Posts Tagged ‘ranting’

In a world filled with labor-saving technologies, home shopping, 24-hour news cycles and easy access to information, we like to think we have it pretty good. One thing which all of our advances have thus far failed to provide, however, is a sense of meaning. Of purpose.
We have become accustomed to the easy and the instantaneous, and yet the metanoia of our existence continues to elude us. Many people turn to religion (often to a fundamentalist degree) to fill this void in their lives, sometimes unsuccessfully. Others turn to advanced science or to prescription medication.
Others still – and indeed some of the same people – appear to have given up on a search for meaning and have instead replaced it with a search for sensation. We no longer experience the small blessings and joys of life the way we did before we understood the world outside. This, surely, is a big driver of our societal use of recreational drugs, of celebrity-worship, of breaking the law for thrills, and indeed of many of the stories we hear as the funny-yet-disturbing bits at the end of the TV news, where someone has been apprehended attempting to have coital relations with children, animals or household appliances. In the absence of meaning and purpose, we look for something into which we can put our collective dick.

Not this one.

So how can we rediscover the path toward meaning? Once again, as I so often have, I turn to the wisdom of America’s founding fathers, and their triad of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Happiness is not a momentary thrill, a passing sensation, but a lasting condition attainable by making a positive change in yourself, in another person, or in the world at large. As we better our own lives and those of our neighbors, we can rediscover that sense of purpose and meaning.

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So another decade of music has now passed.

Thank God.

Since the end of World War II, if not earlier, every decade brought one if not two large-scale movements in the evolution of popular music, but surely the 2000s was the least inspired and most insipid of the bunch. And the scary thing is, it’s not because I’m not getting any younger, it’s because the music isn’t getting any fresher.

I think the predominant themes of the last 10 years in popular music were “artists” who consider screaming a valid alternative to singing and the “artists” whose idea of music has more to do with what they look like than how they sound.

These trends were to be expected, of course; the over-hyped pretty-but-talentless thing certainly had its share of precursors in the 80s and 90s, and the screaming “singers” were doubtless born of the roaring vocals of Sepultura and Pantera as well as the “Territorial Pissings” end of Nirvana’s oeuvre. Nevertheless, they appear to have assumed a place of prominence within the last ten years, a place which I look forward to seeing them lose.

This is not to say by any means that all the music of the last ten years has been bad – it is still possible to create excellent new music even if one is not truly innovating. A quick listen to such acts as Jealousy Curve, Cherry Suede or Kick Up The Fire is certainly proof of that.

There has also been a small degree of continued innovation; Radiohead, for example, have continued to push the envelope, delivering album after album of fresh-sounding material.

By and large, though, the 2000s certainly didn’t produce a musical shift on the order of rock and roll, punk or even disco. The electronica end didn’t evolve much. Rap hasn’t particularly grown beyond where it was in 1999.

I believe that part of this is due to the continued dominance of the RIAA (and its parent, the IIPA) over the majority of what gets out there. The record labels want a sound which has been focus-grouped and market-tested to death before they spend a nickel, hardly an ethos to foster revolutionary content.

I also believe, however, that this is beginning to change for the better; as recording technology becomes ever cheaper and the means to distribute and disseminate music over the Web becomes ever easier, we approach a scenario wherein a band still rehearsing in a basement or garage out in Wheretheheckisthat, Iowa can change the face of the world. The number of views to their MySpace or PureVolume pages, the number of plays on Last.fm or YouTube can skyrocket without the need for expensive label promotion or indeed any backing beyond the skilled leveraging of social media.

Unsurprisingly, the cries of the RIAA against music piracy have grown ever more strident as time has passed; many months ago I wrote an ‘open letter’ to them on this blog, and little has changed. Their product, for the most part, continues to be anemic tripe. Especially in a recession, it is hardly worth the gas money to drive to the record store for this stuff, never mind drop fifteen or twenty bucks for an album which is three-fourths filler.

Here, then, are the seeds for the next big music revolution. Not looking like Lady Gaga, not screaming like Avenged Sevenfold, not delivering balls-less impressions of punk rock like Fall Out Boy. Coming up with your own ideas and getting them out there without worrying about the market will prove to be a true test of where the world really is.

Independent radio stations get this. Some Internet radio providers get this. The RIAA will never get this.

Roll on the 2010s, let’s hear what you have in store.

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