Tag Archives: The Strokes

The Place of Music Scenes

I’ve been spending a lot of my recent ‘free-thinking’ time on the subject of music scenes, specifically about how they form and what effect they end up having on music as a whole. When a music scene has developed it means that there’s suddenly a new type of sound which is starting to get more attention and exposure for artists playing it, with that sound also occasionally being tracked to a specific location or region as well. For some examples, there was the Grunge movement in the Northwest in the late 1980s, a new definition of Alternative Rock emerged in the mid-90’s with bands such as Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Archers of Loaf, Guided By Voices and The Pixies gaining popularity, and recently there was a defined new-wave rock scene in New York City which spawned artists like The Strokes and Interpol. So how do these scenes actually start? Theoretically I can think of a few ways, but they all share some common points.

  • A new artist emerges and plays a sound which sounds so different from anything else that is currently being played, and so it inspires imitation and new methods of thinking. (Example: Bob Dylan)
  • An artist with an already established following and influence has a sudden drastic sound shift which worked incredibly well for them. (Example: Radiohead)
  • Multiple artists get inspired from the same source, bringing extra attention to an artist who’s music left a significant impact and is just now being remembered. (Example: The Velvet Underground)
  • An awesome local music scene emerges to draw a crowd, and somebody from that local scene emerges into the national spotlight. (Example: Neutral Milk Hotel)

There have to be other scenarios as well, but you’re probably starting to understand what I believe has to be present for a successful music scene to form. The sound has to be new and unique to the other options out there, and somebody within the scene has to grow in popularity enough so that they can spread the word around about it. It’s an interesting dynamic to think about, but that theorization is only the beginning point to this article.

Smaller music scenes get defined constantly and the study of these is basically what it means today to be current with modern music, and the people who get to define what these smaller scenes are work for the music media. Their job is to try and define these different music scenes and report what’s happening within them from a specific mindset, and this effects their opinion on who deserves to be recognized and how releases should be rated. This approach makes some sense from their perspective because if you’re covering music on a day-to-day basis then I imagine you wouldn’t be very keen on viewing every new release as a blank slate, but it’s a flawed approach towards rating music.

That’s because while music scenes are real and potentially valuable, they can also be a mirage which only displays the sounds which share common qualities with each other. Where’s the space for creativity and new ideas within this mindset, and what solutions get missed if you’re stuck looking for the answer in the same place repeatedly?

When it comes to new music, I think it’s best to just compare it to the total product rather than how it fits into the modern music scenes because of this. How well does the band or release stand alongside the successful sounds which have come before it, and how likely is it to inspire the sounds which will follow? That’s the ultimate question right there, and with all of the different genres and stylistic differences which have made an impact in music history I would think it’s safe to say that there’s never going to be a sure-fire answers to those questions. It’s just something that time decides, but keeping an open mind towards what could leave an imprint is an important step.

dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS’ Top 20 Albums of 2013

The year 2013 was the first year I, dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS, graced WCDB as a DJ. It was the best of years, It was a year filled with great music and plenty of hard choices. The top 20 albums according to me are officially out and the crowds have been quelled. Enjoy.

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2013

20. Los Campesinos! – No Blues

No Blues

This album came out on October 29. Many would call this indie rock-pop at it’s best, but I call it great music. That’s why its number 20. My favorite song, “Avocado, Baby”, strikes at my heart strings. The lyrics, “A heart of stone, rind so tough it’s crazy, That’s why they call me the avocado, baby” really shows you how this band can be a little goofy but sing about some of the more serious things in life. Do I recommend listening to this album? Of course!

19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Mosquito

I’ve listened to this album over and over again, and the music video for “Mosquito” continues to creep me out. This album has a song produced by the GOD James Murphy. The two songs that are to be listened are called “Sacrilege” and “Mosquito”.

18. James Blake – Overgrown

Overgrown

Overgrown is one of those albums you can have playing while you do EVERYTHING. Driving? Overgrown. Sleeping? Overgrown. Shopping for groceries? Overgrown. The song “Retrograde” just resonates with your ever living soul. You probably hum, I know I do. His previous album is just a preview of what he can do. This album really shows a mature James Blake. Amazing.

17. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

220px-Trouble_Will_Find_Me

I started listening to this album by playing the song “Fireproof” through my speakers. It was like a wild fire and before I realized it I had listened to this album multiple times through. There are other songs to look forward to hearing, “Don’t Swallow The Cap”, “This Is The Last Time”, and “I Need My Girl” are just some of the few that need to be named.

16. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City

The pop that was seen on previous albums is again found in this album. The gang of four that call themselves Vampire Weekend have once again made a great album. Songs like “Step”, “Diane Young”, and “Unbelievers” really can be traced back to their first album. This album receives my 5 Diane Youngs out of 5 Diane Youngs.
Continue reading dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS’ Top 20 Albums of 2013

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 80-71

Here are numbers 80-71 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

80. Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues

What good is it to sing helplessness blues?/ Why should I wait for anyone else?

The opening message of this song is really true for me too. As I grew up all that people talked to me about how we’re all unique and will have individual lives, but I didn’t really see it like that. I could buy that we were all different, but I always worked towards a goal that benefits the whole anyway. I believe in uniqueness but I don’t feel like that’s overly important. The bad part is that once you take on that line of thinking, there are ways where you’re expected to act which can sometimes be a struggle to actually fulfill. It’s scary, but that feeling is what the entire track and album is about because of how common the feeling is for us but also necessary to state.

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

79. Bon Iver- Skinny Love

“And now all your love is wasted/ And then who the hell was I?

I make fun of Bon Iver now for really no fair reason. It’s not his fault that people anoint him as the premier folk artist of the moment, and it’s not his fault that he grew to be an example/joke for the artists that are large in the alternative music scene but unheard of outside it. “Skinny Love” is a track which justifies a lot of For Emma, Forever Ago because it becomes clear that when this girl left Justin Vernon he was still madly in love with her. It was nonsensical to him because he loved her wholeheartedly and she still just decided to leave. Harsh.

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

78. Death Cab For Cutie- A Lack of Color

“And when I see you/ I really see you upside down.”

There are some songs where the guitar in itself sounds like it’s singing to you. In “A Lack of Color” it sounds as if it harmonizes with Gibbard as they both present a depressingly sad story of loss in a light and pretty way. I end up finding lines like the one above and the later mentioned “And all the girls in every girly magazine can’t make feel/ Any less alone…” gorgeous but I feel awful because of how it hurt the singer to go through it. It’s a weird counterbalance that defines the song for me.
Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 80-71