I’ve often stated that my musical tastes came from listening to the music that my older siblings listened to. And at 28, while I’ve definitely branched out and discovered a lot of artists on my own – I still tend to gravitate towards artists that were making their best music long before I was born. “You dress like a hipster,” A friend of mine told me recently. “But you tend to listen to Boomer music.” Indeed, while wandering drunkenly wandering around Greenwich Village, I was more excited about finding a bar that was blasting Wilson Pickett and Jackie Wilson all night long than hanging out at the “hip” bars.
When I was in college, I probably listened to more “hipster” music. Ironically, I looked nothing at all like a hipster than. The last album I bought by a “new” band was Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, and before that it was TV on the Radio’s Dear Science almost two years earlier. Otherwise my “new release” purchases have been established artists that have been around for decades or more. My girlfriend on the other hand, tends to listen to more indie and hip bands – Stars, Matt & Kim, MGMT, Metric, Mates of State, etc. While I appreciate some of it and like some of the songs, the indie-rock/synth pop sound is definitely not something I would otherwise be into.
Maybe I just don’t “get” this new direction that popular music is taking. Or perhaps I’m bored, and the only music that I find is exciting is music by older artists. But I think a lot of it has to do with being burned by newer artists when they release follow-up albums to their acclaimed records. Get Behind Me Satan was a tepid follow-up to the brilliant Elephant, Room on Fire didn’t ignite the rock world the way that Is This It? did, and Franz Ferdinand are still only known for “Take Out”. The Killers were better before they became sincere and Brandon Flowers was singing about androgyny. And Kings of Leon? They might have gotten bigger, but once Cabel Followill cleaned up his vocals and Matthew Followill set his delay pedals to “Edge” they lost their touch, and soul. When MGMT released their sophomore Congratulations earlier this year my girlfriend was disappointed as she loved their debut Oracular Spectacular. “A-ha!” I thought. “It’s happened to you as well!”
These days,the only releases I’m excited about are Elvis Costello‘s National Ransom, Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series, and Bruce Springsteen‘s Darkness on the Edge of Town boxed set. Even though these artists might be some 30 years older than me, I still find them extremely relevant. Darkness, for instance actually says a lot more about the state of the world today than Springsteen could have imagined. And as for Wilson Pickett and Jackie Wilson? There’s nobody alive today that can make me want to jump up on a couch in a bar.