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August 28, 2009 7:02 PM   Subscribe

How can I find more of the music I like and what do I hate so much about the music I don't?

I especially like something similar to John Cale's Paris 1919 album, Brian Eno's Before And After Science album (not so much his ambient albums so much as his more rock-oriented albums), also Erik Satie's "furniture music" and David Bowie's Station to Station. I like the sort of 'intelligent' vibe that John Cale gives and the extremely recognisable motives of all of them. I am just getting into John Cale and this album just rocked my socks off. I like music that seems to have a meaning that takes many listens and many reads through the lyrics to figure out.

However, I also very much dislike most "modern" bands. This is getting to be kind of a problem, as my friends try to introduce me to their favorite bands, and I can never explain what I don't like about them. It just seems so boring, like background music that all blends into each other, even supposedly "innovative" indie-type bands that is on most college radio. It all seems a little droning and the vocal lines aren't "punchy" enough for me. But I don't know exactly what I don't like about it, and when said friends try to play me a song they think I'll like, I don't. There also seem to be a lot of repetition in the rhythm, which I like when The Fall does it, but when these newer bands do it, it all seems so redundant.
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, there is no good way to go about this....c.f. Pandora - apparently the music genome project is supposed to predict music you'll like, but for me, it doesn't really work.

The best solution, I think, is to just listen to shit tons of music. I have very diverse music tastes, however, so YMMV.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:19 PM on August 28, 2009

Oh yes, without Pandora there would be no Erik Satie, and for that I'm eternally grateful. But I'd still like to somehow group more bands into the John Cale category on merits other than "major tonalities" or whatever else Pandora uses to categorise things.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:26 PM on August 28, 2009

Have you tried looking up something you like on Last.fm and seeing what other people who dig it also like?
posted by csimpkins at 7:27 PM on August 28, 2009

You don't mention any of the "modern" bands by name, which makes it much harder to grasp what rubs you the wrong way. Also, even the tracks that you link to are really disparate in style--can you give us more detail to go on?

I think one possible first step would be to stop lumping all recent music together.
posted by umbú at 7:27 PM on August 28, 2009

I went through a phase (I mean, I guess I'm still sort of in it, actually) where I was listening to a lot of psychedelic music from the late '60s and I found blogs to be a wonderful resource. I'd type in the names of the artists I liked (or albums) and see who was writing about those bands, and who else they were writing about. This may require more work and research, but I've found this is the best way to find music that's like the music I'm interested in.

I've found Last.fm more helpful than Pandora in pointing me to stuff I like, but even that usually doesn't give me anything I'm going to love.
posted by darksong at 7:37 PM on August 28, 2009

I like going on Amazon and checking out the Listmania section. I also find Pandora lacking.
posted by ifranzen at 7:38 PM on August 28, 2009

You seem to like music with strong, simple percussion, but that's not otherwise simple music. That's all I can get from these four examples, anyway.

Indie music has a particular style that's kind of "cute" to me, as if it's a reaction against the grunge of the '90s. Maybe this is what turns you off? A great example of this is Peter, Bjorn and John. How does this one strike you? (I'm giving you this as an example of something I think you probably won't like, by the way.)

How about LCD Soundsystem? Philip Glass? Any better?

I suggest going to CD Baby|Explore Music and see what it gives you. It's hit or miss, but I've found some awesome artists this way. Also, find some internet radio that mixes up the genres - I can suggest Radio Paradise and KCRW. Oh, and on preview, I found Listmania to be a great resource, too.
posted by zinfandel at 7:53 PM on August 28, 2009

(By the way, Pro Tools is to blame for at least some of the repetition in accompaniment and rhythm sections that is apparent in a lot of newer music. It's just so easy to copy and paste a couple measures of something, rather than having the musicians actually play it again - and playing it again would not be identical like copy/pasting is.)
posted by The World Famous at 7:56 PM on August 28, 2009

zinfandel: You're right about my dislike of "cute" music/lyrics etc. But I also didn't like the 90s alternative thing that came before it (Nickelback, etc.) and that was when I first started criticising things. But I found Peter Bjorn and John to be less troublesome than other bands, until I really started getting irritated by...well, their "cuteness". I also thought Of Montreal had potential, I liked Modest Mouse's Good News For People Who Love Bad News album, and the first few songs on Kings of Leon's Aha Shake Heartbreak (but then it got annoying and too overtly sexual, I thought.)

I hate ProTools.

Listening to LCD Soundsystem, I noticed another thing that repels me from a song and therefore a band is an extremely predictable song introduction (for example, my friend played me a song and I said, "the drums are going to start here..." and they did) and an unoriginal (as I find it to be) structure and vocal line.

I can't think of any bands I don't really like right now, since once I decide I don't like them, I'm not going to make an effort to remember their name forever!
I mean, I can try...my sister played Parenthetical Girls and Wild Beasts to me last night, which she just absolutely loved, but I didn't find them especially different. I don't like Death Cab for Cutie, and I don't like much of what VH1's Subterranean plays.
I do actually find Of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping album quite intricate, even though I do agree with the one stranger that said at one point their act is becoming way too stage-show-oriented. I don't like their much earlier music though (a little...unvarying), and I don't really like their lyrics, as they tend to all be about "love" and "this girl or other" and nothing more...
I guess I like serious "the writer against the world" songs as opposed to "we're all friends, let's have a drink" songs, if that even helps at all!

And.......I really hate ProTools.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 8:15 PM on August 28, 2009

And.......I really hate ProTools.

Don't hate the tool. Hate the way people use it. It's a fantastic tool, and can be used to make great stuff.

That said, I really notice a lot of super obvious Pro Tools (or Logic or whatever they happen to be using) editing lately, and I think that laziness in production is really ruining music.

I'm with you in the sense that no new music that I've heard has really inspired me that much lately. It's just all very lazy, it seems. I'm sure there's something out there that I would really love. I just don't know what it is.
posted by The World Famous at 8:28 PM on August 28, 2009

I hate to suggest a specific band, since that wasn't really your question, but are you familiar with The Fiery Furnaces? A friend who studied music in college and doesn't like much contemporay music loves them. I'd recommend them to someone (you) who likes Eno and The Fall. Great hooks and melodies buried under heaps of weirdness. Links: Chief Inspector Blancheflower,Teach Me Sweetheart, Sing For Me, In My Little Thatched Hut, Staring at the Steeple (Live), Seven Silver Curses (can't find a link, but it's great.)
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 8:30 PM on August 28, 2009

I don't know if this helps, but here are a few bands (not very well known) that I have played for friends of mine who have diverse musical tastes. More often than not, these get a thumbs up. Links are to Amazon MP3 previews, although I don't think the 30-second snippets really do justice.

The American Analog Set



The American Analog Set can be quite experimental at times, as can +/-. Versus tends more towards indie rock (I guess) but I find they don't have the annoying quality that a lot of indie bands seem to have (whatever it is) -- even now, listening to some of their early '90s stuff, it seems timeless.
posted by bengarland at 8:38 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ah, I found a still-available mp3 download of Seven Silver Curses on this very old blog post.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 8:57 PM on August 28, 2009

That said, I really notice a lot of super obvious Pro Tools (or Logic or whatever they happen to be using) editing lately, and I think that laziness in production is really ruining music.

x 1000

like any good drug, the tool can be great, but the tool can be abused.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:57 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's what I have been listening to lately, I'm sure you have already been through these groups, but worth a try:

Sunny Day Real Estate
Archers of Loaf
Dinosaur Jr.

Our college station has actually been pretty good with music lately, sometimes it is just the indie version of the top 40. I have also found NPR's All songs considered to be pretty interesting.

Hope this helps.
posted by TheBones at 10:10 PM on August 28, 2009

I hate to say it but, as a person who I think has similar tastes, I can understand what the poster's going through (down to the just getting into Cale and really liking Eno) - and I don't think The Fiery Furnaces, The American Analog Set, etc are going to be a good idea, as the poster's already said he doesn't really like stuff of this moment and doesn't seem to be looking for it.

As for how to get into new music? lhude sing cuccu, take it from me:

Computers and computer databases are fine and dandy for getting data about music, for gathering information about the circumstances of a recording etc, and that's a handy thing to be able to do when you're getting into new stuff. But, though I know if pains many of my (fellow) geeks to hear it, computers are not nor will they every be, a surefire tool for finding new music, at least for people like myself. The whole point is discovery, but the really interesting discoveries only happen when you make a human connection; Fripp could be just five letters to me, and last.fm or pandora recommending him to me doesn't add any information to the mix, but the moment I start to understand a bit about his relationship with Eno and his style of working, his contacts with other people, et cetera, he starts to mean something to me.

That said, of course, computers mean it's easier to go through that process nowadays even if they aren't actively creating it; all that information is so much easier to dig up now.

At the same time, I think it might help you to go back "go back to the gold sounds" and ponder a bit about this whole process used to work.

Picture, if you will, the scene in Athens, Georgia, circa 1980. To put yourself there, you have to imagine away all the computers and the internet and the endless streams of data that we float upon today. Back then if you wanted this one record&emdash;say for example you wanted to procure yourself a copy of The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat—and it wasn't a new record that was on a major label (and it had to be both; those labels weren't going to keep printing up archival copies for no apparent reason) you had to go through a specific process. You'd visit all the record stores in the area that might have it (and that's often a slim chance); and then (if you were really desperate) you might even see if you had another LP by the same group and write to the address on the sleep asking if there were any other copies. But it wasn't something that you could do on a whim—you weren't bloody likely to find a copy of White Light/White Heat just because you were looking for it at the time—so instead 'record people' had to keep a short-list in their minds of music that they've heard about that they'd like to find.

But on the way is where all that stuff is to be found. This common type of person that's all but died out now that we can get it whenever we want it, the sort that's always trudging purposefully into the record store, running through the stacks from a to z, and then asking if there's any backstock or new arrivals, was ubiquitous enough then that they kept running into each other. Hence the cult of the record store, the hub of buzzing activity where all the people who were looking for that one record or this one record would end up. I mention Athens because that's how REM got started; a bunch of music geeks ended up there together in the front of the record store all interested in a whole range of records that was frankly ahead of its time. REM's a great case study in this because they have apparently felt compelled to record a cover of every single influence they've had; most of those covers aren't really that great, of course, but they apparently sense that they have some duty, maybe because the record shops really were where they began. But somehow by around 1980 Stipe, Berry, Buck and Mills were all listening to things like Pylon, The Velvet Underground (a lot), Leonard Cohen, Mission Of Burma, The Feelies, and a host of other stuff; I may not have been there, but I know. How? Well, that b-side of REM's, "Crazy," is actually a cover of a Pylon tune. They were covering Lou Reed and Velvet Underground all over the place ("There She Goes," "Femme Fatale," "Pale Blue Eyes," etc.) I know they covered Cohen's "First We Take Manhattan" later (which always seemed ironic to me, as I can't really picture REM taking Manhattan, but I digress.) They did a cover that's impossible to find, though it does exist, of Mission Of Burma's Academy Fight Song. And I know they must've loved the Feelies because they sound like the Feelies but mostly because I realized when I found a copy of the Feelies' second album (from eight years later than their first, 1986) that it was produced by none other than Peter Buck.

Are you catching the pattern? The key is to look closer at the albums themselves. First, read the liner notes. Notice who does what, who gets thanked or referred to, who's in the band and not in the band anymore. 'Wow, this first Devo record was produced by Brian Eno! Weird.' 'Hey look, Ropert Fripp is playing guitar all over these Peter Gabriel records... hmm.' 'Hey look, Kevin Ayers is sitting in on this session with Nico; he's that dude that slept with John Cale's wife!' Second, and even more importantly, pay attention to covers—they can be a really interesting path. In fact, that's how I uncovered post-punk; see, years ago when I was in college I really liked Pavement (still do.) In the process of gathering up all their little b-sides I came upon their awesome, awesome tribute to REM, "The Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence" (wherein REM is imagined as the last line of southern defense in the civil war) along with their fine cover of REM's "Camera." So I dug up copies of those early REM albums and realized I really liked 'em (even though I'd always hated that Automatic stuff)... I tried the bands that they'd covered and discovered all kinds of things. Like I said, for example, Mission Of Burma—wow, what a band that was to discover. They were a whole new realm of stuff all by themselves. And then I finally found a copy of their live album, The Horrible Truth About Burma, and discovered they were doing covers, too: on that disc, they covered Iggy Pop and Pere Ubu. I'd already known Iggy Pop for a while by then but Pere Ubu was another revelation on the way; they're just stepping-stones moving outwards.

Pay attention to liner notes, look out for cover songs, read books by or listen to interviews of the people you like as much as possible and pay attention when they say things like "I really like the band x..." The Fall are a really great band to do this with, by the way; when Mark E Smith says he actually likes something, that means it's probably incredible. I have him to thank for learning about the mighty Can and about the magnificient weirdo-prog group Van Der Graaf Generator.
posted by koeselitz at 10:17 PM on August 28, 2009 [18 favorites]

Shorter version: it's okay not to really like the new stuff, though you should keep your mind open; there is more music out there than meets the eye. But don't abandon that critical eye.

And it's okay to like music that's ~30 years old. There's still a whole world of stuff there worth discovering.
posted by koeselitz at 10:22 PM on August 28, 2009

Oh, and by the way, you want a heaping plate of awesome as far as musical recommendations are concerned? Lately I've been listening to the stuff on this page; it's just a collection of downloadable recordings of John Peel's radio shows between 1967 and 2004. If any cat plays some hep and interesting stuff, it's Peel. Plus it's neat to be driving around listening to the "radio" ... from England in 1978.
posted by koeselitz at 10:30 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

[neither commercially-available nor for-profit, so those links are as legal as the tapes I always made off of the radio, anyhow.]
posted by koeselitz at 10:31 PM on August 28, 2009

If you like Paris 1919, listen to the album He Poos Clouds by Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy does a cool cover of the title track from Paris 1919 as well.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:54 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

You'd probably dig some latter-day Einstuerzende Neubauten.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:13 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and maybe (I'm thinking probably yes) Penguin Cafe Orchestra?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:15 PM on August 28, 2009

re: koeselitz-- Best answer, right there. I'm a little younger than you, but I'm just old enough to have caught a little of what you're talking about. I remember a few times seeing something on the upcoming releases board and only much later discovering that it was a reissue of some long out of print early record. Or finding a cassette of an album by my then-favorite band that I had never even heard of. That would never happen these days.

But yeah, check out the originals of things your bands have covered, groups that have covered them, records they've produced, follow session musicians from group to group, look up past tours and investigate opening acts, (smaller label) labelmates, name checks in interviews, etc. Something koeselitz didn't mention: for those of us living here in the future, Wikipedia is *really* good for that sort of thing.

(As someone who also has I think similar taste to the OP, and also doesn't listen to/like much contemporary music, I still stand my my first post...)

And Cale absolutely KILLS live.

posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 11:49 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hmm. I've been thinking about it, trying to come up with a newer group that does some of the things you're talking about, and it's difficult. I do like Art Brut, and I think anybody who likes the Fall will find them amusing at least, but I have a tendency to think that, if not a guilty pleasure, they're not really on the level. (All the same, they agree with you about modern groups; as they say, "I can't stand the sound / Of the Velvet Underground! / I can't stand that sound / The second time around!") Art Brut are worth checking out, anyhow. They don't take themselves too seriously like all these other 'hip' groups.

Hmm. Mogwai did a good record back there; Young Team was fantastic, but that was, like, ten years ago now, wasn't it? (checks) Holy crap, Young Team came out twelve years ago?! I'm getting old.

Really, though it's not a new artist and though you might be familiar with it, the best example of really punchy, gutsy, literary rock in the millennium that I can think of is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' incredible record from last year, Dig, Lazarus Dig!!! In fact, I'd have to say that in my estimation that's got to have been the best rock record in a long, long time. Striding, strutting rock? Shouted challenges to god's divinity? References to John Berryman, Odysseus, and meat lockers? Well worth it, that record. An' that fuckin' moustache...
posted by koeselitz at 2:50 AM on August 29, 2009

You do know Eno&Cale's Wrong Way Up, I trust? (an obsession of mine...)

Random recommendations that might (going on mere hunch of "intelligent", generally non-prefab stuff) be up your alley:
Andrew Bird
Dirty Projectors
The National
José González
also, perhaps, some of Mirah's solo stuff, and maybe some Mountain Goats.

I might be totally off, mind you, but (some) Cale, (certain) Eno, The Fall and Satie are very resonant for me.
posted by progosk at 4:26 AM on August 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like a lot of the music you like but your list of stuff you don't like is really limited - how do you feel about Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Yo La Tengo, The Dears, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Nick Drake, or Soul Coughing, to name a few that aren't too similar but all of which I like - which of those bother you and which are ok, if they're familiar?

I also think Last.fm is a better resource than Pandora. Some of the artists I listed above you can listen to (if you haven't already) thru them - my favorite tracks are listed on my page.
posted by mdn at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2009

Also, do you have good speakers / headphones? With some music it really makes a difference if you can listen to it properly...
posted by mdn at 7:27 AM on August 29, 2009

back in my college radio days when Pitchfork was just starting out & it was becoming easier to find out about obscure music via the interwebs.. but it wasn't possible to download.. I'd find out about records worth tracking down by reading Perfect Sound Forever.
posted by citron at 9:14 AM on August 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

what koeselitz said ...

The key thing, I think, is that Eno, Bowie, John Cale, The Fall and a bunch of the other stuff touched upon here (Can, Van der Graaf, Einsturzende, Penguin Cafe, R. Fripp etc) DO NOT sound the same or even similar, except occasionally. Hence the love. What they share, I think, is a common NEED to explore the hell out of sound-music-sonics (whatever you want to call it); not just for the sake of being different or cool or hip, but because FRESH SONICS ARE ALWAYS REQUIRED OR ELSE THE WORLD WILL COME AN END.

So yes, like koeselitz suggests, what's required from you, the listener, is a commitment to the ongoing search that will never end as long as you have functioning ears. I could add a bloody phone book of old school names to the mix that I haven't seen yet in this thread (ie: Wire, Agitation Free, Current 93, Fred Frith etc) but that's not the point, really. Just keep on digging ... and listening, and maybe we'll bump elbows at some bin anytime soon and share a few recent "finds".
posted by philip-random at 9:34 AM on August 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

I agree with you totally about "modern" bands - there are a few things I've come across which are palatable enough, but even the bands who aren't "cute" (per se display) such coy self-awareness, such self-consciousness of their "genuineness" and such blatant reference to the "right" bands, sounds and fashionable quirks that I just can't stand them.

Duncan Browne "The Martlet" and "Alfred Bell" (songs) - He was sort of an English folkie a la Nick Drake, but with a strange and often humorous sensibility. Years later, he formed a sort of Roxy Music-ish band, wrote some big hits and then died. His first two albums, "Give Me Take You" and "Duncan Browne" both have lots of great songs, but "The Martlet" - mystical nonsense and odd puns - and "Alfred Bell" - a superbly depressing tale of life's loneliness - are apt tests of whether you'd like any of it.

Young Marble Giants are legendary, and you can buy their nearly complete recorded works in a 3xCD package for the price of one CD . . . but a lesser-known successor band, The Gist, saw songwriter Stuart Moxham create the most pleasurable Eno-inspire album ever (circa 1981.) Entitled "Embrace The Herd," it has an equal mix of the beautiful, playful and abstract, and it grows and grows and grows on the listener.

Robert Wyatt has had a career spanning more than four decades, and many people swear by his 60s recordings with Soft Machine, his early solo albums by Virgin or his more recent stuff . . . but for me, the best things he ever did were a series of 7" 45s for Rough Trade, each one a delightfully bizarre a-side with an even stranger flip (sometimes by a different artist.) These tracks, plus a couple of strays, are collected on "Nothing Can Stop Us." Most of them are rather Eno-esque deconstructions of "world music" pieces, overlaid with Wyatt's piercingly bittersweet vocals and political sentiments. I like a lot of his stuff, but this is where *you* should begin. It's worth noting that he and Eno have been collaborating for over 35 years, here and there. This is nothing like "Paris 1919," but it's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of that album.

The Blue Orchids' "The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain)" is also a classic. The band featured the original guitarist and keyboardist for the Fall, but the sound is pretty different - Martin Bramah songs and plays electric guitar; a second guitar play acoustic guitar, and Una Baines' keyboard lines seem, at first, to have little relation to the rest of the band. The lyrics are wonderful, and are essentially a reworking of philosophical ideas from the old Armenian mystic, GI Gurdjieff, who also composed music that shares some qualities with Satie. Something of that filters into this music. The album is now available on CD with two 7" 45s which preceded its release, and they're two of the best singles ever - much more "Fall-like," and dissimilar to the album. Also included are the four tracks from an album which followed the album, and a song in which the band backs up Nico (for several years they were her backing band.)

With the exception of Duncan Browne, all of these releases were on Rough Trade and came out between, say 1979 and 1983 or so. You'd probably not believe how much you might like other archival releases from the label (personal favorites are the collection of experimental, pre-pop singles from Scritti Politti called "Early," The Red Crayola With Art & Language's "Kangaroo?" and the most incredible of the bunch, the Raincoats "Odyshape.") All of it is hugely worthwhile, though it may not be the most immediate music you'll encounter.

I could think of about a million other things, but it's hard as I'm travelling around Eastern Europe and far far far from my music, and this is just what popped into my head.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:12 AM on August 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

(Dee: Scritti Politti, check. The Gist's "Fool for a Valentine" - never quite understood why that's stuck with me so.)
posted by progosk at 11:20 AM on August 29, 2009

One thing I used to do to track down older music was to browse through allmusic.com, following the links backwards from a band I liked to their "influences". Finding some actual music to sample used to be a problem, but it shouldn't be anymore, with YouTube around.

If you're into louder music, Mark Prindle's record reviews (and interviews) are also useful.
posted by equalpants at 11:59 AM on August 29, 2009

If you're into your eno and cale and are looking for literary smart pop you might try some Stereolab
posted by merocet at 1:04 PM on August 29, 2009

you need to make friends with a few college radio dj's. seriously. these human beings have read the liner notes, they are full of, overflowing with, rambling on & obsessive about sounds you might like, and can associate it in a way that software will never be able to. not all college radio is good of course, some is spectacularly bad, but since it's usually noncommercial it cuts out most of the pop and alt-pop crap most of your friends are listening to. kcrw used to be good, but now that they're rolling in dough they kindof suck. wfmu is consistently great, but there are tons of others. i'm sorry i can't point you to anyone in particular, but it would be worth the time to browse some playlists and listen online long enough to find a few shows you like, then just email the dj. most of them are more than happy to open up their real 'pandoras'. hell, it's geeky but you could even contact the music director at the station and just rattle off some things you like, chances are they can point you to a good time to listen.

ok i can't leave without at least one: it's a bit more hyper-80s-synth, but have you tried bill nelson?
posted by hereticfig at 1:28 PM on August 29, 2009

progosk: Oh, I forgot to mention Andrew Bird! I can't stand him at all. I left during his (free) concert I was dragged to before my ears bled!! It was the...loop pedals...and the violin...and the incessant whistling...! It was all just too much. I found him pompous.
But, thank you everyone for your kind suggestions. I think "literary pop" could most likely be what I am trying to describe.
philip-random: You definitely said it. I think there is a big problem with music these days...and for some reason, even my fellow college-student peers who listen to Velvet Underground and whatever else they like...don't seem to notice how homogenous all the newer bands are. It's so predictable and unwavering. It's especially upsetting when a video is better than the song, which happens often.
Oh how I would like to be the (one-person) band to change the world!
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 5:13 PM on August 29, 2009

In fairness to Andrew Bird, his albums are very different from his live performance. I've seen him live a couple of times and I prefer his recordings.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:28 PM on August 29, 2009

I think there is a big problem with music these days...

If you like music, there's no better time to be alive. There is more great music being made today than ever before. Access to it is easier than ever. If you're stuck in the 70s, fine, listen to that stuff over and over again. However, I doubt very much that the artists you admire are listening to the music they grew up with. They're doing their damnedest to find what's new and fresh or at the very least find who'd taking older styles and using them right.

These are all contemporary performers. I don't think they're homogenous at all.

Stuart Staples - Leaving Songs (atrocious youtube--don't watch it, just listen)
Electrelane - Power Out (Youtube 2 3)
Wild Beasts (youtube)
Bonnie Prince Billy (youtube w/ Scout Niblett)
The Books (youtube)
Paavoharju (youtube)
William Fowler Collins (youtube)
Rachel's (youtube)
Stars of the Lid (youtube)
Tim Hecker (youtube)
Kammerflimmer Kollektief (youtube)
Nomo (youtube)
Battles (youtube)
Liars (youtube)
Dirty Projectors (youtube)
The Go! Team (youtube)
Elmore Judd (youtube)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:31 AM on August 30, 2009

I think there is a big problem with music these days...and for some reason, even my fellow college-student peers who listen to Velvet Underground and whatever else they like...don't seem to notice how homogenous all the newer bands are. It's so predictable and unwavering.

There's always been "a big problem with music these days" ... and yet, the stuff sustains.

The "problem" of our accelerated culture came up this morning while I was watching the Belgian Grand Prix with a couple of friends. One of them was a musician and bemoaning the " ... the fucking impossibly short half-life of a fresh idea these days. Some kid in suburban Toronto has a brilliant idea on Friday afternoon, records it Friday night, posts it Friday midnight ... it gets noticed on Tuesday, makes its first blog by Tuesday night, goes sorta virus by the following Wednesday ... people are ripping it off by Friday afternoon.

This kinda stuff used to take months, years, decades.
posted by philip-random at 10:05 PM on August 30, 2009

More recommendations, that I'm surprised haven't been mentioned:

The Microphones/Mount Eerie - It's essentially one guy, Phil Elverum, who records everything directly to two-inch tape. His albums (there are many) are complex and layered. It's not for everyone, but there is no pro tools within miles of this stuff. It can be kind of messy/drone-y, so feel free to not like it. Start with The Glow, Pt. 2

Neutral Milk Hotel is considered a legend with the album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. It's purposely low-fi in an authentic way that a lot of modern bands can't seem to come close to replicating. I recommend this especially since you mentioned Of Montreal. Though this may sound nothing like OM's Prince-infused madness, NMH was one of the big early bands of the Atlanta-ish Elephant 6 collective (of which Of Montreal is a part--no they're not Canadian), an enduring group who put out a number of great albums in the kinda indie-psych vein (but hardly limited to that).

Actually, in general, my advice as a "music snob" (my wife's term) is to find an album you adore and then discover more about its creation. Who produced it? Have they done other similar stuff? Were there any session players who are in other similar bands? Was there a "scene" that this album was a part of? Research is the key to finding good music. Read interviews with your favorite artists (both modern and old interviews) and, please, give LCD Soundsystem another chance. They've done a number of pretty predictable dance-ish singles, but some of the stuff on their most recent album (Sounds of Silver) was really really incredible. Actually, start with this, which is John Cale's cover of LCD's incredible song, "All My Friends". If you don't like it, then be on your way with my blessing. But if you do, please check out LCD Soundsystem some more. They're pretty clearly one of my favorite bands.
posted by sleeping bear at 11:01 PM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

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