Give new music a chance, Dad
Lucas Masin-Moyer | Wednesday, April 19, 2017
“There’s no good music anymore,” is a line I often used to repeat. I believed good music had passed away along with the 20th century and I could find anything I ever wanted to listen to from the years 1960-1995. Within the last few years, though, I came to the realization that there had actually been some good music produced recently.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I still Love — yes, with a capital L — older music. I would give an arm, a leg and then some to be able to go back to 1976 at CBGB in the Bowery to see Television, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Blondie and the Ramones perform back-to-back.
But for everyone of these great bands, there are modern artists and bands, I discovered, that have a similar sound and are just as good, if not better.
Take, for example, Courtney Barnett — one of my current favorites and a sort of latter-day Australian Patti Smith. Barnett’s music takes the punk aesthetic set up by Smith and others and plays it to perfection. Songs like “Elevator Operator” and “Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go to the Party” sound like they could be played right alongside Smith and others at CBGB. And, in fact, they soon will be, with Smith and Barnett performing shows together in Australia later this year.
Or maybe it seems as if all the politics has been drawn out of music; the fiery leftism present in The Clash or Dead Kennedys’ music were cast to the wayside due to consumer capitalism. Well, look no further than Kendrick Lamar, a rapper who has made quite a name for himself recently. Songs like “Ronald Reagan Era,” “The Blacker the Berry” and, more recently, “DNA.” are fighting the power just as much as “Know Your Rights” or “Holiday in Cambodia,” though through a different type of music.
Maybe it seems as if acoustic music has all but bottomed out from its greatest height of 1960s-era Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, leveling out at a few chords strummed on a guitar with cliche lyrics; The Tallest Man on Earth provides a perfect remedy to this ill, with his songs containing the lyric complexity of Dylan and guitar playing which I dare say surpasses him.
Maybe there’s no experimenting anymore, no bands that bend genres to make something new and complex yet somehow equally catchy, no contemporary Talking Heads; on this point, I give you LCD Soundsystem, maybe my personal favorite contemporary band — a band who mixes punk with “Movement,” electronic with “Someone Great” and synthpop with “I Can Change,” a song that will make you dance like any of the club bangers so frequently decried in so called elite music circles.
So if you, like I used to, decry all new music, try these artists out — you might hate them or might love them. But in any case, you’ll hear new sounds and perspectives. And when it comes to broadening your view of the world, in a completely out of context quote of LCD Soundsystem on “All My Friends,” “That’s how it starts … ”
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.