it All, the full-length debut from Stephanie Crase’s post-alternative outfit is the summery end to our love affair of all things past. The Indian Summer of 70s and 80s pop resurgence is fading and with it so is a generation’s chapter on the 90s entertainment that was a reaction to all of it. You Can Have it All is that musical reaction; the equivalent of cusping our gentle hands over the wide-eyed but dead decades in a show of respect.
Having listened to the EPs and singles of Crase’s past, You Can Have it All plays to those slacker 90s motifs of old while also looking to a future of rock-pop that isn’t necessarily weighted by nostalgia—even if a bit of Motown wispiness and ballad crunch infest many of her songs. But that’s all well and good because any good epitaph should pay creed to what came before as it speaks to what is next.
Short of being a mantra, You Can Have it All allows one last glimpse into what was while allowing us to close the casket on our own time. The tears begin with the sad surf minuet “Just Fine,” and flow by the end of “Forever Here and Now.” Though our “hearts are breaking” by the title track, these moments of wistful reflection are buoyed by the edge of an emerging generation—one unstuck in time. Just in time to finally see the future that is 2013. I want to be a part of it and frolic among the forward pop of Summer Flake. It will be fulfilling and promising to make our own stories for yet-created generations to pilfer, all “Dressed in Black.”