…Pop Music has generally always been pretty bad.
Last night as I sat in my command chair and web surfed, we had the Grammys on the television machine. As everyone with any good sense knew, it was going to be a night of pretty horrible performances (mostly), and it did not disappoint in that respect. Even the appearance of Willie Nelson on the Grammys stage was not enough to save the show.
Snarky tweeters the world over were delighted. Sarcastic Facebook posts abounded. Haters gonna hate, as the saying goes, and they were quite justified last night in doing so.
As I approach the tender age of 50, it becomes easier and easier to slip into old man grumpiness when it comes to music. Work and life have for many years conspired to keep me from discovering the great huge stupendous masses of incredibly good new music being produced out there by people young and old. Luckily, this thing called the internet exists and is a tool unequaled in the area of Good Music Discovery.
I was one of you grumpy old pricks for a long time. Listening only to my 30-year old music. Saying all the new stuff sucks. Oh, occasionally I’d find a “new” band (all old now) like Radiohead or Portishead or something else I liked a lot, but mostly it was the same old stuff. To be honest, I wasn’t really looking for new music. I guess I was past the age where you are regularly exposed to cool new music. How much good shit are you gonna learn about working in an office full of pinks? Your head, my dear reader, may be in the same sad place and situation.
But I have good news for you.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
On this blog I regularly refer to a man whom many would consider potentially the grumpiest old bastard ever when it comes to music. I’m talking about Henry Rollins. Not so. To paraphrase Henry, there is so much good music being produced you could listen all day, every day, and never even scratch the surface. He’s right.
The same forces of technology that allow you to web surf cute cat photos from the comfort of your IKEA chaise lounge (ordered online, of course), while having gourmet lattes delivered (and possibly fed) to you by a “little person” at any hour of the day or night, give you the power to invest a small amount of time in some research and find some great new music to add to your collection of Jimmy Buffett 8-tracks and that Foreigner reel-to-reel you ordered from the RCA Record Club when you were 13 (though you never actually got that reel-to-reel tape deck).
You see, in addition to the mostly-horrible hacks producing commercial drivel featured on the Grammys, at this moment thousands of humans around the globe are writing, producing, playing, and uploading fantastic music of pretty much any genre that might make your brain-stem tingle. Some are producing good new stuff that is genre-pure, meaning the rock doesn’t have rap in it, etc. Others are mixing/mashing/fusing musical styles in some fantastic ways.
A couple of years ago, when I rediscovered my interest in electronic music and decided to try my hand at it, I discovered a record label called Ghostly. They are producing some very cool stuff. A lot of it melds traditional instruments with electronica, and the artists on this label go a lot of different directions. Some I like, some I don’t, but the ones I like I like a lot. Thus far, my favorite Ghostly artist is Shigeto. You can read about him on that link. I’ll just say he blends a lot of styles in a most inventive way. To me, it is sort of like Jazz for the modern era. This young feller isn’t just sampling the hits of 30 years ago and remixing them. He’s creating his own music, with the tools of the modern electronic musician. In concert he plays drums live — so here you go — behold —
Now, I know some of you, in particular my friend Mike, will not find this to his personal liking. I’m pretty sure he won’t, because he likes songs with guitars about driving too fast and fighting and drinking, which is just fine. My point simply (or perhaps long-windedly) is that there are a lot of creative and talented musicians out there, who as in previous musical epochs you will never hear on the radio or see on the Grammys, or maybe you will — who the hell knows. You didn’t see them last night though. So get off your ass, grandpa, and find some new stuff to put on your iPod.