How in the hell do you start a blog? There are probably better ways than that…
To be honest, I haven’t read many blogs before, and believe that they are often full of nothing more than self-indulgent wankery, which is at least the reason I’ve decided to write this one. Hey, no abuse beats self abuse. Really, I just like music. It’s as simple as that. I like listening to it but I’m pretty rubbish at playing it. So, I do the next best thing (in my mind at least) and write about it. I like Elvis Costello alright, but his quote (or Miles Davis’, or Frank Zappa’s, depending on who you believe) that writing about music is like dancing about architecture is idiotic and dangerous to, I don’t know, democracy or something. Why not write about music? I think good music writing can impart the passion one person feels for music and help to create a shared experience over the love of something emotional, visceral and important. The best music writing I’ve read has given me new insight into songs I already love, led me to re-evaluate music I previously ignored and given me a different perspective on something that is meaningful to me. It shows me that there’s no universal truth even in the mathematical precision of metronomic beats and well-tuned guitars playing in recognised keys, and I like that uncertainty. It’s good. I desire disorder. Good music writing also cures cancer and works well as a marinade. Probably.
I have no grand plans for this website/blog thing. There are many music blogs out there and probably better ones. However, I find many music blogs tend to get a little too deep into the bleeding edge, ignoring a lot of the passion of music (not to mention old gems) in favour of breaking news. Conversely, a lot of the mainstream press offers little new in terms of breaking new bands (I just heard about this bright new rising band called Coldplay…). I want to aim this somewhere in the middle, maybe introducing some new bands or new insight on familiar bands, without worrying about staying cutting edge, although I’ll cover new releases and bands that interest me. I see music as thematic and part of life, so my writing will likely reflect that. I like many types of music, which I know is what everybody says and nobody really means it. However, I don’t pay enough attention to be able to clearly outline types and styles I listen to, so each week might cover very divergent areas. You, make-believe reader, will eventually figure out my particular likes, at least if you stick with it past a week. I guess one thing I respect in music is sincerity in intent. That’s why I can enjoy a good pop song that knows it’s a good pop song, and I can’t enjoy an indie act who is too calculated in their attempts to be different. Let’s face it though – my distinctions are arbitrary, as are everybody’s. My musical choices are wide-ranging but spotty. I like music that excites me and moves me, and I’m idiosyncratic in what accomplishes that. We all are, and that’s pretty cool. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, so there might be some pretty dire stuff on here from time to time, and I make no apologies. I’m based out of Sheffield, UK at the moment, which has a great music scene, so I hope to cover some local bands as well. All in all, what I choose will not necessarily be cutting edge or hip, but hopefully you find something you like. Maybe this will only be read by my friends (provided I remember to tell them) and that’s okay. Hell, who am I kidding? I hope it’s read by, like, 50 billion people, but if not I’ll keep writing it, because it’s enjoyable.
Is there anything else I’m supposed to cover in an opening web site call to arms? This will be updated weekly, unless I forget or die or something. Maybe I’ll update it more if I get all worked up and need to rant about something, and my friends won’t listen to me. Please feel free to comment on anything I write. Discussion is always nice. I’m currently taking the Dogme approach to websites, mostly due to my distinct lack of knowledge in web design, but hopefully this site will begin to look nicer in time. I will be posting song samples on here, but the usual music blog rules of gentlemanly (and gentlewomanly – we’re gender inclusive here) conduct apply. If you like something, go out and buy it or see them live – especially if it’s one of the little guys. They need your support, and I want them to have enough money so that they can make more good music, instead of waiting tables. If I ever post any U2 songs though, feel free to steal them, as Bono has enough money and will just use any additional funds to buy stupid sunglasses. Also, if anybody in a band actually reads this thing and wants me to take a song down, e-mail me at email@example.com and I will do it. These songs will only be up for a limited amount of time, provided I have the technical know-how to be able to remove them from the server.
Also, here’s a quick note about the name: obviously, I don’t actually want to kill rock music. I am being ironic, as apparently the kids love that sort of thing these days. If you want to get deep, maybe it’s my reaction to the relentless categorisation of music, until people define their musical tastes by infinitely-hyphenated, ultimately meaningless reductions of what’s all, essentially, music. Can’t I like everything from ambient piano to atonal jazz squawking, right through the middle of power pop and heavy metal? Whatever, I think the title sounds cool.
Now, here’s some songs to get us started. According to Last.fm, I listen to these artists way too much. All these artists can be bought from Amazon.com or other fine retailers.
The National – Mistaken for Strangers
The National come from Cincinnati and are one of my favourite bands for all occasions. They manage to capture the minor (and not always unpleasant) ennui of everyday existence without sounding too desperate about the situation.
The Constantines – Lizaveta
This seems like a great song to listen to while you’re sitting around, drinking mojitos as the world crashes and burns around you, or so I imagine. The Constantines hail from Guelph, Ontario, if that matters to anyone not from Guelph. They’re currently touring across Canada.
Eels – Fresh Feeling
I like music that conveys a complicated kind of happiness, and I think the Eels are exceptional at providing that kind of listening. Mark Everett’s life story is fascinating, and despite the difficulties he’s been faced with, he’s kept his cheery (if dark) humour and outlook on life. His autobiography, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, is definitely worth a read.
The Hold Steady – Killer Parties
This music should make you nostalgic for those simple, small-town times, drinking with friends on the side of a road by a fire in those hours just before dawn. It’s not necessarily a way to live your entire life, but sometimes those simple drunken pleasures are worth it.
Cloud Cult – Take Your Medicine
Here’s another band that conveys that complicated kind of happiness. Kudos to them for recording and touring in a completely green manner. I mean that in an environmental way, rather than as some sort of pseudo-philosophical, synaesthetic bullshit.
NEW MUSIC NEWS
In this section, I’ll just write about some current musical happenings of interest. It will by no means be comprehensive, but will cover bits that might interest some of you.
First off, Bon Iver released the Blood Bank EP this week. It’s Justin Vernon’s first release with his band in tow, coming on the heals of the excellent For Emma, Forever Ago. The title track of the EP is quite beautiful and haunting, or perhaps some other similarly overused adjectives. Two of the other songs are pretty good as well, but I think the final track, Woods, makes atrocious use of Autotune. Who does he think he is? Cher? Check out the EP, and download the title track (and other cool songs) from
The Decemberists’ new album is set to be released in late March, but they’ve posted a free song from the album on their website to whet your appetite. It’s called the Rake’s Song, and if the rest of the album is as strong as this, it should be pretty damn good (despite the worrying ‘concept album’ tag). Check it out at
See you next week!