published: 31 /
With many of his friends starting to lose interest in music, Ben Howarth in 'Condemned to Rock 'n'Roll' finds the opposite problem and too much new music to listen to
“I haven't heard any good new music in ages," a friend of mine says as we ease in to one of slightly too many drinks after work.
He's not the only one, it seems. Another friend – once a keen music buyer – has lost interest completely, and reckons there are no new bands worth hearing at all. Others spend all day on Spotify digging out old favourites from when we were teenagers, but never listen to anything recorded in this decade.
On Twitter, an old school-friend complains that he'd completely missed a new EP from his all-time favourite band – putting his failure to keep up down to age.
All these people are – like me – aged 29. They are all married, and one of them has children. Grown up? Yes. But are they really too old for pop music?
Me, I have the opposite problem – too much new music. I simply don't have time to listen to it all. The list of albums coming up soon that I have to hear is slightly frightening: new stuff from the Wave Pictures, Laura Veirs, Rotifer, Manic Street Preachers and Roy Harper; and an anthology of old stuff from Dylan. All are on my personal list of artists whose next moves I am always desperate to hear.
Alas, it looks like my friends are doomed to become ex-music fans. In their defence, the music industry isn't doing much to help them. Every week, I flick through the newspapers and wonder who on earth would ever want to listen to any of these albums? Weirdos from East London, maybe. Normal people with jobs and families, under no circumstances. Increasingly scant promotion budgets are being wasted on albums that only appeal to the kind of person that goes to nightclubs in the middle of the week.
If you feel yourself becoming someone who can never find any new music they like, what can you do? It isn't easy. Life is too short, and eyesight too valuable, to spend hours trawling Bandcamp for new music. The best known online magazine, 'Pitchfork', is as likely to give 9.2 to a listenable album as its writers are to have consulted 'The Economist' style guide (don't buy ANYTHING on its recommendation).
Hopefully, you've taken up some of the recommendations from fellow Pennyblackmusic writers: as I type this, I am listening to the excellent History of Colour TV, a band from Berlin who I would never have heard of had one of my Pennyblack colleagues not given them a glowing review. No one else seems to have registered their existence.
Bu, there are plenty of other ways to rediscover your musical mojo. Earlier this year, on a whim, I booked tickets to a gig by someone I had never heard of, based only on a blurb. I chanced upon Ben Bedford – an American singer songwriter playing to thirty people in The Green Note, a café in Camden. His deep, crisp voice had a hint of early Dylan – his songs wouldn't shame Neil Young. A simply exceptional talent. I bought two of his albums on the night, and have been recommending him without hesitation since.
I also recommend wandering into a record shop with money to spend, but no plans for what to spend it on. I recently raided the reduced section of an excellent record shop in Brighton. Priced at just one pound, I bought the latest album from Ganglians – an American psychedelic indie band I'd never heard of before – blissfully unafraid of bringing Beatles influences to their abstract Animal Collective flavoured jams, I found a gem.
But the best advice I can give you is to delete Spotify. How often have you failed to even make it through a whole song before you start flicking onto something else? As songs and styles blur into one, you stop enjoying anything. Without Spotify, you will start listening to whole albums again – and you may even listen to songs more than once.
Three simple steps – go to more gigs; buy music on a whim and delete Spotify (the ultimate timewaster). The next time someone says they've lost interest in music, you won't find yourself nodding. You'll be recommending your new favourite band.