Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just don't ask me to explain

I am old. I say this with complete comfort and an embrace of the curmudgeon-ness that accompanies it. The most pressing way this elderliness is manifesting itself lately is music. Man, I just can not find a way to care about most new stuff on the radio, be it on the rock station, the alternative station or the “cool” station here in town. And don’t get me started on Top 40. I was a teenager in the 80’s and still like a great deal of what I listened to then -- U2, REM, The Smiths, Adam Ant, Duran Duran. You get the idea. On the other hand, I love some good rock-n-roll. I’m a huge Rush fan (going to see them tomorrow -- w00t!), have mad props for Iron Maiden, dig on Queensryche, Gator and I had a little tribute sing-a-long when Ronnie James Dio died -- again, you get the idea. Irish music? I’m there. Other random stuff that prevents me from getting prettily pigeon-holed? You betcha.

Even most of what I consider new stuff that I like well enough to spend money on I realize with a bit of disbelief is already 3-5 years old -- Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco!, The Faint. It’s kind of like when I realized not long ago that almost all of my go-to clothes were over ten years old. How do these things happen?

Yes, I’m old, but it seems very strange to me in a kind of weird way. Now, I know the cliché is that you get old, look to the younger generation, and say, “That’s not even music -- that’s just noise!!” I don’t have that. Not at all. Well, okay, there’s that death metal crap that Gator listens to sometimes where the lead “singer” is really just a lead growling throat screamer -- I mean, there’s no tune or anything! But I sort of digress. From the point I was choosing to make, anyway. Death metal notwithstanding, most new music bores the crap out of me. I mean, I can’t even stand to listen to the entire sample clip on Amazon. Bored! Moving on! Nothing remotely interesting happening here! It’s frustrating, not only because listening to the radio can become torture, but because it’s uncomfortable to talk to most people about new music. Inevitably, someone will start talking about some person or band that I know only because I remember that I couldn’t switch away from it fast enough, and I find myself cocking my head at this person and thinking, “How can you, who seem like such an intelligent person, actively listen to that crap on purpose???” And, yes, someday this intelligent person may be one of you darling people that I love.

So, actually, all of this is really just background for what I’m going to do next. I’m going to inflict my music opinion on you. Yes! More than I already have! But, you see, the great thing about doing this on a blog is that you can cock your head at me and wonder about my sanity safely behind my back. Or skip it altogether. You have so much control here!

I feel about music the same way I feel about literature and the visual arts. I don’t come for the technique. Yes, I understand that without some technical expertise the finished product will be crap, but I figure that kind of comes along with being a professional. You can have awesome technique and still produce a crappy final product. I also don’t come for the subtlety of tone in the third beat of the 41st measure or the artful metaphor on the last page of the sixth chapter. For the most part, I don’t come for an artist’s statement. I have a brain and can read primary source material. Soap box to somebody else. What I want is to be moved. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or life-changing. If I want more, you’ve got me. I don’t have to know why. Frankly, I don’t care why. I want something that strikes a chord. No deep analysis. It can be totally stupid and nonsensical, but it’s got to make me want to listen/read/see it again. Period.

Amazon has hundreds of free MP3 downloads that I sift through occasionally. I try to do it monthly, but I just realized that I hadn’t done it since about February. Oh, look! Sus sucks at being timely about something! And something she actually likes to do, even! Imagine that! (Egad, how do any of you even put up with me?) Here’s my extremely scientific methodology: I start the clip. Within about four seconds I decide, based on my level of boredom, whether I will commit to downloading the song or skip directly to the next clip. All the songs I download (this is a very small percentage) go into a playlist and onto Ippy, my iPod for a few days of repeated listening. Then I cull out the ones that are actually boring or otherwise annoying after all, and everything else goes in the permanent lineup. I’ve purchased a couple of albums due to this (BLK JKS, Har Mar Superstar) but, honestly, I often find that even if I like one or two songs by an artist, the rest of the album does nothing for me. So I play my free songs game and have a grand ol’ time.

And now I will force it upon you! play before a live audience (sorta)!

Without further ado, here are my picks for best free singles on, August 2010 version!

And there you have it! A selection of free mp3 downloads that I like. There are several whole sampler albums for free on Amazon as well (I especially like the middle eastern stuff), but that’s another post altogether. Maybe you’ll find something you like as well. If you do, please share!


Becky G said...

Thanks for posting the list of free MP3s. I had no idea Amazon had those.

YarnThrower said...

I'm going to have to check out that list on Amazon! I'm sort of a classical, jazz, and big band nerd, and have never been current on the music scene...though it would be good for me to see what's coming out these days...

jmk said...

I may or may not sample your sampler depending on how much free time I find myself with over the next week or so (never heard of any of them, btw, LOL), but I did want to jump in and say I have a "thing" for middle eastern music, too! :-)

Vicki Knitorious said...

I downloaded every one of those songs... haven't had a chance to listen to them all yet (hello, Chaka trumps all). Thanks you!

Tricia said...

I TOTALLY related to what you wrote, not only when it comes to music, but also reading. I love reading! Except when I hate it because everthing sux. . . .okay, I listed to a sample of each and my thought? This is Scuz music. If you hadn't put it in context, I would have assumed these were obscure bands you played for me in the '90s that I didn't know then, either. Liked some of this and appreciated it. New wrinkle: try DJ Lobsterdust's free mash-ups for the mind. I think my favorite is Smells LIke Funky Music, but predict you'll love Put on the Red Light. Tell me what you think.

Steve said...

I felt old at 26 when I found that I could not relate to a lot of the 90's alt-rock--Husker Du beats Stone Temple Pilots any day in my book.

I'm big on eMusic because it makes it easy to explore groups, and you can search recent releases, too. Since I've gotten into that, I really could care less about the latest.