Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tired of music

There have been a few cds coming out over the past few months that I've had some interest in getting. I planned on getting the new releases of Death Cab for Cutie, Weezer, and Coldplay. Yet, for some reason, I haven't yet.

I don't know. I guess I'm just starting to feel a bit uninspired by a lot of the new music I've been hearing lately. Death Cab for Cutie's new single is pretty good, but it just doesn't scream out to me "buy the whole album!" Weezer's last cd was pretty blah, and what I've heard of the new one just doesn't do much for me. It's not bad, but it's just not going to get as many listens as their first three discs did, I just know it. As for Coldplay, I've heard a few of their new songs now, and absolutely none of them are doing anything for me. I'm willing to concede that maybe I need to listen to them some more, as Coldplay was one of those bands that I originally didn't think much of, but slowly they grew on me.

I probably should point out here that I downloaded the new Raconteurs album from Amazon.com. That's some damn good music, and I've been listening to it quite a bit. The new one by The Black Keys is pretty good as well, so it's not like I'm totally turned off to all new music.

I remember when pop and rock music used to be a lot more exciting for me. In high school and college, I used to keep up with all the new bands and with what was going on in music. Like so many others, as I got older, I paid less attention, and the new music I got was mainly new releases by bands that debuted when I was paying attention. I also had pretty much drained the classic rock well, as there just didn't seem to be much out there that appealed to me anymore, as I already owned pretty much the entire catalogue of Beatles, Creedence, The Who, etc. I wasn't going to start listening to butt-rock like Boston, Bad Company, and Foreigner, that's for damned sure. (I should also mention that I got into a Blues phase for a while there, and while I still list it as one of my favorite genres - let's be honest, you can buy a disc or two by a particular artist and you have all you need from them.)

And when I do pay attention, I'm pretty underwhelmed. Every now and then, I'll hear something that impresses me. Luckily my wife still pays attention to what's popular, and a few years back while she was watching some awards show, I was introduced to The Hives, The Vines, and The White Stripes (the latter of which becoming probably one of my favorite bands). Now, I'm not so foolish as to say that music was better back when I was a teenager - there was plenty of crap. I guess I was just less discerning then, as certain entries in my cd collection prove. (I mean - do I really need all of the Van Halen albums with Sammy Hagar? Do I really need even one of them? Isn't Van Halen and 1984 with David Lee Roth enough?)

Much of the rock I hear now strikes me as being pretty blah, as it seems like a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. When I hear it, I don't hear a riff or a melody, and it sounds like the singer is forcing a melody over music that's just one chord over and over again. (At this point, I will admit that my musical ignorance is preventing me from having the proper verbage to say exactly what it is that I mean.) I mean, think of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker." Got that guitar riff in your head? That's the kind of thing that I'm not hearing from a lot of the rock bands of today. (Not that everybody should be doing Zeppelin-like riffs - but there does need to be some sort of a hook.)

Now, before you start saying, "But what about (fill in the blank here)" I am sure that there are a lot of really good bands out right now that I haven't heard yet. I sometimes listen to the radio (106.5 - KWOD) and I'll hear some good stuff. I also admit that some of these bands seem pretty crappy on the first listen, but then I later have to swallow my words and admit that there's something to them. (My Chemical Romance seems to be one of these. I thought that they were really lame at first, but the more I hear of them, the more interesting their music gets.) Still, I have always been of the mind that 90% of everything is crap - and nothing proves that moreso than popular music.

I was in the city today and I stopped off at the Virgin Megastore. While browsing around, I saw a bunch of cds by new rock bands (including some of the ones I mentioned at the beginning) and debated buying them. I didn't struggle too much in passing them by. However, when I went to the top floor, I started checking out the jazz section. There were about three Coltrane cds that I didn't have, and I gave each one a listen. I wanted to buy them all, as I've been listening to him quite a lot. I listen to music when I take my dog on a walk, and his albums have been getting a lot of play from me. I settled on just one - Lush Life.

There was also a listening station for a bunch of World Music compilations. They had discs on everything from African dance to European cafe music to Americana. I listened to a bit of each one, and I wanted to buy them all (about fifteen or so). I limited myself to the Afro-Latin Party disc, and I can't wait to play it next time I'm cooking in the kitchen. I'm sure that I'll be shaking my butt and dancing in a horrific manner that would instantly kill any passer by who's unfortunate enough to look in my window. (Fear for my wife.)

It's funny, but for as underwhelmed as I'm feeling about pop and rock music, I'm starting to get really excited about jazz. I feel as though there's a whole world of good stuff out there that I still have to discover, and my wallet will feel lighter as a result. I'm still figuring out what I like and what I don't about jazz, and it's almost like when I got my first cd player - I've got a lot to learn.

I doubt that my love affair with rock music is over. It's just in a bit of a lull right now as I broaden my horizons a bit. The thing is, a lot of the music I find myself liking isn't what I'm going to hear on the radio - maybe on one of the XM stations that my satellite company provides, I suppose. I have to take the time to look for it - but whenever I get something really good, I definitely feel rewarded.

"Betece" by Africando - one of the bands on the Afro-Latin Party cd.


weemaryanne said...

No, you're not tired of music. You're just learning to live with the practical application of Sturgeon's Law:

Ninety percent of everything is crap.

It's tiresome, I'll grant you. I recently read a Neil Gaiman novel and it's the first pop fiction that I've enjoyed in years. (It was "American Gods.") I don't even want to think about the morass of stuff I had to wade through before striking that one solid bit of good reading.

Coldplay never grew on me. These days I usually retreat to Ryan Adams, alternating with The Arcade Fire.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

You're probably right. It's tough to be discerning. Perhaps I should start listening to more contemporary Christian pop. That's good stuff. I'm sure Ray Comfort likes it.