17
Jun
09

Crisis in Musical taste…

As a ‘generation-X’er’ I’ve felt like I’m in a bit of a crisis regarding my search for new music at the moment. I listen to the Australian alternative radio station, JJJ, quite a bit, but I’m not getting into any new bands much. Most of that seems to be for gen-y.

Furthermore, when I search the magazine stands, there have only been two mags that kind of stand out to me: “Uncut” and “Now hear this”, which have accompanying sample CDs. They’ve had some interesting stuff on the CDs, a lot of music from different genres, and far more varied and interesting than typical ‘mainstream rock’, ‘RnB’ and so-called ‘alternative rock’. It’s all variants and mixtures, for more discerning listeners, but nothing has grabbed me in particular. It’s hard to know if you could really get into an act from just hearing one song.

It also seems to me that there’s a great focus on the past four decades (with classic rock mags and so many old bands reforming) but that’s because the classics stand out. So, for example, I’ve been getting into Sade because she has a great voice, great songs and a great band. I’ve been willing to buy all their albums, and I’m happy with all of them.

It’s hard to look at the current scene, or scenes I should say, without feeling overwhelmed. The internet has widened things up so much, but you could spend years wandering the muso-wastelands (of which I’m a part of) and not be struck by anything. Of course you may find some gems, but what’s going to compete with all the classics to which we compare them.

I’m not talking about genre here, but quality in all aspects. Songwriting, arrangements, each performance of all the instruments and vocals, and how they interact. After a while we don’t care so much about the style or genre or category, but the quality of the music.

I know it’s also subjective, but take rock for example. If you’re been into rock for years, and you play a bit of guitar yourself, you’re going to be able to discern well-played guitar parts. You going to get sick of the same over-used chops, cliche solos and typical powerchords. You’re going to want to hear interesting songs, where the guitar parts (and other parts) are unique. You’re going to appreciate the way the guitar works with the bass and drums, not cluttering but complementing. You’re going to appreciate the way guitar counter-melodies play off the vocals.

It’s the same with songwriting and the whole song. You’re going to get sick of cliches and hyped music, the same blaring guitar parts, puncy image and rock antics. You’re going to turn a deaf ear to the marketing hype, advertising campaigns and ‘industry buzz’.

I know most of generation X has moved on from ‘youth culture’. Most of my friends listen to talk-back radio, which I can’t stand. But there are some who still take an interest, because we know there are bands from rock to hip-hop to pop, which are quality. It’s just hard to sift through the rubbish to find them.

The last five years I’ve got into jazz -particularly classic bebop and cool jazz, like Miles Davis And John Cultrane. I also have some favourite pop artists -because there is quality pop that’s satisfying. And lately I’ve borrowed some CDs of African pop, which I’m finding refreshing. I like the rhythm, and the way the guitar is more ‘minimal’ (not minimalist), with light, clean riffs and rhythmic licks that make the song interesting, rather than blaring 6-string strumming that can clutter a song.

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