One reason why a song will get included in this list is that it produces an emotional reaction in me. There are songs which can bring tears to my eyes, of both joy and sorrow. There are songs which make me angry, there are songs which make me miserable, there are songs which make me smile. In the most extreme cases, there are songs where the emotional reaction is so strong it causes a physical reaction – makes the hairs on my arms stand on end, or brings a flush to my cheeks. Some of my highest ranked tracks will fall into this category. And if I were to try to describe why I cannot abide most commercial mainstream music, herein is the answer. Commercial mainstream music needs to be as inoffensive as possible because profit is not gained by alienating potential purchasers. It produces no reaction in me as a result. Yet its deliberate inoffensiveness is what I find offensive about it.
Carrying on from last week, if technical proficiency alone is not a guarantee of inclusion – quite the reverse it may seem – then what militates against it. The answer is deceptively simple. A melody. My top 1000 contains little or nothing which could be considered ambient; very few long complicated passages of difficult to play but difficult to listen to virtuosity; and nothing which is atonal for a prolonged period. Call me old fashioned, but I enjoy a good tune and a song without a good tune, or hook, or riff, call it what you will, is not going to stick with me long enough to get included on the list. Music which I only notice when it stops playing is not music but an aural equivalent of wallpaper.
Stop right where your brain is at, we’re not slinging Amy Lee or Scott Stapp posters. Good, you made it through, you’ll be glad you did so. Have a listen to a terrific new playlist available courtesy of Wind-up Records.
Continuing with the theme of what makes something worthy of inclusion, it may come as a surprise to learn that technical ability is not a major factor. Of course, some of the greats, particularly guitar greats are included – Page, Clapton, Hendrix and so on. And, of course, are works by the man who quite possibly was the greatest known musical genius of all time – Ludwig van Beethoven. Many of the tracks performed by the most technically gifted artists of the seventies, a period which formed my musical tastes, namely the prog rockers Yes, Genesis, ELP and the like are not here. And yet some of the early punk songs and indie pop samplers from the eighties are, despite their poor quality. Why this should be is looked in the next blog
If you were like me in the late 90’s, chances were VERY high you were bumping solo and featured material from one particular LADY. Nicole Wray. The artist who laced several a track for music masterminds Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Damon Dash’s Rocafella, started her career off on a high note and spent years behind the scenes songwriting for other artists. Briefly collaborating with the Black Keys ( via BlacRoc) and Kid Cudi, Nicole next stepped back into the spotlight with a new look, new sound and a new band, Lady, in 2012, finding a new home in retro funk soul mecca, Truth and Soul Records.
Last time I looked at context, time and place, as among the defining factors for inclusion of a track. Another factor, which may seem overriding at first, turns out not to be so, namely reflective of my views. To be sure, songs which may be said to be politically or socially “left” will resonate with me more. Yet, while I would never include songs of the extreme right – Prussian Blue for the USA or Skrewdriver for the UK – I can include a track from Rush’s “2112” which was inspired by libertarian right author Ayn Rand. Similarly, though I am an atheist, I have a special fondness for the grace and calm of the works of twelfth century abbess Hildegard von Bingen. So, music according with my views is not always as important as may at first be apparent.
Pumped to learn Atlas Genius’ fall world tour would be swinging by LA on their West Coast run, I arrived excited. Add opening acts Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr and Family of the Year? Nice. As the chill ( well, as chilly as it gets on the West Side- 60’s) filled the air this crisp night, diverse Los Angeleno alt-rock fans filled the Wiltern to partake. Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr started the night off right, zipping through their 45 min set and Josh jokingly the band being from Detroit despite his move to LA. Playing several songs off “The Speed of Things”, Josh and Daniel frenetically moved around the stage in their trademark style. Was also nice to see Daniel out in the lobby after the set taking pics with fans by the merch booth. Family of the Year soon followed for their 45 minute set, also mentioning their hometown crowd and doing songs off “Loma Vista” and “Songbook” including their hit, “Hero”. Read more…