In Which We Talk About Music

It’s funny. I talk music here, and the inevitable result is my hits plummet like a corpse anchored by bowling balls. (Bowling balls make excellent corpse anchors. It’s the three holes. For rope. And knots.)

But music is a part of our lives, right? Maybe? Kinda? Sorta?

Curiously, it’s less a part of my life than it used to be — music is one of those many things that fractured, like cracks in a kicked mirror, and now our music culture is no longer as homogenized as it was before. On the one hand, that’s a great thing, right? Lots of micro-audiences. Lots of niches. A wider variety of music. On the other hand, it also means we don’t have quite as many musical touchstones. In the 80s and 90s, popular songs were popular songs — we all had cultural connection because we knew “Like A Virgin,” or Duran Duran, or Public Enemy, or (insert group, song, musical style here).

We had those few avenues of musical discovery, a real monoculture of music — radio, MTV, and that’s it.

Troubling, but it also felt like a time where music was more a part of our lives. For better or for worse, we were connected by it. The value of that might be dubious — I mean, a lot of the country is connected by watching “Two And A Half Men,” and more power to them, but it’s not exactly like that’s a critical cultural bulwark. Popular media is both a blessing and a curse. It unites us, but it also dominates, shouldering out other — possibly greater — options.

But in the 90s especially, it felt to me like music was going through equal parts “downward slide” and “powerful rebirth.” Felt like the field was so wide — hey! Wu-Tang! Nirvana! Portishead! Die Warzau! Fishbone! Poe! Pearl Jam! Lords of Acid! They Might Be Giants! Nine Inch Nails! Sarah McLachlan! That’s just a tiny sampling of the shit I listened to. The field was obviously way more diverse than that.

Punk. Pop. Country. Ambient. Whatever.

These days, I don’t the same sense of potency, of rebirth, of diversity. It might just be me. The way I listen to music has changed. I listen to music predominantly in the car. Sometimes on the iPhone when I’m walking. Don’t listen to much music when I’m working on the computer, because when I’m on the PC I’m probably writing, and unlike most writers I cannot have music in the background — especially when that music has lyrics. It doesn’t inform my work as much as I want, and instead it simply distracts. I find it much harder to put together cogent, powerful sentences when music is competing for my attention. I can’t just let music be in the background when I write: it muscles forward, tries to get to the front of the line.

(It also feels like I’m not hearing great lyrics like I used to: part of me says, “It’s because great lyrics are harder to find,” but a less cynical part reminds me that it’s probably due to how I listen to music nowadays. An example: Will “The Distant Hindmarches” Hindmarch convinced me to try The Decemberists. And I love ‘em. Such great storytelling. But I don’t listen to them that often. In the car, I want “driving music,” not The Crane Wife. But if I don’t listen to them in the car, they don’t get much play, then.)

Now, I may have a minor change in the way I listen to music: I have a new audio receiver for the downstairs at the new house, and we don’t have neighbors smashed against us. I can play music and not fear neighborly retribution. I got an iPhone dock for the receiver and can pop on Pandora or whatever, see where it takes me. So that might help — it might offer me a more robust axis of music and music discovery.

Anyway. Rambling, complete.

Questions, begin.

a) What are you listening to these days? Here’s a quick glimpse of what I’ve got going these days:

The Like.

Band of Skulls.

Kim Lenz and the Jaguars.

b) How do you discover new music? Believe it or not, I don’t discover most of my new music through services like Pandora or Last.FM — I go music blogs and blog aggregators. I use elbo.ws, and I also find great advice from people like Gareth-Michael Skarka, whose Friday Music was always a great route toward music discovery (especially since he seems to dig the same type of music I do).

c) Got any favorite bands? Albums? Styles? Eras? Anything? I’m talking music you keep coming back to again and again. Your own personal fundamentals. Some of my “critical hits” definitely include Poe, Concrete Blonde, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, They Might Be Giants. Groups that, should they produce anything at all, I’ll buy it sight unseen (or, erm, sound unheard?).

d) Writer-types and artist-faces: do you listen to music while creating? Before? After? How does music inspire? What kind of music inspires?

29 comments

  • a) I continue to be eclectic. My most recent “like” discoveries have been Muse, MC Frontalot, Bit Shifters, Cage the Elephant and that one song Jace Everett does.

    b) I occasionally dabble in Pandora and Last.FM, and I also listen to WMMR whenever I’m in the car because they do play new stuff that rocks (like Cage the Elephant). A former co-worker runs a music blog, covering the indy scene, called Music Under Fire. It’s good stuff.

    c) Favorites? VNV Nation, Tool, Flogging Molly. They’re pretty much the sticks against which I measure electronica, metal and Celtic rock, respectively.

    d) VNV Nation, Tool, Bear McCreary and Flogging Molly are my go-to music for writing inspiration. Sometimes for scenes of hard action I’ll reach for Metallica, Disturbed or Slipknot. But it’s mostly those first two.

  • Let’s see, I’ve been on a big Indie/Electronic kick lately.

    The Scott Pilgrim soundtrack is awesome, and I still haven’t seen the movie.

    Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs is good.

    Yeasayer’s Odd Blood is awesome.

    Hot Chip’s One Life Stand is good but not nearly as good as their earlier stuff.

    Scissor Sisters’ Night Work makes me want to DJ at gay bars.

    The National continue to be amazing.

    Ditto LCD Soundsystem.

    School of Seven Bells is quite good, Miike Snow has some good songs but I generally prefer the remixes. I do like The Like as well.

    All in all, it’s a pretty good year for the skinny pants crowd.

    My absolute favorite album of the year though is actually from 2008, I was just behind the times. Astronautalis “Pomegranate” is an amazing mix of hip hop, bluesy folky old timey dirty country, and all around awesomeness. Check out The Wondersmith and his Sons, Trouble Hunters and Two Years Before The Mast. The whole album is amazing though.

    Astronautalis also put out a pay what you want mix tape this year, that’s got some great songs but isn’t nearly as essential.

  • As for D: I absolutely have to have music when creating stuff. With comic making, it’s generally either wordless soundtrack stuff or thumpy darkwave/industrial/house type stuff.

  • Now, for real – because I did read. See what I did there? Ha ha! It’s all about misdirection, naive. Keep them guessing. Keep them on their toes – feint to the left then strike from the left, then feint a feint and BAZZINGA!

    What was I talking about?

    A) I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop lately, oddly enough – I was never to into it (didn’t dislike it, just not my thing) but for the last week or two I’ve been listening. Beyond that it’s my usual industrial/metal – KMFDM, Prick, Sister Machine Gun, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and my old classics: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax (Big Four!), Iron Miaden, Sepletura, Testement, etc. Also a lot of Nu Metal.

    B) Typically, through Maggie. She listens to a lot of things I define as “crap”, but some of it is really good and sticks with me enough to find more.

    C) Bands, see above. Styles? Late 70′s hard rock, southern rock, industrial (less techno-industrial though), and early era alternative.

    D) When I can, I tend to listen to Les Miserables or Phantom while writing fantasy, Sister Machine Gun when doing anything sci-fi, and Metallica for all around good times. Typically music distracts me though.

  • One thing I have noticed, as my musical listening has become more insular, is that I find I have less and less of an idea of what other people listen to.

    I mean, I’m aware enough of the larger musical world to know that I like Lady Gaga and can’t stand Katy Perry, but I’ll frequently stumble across stuff – even in the realms of the sort of music I listen to regularly – that is popular and I’m like “what the hell is this shit?”, or I find some cool album that I realize was popular in 2007 or whatever.

    This doesn’t really matter, because I mean my Does It Offend You, Yeah? album isn’t going anywhere. But it can be weird to be out DJing and realize that X song is the popular one that everyone knows, or that Y band are overplayed or what have you.

    This kind of goes back to your first point about the lack of a sort of pop monoculture, which is something that I think carries across to all aspects of media. But then, I’m not 16 so the prime time for me to delve in to modern music has passed. ;)

    (As an aside, I’ve noticed that disconnect with things other people have seen has now even extended to stuff like YouTube videos. There was a time when everyone on the internets knew about the Star Wars Kid or All Your Base or Strongbad or whatever. Now a video on youtube can have 10,000,000 hits and I’ve never even heard of it.)

  • a) What am I not listening to? Ok, that’s a little flippant since there’s a wide swatch of music that makes me cringe (Biebergaga anyone?). Mostly it’s flitting around Pandora and a few of the radio offerings through iTunes. I like not having to think to hard about what I put on.

    b) Pandora (which happens to know my tastes a little too well now), Last.FM and … the husband. Believe it or not, the Rorz has single-handedly increased my listening horizons 1000% .

    c) I keep going back to the music I devoured in middle school. A mixture of post-grunge like Bush and Smashing Pumpkins, and industrial. Especially cheeky industrial like KMFDM, Rob Zombie, and the first few Powerman 5000 albums. A little goth (Type O Negative) and a little stoner rock and I’m usually a happy, happy girl.

    d) I have to have it. Silence kills me because I then notice every noise the cats are making, or the birds outside, or the neighbor walking around upstairs. And THAT is distracting. A good thing with knowing what you’re going to write ahead of time is choosing the right music. Something that I can blend into a mental fog and will help me immerse myself in the scene that much better. So if it’s an action packed scene, I’ll find some metal. If it’s heroic, maybe power metal. If it’s sad-sad-emo time … well, no. No emo. I find that Kyuss and other similarly “fuzzy” music makes for great all-purpose writing music.

  • A. According to itunes, I’ve been listening to:
    * The soundtracks fro Raajneeti, Inception and the Sarah Connor Chronicles
    * Fay Wolf
    * Matt Nathanson
    * A lot of children’s music, Laurie Berkner and TMBG in particular

    B. I keep picking up music pretty much constantly. Some of it I get through trusted sources (my brother lives in one of those towns that gets great acts passing through while they’re still small enough to go out for a beer after and Morgan is a full bore music enthusiast), some of it I get through hoovering up the VAST swaths of free stuff that places like Amazon and Itunes offer. Sure, most of it’s meh, but every now and again I find a track that makes it totally worthwhile.

    I’m also kind of crazy about hearing something interesting, be it on a tv show or advertisement or trailer, and tracking it down. A snippet of lyrics and aggressive googling can get you almost anything, and this is how I ended up with things like getting hooked on frou Frou/Imohen Heap, finding Evanessance’s actual garage band album (which is startlingly good) and Jessy Greene’s a Demon & Her Lovers (from the end of s2 Burn Notice). I also end up grabbing mainstream stuff this way because the CW in particular likes to intentionally seed their shows with new artists, but I am not as bothered by that as young me might be.

    C. Fundamentals – Peter Gabriel, Matt Nathanson, Warren Zevon, Counting Crows, Sarah McLachlan.

    D. During, but it needs to either be instrumental (I love good soundtracks) or something I know so well that it does not distract. Curiously, i can do this with TV too. I have seen every episode of Scrubs so many times they make fine non-distracting background.

  • a.) According my Last.fm profile, I’ve been listening to a lot of Type O Negative, Queens of the Stone Age, Mondo Generator and Clutch. (A lot of stand-up, too, it would seem.)

    b.) It used to be Last.fm mostly, but now the recommendations are mostly bands that I’m aware of, but that I couldn’t get into for whatever reason. These days, I find that eMusic is suggesting a lot of real winners for me.

    c.) Queens of the Stone Age, Clutch, Monster Magnet, Smashing Pumpkins, Strapping Young Lad, The Sword, Dethklok, KMFDM, Rammstein, Ministry, Zimmers Hole, The Prodigy, Lo-Fidelity All Stars, Clutch. I’m crazy for stoner rock, aggro-industrial, Big Beat, and (extreme) metal, mostly.

    d.) Well, I don’t listen to music when I’m in making music. That always ends weirdly. When doing other activities that require creative thought (drawing, troubleshooting really tough problems, building with LEGO), music is always involved.

  • Oh, and one other rule: Always buy that guy’s shitty album. In the coffee shop? On the street? At an art festival? Opening act to the show you really want to see? Whatever. If you got a few bucks, buy that guy’s shitty album. It’s a good thing to do, and you will sometimes find pure gold.

    -Rob D.

  • I listen to music when cooking (via Pandora), while driving (radio stations), and while writing (sometimes). I find new music using YouTube, because a) it’s survived, when a lot of the other sites I was using didn’t, and b) completely random shit is easy to access using a train of thought. Also, you can type in your favorite show/movie that most closely resembles what you’re writing and add “amv” after it, and you’ll get all kinds of goodies.

    The last quest gave me The Frames and Agathe & Fine doing a beautiful cover of Tom Waits’s Innocent when You Dream.

    http://www.youtube.com/my_playlists?p=EA1122ECA86F7B66

  • a) Lately, I’ve been listening to Sarah McLachlan or the Shiny Toy Guns a lot, particularly at work. I did have a big Peter Gabriel kick last weekend though.

    b) A lot of the music I discover these days is either recommended to my by friends, or I pick it up from listening to the JMFH recommendations. Friends have gotten me onto bands like Carbon Leaf (from a local friend), Great Big Sea (from a Canadian friend, after subjecting her to Carbon Leaf), and Planet P Project (thanks to Bruce Baugh, who has also pointed me at other neat stuff over the past six or seven years). My wife got me onto the JMFH playlists a few years ago, and I’ve found a couple of good bands through that, such as Shiny Toy Guns and Maximo Park (as well as a few good singles by people like Ladyhawke and Garry Go).

    I don’t listen to the radio any more, so I don’t find new music as often as I used to, but that’s kinda OK with me :)

    c) Definitely. Carbon Leaf is a big one here, especially their 2005 album, “Indian Summer”. Great Big Sea gets listened to fairly regularly, and I often find myself going on 80s music binges, mainly because I was a teenager in the 80s and there was some brilliant music done back then. Oddly enough though, I don’t find myself listening to things these days that I was heavily into back then. I was a big Phil Collins fan in the 80s, but I rarely listen to him these days. I still go on Peter Gabriel kicks every year or two.

    d) Yes, I find that music helps me focus by shutting out a lot of distractions when I’m writing (it doesn’t matter if I’m writing fiction, RPG stuff or even software). Oddly enough, when I’m actually wordsmithing, I typically find that I find one song that sums up the piece I’m working on, and I listen to that single song on repeat, sometimes for days (and usually on headphones, so I don’t annoy my wife :) . Back in the days I was writing the D20 Gamma World stuff, I listened to Yoko Kanno’s “Inner Universe” a lot. When I was writing for the Seers of the Throne book, I listened to Planet P Project’s “In Babylon”.

  • Coincidentally I’m currently writing a top 25 list of the most influential songs from my life. It’s really taken a long time and a lot of researcher. I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff from all different walks of life. If you’d like I’d be happy to share it once complete (a week or two left).

    I would consider my taste in music eclectic. Not the “Hey I’m a fucking hipster who listens to bands you’ve never heard of and probably never will because I’m too fucking awesome to be near you” kind of eclectic. More like the “I don’t give a fuck if anyone hears me grooving to the Bee Gees…this song is awesome and defines a generation so fuck you I enjoy it” kind of eclectic. I really don’t enjoy listening to regular radio. I hate hearing the same thing over and over again until my ears bleed. I have a MP3 player and I love to hit shuffle and let the chips fall where they may. For the sake of figuring out what I’ve been listening to lately I’ve put the Android on shuffle and will list the next ten songst hat come up (Chuck…your blog just turned into an old Myspace thread…welcome back to 13 years old):

    Buddy Holly – Weezer
    Make Me Smile – Chicago
    Day Tripper – Beatles and Jimi Hendrix Live
    Blind Man Blues – Muddy Waters
    That’s Life – Frank Sinatra
    Metallica – Overkill
    Land of Confusion – Genesis
    20 Eyes – Misfits
    Turn the Beat Around – Gloria Estefan
    Peter Piper – Run DMC

    So there you go. Don’t judge me.

    If I get in certain moods I’ll open up Pandora and stick a genre in there and listen away. I really love Pandora. I find new music there and I browse Reddit’s music sub-threads to see new stuff.

    I don’t think that music is all that different now than it was in the 70′s, 80′s, or 90′s, Chuck. I just think that as we get older a couple things happen. First thing is that we’re no longer in school…or any kind of mass social setting that gives us access to anything new. I realized this when I managed Spencer gifts a few years back. While I was working there I was suddenly opened up to a whole new age of music I had never heard or discovered. My younger employees were so into music that I had no choice but to listen to it. I liked a lot of it, too. Before that I would have scoffed at bands like Avenged 7 Fold on principle. That brings me to the next point; we’re getting older. As we age our tastes solidify more. Our priorities shift and finding a new sound isn’t nearly as important as listening to sounds that remind us of being young. That’s what I think, anyway.

    As for listening to music to create…yes. I gear up with different music for different moods. Depending on what I plan to create I’ll queue up different types of music. That’s all relative. Music has always set the tone for the soundtrack to my life. It motivates and inspires. It reminisces with us and doesn’t mind us leaning on it for strength, hope, or comfort. It is an unrelenting force that drives emotion. I love music. I’ll stop now…Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (I left the MP3 player running) always puts me in a dramatic mood.

  • I think the internet has democratized music to some extent, but also fractured it as you’ve described. The downside of knowing where to find the kind of music you like online is you’ll only find the kind of music you already know you’ll like.

    That said, I tend to find a lot of new music online; in recent years NPR has stepped up their coverage, and bands they spotlight, while not always my cup of tea, are almost always worth listening to. And when they hit for me, they really hit.

    The A.V. Club is also a trusted source for me; their reviews are spot on, and until the whole Lala debacle, they used to offer up albums for streaming — a must if you want to hook new listeners.

    Favorite eras? I tend to think of music as following a sort of punctuated equilibrium, with focal points of white-hot innovation followed by stagnation. For me, some biggies are the explosion of big-band jazz in the late ’20s (LOVE me some Benny Goodman), the rise of true counterculture from ’68-72 (I could listen to the Velvets all day, and hell, throw in some Stooges and Bowie while you’re at it), the first-wave punk of ’77-81 (Television, The Clash, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Stiff LIttle Fingers… yeah, I like the punk rock), the hip-hop scene of ’87-91 (De La Soul, PE, Tribe), and the glorious, glorious rock explosion of ’91-’93 (I’m a fan of wall-of -sound stuff, so My Bloody Valentine, Catherine Wheel, and the like will get me every time, as does much of the Madchester scene — not to mention the scenes in Seattle, Chicago, Chapel Hill, and the glorious DC hardcore of the time, led by Fugazi.)

    I think this year’s been great thus far for new music: New Pornographers, Wolf Parade, The National, Sleigh Bells, Mynabirds, Black Keys, Mumford and Sons, and Sun Kil Moon come to mind, but then, most of those are established acts. And in the past few years, I’ve gotten seriously into Andrew Bird (if you don’t have “And the mysterious production of eggs”, buy it immediately — it’s quirky mellow perfection) and the Doomtree crew out of Minneapolis (great underground hip hop; check out their full length release, Dessa’s “A Badly Broken Code”, and good God go listen to P.O.S.’s “Never Better”).

  • When it comes to finding new music, it can be via the internet and various blogs, or word of mouth, or, less and less unfortunately, just going to the record store and browsing.

    I can easily switch from, say, Decrepit Birth to early Frank Sinatra to Waylon Jennings to Kylesa in a short period of time.

    Right now some of my favorites include Kylesa, Minsk, Indian, Baroness, Weedeater, and Howl, to name a few. All of those are of a more metal type, though neither “old school” nor, thank the devil, “nu metal”. Some even accuse them of being “arty”.

    Dale Watson, the real deal when it comes to country music, has a new album out next week.

    The there’s Scott H. Biram. Simply amazing music, straight from the gut.

    Sleep is doing a short run of tour dates and I have tickets, so I’m stoked about that.

    Torche and Kylesa both have highly anticipated (around our house, anyway) albums coming, and both bands are touring with High On Fire come October.

    The not appreciated at all when they were around Floor has had their entire output re-released in a great and affordable (and an insane not affordable) set from Robotic Empire.

    And if it came to pass, I’d go see a Big Four tour. I still listen to a lot of 80s metal, thrash, and crossover. It holds up (for the most part).

    T-Model Ford is still kicking, and that makes me happy.

    I’ve rambled off here, as I tend to do. I could yammer about music all day.

  • This makes me realize that I haven’t done a Friday Music post in quite a while. Now that the Summer craziness is coming to an end, I should get back into the swing of things.

  • Oh, oh, oh, Chuck. Were there better lyrics back in the 90′s (80′s/70′s/1860′s) or is it just that we just forget the bad ones?

    Because from the 90′s, I remember stuff like “Boom, boom, boom, I want you in my room” (yes, you are welcome for me reminding you of that).

    Let’s face it: music lyrics are always the same Sturgeon’s proportion of trite and less-trite.

    Oh and to answer your questions:

    a) America, Running Wild, Lady Pank, the Gundam UC soundtrack
    b) either my brother recommends me something (like Ken Hensley or something) or I see a song somewhere on the blogs/forums I frequent and I check something out. I sometimes look for reviews on trusted sites.
    c) Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, ABBA, Simon and Garfunkel, Nightwish, Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, The Beatles, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, Saxon. My musical taste is shit. I do not care enough to defend it anymore.
    d) Lately, I’ve stopped listening to music while writing/translating, instead popping in lectures/audiobooks/podcasts. I find voices do not distract me that much and whenever I have a mental roadblock, I just close my eyes and listen for a minute or so. Switches up the brainpatterns and hopefully works the kinks out.

  • These days I am much hungrier for new music than I ever was before. Trains and Ipods totally changed my relationship to music – which mostly means I am just always exploring different genres.

    A. Find myself all over the place these days. But the big spins recently seem to be:
    Momus “Joemus”, Chain and the Gang “Down with Liberty Up with Chains”, The Best of Misora Hibari, and Willie Nelson’s “The Red-Headed Stranger”.

    B. A find new stuff through blogs (but not specifically music blogs), Grooveshark, 8tracks, and friends.

    C. I tend to follow a few musicians fairly consistently through all the various forms they keep taking. I can think of Ian Svenonius, Ian Mackaye, Jen Toomey, Ryuichi Sakomoto, Susumu Yokota as I write. But that seems more limited than I feel my collection reflects.

    D. For art-making, I find I have 3 stages. The first, sketching, tends to require music. Its a mood-maker or a mood-breaker to get my energies going in the right directions.

    The second, layouts and design, needs to not have music at all – it ends up more distracting like you said. Its too easy for me to have a well of ideas come rushing at me if I am listening to anything. Unless of course I feel its more important to drown out some other distractions like a neighbor’s lawnmower or some such.

    In the third stage, which I might call production, I listen to a whole mix of things – music, NPR, podcasts and sports events. I often find that a measure of success for my production phase is the degree to which I totally do not hear said noise.

  • Let me just preface this by saying that The Aquabats are the best band of all time. This is not an opinion – this is provable science. The experiment that verifies it? Seeing them live. I have seen many incredible live acts – Barenaked Ladies, Reverend Horton Heat, Rush, Reel Big Fish, Tool, Moxy Fruvous – and while they’re all awesome, the Aquabats easily run away with the trophy. Trust me, if Mozart were alive today and saw the Aquabats play, he would immediately reach up his nose with both hands and pull out his own living brain for them to autograph. In the few seconds before he died of complications from traumatic brain removal, he would mutter “It was worth it” over and over in Swedish. That’s how amazing they are – just touching them would teach Mozart how to speak Swedish.

    Anyway, on with the questions.

    A) At risk of repeating so many others before me, lots of things. I was a late bloomer musically, but I’ve made up for it with something of a vengeance. When I left high school, I owned 9 CDs. When I left college, I owned 900. Most of the albums I get now are digital downloads instead of actual discs, but still, the advance continues apace. :-)

    Lately, I’ve been listening to Muse, Blood Red Shoes (featured well on the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack), Garth Brooks (DON’T YOU JUDGE ME), MC Lars, the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack in general, and a weird mix I made for a space marine boffer LARP I’m developing (full of testosterone-y goodness like Rob Zombie and Avenged Sevenfold with clips from Aliens and Generation Kill spliced in).

    B) Actually, a lot of the times I hear about things from students. I play music during the time before class whenever possible, and what I’m playing often prompts students to give recommendations. I also make it a point to pick up random music from time to time, just to try to avoid having my tastes become too compartmentalized.

    C) Solid favorites: The Aquabats, Royal Crown Revue, Great Big Sea, Grey Eye Glances (Philly area faves, great local band), 2 Skinnee J’s, Poe, The Specials, Good Clean Fun, Flogging Molly, Foo Fighters, Peter Gabriel, The Rocket Summer, Tool, VNV Nation, Rancid, Portishead, Toasters, Eminem, Ani DiFranco, Green Day, Vision, Ashley McIsaac, BT, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Lady Sovereign, Andrew WK, New Found Glory, Saw Doctors, Lee Press-On & the Nails, Propellerheads, Plain White T’s (old stuff, not their pussy new albums), Seamus Kennedy (local delight par excellence), Metallica, Pietasters, Linkin Park, Bellevue Cadillac, Dance Hall Crashers.

    D) Man, as a Storyteller I’d make mixes for games – for characters, even – and as a writer music has always been an integral part of the process. I usually have at least one playlist for each project, and sometimes if a song is really inspiring I’ll even listen to it on repeat for hours while I work.

    For example, when I’m writing my modern horror noir novel, I’ve got a mix that features a lot of Royal Crown Revue, Morphine, the Sin City soundtrack, Dem Brooklyn Bums Big Band, Alien Fashion Show, Lee Press-On & the Nails and just a bit of Jill Tracy. In other words, a lot of big band and smokey jazz to capture a noir vibe, along with some more modern drum, bass and sax stuff to give it a cynical, sinister contemporary twist. Oh, and the more wicked the lyrics, the better.

    When I’m working on my … I don’t know what to call this novella, exactly, at least genre-wise. Victorian fantasy? Gaslight arcana? Gentleman lunacy? Anyway, it all but requires a lot of music from the Dr. Who sountracks, Dr. Horrible’s theme, a bunch of music from Coraline, some dark stuff from the From Hell score, and just a touch of Imogen Heap/Frou Frou for the really bizarre parts. Taken together, it captures the lunatic charm, curious wonder and frantic action I’m looking for.

  • Have you Listen to any Plan B? The lads well worth a listen. Try the tracks; Mama, Stay to long, She said and Prayin. The last 3 tracks if listened to in the order that’s wrote down here tell one long story (all the vidoe are up on Youtube ). Also you might like to try out Xfm Manchester, best indie station this side off the pond. I recommend Clint Boon’s driver time show 5pm-7pm GMT, it’s available via the listen again button on their home page. Xfm manchester in google will take you there.

    Hope that was of help :)

  • a) I find myself listening to things that are older and older. Not just staying with, say, the 1980s, but finding joy in things from my parents’ generation. I’m ready to start yelling for the kids to get off my lawn with their hair and their music… but I also crave the new. I think I want to hear the evolution. I have an ongoing time travel fantasy where I go back in time and hand creators *this* (a commercial, an album, something) and say, “OK, now let’s use the force of time compression to make my time Even More Awesome.”

    b) I have “music Mondays” where I go around from aggregation sites that share music that they like or needs exposure, and then spend a couple hours going through and rating it. Some of it goes away immediately, some of it gets put on the puny MP3 player immediately, some of it gets held on the harddrive for a second look. Goal is to find the best, so if I’m not seeing the potential of loving it, I want it out of here. (And I am nerdy enough to keep a spreadsheet where I note who I’ve kicked out so I Don’t Get Fooled Again.) My Pandora is split into a number of channels with a little overlap depending on if my mood changes while I’m working on it.

    c) I love me some celtic punk and techno remixes. I think (Jethro) Tull and Tool have a lot more in common than I would have ever expected, even if it makes my girlfriend cringe suggesting it. I only follow one actual band but that’s because their live performances rock the roof off and make you Glad to Be Alive. I like funny country and rap (and perform the latter at karaoke if needed) but generally I have found that my tastes are so much unlike everyone else’s that I can accept we have nothing in common.

    d) I can’t listen to music that demands too much of me while I write. Either in having happy poppy sing-along songs, or interesting lyrics, but I have to have music while I’m writing. I cannot compose decent poetry or enjoy truly complex math while I listen to music. I don’t like it during sex, either.

  • Music has always been an extremely important part of my life. Major events and critical times in my life always seemed to have their own soundtrack. When I was agonizing over the decision to move closer to my parents after my brother’s death, it was “Long December” by Counting Crows. When I was similarly agonizing over whether or not to leave teaching, it was their “Four White Stallions” that spoke to me. There have been other bands and other songs over the years. Right now, I feel a bit disconnected from music. Part of it is the fragmentation you mentioned. Part of it is trying to find a good source to become exposed to new music. There are so many that the overload makes it difficult for me to commit to one. It also takes some time, trial and error, to find new music. And part of it is a transition in music right now.

    I’ve always been intensely eclectic. I listen to Clumsy Lovers and Old Crow Medicine Show, along with Eminem and Mat Kearney, Counting Crows and Wallflowers, The Ataris and Death Cab for Cutie. I’m a big fan of Jack’s Mannequin and recently discovered Erin McCarley (she’s talented, beautiful, and extremely friendly). Jackson Browne gave one of the best concerts I’ve ever experienced just a few years ago, as did Counting Crows and Augustana last year.

    I’ve been pondering this post for day and it may merit a blog post over on Geekcentricity. I’ll have to check out some of the artists mentioned above.

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