“I stopped listening to music. I kept writing the same songs.” Timothy Showalter
Looking back on 2016 I realized I didn’t listen to much music. And my near compulsion to scour the internet for new artists waned to the point ‘meh, I’ll check ’em out‘ didn’t even cross my mind. I can’t pinpoint any specific reason for the tuneless lull but I think not booking concerts and festivals like I had in years past played a part. That’s just a theory and instead of prolonging the lull by theorizing I’ve decided to to start this recurring post.
In these posts I will call on you, my masses and masses of readers, to:
- Tell me what you’re listening to
- Suggest music for me to listen to
- And if you’re so inclined, advocate for why the song, band or album is worth a spin.
I’ll listen to anything you send me because my objective is to listen to more music and new (to me) music. But since we don’t really know each other, here’s some general background on what gets my ears ringing.
*These are the bands that come to mind when I think of music that means the most to me and music I naturally gravitate towards. This is not a ranking or all encompassing (obviously.)*
- Wilco | I was a sophomore in high school on my way to an away tennis meet. A friend gave me A.M. and Being There cds to throw in my walkman. My first exposure wasn’t a spiritual awakening by any means. The folky rock sound was approachable and comfortable. But both albums drew me in and kept me coming back to uncover new bits & pieces in the instrumentation and lyrics. It was the first music I heard that intrigued me in this way. I wanted to understand each song, learn more about the band and hear everything else they recorded. It was my first departure from the classic rock my parents played and the alternative my older brother introduced me to. Wilco was my band and has been since.
- Cousin Dud | The friend who introduced me to Wilco has an older brother that I imagine introduced him to Wilco. As fate would have it (and suburban small town probability) he, Matt Carmichael (guitar, vox, chief songwriter), and I shared a mutual friend, Josh Burns (guitar, vox), that would become the other half of Cousin Dud & The Hadacol Caravan. As the band grew the name shrank and in September of 2010 5-piece band, Cousin Dud, released their debut EP, Of Hats and Unicorns. From duo to 5-piece, now currently a 4-piece, the band has taken many forms but continue to deliver what I crave most in music – lyrically driven stories of the human experience. Listen to the band’s 8 releases in chronological order and you’ll hear a band defining their sound. The songs have always been there, but with each release they gain depth and definition and the music plays a more prominent role in telling the stories of Kandy Brown, Tom Foundry, Halftime Hailey and plenty of other folks just like you.
- Modest Mouse | “Favorite band?” – “Modest Mouse.” For years it was a no-brainer. I was infatuated with the turn of phrase lyrics and vocal delivery of Isaac Brock. Their discography was like a toolbox to me. I could reach in and grab whatever I needed to fix the musical predicament I found myself in. Need something sweet and beautiful? Sleepwalking, The World At Large, Bankrupt On Selling. Need to belt some circuital cleverness into the universe at the top of your lungs? Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes, Paper Thin Walls, Fly Trapped In a Jar, The View. I don’t reach into the toolbox as much as I once did, but it’s very reassuring knowing you got the tools for the job.
- The National | Wilco, Cousin Dud, Modest Mouse all had me from the first note. That was not the case with The National. I remember having Boxer while in college but I don’t remember it making an impression on me. I wouldn’t say Trouble Will Find Me ‘slowly grew on me.’ In retrospect, it’s more likely I never gave it the attention it deserved, but once I did it floored me. Revisiting Boxer had the same effect on me and similar (not to the extent of TWFM) with High Violet and Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. Of the bands listed, The National is the most intense for me. Their music crushes me and I can’t articulate why. I kind of like the not knowing.
- My Morning Jacket | My older brother recently described MMJ as his ‘spirit animal’ and I found that very fitting. He introduced me to MMJ when I was a teenager and their songs have been the backdrop to some of my most vivid memories of times spent with my brothers. That connection will always be there drawing my mind back to those times. Personal ties aside, Jim James is genuine. He radiates positivity nearly to the point of religiousness but never preachy. Not to mention … The Way That He Sings.
My favorite song is Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. I just listened to Sabotage by Black Sabbath for the first time since elementary school and was blown away. Blues bores me. Jazz bores me. EDM isn’t interesting to me. Most metal wares on me before any meaning sets in. I have no grasp on ‘real country’. I used to like bluegrass but haven’t felt the urge to listen to it in years. I feel like so much good rap/hip-hop has come out lately and I’ve missed out on all of it. Help me out there if you can. Again, I’m not telling you this because I want more of the same. I’m just providing context. The purpose of these posts is for me to branch out, listen to new genres, dig into ‘classics’ I’ve long ignored and start listening to music again.
Leave suggestions in the comments section and thanks in advance for the tips!