As Chicago combats a mounting heap of problems—if somehow you're unaware of them, just read the rest of our blog—many eyes are glued to a war that raged a long time ago in a galaxy . . . well, you get the point. The seventh chapter of the Star Wars
saga hits theaters next week, more than a generation after the original trilogy wrapped up. The omnipresence of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
already rivals that of Christmas paraphernalia—it feels like it's everywhere, even in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. I blame my recent purchase
of Star Wars
cereal on a sense of journalistic duty—I had to know if it was real. After eating the whole box, I can confirm that the marshmallow lightsabers do not taste like lightsabers.
The music world isn't immune to Star Wars
fever. Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton
(which comes to Chicago next fall), supplied Force Awakens
director J.J. Abrams with some music for a cantina scene. Miranda has a high bar to clear: the cantina scene in the first Star Wars
film is a favorite of mine partly because of the peppy cosmic tunes that fill the dimly lit bar (not to mention the creatures playing the music, with their phallic heads, bug eyes, and Beat-style black outfits). Of course I'm not the only fan of the cantina band, aka Figrin D'an & the Modal Nodes—next Wednesday a real-life incarnation of the fictional group plays the Whistler
, which will transform itself into Chalmun's Cantina to celebrate the release of The Force Awakens
I only recently realized that California punk outfit Nerf Herder got its name from a throwaway line in The Empire Strikes Back
. Today my mind has wandered to a Star Wars
reference in 2005's Between the Devil and the Sea
, the debut EP by defunct Texas indie outfit Oh No Oh My. The opening track, "Oh Be One," is an uncomplicated, cycling love ditty that borrows the words of a rebel princess: "Yes, you are my only hope / Oh be one / You're my only hope." On paper it strikes a simple, tender note, but the words travel differently with the music. When I first heard "Oh Be One" I thought "Obi-Wan," as in the Jedi knight.
"Oh Be One" was one of the first Oh No Oh My tracks I stumbled upon in the mid-aughts. I think I first heard them through the blog Music for Robots, then scraped the blogosphere for whatever MP3 demos and tracks Oh No Oh My had made (including material under an earlier name, the Jolly Rogers). The genial, airy songs combine delicate folk and accessible indie rock, and Oh No Oh My became one of the legion of acts tagged "blog rock" less because of a common sound and more because of the types of outlets that gave them shine.
At the time it seemed like a good thing—Oh No Oh My's lovable music got a boost of attention. In a 2006 OC Weekly music-festival preview
that focused on Oh No Oh My, equal time went to their blog coverage as to their "cute" music and name: "Oh No! Oh My! is another one of those bands that gained recognition through taste-making music blogs like Gorilla vs. Bear and Music (For Robots)." In retrospect this kind of attention may have been a liability for the band—Oh No Oh My have become a tiny subsidiary part of the mass of "blog rock" rather than a band that transcended or defined it. Philadelphia outfit Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
drew the lucky card, riding the wave of blog fandom to The Late Show With David Letterman
The mid-aughts era of indie-rock is spawning its first wave of nostalgia already, and this past summer Clap Your Hands Say Yeah played a ten-year anniversary tour behind their self-titled album. Hindsight hasn't treated Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
all that kindly, but the record is still remembered as emblematic of an important shift in the methods of distributing, sharing, and writing about music. The same good fortune hasn't befallen the armies of acts that populated rock-centric music blogs back then, including Oh No Oh My. Their moment feels like it took place a long time ago. Perhaps listening to "Oh Be One," which is today's 12 O'Clock Track
, will bring those memories back.