Musings on music, old, new, popular and obscure. Post punk, metal, hip-hop, funk, and rock in general. A music fan with a desire to lose boundaries on what should and should not be listened to writes about experience in music from a listener's perspective, hopefully unhindered by prior expectation.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Gotta New Sensation in Perfect Moments, So Impossible to Refuse -- Discussing Music Before It's Digested

For about a year of my life, I wrote movie reviews of all kinds, always after watching a movie, almost always for the first time, and usually while watching or listening to its special features if there were any. I had a passion for movies that was not quite the same as the one I've had for music, though it may simply be that it's a younger one. Or maybe it relates to the ability to chop up a lot of music into separate songs and break up an experience, or the ease of switching, or the fact that a lot of those things make them more readily accessible--certainly, there ought not to be anyone watching movies as they drive to and from, well, anywhere.

Yet, interestingly, in contrast, I write about music at about the same rate but at nowhere near the same "return" rate. Sometimes "you have to listen to it a few times" is code for "it's not that good but you get used to it," though I personally wouldn't swear to this being a majority or minority split (or even an even one). My experience tends to be that it's generally something true on some level for most anything. Once in a while new sounds reach past your ears to your brain--heart, if you must--but often they are just so foreign as to be too difficult to quite process the first time around, and the is a sense of conditioning involved.

In light of this, I very rarely write on bands new or old that are new to me until I've spent time with them for a while. Music-wise, of course. If I were out hanging about with some of these bands...I don't even know how that sentence ends. I'd be too away from computers too long and too often to be writing here? I'd be a life-mangled drug addict? I don't know. Nor does it much matter--the point is that it makes it hard to write about them when I'm still getting past that first point where, sometimes, all the songs might sound the same, or my brain might be clamouring for this or that familiar sound from a band I already know, or even simply to do something other than listen to music (though that isn't very common at all).

I've been listening to a handful (for those of us with larger hands) of new bands recently, but, like when I wrote about The Jesus and Mary Chain or about Pere Ubu, I don't know quite what to say. If a reputation precedes them, or there's a story around the experience, I know what to say but do no justice to the sounds involved. So I don't say much here about The Skids, or Bad Veins, or Slade, or Mike Watt, or Dinosaur Jr, or The National, or Ryan Adams, or Depeche Mode, or the Wailers, or Drivin' n Cryin' or... and if you know enough of those names, you know that, while not too far away from each other in basic genre, they're still pretty all over the map stylistically as well as in time frames. Some of those are big names period, some are big names in current indie circles, some are big names in alternative history, and some aren't very big at all.

Really, I don't want to do an injustice to a band or an artist, because whatever words or thoughts or feelings fall out of my head at a first listen aren't necessarily even reflective of my personal opinions, let alone the quality of the work behind them. I'm sure I make musically immature and ignorant comments and comparisons, but I try to keep it both indicative of my experience and knowledge. And if a band, an album, a song, a writer, an artist, a performer has a reputation, I try to look at it through the relevant lenses--discarding comparisons to much later sounds, for instance. It's a truly imperfect art, as one cannot totally disassociate these things even consciously, let alone unconsciously. But I seem to manage somehow a lot of the time, well enough to at least form opinions that lead me to desire to hear a song or an album a second, third, fifth, eighteenth time just for itself.

So, while I'd sincerely like to talk about the new things I hear, sometimes it feels inappropriate, like I'd be giving away the game, throwing out the interest and experience of the music in favour of rapid discussion. Which, I guess, is a large part of why I dislike a lot of negative reviews, as many of them are written and published after a couple of spins of a disc immediately after it has appeared--or even before it has, as far as the public is concerned. Or as far as the public was concerned before leaking became so prevalent as to be effectively un-discussed and half-counteracted with artists streaming their work legally themselves prior to release.

There are exceptions that will come along, I think, where a sound is immediately exciting enough that I want to say something and share, but those are few and far between, and often my most favourite works do not fall into that category. Someday I might say something about Good Health, for example, but I first heard it ten years ago, and the band responsible has since broken back into its separate elements and so it cannot be that immediate excitement again.

I'll leave you--as my intended goal is to share music as I experience it--with a selection of songs from some of the artists I mentioned, and, shortly, the option to suggest one of them for me to talk about in the near future over on the sidebar on the right of this blog. I limit listening to that which I have physically on CD or vinyl (well, and digital copies derived there from) so there's nothing to say I will suddenly be an expert, but it means delving further and more intensely into what I do have and properly "digesting" what I have of that artist.

Oh, and one other thing: if one of my entries is interesting to you, please share it. I have no ads here, this is not a cry for revenue, nor for attention (well, maybe a little), so much as the chance to get something you think deserves it out to more people. I thank you all for at least considering this option!

The Skids (though I intended them to come up in a second discussion of the music of Scotland, this time focusing on older artists)

Bad Veins

Dinosaur Jr



1 comment:

  1. Erf. Dinosaur Jr., if those are my only choices.

    - 40


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