Listening to new music, a youthful pursuit only?

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Postby Wildwood » 02 Jan 2006, 05:06

This thread has been a good read; I'm older (43) and don't buy as much new music as I once did. I still think I'm actively interested and curious, however. I buy a good deal of stuff that's new to me, it just doesn't happen to be stuff that has been recently recorded.

If asked to explain my buying habits, I wouldn't say that I'm categorically disinterested in things that have been recorded recently or that I think that music is somehow "worse" than it once was. It's my perception that there are more releases than there were when I was out trolling record stores, and if a smaller percentage of releases in 2005 might appeal to me, in aggregate numbers there may be just as many appealing records in 2005 as there ever were in years before. But it takes more work for me to find those records--they aren't rising up the charts, they aren't played that frequently on radio, there is no critical consensus leading me to them, and my friends have such divergent and idiosyncratic interests (mine are idiosyncratic too) that it's not a given that I'm going to find those records. Sometimes I stumble on them, and sometimes I don't. More often than not I'm guessing I miss them.

Some people here have implied or said (I'm not up to looking right now) that they feel old or out of touch when they don't keep up on new releases. There are days that I feel that, but honestly I don't listen so that I feel young or in touch; I listen because there are moments when records make a connection in me that makes me understand someone or something or some sort of emotion in a way that I wouldn't have otherwise. Sometime the records are so dense and so concise and so well-stated or well-presented that the feeling I have is something like awe. In those moments I could care less if the record was made in 2005 or 1945 or any other year for that matter. There's a perfection that is timeless, if you will.

There's an emotional language associated with music for me. I have daughters, now 1 and 4, and sometimes I wonder if they will hear that emotional language and, just the same, if I will be able to hear it in whatever music they choose to listen to years from now. That's the only imperative I feel in "keeping up." More distantly, I like to feel that the art or the craft of speaking and performing in that emotional language is not dead, and so I like to hear it from time to time in new releases. But my own interest in music neither rises nor falls on the question of what year something was released.

Sorry for the long post. I guess I thought it needed to be said.


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Postby sloopjohnc » 02 Jan 2006, 05:43

The great thing about punk and "new wave" is I felt that here was a music that was being made by people my own age. Whatever you want to say about U2, when they came out they were my own age and didn't dress up in dragon suits and didn't ride in private jets.

When I was 18, I worked after school in a cabinet shop with a bunch of 23-24 yr. olds. While they weren't my parents, in a lot of ways they seemed that far away as far as age. Music made by contemporaries, who dressed like me and expressed things I was thinking but couldn't express, was a big deal

That's the great thing about new music---the people making it are young and enthused about music. It comes through over the speakers or headphones.
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Postby The Modernist » 02 Jan 2006, 14:20

Read quite a bit of the thread but not all of it, so apologies for repeating the same points.
I don't see the same level of entranchment or close-mindedness that others do. I think in general people here are pretty open to most things whatever their age.
The real divide is I think in the way people consume music. I was pretty amazed when people were listing 40 albums or so for their best new music of this year. I was rather sarcastic in my response to this which I know annoyed one or two posters, but I suppose it's a mindset I can't relate to. Even at 18 I wouldn't have been able to come up with a huge list of albums. My approach to music consumption now is essentially the same as twenty years ago, take a chance on an artist through hearing a song or reading something intersting and then spend a few months with the album and it either sticks or it doesn't. I just don't have the time or energy to go with the pick and mix approach of downloading culture, although I'm sure I'm missing out on things as a result.
The things that have excited me most this year have been discoveries of old music that I missed out on earlier, particularly The Chambers Brothers and Michael Head. No new album really did it for me this year in that obsessive way, although there was quite a few I liked well enough.
I'm sure there is something out there that would have got me excited so I'm not saying "new music is shit".
I'm still open to new music and still can get that excitement of discovery. The only thing that doesn't excite me is generic indie rock, I've heard enough of that kind of thing to last me a lifetime.

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Postby This Was » 02 Jan 2006, 14:55

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Postby bixhenry » 02 Jan 2006, 17:43

This is indeed a great thread, and one that has got me thinking quite a bit on the subject.

Perhaps I'm in a unique position regarding new music because I'm a 43-year-old film/tv composer and session musician, and I almost have to be up on new stuff, particularly if I'm scoring a commercial; if a music supervisor says to me, "Can you make the middle section sound a little like M.I.A., rhythmically?", I have to know what they're talking about. I don't/won't spend my days copying other artists, but I do have to 'keep up,' so to speak, in terms of production values, at the very least.

Most of my friends are either fellow composers, musicians in established bands, or music geeks like me. That means that, invariably, I'll get a lot of input/hype from any of them either regarding their newest work, or they'll try to turn me on to some new artist - and I'll often do the same. So, in a sense, I'm never far from new music, even if I wish to only hear 1930's string bands for a month!

I do think that music is much more ubiquitous now than it ever was: with the glut of both major label, independent label, and Internet-only releases; the proliferation of online sources like Pitchfork Media; successful magazines like MOJO and UNCUT in the UK and Paste and Rolling Stone in the US; a thriving reissue business; and seemingly every 15-year old I come across being in a band with a soon-to-be-released CD, I'm not sure that the so-called "democratisation" (i.e. cheap, decent-sounding musical instruments and computer music programs) of music is always a good thing.

But I've never lost my appetite to be turned onto great music, whether it's new, or something I haven't heard before. For example, the MOJO review of David Axelrod's The Edge compilation prompted me to order four of his records on Amazon, and they've yet to leave my car's CD player after nearly a month of playing them.