Music that survived

by Henry Farrell on July 19, 2012

Like some other CT bloggers, I’m long past the age where I could plausibly claim to be in touch with modern popular music, and rapidly approaching the ‘there’s nothing new that sounds at all interesting’ stage of advanced cultural decrepitude. I mostly listen to the stuff that I was listening to in my late teens and early 20’s. But not all of it. Some music that I thought was wonderful then, I still think is wonderful. Some … not so much. Some music that I didn’t listen to then that I ought to have. Some music that I liked and still like has gone on to be pretty influential, while other music seems to be completely forgotten. So – consider this an open thread on music (for those of us who have reached early middle age or later) from your generation that survives for you, or that ought to be revived, or (alternatively, for less senescent readers) on music from earlier decades that you like, or music from this decade that you think/hope will survive. To start things off:

Music that has (at least sort of) survived, and that deserved to: My Bloody Valentine (obviously), The Smiths (I used not like them, preferring the Cure, whose music I now find insufferable), Pulp, Primal Scream. Music that hasn’t survived, and that ought to have – The Boo Radleys (Giant Steps), The Blue Aeroplanes (Swagger, Beatsongs), the House of Love (Babe Rainbow, their masterpiece, received startlingly bad reviews at the time). Dance music I have less to say about, because the genre I liked the most – drum’n’bass – appears to have disappeared almost in its entirety, while the other people I liked (Amon Tobin; the various incarnations of Kieran Hebden; Bonobo) are still around more or less doing what they always did.

Disagreements? Alternative suggestions? Comments are open …



JSE 07.19.12 at 3:33 pm

It’s deeply appropriate that I’m reading this in a coffeeshop that’s currently playing Pretenders II, which I estimate came out about a decade before the barista playing it was born.

Justly survived (in the sense that people still care, not in the sense of still being together): 1982-1991 REM, Pixies, Talking Heads.
Should have survived: The Teardrop Explodes, Joe Jackson, Housemartins.


Mitchell Freedman 07.19.12 at 3:35 pm

Most of the prog rock I listened to in the 1970s I still listen to and deeply love. I’ll listen to 60s rock, 80s/90s rock from time to time, and still like a lot of it. I listen more to old pop standards and singers/bands from the 1930s through 1950s than I did as a teen. I did not listen to classical music for the most part as a teen, but now listen to it very often and have become far more conversant in classical music. I still hate disco and never liked rap/hip hop. I still like very little country and western (not much more than the soundtrack of “O Brother Where Art Thou”, some Dixie Chicks, Patsy Cline and a dose or two of Hank Williams Sr. I still find opera difficult to listen to except in small batches and tend to like orchestrations rather than the original singing. Punk music of the late 1970s is something I would say I like, but I find I just don’t have the patience I used to in listening to it…As to specifics on prog rock, give me Gentle Giant, early Genesis, King Crimson, Camel, National Health/Hatfield and the North, Yes and ELP and I’m a happy camper.


boonie 07.19.12 at 3:44 pm

Agree wholeheartedly with the Blue Aeroplanes assessment. I remember wearing out one of their cassettes one summer in the early ’90s.


Frank in midtown 07.19.12 at 3:48 pm

I would suggest This is a volunteer staffed radio statio with a format that changes with each dj. You aren’t very likely to hear anything from inside your rut but you are likely to hear things you like.


Frank in midtown 07.19.12 at 3:49 pm

.org not .com


marcel 07.19.12 at 3:50 pm

My Bloody Valentine (obviously), The Smiths (I used not like them, preferring the Cure, whose music I now find insufferable), Pulp, Primal Scream. Music that hasn’t survived, and that ought to have – The Boo Radleys (Giant Steps), The Blue Aeroplanes (Swagger, Beatsongs), the House of Love (Babe Rainbow, their masterpiece, received startlingly bad reviews at the time).



Uncle Kvetch 07.19.12 at 4:00 pm

Born in 1964, so my musical heyday was the 80s (for better and worse). For me, BBC6 has been a veritable treasure trove of “Oh yeah, them…damn, they were good. And I’d completely forgotten about them.”


Neville Morley 07.19.12 at 4:08 pm

Kraftwerk keep getting more essential as the years pass…

Whatever happened to Bob Mould?


Henry 07.19.12 at 4:17 pm

bq. Kraftwerk keep getting more essential as the years pass…

Last I heard, he was doing DJ stuff at various clubs in DC. Very different – but very, very good apparently.


Phil 07.19.12 at 4:19 pm

As to specifics on prog rock, give me Gentle Giant, early Genesis, King Crimson, Camel, National Health/Hatfield and the North, Yes and ELP and I’m a happy camper.

The Hatfields have worn well, and Crimson never stayed still long enough to wear. Camel, Genesis and (my favourite at the time) Giant all had good periods that have stayed good, preceded and followed by a lot that was less good (a lot in the case of Genesis). Can’t see myself ever wanting to listen to Yes or ELP again.

All this is early-teen stuff for me – I was 16 when punk hit. I realised the other day that I was listening to Faust at the age of 12 (my children are a sad disappointment in this respect). The re-formed band’s (or bands’) output has been patchy in the extreme, but the original four albums have lasted very nicely.

Never heard any MBV, as far as I know. I’m the opposite on the Smiths – I was so into them that I never need to hear them again. The music has worn well, though. Primal Scream – which period? They’re worse than Camel for unevenness.

I file Amon Tobin under “wonderful but unlistenable”, alongside Ergo Phizmiz and Venetian Snares (best band name ever, especially when you realise it describes one of his standby effects). Underworld were amazing for a while, but I can’t help feeling they went downhill when Karl went sober (sad thought). FSOL/AmAnd likewise, although they did tend to weird me out.

As for what hasn’t survived, I can only offer real obscurities. Some time in the 80s, everyone in the world should have got into Sudden Sway – they were making the best and most interesting music you could imagine. It didn’t happen, unfortunately, and the band eventually lost momentum. And Mighty Ballistics Hi-Power were wonderful.

What really has survived – I find on discovering it two or three decades late – is folk: 70s and 80s albums by Shirley Collins, Tony Rose, Nic Jones, Peter Bellamy, the Watersons et al sound just as wonderful now as they must have done then. But that doesn’t really count for present purposes, as I wasn’t into it at the time.


HP 07.19.12 at 4:22 pm

I was born in 1963, but always rejected the music of my peers, and instead listened to modern jazz, to the point of earning a degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana U. in 1985.

Lately, I’ve been listening to Old-Time-Radio broadcasts from the early forties through the post-war era (courtesy of the Internet Archive [to get started, search for “Jubilee”]), and there’s an astonishing amount of forgotten music from that post-war era. Commercial acts like Lucky Millinder, Josh White, Paige Cavanaugh, etc. were hugely popular, but don’t show up in the standard music histories. (Not “influential” enough to be included in modern jazz histories; not “authentic” enough to show up in rock/pop histories.)

I’m still taking time to process hundreds of hours of l0w-res music to have anything comprehensive to say about it, but clearly “forgotten” music is going to provide music historians of the near future, with some distance from Whiggish or Marxist approaches to music history, plenty of fodder


Phil 07.19.12 at 4:22 pm

Are Kraftwerk a one-person operation now? I seem to remember reading that either Ralf or Florian had finally jacked it in, but I hadn’t drawn that inference.

Something else I read somewhere is that Kieran Hebden is tone-deaf – he literally can’t tell from hearing two notes which is higher than the other. But then, I’ve heard the same about David Thomas (someone else whose 80s/90s work has worn pretty well), and you wouldn’t immediately put them in the same box.


Ischman 07.19.12 at 4:35 pm

I was born in 1973, so I consider myself to be ‘approaching middle age.’ I am finding that I still really like so much of what I listened to in High School/College, including The Pixies (very influential on a number of other bands, most notably Nirvana), as well as most 80s/90s ‘alternative’ – which has always been a very broad category…
As I’ve gotten older I have discovered the joy of Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, the Beach Boys and Surf Rock/Guitar. Most all of that pre-dates what I would’ve heard on the radio – but I like it all the same.
Bob Mould had an early-90’s band ‘Sugar’ that I thought was really good and stands up to anything he did previously with Husker Du (IMO).


Daniel Nexon 07.19.12 at 4:37 pm

In lieu of anything comprehensive, some initial reactions to the open-thread challenge.

1. I don’t find the Cure so much insufferable as harder to forgive for what they do wrong. Some of their pre-Disintegration stuff holds up ok. But I always preferred the Smiths; Louder than Bombs remains a classic. If doing a “revisited” album is any indication, then the Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Sessions has survived. But I’d argue it deserves to thrive. They Might Be Giants’ 1980s and 1990s fare lives on, abetted (often) by superior live treatments of their classic songs.
2. I’ve found myself recommending Chris Knox — or, at least, the “Stroke” covers — to inde-oriented college students, i.e., the ones who express surprise when they hear the music playing in my office.
3. Something will be seriously wrong if Neko Case’s work (particularly Blacklisted and Fox Confessor) doesn’t survive.
4. I think that, thanks to the interwebs, that median early 20-somethings know much more about a broad array older pop/rock/rap/etc. than they did in my generation.


Russell L. Carter 07.19.12 at 4:37 pm

Hey, Frank in midtown, thank you for that link[1]. I am a regular online listener of kaxe, kcsm, kfjc, wfmu, wnur, wwoz, etc., and over the last several years have been increasingly frustrated about the lack of imagination in their programming, collectively[2]. No historical knowledge at all (well certain shows on wfmu, kfjc, wwoz especially are exceptions, but lawdy those guys still play a lot of modern dreck) And covers! There are djs that think that a lousy cover, or series of lousy covers, exceed the original, on principle! Hopefully this one is an improvement. (…later definitely listenable this morning)

[1] On linux, listen via “mplayer -playlist

[2] You’ll never hear anything Henry lists, or even say great stuff from Au Pairs to Public Enemy to Liz Phair. Or you know, Massacre or more generally Henry Kaiser[3] and friends, Test Department, The Roches, or even say, Talking Heads. When was the last time you heard someone else play something off More Songs About Buildings and Food (yes yes everyone points to the movie, have you watched it lately? It’s NOT the best concert video ever). Early Robert Earl Keen is vanished, I never hear anything from the great early Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, and you know Patti Smith still rocks. Jeesh just a quick thumb through my vinyl: Black Flag, Barbara Manning, Faust, Diamonda Galas. Psychedelic Furs, Run-DMC, Steve Tibbets.

I’m in the middle of the beginning of ripping my vinyl so I can sell it. (Got a turntable feedback issue right now) I really love most everything I’ve listened to that I haven’t heard in 15 years. My daughter seems to like it too.

[3] His current scuba video stuff from Antarctica is lovely, thank you Werner Herzog.


Barry Freed 07.19.12 at 4:42 pm

Are we limited here to punk and post-punk 70s and 80s? Because I can go on all day. But to depart from that for a moment, anyone who hasn’t heard the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music should run out immediately and buy it. And then listen to it like 500 times.


chrismealy 07.19.12 at 4:46 pm

Pretty much all the new music I’ve got into since I’ve crossed 30 has been via WFMU. My favorite shows are Sinner’s Crossroads, Downtown Soulville, Shrunken Planet, and The Cherry Blossom Clinic. Mudd Up is good too. The music during 30 minutes of The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling is often great (the rest of the show is great too).

And what does this blog have against the Mekons? You guys should be on top of this. Doug Henwood is clobbering you in the Mekons department.


Uncle Kvetch 07.19.12 at 4:47 pm

Can’t see myself ever wanting to listen to Yes or ELP again.

I warily dipped my toe back into Yes not long ago, having been a massive fan in my early teens (before the various permutations of new wave pushed them aside). The three “classic” albums (Yes Album/Fragile/Close to the Edge) hold up surprisingly well, IMHO, especially the third. The level of musicianship is just so astonishing (Chris Squire OMFG!) that it still sounds fresh. A lot of the Gabriel-era Genesis that I used to love, on the other hand, sounds precious and mannered now.

As for music that will never, ever sound anything but amazing? The first 5 Roxy Music albums.


Henry 07.19.12 at 5:05 pm

bq. And what does this blog have against the Mekons? You guys should be on top of this. Doug Henwood is clobbering you in the Mekons department.

Isn’t that the band that has Dave Langford’s younger brother? Seriously, I have always wanted to be introduced to David Aaronovitch, just so I could archly congratulate him in the most effusive terms on being the brother of the Dr. Who screenwriter.


MPAVictoria 07.19.12 at 5:08 pm

Wow. Reading this reminds me how much younger I am than most of the posters here. Born in the early 1980s and do not listen to any of the stuff I liked in high school. I am going to take this opportunity to recommend some stuff. I promise to keep it short:

Frank Turner is awesome. Please do yourself a favour and listen to some of his stuff on youtube. I saw him live recently and he just blew me away.
Regina Spektor is an amazing singer soungwriter. Checkout her new album.
The Hold Steady is great. I love the lead singers voice.

I will stop there.


js. 07.19.12 at 5:23 pm

I think mid-90’s Stereolab don’t get nearly enough recognition (I’m thinking Mars Audiac Quintet and Emperor Tomato Ketchup in particular). Yes, they get some recognition, just not enough. Same with early Luna.


MattF 07.19.12 at 5:27 pm

I guess I’m in the ‘senescent’ category, so I won’t bother you all with music I listened to when I was a lad. My only free advice is that if you’ve never heard of Gillian Welch, right now would be a good time to remedy that.


Platonist 07.19.12 at 5:30 pm

For stuff in the My Bloody Valentine/Boo Radleys vein (both of which I think deserve to survive), I’d add Ride (defunct), Spiritualized (their new one is great), the Jesus and Mary Chain (defunct?), and Galaxie 500.

The Pixies of course should and will survive, though mostly for the poor reason that they influenced the utterly mediocre Nirvana. In this genre, Sonic Youth–though overpraised–deserve a healthy afterlife, too, and maybe some of Weezer. And of course Neutral Milk Hotel, who aren’t in any danger of a decline in reputation any time soon.

On the Cure and the Smiths: I think they’re both a mixed bag, in part because they’re both great singles bands, not albums bands (with exceptions like Queen is Dead and Disintegration). I hope Louder than Bombs and Staring at the Sea have an infinite lifespan. In this grouping, I think far and away New Order is the most deserving of continued appreciation. But I also Violent Femmes never really got a fair shake–always mistakenly categorized as teen angst rock, and many fine albums overshadowed by the debut.

A favorite from my high school days that I think is (and was) the most under-appreciated is Ultra Vivid Scene. They really deserve rediscovery.


js. 07.19.12 at 5:32 pm

Kraftwerk keep getting more essential as the years pass…

Agreed. But more and more, I think the real secret (or not-so-secret?) ur-text from that time and place is the first Neu! album. I’m fairly well shocked by how utterly contemporary Hallogallo sounds, e.g.


Substance McGravitas 07.19.12 at 5:37 pm

Some of my favourite albums are still from high school (Killing Joke’s Revelations, Byrne/Eno My Life in the Bush of Ghosts) and if I actively pulled things out of the record collection by name or artist I’d probably listen to the same things over and over again because I’m built that way. Some days I can go on a binge and listen to one song for a day straight. Therefore what I own is generally on shuffle so I ensure I hear the things I wouldn’t initially jump to.

Allow me a heresy and let me say that Billie Holliday’s vocal style really grates on me now. I’ve been getting rid of a whole bunch of those songs.

You’ll never hear anything Henry lists, or even say great stuff from Au Pairs to Public Enemy to Liz Phair. Or you know, Massacre or more generally Henry Kaiser[3] and friends, Test Department, The Roches, or even say, Talking Heads. When was the last time you heard someone else play something off More Songs About Buildings and Food (yes yes everyone points to the movie, have you watched it lately? It’s NOT the best concert video ever). Early Robert Earl Keen is vanished, I never hear anything from the great early Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, and you know Patti Smith still rocks. Jeesh just a quick thumb through my vinyl: Black Flag, Barbara Manning, Faust, Diamonda Galas. Psychedelic Furs, Run-DMC, Steve Tibbets.

You’d hear all of those minus Tibbet and Keen (so I guess I have to go find some) plus a lot of heavy metal if you found my iTunes library on the local intranet. Waiting to get in trouble when someone finds Cannibal Corpse or The Frogs.


Walter Nottingham 07.19.12 at 5:39 pm

Time to check into the home, I guess.

Graduated form HS in 1965, a fairly good year for music. My raging hormones years run from approximately “Rag Doll” to “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. There were a couple of interesting bands in that period. You can’t get on an elevator without hearing them.

It’s always been a puzzle to me. The music you hear in puberty (say 1962 – 1970) is always the greatest music ever, so I have to severely discount my judgements, but really: Dylan, Beatles, Stones, Brian Wilson. What do you young people think about them?


chris y 07.19.12 at 5:57 pm

Grew up in the heyday of the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, the Beach Boys, early Dylan, early Dead. Guess what, they’ve survived. The more interesting question is, should they have, or at least with the reputations they carry? Were they really that much better than, e.g the Yardbirds (NOT bloody Led Zepppelin) or Manfred Mann?


vacuumslayer 07.19.12 at 6:05 pm

People who announce how vewwy vewwy young they are are…no. Just don’t.

I would never think to recommend groups these days. In this a la carte world we’re living, I’d be more likely to recommend a song or two. Those songs would not be from my adolescence in the 80’s.


That One Guy 07.19.12 at 6:05 pm

It’s nearly criminal that the comments have gotten this far with no mention of The Replacements. (Remember when Musician magazine called them the “last, best band of the ’80s? That was true. And it holds up.)

I second the Gillian Welch recommendation above. I just saw her live, and: Holy Crap that was a phenomenal show.

Also, if you’re somewhere in your 40s and can’t find something to relate to in Todd Snider’s music, then there’s no hope for you.


Anderson 07.19.12 at 6:17 pm

Regina Spektor is an amazing singer songwriter.

Srsly? I picked up “Soviet Kitsch,” listened to it once, and have no desire to hear her repeat the same line 23 times in a row, ever again. I guess “amazing” is literally correct.


monboddo 07.19.12 at 6:31 pm

I hope has survived: Replacements, X. Should survive but probably won’t: Jason & the Scorchers (the first country punks).


Chris Bertram 07.19.12 at 6:35 pm

Henry: part of this is because your children are small. When they get to be about 11 or 12 they’ll (hopefully) start listening to stuff you start picking up on again. I’ve got a big gap from about 85 to 95 and then my kids got into Britpop and related around the time of Euro 96. Both are now part-time musicians, but unfortunately one of them is in a Prog band (a genre I became allergic to in 1977).

Music that’s survived …. well let me make a special plug for the Small Faces. Check out the vid of Marriott singing Tin Soldier with PP Arnold on youtube. Fine fine stuff. >

BBC4 recently ran a punk and post-punk series, which was great. I started listening to the Gang of Four again. Ian Dury never gets old, and nor, for that matter does John Cooper Clarke. Patti Smith as mentioned above.

(… and Richard Thomson, still going since 1967.)


Chikamatsu 07.19.12 at 6:36 pm

I was born in ’67, so I like the usual ’60s rock groups and the usual ’60s and ’70s singer songwriters (Dylan, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, David Bowie, Elton John, Paul Weller, George Brassens, Brel, Lucio Dalla, Lucio Battisti, Francesco Guccini, Fabrizio de Andre, Paco Ibanez, Serrat, Sabina, Silvio Rodriguez, Teresa Parodi, Tom Jobim ,Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, Manos Loïzos, Thanos Mikroutsikos, Stavros Kouyioumtzis, Mikis Theodorakis),
and the women who performed their songs (Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Mina, Mercedes Sosa, Mia Martini, Maria Bethania, Gal Costa, Simone, Elis Regina, Nana Mouskuri, Haris Alexiou, Dimitra Galani…)
and more recent artists like r.e.m., arcade fire, sigur ros, damien rice, ryan adams, alain bashung, nikos portokaloglou, fito paez, andres calamaro, samuele bersani, fiorella mannoia.


Purple Platypus 07.19.12 at 6:36 pm

I was 12 at the tail end of New Wave and found it shocking both then and now just how suddenly and completely that subgenre vanished. It was like the (admittedly regrettable) fashions in clothing and such associated with it went out, and somehow took the (much more worthy) music with it.

In Canada, there were a TON of acts broadly in that genre that seemed significant here then vanished so completely that in many cases, you can’t even special-order most of their stuff anymore, several of which deserved a far better fate. My personal faves from that time and place, The Spoons, were a really good band, maybe not innovative or anything but solid at what they did; their bass player, Sandy Horne, was (and is) both outstanding at her instrument and a childhood crush of many a Canadian guy around my age. Parachute Club were way ahead of their time, incorporating world music influences well before Paul Simon made it fashionable. Luba was and probably still is ten times the singer someone like Celine Dion was, and wrote most of her own stuff; on behalf of all Canadians, I’m terribly sorry we ended up mass-exporting Dion instead of her. For a while Platinum Blonde were as big here as Duran Duran, who they were seen as the Canadian answer to, then they vanished without a trace; they did some crap but some very worthy stuff as well, including a prog-influenced mini-concept album as the second half of Alien Shores. Pukka Orchestra never were that big but their only widely released album has some very good songwriting on it, and I was surprised how contemporary “Cherry Beach Express” still sounds – it helps that its subject matter, police brutality in Toronto, is sadly, still current.

You won’t hear any of this even on a Canadian radio station these days, and what little Canadian new wave you might hear is heavily skewed toward what made it big in the US regardless of its success or relative lack thereof here. “Sunglasses at Night” is the only Corey Hart song Americans are likely to have heard; up here he had nine top tens and that was almost the least of them. But guess which song of his you’re most likely to hear now, even in Canada?


Lord 07.19.12 at 6:37 pm

Fashions and tastes do change. Yes the Yardbirds were great. I am still fond of Tommy James and the Shondells and other psychedelics but not too much of the 70s. Still enjoy Depeche Mode. Always liked the Smiths, Eurythmics, and Nirvana, as well as Green Day for which my appreciation has only deepened and Linkin Park. Lots of others along the way. Music has shifted towards singles but that is not bad.


Substance McGravitas 07.19.12 at 6:46 pm

Grew up in the heyday of the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, the Beach Boys, early Dylan, early Dead. Guess what, they’ve survived. The more interesting question is, should they have, or at least with the reputations they carry? Were they really that much better than, e.g the Yardbirds (NOT bloody Led Zepppelin) or Manfred Mann?

YES, yes, yes, yes, yes, and no.


MPAVictoria 07.19.12 at 6:59 pm

“Srsly? I picked up “Soviet Kitsch,” listened to it once, and have no desire to hear her repeat the same line 23 times in a row, ever again. I guess “amazing” is literally correct.”

Sorry you didn’t like that one. Checkout her new Album. You may like it more.
/ Of course you may not. In which case sorry for wasting your time but nothing ventured etc…


Jim Buck 07.19.12 at 7:11 pm

I bought Absolutely Free on the strength of a single listening of Big Leg Emma on Radio One. I was a dumb 17 year-old and found The Mothers of Invention’s second album a nauseous and disorientating experience. Luckily there was an antidote on hand: The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter restored my transcendental apperception (though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time).


SamChevre 07.19.12 at 7:12 pm

Early 60’s country/rock: especially Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard.


Keith Edwards 07.19.12 at 7:14 pm

Siouxsie Sioux continues to be simply amazing, whether it’s her early stuff with the Banshees, The Creatures or her recent solo albums. For this aging Goth, she will always and forever be our Queen, whether she cops to the title or not.

My feelings about the Smiths/Morrisey are similar to yours, Henry. I used to like them OK back in the day, mocking Morrisey for being a mope but still enjoying the music But lately I’ve come to recognize the wit, sarcasm, innuendo and genuine heart of their songs. The mopey pose is just surface detail covering for a depth and complexity that I’m only now, in my mid 30s, really starting to appreciate.

Nirvana on the other hand, not so much. And this is heresy for my particular cohort, as I was a high school senior when Kurt Cobain killed himself, and so for most people my age he is the Jim Morrison/John Lennon figure we were supposed to want. But really, Cobain was a self absorbed twat, and his music is interesting, but not quite as important as a lot of people make it out to be. Grunge was, for all its bluster, a musical cul de sac. And there simply isn’t enough of Nirvana to be as influential as people claim it is. It would have been interesting to see what Cobain would have done, had he straightened his shit out and kept growing as a musician, but that’s one of these unknowable things. It’s just as likely that he would have turned into Eddie Vedder, doing the same old shtick for 20 years.

And how weird is it that Pearl Jam is on the way to being our generation’s Rolling Stones?

Now, Smashing Punpkins on the other hand are still awesome (and apparently have a new album!). I still bust out Melancholy and the infinite Sadness now and again. They managed to grow and change, escaped the grunge tag and became their own thing. And I have no idea if they’ve had any influence on contemporary music at all, but they should have.

The most unanticipated musical reassessment of my middle ages has to be Def Leopard. Never liked hair metal back in the day, but along side a lot of seventies rock that i dismissed as self indulgent twaddle, playing their songs on Rock Band has given me a begrudging appreciation for their music. It’s not the Beatles, mind you but for straight ahead rock and roll with no pretensions of being anything but a party band, it’s not horrible.


Phil 07.19.12 at 7:20 pm

The Beatles, the Stones and Dylan (at least up to Blood on the Tracks) are like the Bible and Shakespeare on Desert Island Discs – so unchallengeably great you don’t even mention them.

The three “classic” albums (Yes Album/Fragile/Close to the Edge) hold up surprisingly well, IMHO, especially the third. The level of musicianship is just so astonishing (Chris Squire OMFG!) that it still sounds fresh. A lot of the Gabriel-era Genesis that I used to love, on the other hand, sounds precious and mannered now.

Hmmmm. I am very partial to the Yes Album, but never heard the other two; by the time Yes were fashionable among my year group they were getting into the Topographic Oceans “triple albums of unlistenable wanking” stage (quote from John Peel). Might have to check those out.

As for music that will never, ever sound anything but amazing? The first 5 Roxy Music albums.

I’d probably replace the last two with Eno’s first two solo albums, but I know what you mean. I heard “The Bogus Man” over the PA in a bar the other day, and realised that I knew every note. And that was probably my least favourite track on the LP.


Ragtime 07.19.12 at 7:21 pm

I’m not really sure what “survived” or not, because I’m not 15 anymore. Can anything really be said to survive that my oldest daughter has never heard of.

I remember thinking in the early- and mid-1980s that the future of music was the bands in the Vince Clarke oeuvre — Depeche Mode, Yaz, Erasure. I still like to listen to it, but it tends to sound a little overly precious now.

YMMV on whether or not that stuff “survived.”


Phil 07.19.12 at 7:22 pm

Grunge was, for all its bluster, a musical cul de sac.

I heard a fascinating interview with Butch Vig once, where he talked about how he invented grunge (not everyone would agree that he *did*, but the ‘how’ was still interesting). The interviewer summed up by saying “So essentially grunge was a sonic airbrush of punk.” He agreed.


shah8 07.19.12 at 7:29 pm

The best album that’s stayed the freshest, longest for me, would be The Chronic. Esthero has done alright by me. Fiona Apple and Suzanne Vega and Chachao, I don’t really listen to quite so much. I still listen to Garbage, Bjork, PJ Harvey, and Tori Amos albums. In terms of popular music, what really holds up for me is Radiohead, Tricky, Massive Attack, to the point that I like trip-hop-ish rap like what Kno produces. It’s amazing how well Michael Jackson tunes hold up. In not so mainstream music, I think Cassandra Wilson is going to be greatest of all time, personally, especially Traveling Miles. I adore Sainkho Namschylak, Susheela Raman, and Rokia Traore, and the last really holds up. I’ve been more recently into Hiromi Uehara and Jorane. My period was essentially the mid 90s-late 90s.


Dave Maier 07.19.12 at 7:40 pm

In high school (late 70s) I was listening to Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Mozart, Britten, and Penderecki. That stuff all holds up fine (except maybe some of the last one).

Then there was a brief roots-rock phase; but in college I discovered prog-rock and punk/new wave simultaneously, most of which I still like (so I endorse not only Mitchell Freedman’s list of classic prog, but also the mentions of Ian Dury, Gang of Four, Talking Heads (first four only), Massacre, Steve Tibbetts (two t’s), Byrne/Eno, and Roxy Music.

My favorite music from that time, though, I only went on to discover later on: Klaus Schulze, Richard Pinhas/Heldon, Terje Rypdal, Franco Battiato, Bill Nelson, Robert Wyatt, Jon Hassell, okay I’ll stop.

In the 90s/00s there was a ton of great not-quite-techno, all of which I still like (and Atom Heart is still around (as Atom â„¢ now).

Nowadays most new artists I like are ambient/noise/drone or other electronic, and again I’ll keep it to a few: Chihei Hatakeyama, Celer, Peter Wright (amazing NZ guitar/noise), Kyle Bobby Dunn, the elevator bath, taalem, mystery sea, helen scarsdale agency, and Infraction labels.

shah8: “I adore Sainkho Namschylak”

Wow, that was just about the last sentence I ever thought I’d see on this thread (it’s “Namtchylak” though). I’ll have to check out those other two names in that sentence, which are unknown to me.


Dave Maier 07.19.12 at 7:43 pm

Just for reference, what is it that causes one’s comment to require moderation? It’s not links, so what is it?


chris y 07.19.12 at 7:49 pm

I think Cassandra Wilson is going to be greatest of all time


I think I semi-deliberately turned away from mainstream music as a result of the Smiths. I refuse to believe that anybody can seriously listen to the Smiths who didn’t get into them before their fifteenth birthday. It was a wake up call to me. “Stuff the music they try to make you listen to, use your judgement,” it said. So I went back and caught up on a lifetime of Miles and Trane.

Anybody who was under fifteen when the Smiths broke out is completely welcome to think that the sun shines out of Marr and Morrisey’s arses. But this is why I remain unsure about the Beatles and the Stones. Am I confident that the old farts who reacted to them like I reacted to the Smiths were wrong? If so, why?


Substance McGravitas 07.19.12 at 7:51 pm

The interviewer summed up by saying “So essentially grunge was a sonic airbrush of punk.” He agreed.

The opposite side of that is that my friends and I were collecting all those early Sub-Pop singles, almost all produced by Jack Endino, which were guitar-heavy sonic murk. We all liked punk rock and were kind of put out by the lack of trebly white noise in those recordings. We got really excited when Butch Vig (who’d done Killdozer) recorded The Fluid because we thought it’d sound louder and more abrasive, and we hoped more Sub-Pop folks would jump ship from Endino to Vig. Nirvana did and produced a noisier record than they had before.


mollymooly 07.19.12 at 7:56 pm

Anybody who likes mudcore and/or alt.funktry would agree that Smurfette of Lampreys are the Best Band Never To Make It.


Daniel Nexon 07.19.12 at 7:58 pm

Question for those who know about this stuff. Part of the problem I have revisiting 1980s techno and new wave is the quality of the synthesizers is just so dang low. That and something about the production values makes the music sound hollow and tinny, rather than having the lush and evocative vibe lodged in my nostalgia receptor. Any of this sound credible?


HP 07.19.12 at 7:59 pm

@ Substance #:25

“Allow me a heresy and let me say that Billie Holliday’s vocal style really grates on me now. I’ve been getting rid of a whole bunch of those songs.”

Don’t let the canonical Billie Holiday turn you off that era of popular music. She’s notable primarily because she’s a) not typical, and b) influential. Try Chris Connor, Keely Smith, Carmen MacCrae, Dinah Washington: One note per syllable, clearly announce the melody, flawless execution. Beautiful little set pieces of 50s popular song.


js. 07.19.12 at 8:00 pm

And how weird is it that Pearl Jam is on the way to being our generation’s Rolling Stones?

Please, No! Not this. Anything. but. this. (Speaking as another mid 30-something.)

Re things that never get old, I’m a bit surprised that almost 5o comments in, no one’s mentioned The Clash. Is that just too obvious?


Paul Davis 07.19.12 at 8:02 pm

I was born at the end of 1963. I find it easier to talk about what music I listened to that I don’t any more, or even the stuff I can’t stand, than to talk about what survived, because a huge majority of what I ever liked I still like. There are a few different general areas:

Berlin-school and related electronic: Tangerine Dream tends to sound way more “tired” than I expected, but the edges of the genre (Michael Hoenig, Ashra, Schulze) still seem really worth my time if I’m in the right mood). Vangelis, who was never berlin-school, has a small phase mid-career that is still astonishing for its composition and for the tones he got out of a bunch of synthesizers.

ECM: pretty much everything that I ever listened to on the ECM label that came out after 1977 is still totally amazing. From Jarrett to Garbarek, from Towner to Gismonti, from Surman to Brahem, the label is treasure trove of the majority of the most musically intelligent culture of the last 30 years. It continues to be so today, with its (late) adoption of the latest wave of incredible scandanavian-rooted “jazz”.

Jazz-Fusion/Jazz-Funk: the stuff I was listening to in the late 1970s and very early 80s is mostly unlistenable crap. A surprising exception that I rediscovered recently was the Jeff Lorber Fusion who I would have predicted would have aged really, really badly, but actually sound incredibly vigorous and fresh. On the other hand, stuff that I couldn’t listen to from just before that era (Weather Report, Miles, Tony Williams Lifetime etc) now just sound unbelievable prescient. Miles’ “On the Corner” sounds like it could have been recorded just yesterday and would still blow the minds of most listeners.

Prog: I hated most mainstream prog back in the 70s, and I still do. The exceptions that somehow managed to break through – for some reason, “Seconds Out” by Genesis is way up there – still seems appealing. Yes, ELP and even early Genesis seem as absurd and empty as they did back then, only moreso, despite some incredible musicianship. Floyd manages to survive, but I mostly prefer the Easy All Stars dub/reggae cover of DSOTM to the original these days.

“Dance Music”: there’s not much funk from the 70s and 80s that I actually own (I DJ’ed for a bit back then) that I wouldn’t throw on the turntable/laptop now. The electro-funk wave that preceded hip-hop has a few clunkers, mostly from their 4-to-the-floor drum structure, but old school generally still pulls it off for me. I challenge anyone who grew up in the US or the UK at around the same time as me to hear D-Train’s “You’re the One for Me” or “Just Be Good To Me” by The SOS Band and resist any toe tapping at all.

UK 80’s pop-rock: surprising how good most of this still sounds, when I was convinced that it would all be a horrible historical mistake. Simple Minds still sound like they hadsome musical ambition in mind. Even Duran Duran’s Rio album comes over remarkably well, and I recently rediscovered the Associates whose “Sulk” just kicked it off the island and around the planet a couple of times. On the other hand, dreary whiners (i mean you, robert e smith, and you crass, and you morrissey) are still just dreary whiners, and even less relevant than they were back then, which is saying something.

Minimalism: steve reich defines a huge part of my musical existence, and continues to do so even though i don’t like his work during the last decade as much. early glass retains an intensity that works if you have the appetite for it. the genre that these guys helped spawn continues to satisfy, and I’ll take “Music for 18 Musicians” at any hour of any day of any week.

Reggae: 70’s dub (Scientist, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo)), 70’s dancehall (Gregory Isaacs, even early Yellowman), pretty much anything from this era is still a huge win in my ears, especially when city driving on a summer day.

Early Ambient: pretty much everything that might possibly fit into Eno’s original definition of ambient music, including his own Ambient 1 + 2 as well as On Land, continue to prove just as delicious as they did upon release.

I feel incredible fortunate to have grown up when I did, musically, and to have spent 2 years working in the largest record store in the world in 81-83. For a brief time in the mid 1990’s, I pretty much gave up hope that there was anything worth listening to anymore, but the arrival of the original changed my mind in the early 2000’s, and more generally internet radio since then ( deserves a special shout out) has increased the amount of music I “consume” these days beyond even the level of what seemed like the heady days on the early 90s. I hear more great music, more often, across more genres, today, than I’ve ever done in my life. I can preview most of it before I buy it, and it is cheap to buy (I do not “freely” download if I can buy). We have 70 years of incredible recordings just on the other side of mouse-keyboard-touchscreen, and amazing new music being produced by people who are more connected to much, much more musical culture than I could have dreamed possible when I was 16. And I’m already a few years past the second milestone of musical-parenthood – when one of your kids introduces you to great music you’ve never heard before (thanks, evan, for Pilotdrift). Not sure that the best is yet to come, but damn, there’s a lot of great still coming down the pipeline toward me.


Sharif 07.19.12 at 8:16 pm

The internet has made it much easier to find out about obscure older artists who influenced musicians who got famous.

A propos of which, if you like Kraftwerk, you may like an Albertan eccentric named Bruce Haack. Very little known during his lifetime, his music is starting to be released much more widely than it was when he made it. See e.g. Stones Throw

He built a self-made vocoder called Farad, different synthesizers including a Dermatron, which he used in many of his 60s and 70s releases. Outstanding album artwork. Died in the mid 80s. Almost certainly the weirdest musician ever to be signed to Def Jam (current home of Rihanna, Kanye West, Jay Z etc)


tomslee 07.19.12 at 8:40 pm

The Specials’ cover of “Pressure Drop” is still the song most able to put me in a good mood. Of the genres I used to listen to, reggae has lasted the best for me.


Henry 07.19.12 at 8:41 pm

Primal Scream – which period? They’re worse than Camel for unevenness.

Screamadelica. Dsquared has argued – correctly – that the UK album’s mix of “Come Together” (which I am listening to as I write) is a lot better than the US album’s – but even the latter is still pretty damn good.

Just for reference, what is it that causes one’s comment to require moderation? It’s not links, so what is it?

If you ever find out, we’d love to know too …


Gabe 07.19.12 at 8:45 pm

I’ll mention two artists, both of which deserve more recognition than they received in their own day, and have largely been forgotten: Townes van Zandt (70s and 80s country) and Bedhead (early 90s indie rock).


yabonn 07.19.12 at 8:47 pm

Loved drum’n bass. It was obviously the music of the future, back then.

Then, what? I’m not even sure it disappeared – migrated, then dissolved into the rest.

Apart of that, go listen to Fip.


Dave Maier 07.19.12 at 8:48 pm

I second that last paragraph of my contemporary Paul Davis’s comment (and his endorsement of ECM: I remember how surprised some people were that “18 Musicians” came out on a “jazz” label, but if you’d been listening to it (the label) you’d know it fit in perfectly).

re: Berlin school – I don’t listen to much Tangerine Dream any more, but Phaedra and Rubycon, at least, still sound fresh to me; and I am confused by the reference to Hoenig/Ashra/Schulze as “the edges of the genre”. If those guys are the “edge”, then who’s the center?


tomslee 07.19.12 at 8:51 pm

what is it that causes one’s comment to require moderation?

Mornington Crescent rules apply.


phosphorious 07.19.12 at 8:57 pm

Can Prince be said to have survived?


Paul Davis 07.19.12 at 9:01 pm

@Dave Maier (#58). Ok, you got me re: the center of the berlin school :) I was thinking much the same thing as I was writing that drivel. I think I put Hoenig on the “edge” because he essentially only did one album in the genre and then vanished from that particular scene. But yes, Schulze and Ashra were clearly part of the definition of the berlin electronic school as much as TD.

I just started listening to TD again recently, and I find that Hoening & Ashra feel as if they embody something much more insightful then even Phaedra & Rubycon. Maybe just more playful, perhaps. OTOH, “Zeit” by TD feels as strange and otherworldly as it did when I first heard it. Its just that at 48, I don’t want to go there that often, and prefer Steve Roach for that kind of stuff these days.


Substance McGravitas 07.19.12 at 9:07 pm

Part of the problem I have revisiting 1980s techno and new wave is the quality of the synthesizers is just so dang low. That and something about the production values makes the music sound hollow and tinny, rather than having the lush and evocative vibe lodged in my nostalgia receptor. Any of this sound credible?

Sure, and I’m kind of interested in the examples because I still find silliness like this charming and somehow sonically okay (and I give Kraftwerk a lot of credit for matching song to sound even when the technology was limited). It’s also plausible, though, that unless you’re listening to original releases a lot of the oomph might have been removed in remastering.

Synthesizers of that era, though, were the first ones that were relatively cheap and had memory. Lazy types would use a lot of the presets stored in the memory (which would default to factory settings when things when wrong, which was often), and a lot of the machines just sounded weak without a creative person massaging the tones. So you’d get oddities like Thomas Dolby playing/programming on Foreigner records. The architecture of most synthesizers was also pretty similar: two oscillators with a few waveforms to choose from, and filters and volume envelopes that all had attack/decay/sustain/release controls, then some kind of modulation. So even though you might pretend that you could get infinite tones out of the things, people would walk up to them and dial up an approximation of the sound that they wanted pretty quickly or be even more boring and use a preset. Not much different than people picking up any guitar/amp combo and trying to sound like a Les Paul and a Marshall stack.

The availability of synthesizers was matched by a similar technological boom in recording equipment, with new machines that could do multiple things, so people made them do those multiple things, many of which felt exciting when you turned them on, like chorus effects (a new wave favourite) but which took away a lot of the sonic heft of whatever you were recording.


Dave Maier 07.19.12 at 9:09 pm

Paul Davis/61: I love that Hoenig disc for sure. I think he and Göttsching are better musicians than TD (Froese in particular), which might have something to do with it. (That sentence probably looks funny to others in this context, but I think you know what I mean!)

I got tired of Roach for a while after he put out the same record about ten times, but then (around Artifacts/Atmospheric Conditions and a couple of live shows) I got back into him. He and Robert Rich are the best of the Americans doing that sort of thing (also Saul Stokes).


Ben Alpers 07.19.12 at 9:52 pm

Ditto to much of what has already been said. I’d add Belle & Sebastian, both to the list of music from the ’90s that has held up and of bands continuing to produce good music (though not as good as their earlier stuff IMO).

Despite being born in 1965, I try to listen to some new music…and even manage to, though much of what I like is new stuff by older bands/performers, e.g. among my favorite 2012 albums are the new Regina Spektor (already mentioned above) and the new Fiona Apple albums.


ckc (not kc) 07.19.12 at 10:24 pm

…I’m old (3 score next week) – making music has been at least as important as listening to it, but I’ve gone through, and continue to go through everything from my parents’ (20’s, 30’s, big band) tastes, C&W, bluegrass, rock&roll, rock, folk (real and faux), classical of all types (avoiding the “inaccessible”), blues, old timey, jazz, world, lots of singer-songwriters (Randy Newman, John Prine, Jacques Brel e.g.) . The bottom line is – I’ll listen to anything once, and lots of things more than once. The “more than once” items are all over the map, but the most important thing is to do the “once”. That being said, if I listened to all the music I’d like to listen to, I’d never get anything done.


Emma in Sydney 07.19.12 at 10:33 pm

Born in 1961, bur brought up on musicals and American folk music by my slightly odd lefty parents, I spent my twenties singing folk and listening to wimmin’s music. A whole period of my life is evoked by Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mary Black and the Indigo Girls. I still sing along with them when they turn up.

But getting into serious choral music has meant that when I listen now it’s more likely to be Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi and the rest, because I am practicing.

My grown kids used the power of the Internet to range across the decades, and I was just as likely to hear Sinatra coming from a fifteen-year -old’s room as Eminem, which was odd. They were sometimes bemused by our ignorance of music from just before our own teen years, and we had to explain the difficulty of sitting listening to the radio with the cassette cued to grab that song you didn’t catch the name of last time they played it, on the off chance it would come round again. Music wasn’t searchable in the 1970s like it is now. They are lucky to be living in the future.

Australian bands, like the Canadian ones mentioned up thread, were sometimes successful internationally, but not in proportion to their quality. It is good to remember that there are still local inflections to global music culture.


Jonathan 07.19.12 at 10:47 pm

#20 Frank Turner is indeed awesome
#40 Smashing Pumpkins? Hmm. Saw them on their UK tour last year and thought it was the worst gig I’d seen in some time. Others evidently agreed:


Doctor Slack 07.19.12 at 10:48 pm

I can identify with confidence the kinds of music I listened to in yesteryear mostly because other people were listening to it (this includes all of drum ‘n bass, which I do not now miss even slightly — though admittedly it was better than dubstep — and also underwhelming-but-fashionable-for-a-while acts like Cornershop, or more recently Dirty Projectors), or alternatively to impress others with my ostensible degree-of-avant-garditude (Tortoise, Blood Brothers, My Bloody Valentine, Ryoji Ikeda). With a reasonable degree of reliability, acts that fall into one or the other of these categories are either largely forgotten or largely dated today, and that seems about right to me.

There are a couple of acts here and there that I thought got a raw deal: I’ve always had a soft spot for Harvey Danger, for instance, who deserved to be much bigger than they ever got, and going much further back, I think it’s a travesty that the world knows The Barenaked Ladies as ambassadors of Canadian rock while Crash Vegas are forgotten. I’ve always liked Spiritualized ever since I watched them run rings around Radiohead (for whom they were opening) at a live show. It’s a shame about the passing of the specific musical moment represented by bands like The Hives, The Strokes and The Von Bondies. And there are some acts that I was convinced would be latter-day titans of rock that don’t seem to have developed that way (the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Gossip).

On the other hand, there were certain bandwagons I could never get on. The Arcade Fire… no, just no. Most of Feist’s output bores me, happy as I am for her success. And I can use Hot Hot Heat as a reliable marker of the precise musical moment when I ceased to care all that much about the latest thing the proverbial kids were into.

I do still listen to new stuff. The new Regina Spektor album that Ben mentions is absolutely brilliant (lots of great songs on it but “Open” in particular sticks with me); so, too, is Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music,” one of the most brutally honest hip-hop records I’ve ever heard. I still hear things on campus radio that turn my crank and will send me searching (and I still endure the eternal nervous mumbling of campus radio DJs for this reason). But I’m not as voracious in that search as I used to be, and am just as content to listen to oldies of various decades.


bert 07.19.12 at 11:13 pm

bq. the Cure, whose music I now find insufferable

Turning up on a Henry thread; largely agreeing with Henry; finding something to argue against anyway, it’s becoming a habit. I hope it’s not a shtick. There are surely better shticks to have.

Anyway, the early stuff by the Cure still holds up. ‘Killing An Arab’, ‘Jumping Someone Else’s Train’ and so on. I remember being weirdly pleased when Massive Attack sampled ’10:15 On A Saturday Night’. It was as if the gift of cred was being deservedly given back to people who’d squandered it . And Henry’s right that they got less and less tolerable, ‘The Lovecats’ being exhibit A for the prosecution. But go back and listen to ‘A Forest’. That’s not just good for 1980, or good because it reminds me of when I wasn’t a past-it fart. I think as pop music goes it’s simply good.

I first heard ‘Whats Going On’ only in my last year in school. Before then, Marvin was the song off the 501 jeans ad. After then, I made up on lost time. If there’s a kid in your life who only knows all that stuff through hiphop samples, then sit them down and play them some Al Green, or some James Brown, or some Fela. They may even thank you.


bert 07.19.12 at 11:15 pm

Re drum and bass, isn’t it still going strong in Brazil?
It met carnival-style batucada, and they made weird misshapen children together.


jonnybutter 07.19.12 at 11:18 pm

I was a dumb 17 year-old and found The Mothers of Invention’s second album a nauseous and disorientating experience.

I’m pretty sure it was designed to be that way!

This is tiresome to say probably, but there is quite a bit of Zappa music which has held up very well and will continue to do, assuming that it’s really music you’re interested in. In Anglo-American discussions like this (about, you know, non-‘world’ music) when a lot of people say ‘music’ they mean lyrics-based (verbally-based) music-stuff, which is lyrics + very simple music; or certain appealing cultural poses/statements (however oblique). They don’t mean music. I am not necessarily criticizing anybody or any music, just making a distinction. There are cultures in the world in which music itself is important (India, Greece, Caribbean, some of S. America, others). I like music, so I like a lot of Zappa’s instrumental music and couldn’t care less about his more transient qualities.

I’m really old (born ’57) so a big pain, I know. I like Amon Tobin. Non-sentimental Tower of Power. I have to concur with some people who cite Kraftwerk – it’s amazing to me how well some of their stuff holds up! Dan Hicks. Capt. Beefheart. Miles Davis in the 50s-70s. Eddie Harris. Prog was humorless, unfortunately. Same with most fusion, IMHO. Bonzo Dog Band (where ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ got its name).

I notice that for a brief moment in the 50s- 70s the explicit idea was to blend genres, thereby making new genres (e.g. rock and roll). Now (from a marketing pov) the idea is to fit into an existing genre – if you don’t fit into one, you’re screwed! If you don’t know what genre it is and what lifestyle it is supposed to be connected to, how can you know if you like it?!

Of course people still blend stuff – it just isn’t seen as the explicitly correct way to do it, marketing-wise. But then again, we live in a libertarian dreamworld now, so musical value, like everything else, is ‘maximized’.


John Quiggin 07.19.12 at 11:26 pm

For me, pre-electric Dylan stands up remarkably well in comparison to most of his later stuff, particularly post motorbike crash. As far as I can tell, no-one listens to it any more, but “Who Killed Davy Moore” is way better than “Hurricane” for example.


Substance McGravitas 07.19.12 at 11:30 pm

though admittedly it was better than dubstep

I think dubstep is the heavy metal of dance music. So I am supportive. This is funny:

Rusko himself has claimed in an interview on the BBC’s 1Xtra radio show that “brostep is sort of my fault, but now I’ve started to hate it in a way…It’s like someone screaming in your face for an hour…you don’t want that.”

I don’t?


Bruce McCulley 07.19.12 at 11:32 pm

Recently, I listened to Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon” after not having heard it for many years, and found that it had a great deal of emotional resonance. Of course, that reaction may have had as much to do with the listening experience being an occasion for me to connect with my twenty-year-old self of forty years ago as it did with the quality of the music.


Alan 07.19.12 at 11:32 pm

Born in the USA–not just the song, but me in ’53. And ever since I can remember, I’ve listened to standard radio pop/country/rock and have listened to the contemporary stuff right up to today. (Even some rap; though mostly not a fan.) I have scores of songs (pun intended) that I can associate with specific memories of when I first heard them. (Example: driving down a road in Door County, WI hearing “One Week” for the first time.) I think because of my tendency to associate songs and times I transfer a kind of mnemonic “loyalty” to some songs that might not have the best aesthetic claims to listenability. (Another example here: sitting in a parking lot in Portland, OR; my first hearing of the execrable “Chevy Van”.) Even so, I have to put in my two cents for a lot of vanilla popular music as durable. I love the opening hard beat of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” as much now as when I first heard it in the 80s; Elton John’s “Sorry seems to be the hard word” still stirs something in me (and no, not in my bowels) as it did in the 70s; Jim Reeves’ “He’ll have to go” is just pure classic smooth voice; Carly Simon’s “You belong to me” sticks with me even more than “You’re so vain”; Yes’s “Roundabout” is perennial joy (though I admit I’m prejudiced because I share the drummer’s name). Depeche Mode’s “Strange Love ” anyone? But will I enjoy Gaga’s “Paparazzi” or Pink’s “Perfect” (original lyrics) in a decade? Probably. While I’m eating my vanilla yogurt.

In case one might think my tastes are easily pegged, however, my strongest music memory of a first-heard song: Jessy Norman singing Strauss’s “Four Last Songs” while going home one night after teaching an evening class. I was crying so hard I could hardly drive.


Keith Edwards 07.19.12 at 11:57 pm

I’m a bit surprised that almost 5o comments in, no one’s mentioned The Clash. Is that just too obvious?

Seeing as how they’re using London Calling as the lede in for the 2012 London Olympics commercials, probably.

I can’t decide if someone has a sense of humor and pulled one over on their bosses, or if they’re utterly clueless in the Reagan/Born in the USA kind of way.


Uncle Ebeneezer 07.20.12 at 12:01 am

I gotta jump in here and defend grunge. I was a senior in HS when Nirvana and Pearl Jam hit big, and it was such a breath of fresh air for those of us who missed good old-fashioned heavy riff music (ala Zeppelin, Black Sabbath) which had been corrupted nay…molested by hair-metal for the past decade. While I agree that Cobain and Nirvana were fairly overrated (not my fav Seattle band by far), as a 4-some: Nirvana, pearl Jam, Alice and Chains and Soundgarden, hold up pretty well*. Still played, very frequently, on what’s left of FM radio, still in tons of jukeboxes, still covered by many crappy cover bands. While Nirvana and Soundgarden both claimed a connection punk the finished product rarely sounded punk in it’s musical stylings. I can think of a handful of songs that had the typical driving punk rhythm, whereas about 90% of the songs had heavy backbeats which are far more common in hard rock/metal. I was never real big on punk, and I loved grunge. I think grunge maybe stands up well in the minds of people more from my side, than it does for people from the punk/post-punk side of things.

*Not to mention Smashing Pumpkins, who while not a Seattle band, put out two of the best grunge era albums (Gish and Siamese Dream) that still sound like masterpieces, imo.


Uncle Ebeneezer 07.20.12 at 12:12 am

Henry, there’s a fantastic Irish band called the Villagers that you might like. A little folky/singer-songwritery, but I love them.

Here’s one of my favorites of theirs:


That Guy Montag 07.20.12 at 12:16 am

I’ll start out by saying I don’t get why so many people are afraid the Pixies are being overshadowed by Nirvana. All you need to do is go past any record store and then notice how they still stock stacks of Pixies albums whereas you’ll be lucky to find a copy of Nevermind. They don’t get talked up as much, but the evidence of album sales, club plays and movie soundtracks doesn’t lie: the Pixies have easily won that fight.

On classic albums, I’m slightly shocked that among all the post-punk New Wavers out there nobody mentioned Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock and Spirit of Eden. As ambient goes you simply don’t do better: the production remains amazing and I don’t know any band that’s managed to fill out a sound like that. If those albums don’t last the world becomes a much sadder place.

As for the music I grew up with, I was a late starter so I only managed to catch the tail end of Industrial music, but it still exerts a deep emotional pull as the music of my teens. For a while there was a fairly loyal revival going on here in London which was every kind of fun, but that went the way of all things. As for names: Skinny Puppy, Die Krupps, Laibach, Ministry, KMFDM, Chemlab, Spahn Ranch, Young Gods. A special mention has to go Skinny Puppy’s Remission album which is currently having a revival in my life. It’s terribly dated but it’s so damn evocative of the style of music and my history that the nostalgia wins every time.

For must hear modern bands you can’t go wrong with the Thermals for short, punchy, no-fuss pop-punk tunes: think the Buzzcocks meet the Pixies. The Body, the Blood, the Machine was simply a revelation to listen to. On the folk side my vote is with Grace Petrie as a sort of modern Billy Bragg. We’re not talking revolutions here, but she does a really good job of capturing the spirit of great protest songs. Final mentions have to go the Carolina Chocolate Drops, my current favourite Bluegrass band. I don’t often trawl YouTube but I managed to lose an evening to watching all the live video of this trio. The sheer virtuosity on display is breathtaking and I mean come on, where else are you going to hear a jug solo?


Keith Edwards 07.20.12 at 12:19 am

Forgot about new stuff that will probably/should last:

Metric. They’re 5th (6th?0 album just came out and they have a solid, pop sound with Smith’s era Morrisey inspired lyrics.

Seconded for Bell & Sebastian.

Ladytron. For those complaining about hollow synthesizers from the 80s, check them out. A contemporary band that uses analog synths and makes some great elctropop. They sound like a darker, edgier Sterolab (who I was listening to again recently and they still sound pretty great as well).

I’ll put money down right now that Jack White will end up in the Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. The White Stripes sounds simple and 2D compared to his solo and Raconture work, but still pretty solid.

Frank Black doesn’t get nearly enough attention and it’s a shame. I’ve seen him perform 3 times, in different venues, once with the Pixies (who I cannot believe forgot earlier!), once with a full band during the Blackletter Days tour, and once solo, just him and an acoustic guitar on a stage. That last show was impressive as hell. He took requests form the audience and hearing him do 20 year old Pixies songs acoustically was as much fun as seeing the band on their reunion tour in 2005.


Atticus Dogsbody 07.20.12 at 12:25 am

@Keith: It’s just as likely that he would have turned into Eddie Vedder, doing the same old shtick for 20 years.

Plinking a ukulele?


Keith Edwards 07.20.12 at 12:29 am

Substance McGravitas @74:

I like some dubstep as well, mostly remixes. The Seven Nation Army remix is as a lot of fun and you can dance to it.

(Which reminds me I haven’t gotten into the dance music that still gets me out of the floor, like Nitzer Ebb, Das Ich, And One, VNV Nation, Skinny Puppy, Front 242…)


Uncle Ebeneezer 07.20.12 at 12:42 am

PD #53:

I was just a tyke when fusion was big, but as a jazz/funk musician, some of that stuff still holds up remarkably well. Namely: Billy Cobham’s Spectrum, Herbie & the Headhunters, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and the Jack Johnson Soundtrack. That said, the genre spawned an Nth degree order of crap.


Cian 07.20.12 at 12:48 am

I thought at the time that Drum n’ Bass was the sunday newspapers trying to co-opt dance music. Nothing has really changed that opinion. It took something that was interesting, if rough (breakbeat ardkore) and made it pretentiously bland. I mean Goldie? Meanwhile all the great stuff was happening around it. Whereas there have been some fantastic dubstep records. Innovative beats, great production… And some of the darker stuff like Burial is real nice.

I suspect most dance music is doomed to obsoesence though. I was listening to some classic Detroit techno recently – it really hasn’t aged well.


Montecorvino 07.20.12 at 12:53 am

Born in ’76, adored Nirvana and loved Pavement. They’ve survived for me if not for others upthread. I started listening to new popular music three months ago in a lazy Pitchfork mediated way and it’s been joy. Best decision I’d made in years. Channel Orange, Watching the Throne, MBDTF, Fiona Apple, OFWGKTA, James Blake, EMA and and and. Could never be getting along with prog and unpersuaded by Smiths.


Henry 07.20.12 at 12:53 am

Re drum and bass, isn’t it still going strong in Brazil?
It met carnival-style batucada, and they made weird misshapen children together.

I’ve heard DJ Marky, and liked him a lot – who else should I be listening to ?


Henry 07.20.12 at 12:58 am

And yes, bert and others – the ‘can’t take the Cure anymore’ problem doesn’t extend back to the Boys Don’t Cry era stuff. Yes to Pixies. Also Wire’s first two albums. I like Burial a lot (one of the few modern acts which make me feel like I am not _completely_ disconnected), but don’t know anyone else in that scene and would welcome recommendations there too.


Cian 07.20.12 at 1:01 am

There was an NME interview with Shane McGowan where he was asked to name his favourite records, and he found the question incomprehensible. Ten genres maybe, but even that’s a stretch. One thing I do find as I get older is that most rock/indie music sounds deeply conservative to my ears.

This is a golden age for music. Not only is so much of the history accessible (and that includes wonderful early music recordings. Jordi Savall for example), but we have access to experimental Japanese music, African dance music and some crazed acid-folk improv band from Montana. You can spend weeks exploring your tastes on youtube, or follow weird mp3 blogs that showcase tapes from N. Africa in the 80s. And instead of staying up till whenever to hear John Peel, you can listen to his son whenever you like.


Cian 07.20.12 at 1:04 am

Henry. Something I’ve found that works well, is to find an artist you like on youtube, and just follow some of the links on the right side (youtube is for music, right?). mp3 blogs used to be good for that kind of thing too, but since the demise of filelocker sites they’re thinner on the ground.

Also, both Stuart Maconie and Tom Ravenscroft have pretty good shows (the later is Peel’s son) on radio 6. Maconie is slightly too into prog for my tastes, but its a good show nonetheless.


Jeremy Fox 07.20.12 at 1:11 am

For a sadly brief moment, it looked like The Sundays were going to be the Next Big Thing.


P O'Neill 07.20.12 at 1:18 am

One process issue first. Part of reengaging with what the kids these days are listening to is freeing yourself from the shyte of FM radio and MTV, no matter how many channels they add. In the USA, one option is Sirius/XM. I was a sceptic when the recently acquired house vehicle came with it … but it’s good. Between the “alt”, “college” and “new wave” channels, as packaged as they are, you’ll hear lots of the good stuff mentioned above on no more than a 15-20 minute drive.

For the substance of the post, does it count if the band is still around doing different stuff? Those U2 1980s albums are pretty good. As for what’s around recently: shah8 has it right about Radiohead and Garbage (the bizarro Pretenders), and then there’s the bands that perhaps lost their touch a bit as mass marketing rose but still have some interesting stuff out there (e.g. Modest Mouse: Convenient Parking). And Hang Them All is the funniest video of the last 5 years.


dr ngo 07.20.12 at 1:19 am

Born in 1944. Who are all these people?


Bloix 07.20.12 at 2:00 am

My children were born in the early 90’s, so I spent most of that decade listening to Rafi and Fred Penner. In the last couple of years I’ve discovered the ’90s pleasures of Counting Crows, the Gin Blossoms, and Blues Traveler. Counting Crows, of course, takes you back to the Band, which is a band that will survive – as will the Allmans. And Little Feat.


Anarcissie 07.20.12 at 2:04 am

Well, I like the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music. That was the pop of its era, or part of it, anyway, and it’s held up pretty well.

Otherwise I agree with Shane McGowan. We sit atop vast treasures were are powerless to fully comprehend, much less evaluate.


gavinf 07.20.12 at 2:19 am

Many many fine recommendations above. As a professional musician and son of one I have often wondered what will happen to music of these periods over time. My Dad now retired plays mainly on the trad/dixieland jazz festival circuit in Australia, the fans for which are mainly people of his age. Very few young people take up trad and dixie, and I would argue that blues is also becoming a niche/museum artform. It’s interesting also to look back over the sweep of music history – we only know a small fraction of course – and think about how thing might change with new technologies.

I had many arguments with him about rock and roll and whether it would inevitably suffer the same fate, as it is taking a different trajectory and continuing to evolve, unlike jazz broadly which I think has been largely in a stylistic, inward looking rut since the 80s. Then there is electronic dance music (EDM) which is finally becoming a mainstream phenomenon. My conjecture is that the skills and tools to make rock/pop/EDM have now become so widespread that very few artists will get such widespread acclaim and attention as the pioneers/breakthrough artists of the 60s-90s. There will probably never be another Beatles, at least in terms of their popularity, because everyone is too busy *making* music to spend all their time being fans. I think that’s a good thing.

@8 Bob Mould continues small scale touring and releases via his website, but Grant Hart is doing the more interesting work in my view. Husker Du, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag etc. deserve their raucous little niche in music history.


George de Verges 07.20.12 at 2:19 am

Since everyone seems to have announced their age, I will note that I was born in 1951 and am thus so very, very old. I have noted with some surprise that none of the posts mention soul music or rhythm & blues (or reggae or rap). My tastes were marked by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Booker T. and the MG’s. Later in exploring my New Orleans roots I discovered the Meters, Lee Dorsey and the Neville Brothers. My son assures me that the Meters are heavily sampled, but I suppose that they have disappeared, all of them, in some way.

If I could reach out to those of you the age of my children or co-workers, I suggest “Hey Pocky-Way” by the Meters, “Working in a Coalmine” by Lee Dorsey and anything, anything by Otis Redding. You may enjoy it.


bert 07.20.12 at 2:33 am

bq. I’ve heard DJ Marky, and liked him a lot – who else should I be listening to ?

I’m afraid that one comment pretty much exhausted my knowledge on the subject. Brazilian drum and bass sometimes gets called “sambass” – you might see what you find with that as a search term.
There was an interesting documentary on 1Xtra a while ago (not online unfortunately, as far as I can tell) that went into the roots of Brazilian percussion, and made the case that their drum and bass scene reached back into a very rich history, and benefited as a result. Here in the UK, by contrast, it just seemed to run out of steam, although Fabio and Grooverider still get two hours a week on Radio 1. For a while it seemed like the links with jazz rhythms would be the way forward, but that never seemed to get much of an audience. Then UK Garage nicked their club crowd, and now we have dubstep.

These twenty+ minutes, though. Maybe it’s too early to call it “music that survived” (1995 it came out). And maybe it’s still too early to hear it without having your ears muffled by all the stuff that came to surround Goldie the brandname. Musically, however? Woof!


JP Stormcrow 07.20.12 at 2:37 am

The music of my late childhood/early teen years which I am gratified has not only “survived” pretty well, but which has become more generally accessible* is the garage/psychedelic end of 60’s pop/rock. And I’ll include in that how well things like the early Animals and Kinks have held up. Was quite pleased to discover many years later, folks like the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and some of the only Bob Seger I’d willingly listen to these days.

*And identified as a genre; it was kind of mushed in with everything else at the time.


Jason Weidner 07.20.12 at 2:52 am

For 80s stuff I still really like that I didn’t see mentioned above:

First of all, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Chameleons. Script of the Bridge has got to be one of the best indie rock albums of the era (and up there with London Calling for my ‘Desert Island’ collection (yes, while perhaps incredibly obvious, the Clash are essential!). And while they straddle the 70s and 80s, of course the Jam have to be near the top of the list as well. Hell, not only do I still listen to them often, but I’ve come to like everything Paul Weller has done even more as I grow older, especially his solo stuff (had the pleasure of seeing him live a long time ago at GWU’s Lisner Auditorium).

Then I would have to add Echo & the Bunnymen , Minutemen, The The, and the Housemartins.

Late 80s/early 90s: Stone Roses, Charlatans, Pavement, Galaxie 500/Luna, Trash Can Sinatras (Cake is a brilliant album!), Portishead, Saint Etienne.

Interestingly, there are loads of new(ish) bands that have a sound very reminiscent of the 80s. I call them “post-wave” bands: Bloc Party (especially Silent Alarm), Kaiser Chiefs, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Cut Copy.

Newer bands that I really love: Broken Social Scene, Modest Mouse, Spoon.


Jason Weidner 07.20.12 at 2:55 am

Can’t believe I forgot the Wedding Present. Saw them in San Diego a few months ago, and Dave Gedge is still rocking it hard.


Michael E Sullivan 07.20.12 at 4:09 am

Wow. So strange reading this. I guess as a ’68 baby who was in the counterculture, I was supposed to like all that whiny sounding new wave and punk, and all the people I went to school with seemed to like it, but I hated most of it then, and with a few exceptions, I still don’t much like it. That’s not so much the case for some of the 80s pop or r&b music I also eschewed at the time, but now really enjoy.

Much of my favorite music from my teenage years didn’t stand the test of time all that well. I can still listen to it for nostalgia’s sake, but I can no longer consider most of it great music. Rush, most of Yes, early King Crimson (80s stuff holds up), ELP, Pink Floyd, the Who. I still hold a special place in my heart for Jethro Tull, Focus, the Mahavishnu orchestra and Steve Tibbets (surprised to see him mentioned upthread), but they aren’t what I thought they were when I was 19.

Bands among my favorites at the same time that have held up well for me include Queen, the Beatles, Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix, Traffic, Allman Brothers, Temps and a bunch of other motown and similar styles from the 60s and 70s.

My tastes veered away from pop styles and into jazz and classical (along with some more obscure fusion) when I was a teenager and pretty much stopped listening to the radio.

The Stones have grown on me to the point where I almost understand what all the fuss was about.

The biggest change is that I completely missed hip-hop’s arrival on the scene, and I actually like a fair bit of it in retrospect.

Whoever mentioned their country being limited to “O Brother, Where art thou” should note that most of that soundtrack is bluegrass and country blues, not country. Yes, it’s roots music that C&W is based on, but, indirectly, so is most of rock and roll. Only older country is all that much like it. One of the reasons I like some of the older country acts, is that you occasionally catch them doing old time favorites in the roots/bluegrass style. Modern country is closer to beer rock than to anything on the O Brother soundtrack.

Anyway, since so many people here seem to love new wave and punk — what’s with the massively nasal and stuffy vocals in at least half of this genre? Drove me batshit, and never wanted to listen to it either then or now. Is there some philosophy behind this, (as I suspected at the time) just a general political statement about making music without taking any voice lessons? Or was it just a random style that took hold? Also — do you notice it as a negative, but other aspects of the music are more important, or do you like some of these singers that I would describe this way? (Talking heads, REM, Violent Femmes would be canonical examples of the style I’m referring to).

Ok, I know I sound like a dick about this, but I’m actually serious. There are a lot of musical styles that I dismissed when they came out, but have turned out to appreciate. One thing that singing a lot of karoake teaches you, for instance is that a lot of pop singers that I never thought of as great singers, really are, and doing their stuff well is not trivial.

That said, new wave is one genre I’ve never been able to find my way into, but way too many smart people like it for me to just assume they are all full of nonsense.


common reader 07.20.12 at 4:40 am

Judging by confessional comments made here, I’ve got most of a decade on everyone, which means that I can bring up Bing Crosby, Hugh Masakela, John Fahey, the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Ahmad Jamal, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Roadsters, Montserrat Caballe or Elizabeth Schwartzkopf singing anything they please, Charlie Pride, Willie Nelson, the Carter family, Peter Pears, just to mention a few great ones ya’ll have forgotten for the moment. But you’ll remember them later.


Neil 07.20.12 at 5:03 am

The triumph of popular music is culturally interesting. I mean the fact that intellectuals like those who read CT, and who would be embarrassed to admit that they read very little that is more demanding than Dan Brown and JK Rowling seem utterly unembarrassed to admit that they listen to very little that is more demanding than the musical equivalent. I think, though I’m not sure, this is a phenomenon of the past 5 decades: prior to that intellectuals felt that they had to at least pretend to listen to jazz and classical.


e julius drivingstorm 07.20.12 at 5:13 am

Well, Fusion was the end-all in many ways for me. Someone mentioned Weather Report. From there you go retro to Miles Davis’s Bitches’ Brew album to see where it all started (same Josef Zawinul and Wayne Shorter in support of Miles).

Other than that there was the initial offering of Bose’s 901 speakers with the volumee up. Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album (electric, I know), the eponymous The Band, and a couple of astonishing Little Feat albums leaves me with CD’s stuck forever in my player.

Beyond that, 30’s blues makes the Grateful Dead pretty good. And listening to George Jones’s back-up musicians at low volume gets my attention but they get crowded when you turn it up.


JP Stormcrow 07.20.12 at 5:21 am

prior to that intellectuals felt that they had to at least pretend to listen to jazz and classical.

I’m reminded of a quote from some article I read in the late ’70s about Dallas’s rise as a financial center. One recently transplanted bank executive enthused something along the lines of “[Y]ou don’t even have to pretend to like the symphony here.”


dr ngo 07.20.12 at 5:24 am

I’m not sure if “common reader” meant to include me among those he antedates, but I too heard Schwarzkopf and Rostropovich and Sutherland (with the very young Pavarotti) and Bob Dylan at Newport ’63 and the MJQ and Mose Allison – AND I’ve actually sung under the baton of Bruno Walter, who was once upon a time Gustav Mahler’s assistant conductor, I believe.

O Tempora, O Mores!

(And can we have some love for Eddie Cochran, “Summertime Blues”?)


bad Jim 07.20.12 at 6:29 am

I’d consider a concert season without Tchaikovsky an improvement, but utterly unlikely.


Chris Bertram 07.20.12 at 6:46 am

_seem utterly unembarrassed to admit that they listen to very little that is more demanding than the musical equivalent._

Whoah! The thread is clearly about popular music, so there’s no presumption about what else people listen to. Popular music does different things for me than “classical” music does, it is a mistake to think of one as an inferior version of the “more demanding” other. As for literature, I enjoy lots of detective fiction: it doesn’t displace Tolstoy.


David J. Littleboy 07.20.12 at 6:46 am

Born in the early 50s, the music that I see of lasting value from my youth includes stuff like Richard and Mimi Farina, John Fahey, John Renbourne, Leo Kottke, the first few electric Dylan albums, Traffic, Increadible String Band, Dave van Ronk, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Paul Butterfield, Hot Tuna. Joni’s not bad, either. This was the fare on the Boston/Cambridge college stations in the late 60s and (very) early 70s.

My impression is that there was a burst of creative energy in the mid to late 60s, and in 1972 things kind of died for a few years, and then got better. But my post-72 listening to current music has been quite spotty. I spent the late 70s trying to learn how to fingerpick, and can still do a reasonable approximation to Last Steam Engine Train and Embryonic Journey (playing the latter being a requirement for one’s Boy Scout Child of the 60s Merit Badge).

Whatever, as is appropriate for an effete northeastern pseudointellectual snob, I’m now trying to learn how to play jazz guitar. (Ron Affif’s CD “52nd Street” is as good as music gets. At least in my current phase of life.) Here’s the guy who’s desperately trying to teach me how to play.


Keith Edwards 07.20.12 at 6:56 am

Michael E. Sullivan @ 102:
Anyway, since so many people here seem to love new wave and punk—what’s with the massively nasal and stuffy vocals in at least half of this genre?

Watch 24 Hour Party People, which is a semi-fictionalized account of the early days of the Manchester scene. All that nasaly weird New Wave stuff? That came from Manchester.

Which reminds me: New Order. How did we get 100 comments in without mentioning New Oder?


Salient 07.20.12 at 7:04 am

Poe’s Haunted (2000) is fantastic and hopefully timeless, and pairs pretty well with Loveless or We Love Life. She might end up forgotten, between extended hiatus and neverending fights with her label and 96kbps Youtube shredding the parts of her sound that actually sound cool, and so many people thinking at the time that Haunted was just a CD book promo for House of Leaves, and the fact that the album completely violates vacuumslayer’s In this a la carte world we’re living, I’d be more likely to recommend a song or two rule; there’s no standout representative tracks and the intermissions matter almost as much as the songs, etc. But it’s totally worth the 70 minutes, and hopefully an autoinclude on anybody’s top 100 of the 2000s type list.


David Irving (no relation) 07.20.12 at 7:29 am

I still listen to a lot of the stuff I grew up with (Dylan, Dead and Zappa for example), but a lot of it, in hindsight, was crap. Interestingly, my kids (who bracket 30) like a lot of my old stuff, and I like a lot of things they’ve introduced me to – Nine Inch Nails and Faith No More stand out.


M. Bouffant 07.20.12 at 7:46 am

There is little I liked then that I don’t still like now.

“Then” referring to pre-1985, that being the year I hit the ‘there’s nothing new that sounds at all interesting’ stage. Fortunately, there’s plenty of stuff like bop, 20th century symphony music (& most recently West Coast jazz) & so forth that revealed themselves to me post-’85: If you ain’t heard it before, it’s new to you!

I’ll agree w/ the supporter of Scientist, Augustus Pablo, Prince Jammy, &c. Still love that stuff even though I’m not the reefer fan I used to be.

Recently listened to Surrealistic Pillow (First “rock” album I bought.) on YouTube. Only two really good songs on it; “Somebody to Love” & “White Rabbit” enjoyable mostly as nostalgia, neither that good out of personal memory context.

Generalization: Few bands put out more than four or five good albums, total, usually their first four or five. From there it’s almost always downhill to self-parody or a “new direction.”

Note on vocals: A vocalizing member of the Angry Samoans was very disappointed when he had to have his adenoids removed. Made him sound too adult. And, as S. McGravitas has mentioned elsewhere, today’s vocal stylists sound like wimps, ’cause they’re scared to smoke tobacco. (So they are wimps.)


M. Bouffant 07.20.12 at 7:49 am

Clarification: “White Rabbit” & “Somebody to Love” are not the two good songs on SP. “Plastic Fantastic Lover” is for sure one of them, can’t remember the other I still enjoyed.


Niall McAuley 07.20.12 at 8:29 am

It’s interesting to pick up music that you haven’t listened to in 30 years.

I recently bought Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, and it really sounds like a band playing music. Way Back When, it sounded full of overblown sound effects and studio nonsense, but in the years in between, studio nonsense has become so common that Floyd now sound like 5 lads playing in their garage.

And Japan used to be an electronic pop band, but now what I hear is the fretless bass.


tax 07.20.12 at 8:42 am

I see 111 beat me to it. New Order. And also Joy Division.


Neville Morley 07.20.12 at 8:45 am

Peter Broetzmann Octet, Machine Gun; still, along with Max Roach’s Triptych: Prayer, Protest, Peace, the soundtrack to our times. Which says a lot about our times, I suppose.


bad Jim 07.20.12 at 9:18 am

It’s hard not to get grumpy when someone mentions a remake of “Pressure Drop” when I can vividly recall an acid trip when the original tune kept running through my head. It’s generally presumed that easygoing bands like the Grateful Dead were the preferred product at the time, but much as I liked them I never found them as satisfying as harder-edged stuff, like Hot Tuna. Okay, for me, harder-edged means more notes per minute, so Leo Kottke performing “Blue Dot” sounded pretty fine ,when I had ingested a bit more LSD than mos considered necessary.

As it happens, my musical tastes meandered for a few decades among different genres, and now I find myself doubting that I’ll ever understand what Beethoven was up to in his first symphony, and nearly certain that I’ll always enjoy hearing it again, which is not something I can say about everything else.


bad Jim 07.20.12 at 9:31 am

Sorry. That was half as funny and twice as bombastic as I thought it was when I was writing it. Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and made a living selling used records ought to have made me know when to shut up…

But then we wouldn’t have anti-war marches with giant puppets.


Katherine 07.20.12 at 9:39 am

I still listen to Garbage, Bjork, PJ Harvey, and Tori Amos albums. In terms of popular music, what really holds up for me is Radiohead, Tricky, Massive Attack,

Shah8, you could have just written my own comment. Although add in some mid-90’s Britpop/indie/alt rock – Blur, early Oasis, Pulp, Elastica – and you’d be right on the nose.

In my 20’s clubbing days, the likes of Kraftwerk were essential. Aphex Twin continues to be interesting, and barking.

And I’ve been discovering, via my husband (who is five years older than me, but seems to be an earlier generation musically), the origins in the 1980’s of a lot of the things I love. The Pixies should never ever be forgotten.


Phil 07.20.12 at 10:53 am

The Arcade Fire… no, just no.

<a href=""What he said. This link also explains why I prefer to listen to (and play) folk these days – all that repression/release stuff gets very old once you start noticing it.

All that nasaly weird New Wave stuff? That came from Manchester.

Well, I’ve always thought of David Byrne as an honorary Brit, but Manchester can’t really claim him.

100+ comments in and nobody’s mentioned… the Fall? Somebody once said that there were three waves of Manchester post-punk: Joy Division, Buzzcocks and the Fall; New Order, A Certain Ratio and the Fall; and Happy Mondays, the Smiths and the Fall. I don’t think Slates will ever age.

I refuse to believe that anybody can seriously listen to the Smiths who didn’t get into them before their fifteenth birthday.

A sad fact widely known… I was 23 when “This Charming Man” came out, and it spoke to me loud and clear, let me tell you. (I was unmarried, short on friends, doing a job I hated, etc, which may have contributed.)


Phil 07.20.12 at 10:57 am

Here’s that Arcade Fire link. I’ll reiterate what I said there – Godspeed You Black Emperor! were twice as good as Arcade Fire are claimed to be (and *didn’t* do the repression/release thing).


Neil 07.20.12 at 11:38 am

Chris, you’re right of course. And the comparison to Rowling and Brown is gratuitous. I should have used well crafted popular fiction. Still I think the thread is an indication that people like CT readers take popular music seriously in a way that would have been embarrassing to an earlier generation. And the phenomenon itself seems to be a genuine one. And it *is* an interesting phenomenon, if I’m right it exists. I’m not criticizing it. I don’t think it is compulsory to cultivate interests in anything, let own everything.


Bill Benzon 07.20.12 at 11:39 am

Most of you all are so young!

The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, J Brown, Aretha, Hendrix (?) have survived. Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Mamas and the Papas, no. The Doors? Well, they survive on the soundtrack of Apocalypse Now.

But I was mostly into jazz and classical up through my late teens (when I allowed myself the pleasures of rock and soul (Soul!?)). Jazz had ceased to be popular by the mid-40s and so gets scored by a different system, as does classical. Dizzy Gillespie was one of my heroes, among many others. Finally got to open for him in ’84, when he was well past his prime, which was, say ’45 through ’60. Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a stone-cold amazing performer, as charismatic as any I’ve ever seen live. Alas, a stroke took him in ’77. The mighty Art Ensemble of Chicago, but, alas, Lester Bowie is no more. Sonny Rollins! On and on and on. Coltrane, Ornette, Miles Dewey Davis (summoned us to deep silence in Avery Fisher Hall in ’87, Time After Time). And BB King (opened for him, too, different band). Frank Zappa, an amazing horn arrangement of Stairway to Heaven where the horns did a unison on a transcription of the guitar solo.

These days I don’t listen to much music, though every now and then I’ll go on a YouTube binge. Hiromi Uehara is stunning. But also Mnozil Brass, who’re the pranksters of Middle Europe.


Katherine 07.20.12 at 11:48 am

It’s fun going back and discovering stuff from the musical era you identify with, but that you missed the first time round.

I’m doing that with the Riot Grrl stuff at the moment, which I think I must have missed because by the time I became of aware of it in backwater UK, the whole thing had been mutated by the music industry into (gag) Girl Power.


jonnybutter 07.20.12 at 12:08 pm

My son assures me that the Meters are heavily sampled

It’s a wonderful result of the fact that there’s an internet that all that early Meters/Neville Bros. stuff is now out there for everyone to hear. Yes, they have been sampled to death – because they are so incredibly funky (sans quantization and click track of course)!


bert 07.20.12 at 12:20 pm

@Bill Benzon:
John Julie Andrews Coltrane = genius.
Miles Cyndi Lauper Davis = mistake.
Hope I make myself clear.


Bill Benzon 07.20.12 at 12:32 pm


Clear, yes. But wrong. There may not be any recording of MD on TAT that’s as good as that live performance, which was phenomenal, though there are some pretty good live versions kicking around.


bert 07.20.12 at 1:05 pm

Okay. I’m going by the record. Which if it didn’t have panpipes, sounded like it did.


garymar 07.20.12 at 1:06 pm

Timeless, evergreen comment:

Your favorite band sucks.


SamChevre 07.20.12 at 1:08 pm

Well, after work yesterday I was riding home and caught myself singing “Working Nine To Five”; so I guess Dolly Parton has held up, along withthe Tractors “I’m not Broke, But I’m Badly Bent” and “Everything We’ve Got is Falling Apart.”


Bill Benzon 07.20.12 at 1:14 pm


My impression is that studio versions of late electric Miles don’t touch what the band could do in live performance.


herbert_ashe 07.20.12 at 1:16 pm

I’m also surprised at the lack of shouts for The Fall. I was still in nappies when Hex Enduction Hour came out but I imagined it would have melted older CTers faces back then as much as it did mine when I discovered it 20 years later. Almost everything from Grotesque to This Nation’s Saving Grace is immortal IMO.


Jason Weidner 07.20.12 at 1:18 pm

The Jam, the Clash, Smiths, and Pixies are part of my everyday soundtrack. Funny thing how a song you haven’t heard in ages suddenly pops into your head for no apparent reason. Or stranger yet, when the lyrics of said song have something to do with what you’re thinking/feeling in that moment. At the moment I’ve got Pixies’ “Wave of Mutiliation” stuck in my head (probably because it’s on one of my more heavily played playlists), which isn’t a bad tune to accompany me during my day.


Llewelyn 07.20.12 at 1:25 pm

For “new old,” The Strokes & Franz Ferdinand are really good, if you get the right albums. I listen to them lots. Also, the Bird and the Bee recent cover album of Hall and Oates numbers is THE BOMB (If you’re allowed to use that phrase in the same sentence as Hall and Oates.) and should be compulsory.

Incidentally, one of the great, great things about turning 40 is being able to say that I always liked Hall and Oates without having to fear some kind of reprisal.


Bill Benzon 07.20.12 at 1:28 pm

I also have a weakness for the Big Friendly Jazz Orchestra (BFJO) of Takasago High School. Their music is mostly old to ancient but they can kick ass. The trumpets all but wail in the shout chorus on this one and it’s unusual to see so many boys (3,4, 5?) in the band. The trombone soli seems to be a band specialty.


Cahokia 07.20.12 at 1:55 pm

Uncommented gestures:
Laurie Anderson [listen: United States (a 4 cassette performance over 2 days in NYC)]
(if someone gets to mention Diamonda, there is room for Lou’s wife)
Rufus Wainwright [listen: start mid-catalog with Want One] (literate, coined term popera)
Arnold Schoenberg (a little 12-tone love, difficult music hour)
Michael Nyman [listen: Belly of an Architect (soundtrack)]
Oingo Boingo [listen: Deadman’s Party (has the hits, plus)] (Mr. Danny Elfman, I like the varied arrangements)
10,000 Maniacs [listen: In My Tribe (mid-catalog)] (mellow music with acerbic lyrics)
B-52’s [listen: start early in catalog] (shake it)
The Dandy Warhols [listen: Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia] (portlandia)
Tool [listen: Lateralus (late-catalog)] (heavy textures, loud music)
Chuck Berry (Cahokia (wiki it), no duh)


Platonist 07.20.12 at 2:55 pm

Kieth Edwards @111 and tax @117: I took care of New Order at 23!

Neil 07.20.12 at 104

I think the comparison of music to literature is misleading–literature is intrinsically more intellectual as a genre, and so its best works tend to be more intellectually demanding. Music can be intellectual, but need not be so to be great, and the exceptions are usually cases of overintellectualizing or cases of experimental pushing the boundaries of the medium to the limit point of ‘music’ rather than superior on musical grounds. The appreciation of opera, Beethoven, or Louis Armstrong *need* not be any more or less intellectually demanding than that of the Beatles, or the Pixies, or Britney Spears.

It’s also a mistake to imply (with the comparison to someone who reads “little” more than JK Rowling) that those who appreciate popular music don’t also appreciate other kinds. Many have made this mistake in the thread, wondering why Dylan or Davis or Debussy haven’t been mentioned. It’s because the thread’s about what should survive, and things that have legendary or classic status are too obvious or in a category where such a question doesn’t even occur. Popular music is the genre that’s most disposable, so the question of survival is more interesting.

Finally, many in the thread have implied more two questionable things: first, that our picks are just a reflection of our age and, second, that the question is whether things have “aged well”. The first suggestion is false: I picked my era since it was the same as the OP’s selections, not because I think those deserve survival more than other eras. I was born in the 70s, but the top of my list would come from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and would include more jazz than rock.

The “aged well” rubric is problematic since this is determined more by fashion than by the quality of the music. Just as in clothing styles, something good might seem awful in a given historical and cultural context, and something truly awful might seem innocuous or unremarkable. (The analogy of tasting food without cleansing the palate comes to mind. Culturally and historically we cannot cleanse the palate.)

The real question is not: does it sound like it could have been made today, or does it sound good today, but will it continue to do so over the long run? I think a lot of things that seem to have aged well in the light of current tastes may not seem so in 10 or 20 years, while things that don’t fit today’s prejudices may prove more durable in the long run.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.20.12 at 2:57 pm

Gospel-rooted African-American music [Ray, Aretha, JB, Al Green, Pickett, Sly, to name a few] will never fade. I don’t include Whitney Houston, because the golden age was over by the time she came up.
Stax in its heyday and in the early Isaac Hayes years.
Ellington whenever.
Don Cherry whenever and wherever
60s Merle
And B.B. King–who I saw for three straight shows at the Cellar Door in D.C., each set better than the last, [obligatory nostalgic remembrance]


Jen Cypher 07.20.12 at 2:57 pm

I do hope someone mentioned XTC and I just missed it in my speed-read of the comments. They are one of the most under-rated bands I can think of, and I’ve never been sure why. I still adore them and listen to them regularly. If all you’re familiar with is ‘Senses Working Overtime’ treat yourself and listen to any of their fine albums.

On Prince – some of the songs survive but the person has become such an arse that I can’t give him any more of my time, let alone money.

No one’s mentioned much funk/soul yet. SOS Band also gets my approval, but Gap Band, Kool and the Gang and the Brother’s Johnson also hold up well. As do the Ohio Players.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.20.12 at 3:02 pm

And, of course, if we’re including Gospel-rooted African-American music, then we need to include Gospel from the golden years as well: Mahalia, Caravans, Dixie Hummingbirds, Swan Silvertones, Davis Sisters, the Ward Singers, Dorothy Love Coates, just to name a few of the most famous.


Uncle Kvetch 07.20.12 at 3:06 pm

Rufus Wainwright [listen: start mid-catalog with Want One] (literate, coined term popera)

De gustibus and all that. I love him when he’s poppy and upbeat (the title track/first single from his new album being a perfect example, or “California” from Poses), but when he starts warbling away on those excruciating “poperatic” ballads I find myself reaching for the revolver that I don’t actually own.

And yes, if it’s about timelessness: The Fall, of course. Now and forever.

I’m surprised to see no love for XTC here — to my ears their music has held up extremely well. The production on some of the albums may sound a bit dated, but Andy Partridge is such a singular songwriter that the tunes themselves are, well, timeless.

The Arcade Fire… no, just no.

If they’d come on the scene when I was 20 I probably would have gone apeshit over them. But they didn’t, and I can’t for the life of me see what the big deal is. Mediocre songs don’t become good just because the singer sounds like he really means it, man. A boring song is a boring song, whether it’s arranged for guitar-bass-drums-vocals or kazoo-glockenspiel-bouzouki-harmonium and a 30-voice children’s choir.

They’re still nowhere remotely as annoying as Bright Eyes, though.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.20.12 at 3:13 pm

And let’s note a notable omission: no Bruce Springsteen. Which is fine by me; I don’t object if others like/love him (although I once had a piece of cake pushed in my face when I accused someone of being a lackey of the Boss), but he always sounded like Guy Lombardo to me.


Chris Bertram 07.20.12 at 3:16 pm

_And let’s note a notable omission: no Bruce Springsteen_

Remarkably, no Velvet Underground mentioned either. But I listen all the time, as it happens.


Jason Weidner 07.20.12 at 3:34 pm

Amen to XTC. Waxworks is a nice compilation, and the Todd Rungren-produced Skylarking is brilliant.


Uncle Ebeneezer 07.20.12 at 3:35 pm

Tool [listen: Lateralus (late-catalog)] (heavy textures, loud music)

This is something I have never understood as a big-time Tool fan. I love the way that they have grown and continued to evolve sonically, but to me the songs on Undertow and Aenima are still their best. The common narrative is that they really hit their stride with Lateralus, but I actually thought it was a step forward in the spirit of experimentation but a notable step backwards in song-writing.

Since we’re talking heavy/loud, the following have aged well:

Deftones- Adrenalize, Around the Fur & White Pony
Refused- Shape of Punk to Come
Snapcase- End Transmission
Metallica- Master of Puppets (though the production makes it sound kinda dated.)

Good current bands worth listening to (all genres):

Elbow- Leaders of the Free World, Seldom Seen Kid, Cast of Thousands
Devotchka- anything
Sharon Jones & Dap Kings

Ben Allison
Brad Mehldau
Kurt Rosenwinkel
The Bad Plus
Joshua Redman
Aaron Parks


jonnybutter 07.20.12 at 3:36 pm

I think the comparison of music to literature is misleading—literature is intrinsically more intellectual as a genre,

A ‘genre’ of what? It’s pretty hard to talk about, isn’t it?

I think it’s misleading too, because music is both: intellectual, beyond the intellectual, and before it – and again, we’re talking about music, not The Three Approved Chords, in 4/4 Time, With Lyrics. George Szell might have said it best: ‘In music one must think with the heart and feel with the brain.’


Platonist 07.20.12 at 3:38 pm

“Remarkably, no Velvet Underground mentioned either.”

I think the legendary category unto themselves rule applies to VU, just as it does to Dylan or the Beatles or Bach: it’s beyond question they deserve to and will survive, and so they’re not worth mentioning.


CJColucci 07.20.12 at 3:43 pm

Not a promising start when I couldn’t identify a song by any of the groups Henry mentioned if you held a gun to my head.
Reminds me of a rainy afternoon in 1992 when I was pulling up to the White Plains federal courthouse for a conference. The announcer (Richard Neer, from the old 102.7 fm) mentioned that the day was the 25th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper. Got me thinking: “What was 25 years old when Sgt. Pepper came out?” The answer that came to mind was Glenn Miller — as it happened I had been listening more to Glenn Miller than to the Beatles lately. As I got out of the car, I realized that I was my parents, and that I would never be cool again.
And just two days ago, I saw a young man in a vintage t-shirt from the Rolling Stones 1975 U.S. tour. He obviously couldn’t have been born less than a decade after the tour. Good chance his parents hadn’t yet hit puberty then, either.


John Garrett 07.20.12 at 3:44 pm

Since I like and listen to pretty much everything, my favorite radio station ever is WMBR (MIT radio: They have the widest ranging, most obsessive DJs ever, many of them with 20 years or more there because they love the music so much. Listen once to Angela Grant on Friday afternoons on Coffeetime, or to any of the DJs on Lost and Found, or to the great classic R&B, and you will be hooked!


Frowner 07.20.12 at 3:45 pm

If a lurker may weigh in: it would be interested to read answers to this question if it were asked in, say, 2020. I notice that there’s almost no rap or hip-hop on most people’s lists (and I assume, for other reasons, that the majority of posters here are white). I was listening to pop/rock/alternative/whatever music in the late eighties and early nineties, by which point there was quite a lot of rap and hip-hop available, but since there was no internet and there was a great deal of scandal around rap (remember all the moral panics of the late eighties?), it was not something that you heard a lot if you grew up in a very segregated white town like I did. I assume that white people who were coming up in the late nineties/early 2000s will have a much less rock/pop-exclusive list.

Actually, it’s taken me into my thirties to develop the musical and genre understanding to be a sorta-good listener to hip-hop – I’d say that I’m only starting to discover a whole bunch of interesting things that were around when I was in my teens. It makes me a bit sad to recall how racist and panicky everyone was about rap and hip-hop in my youth, and to realize that what seemed like legitimate “moral” concerns to a lot of people back then were just the same old racist anxieties.

I don’t really listen to very much of the then-contemporary punk I listened to in college – Superchunk, Jesus Lizard, all that Sub Pop stuff. But really, I was only listening to it because my friends did; I hadn’t developed much taste on my own yet. Those things I did discover on my own I tend to still like: the Mekons up through about 1994; the Pogues up through Peace and Love; Chumbawamba even in their popular period; Sandinista!; the Rezillos; Scritti Politti; Vic Godard; Husker Du; Dog-Faced Hermans. Things I could have in theory heard in the eighties and early-mid nineties but did not and now appreciate: the Homosexuals; Orange Juice; Belle and Sebastian; Elvis Costello up through Spike; Rip Rig and Panic; Pigbag; the Pop Group.

I do find myself wondering why jazz and classical don’t seem to be as de rigeur among brainy left types as they once were. I myself have few musical gifts and just don’t seem to get much out of any but the most obvious sorts of classical music (I try every once in a while) although I can appreciate some of that John Zorn/Glen Branca experimental business. I’m a big fan of Don Cherry, Max Roach and Panthalassa-period Miles Davis, but I wouldn’t say I’m an intelligent listener; those things just sound nice.

So, like, why? Is it a lack of musical education? In my own case, it’s not a lack of exposure as a child – my parents listen to virtually nothing but classical and I never heard any pop music until my early teens when I was given a clock radio. (I suppose I must have heard some in grocery stores or other public places before then.) I always assumed as a child that adults listened to classical and didn’t waste their time with pop music and was vaguely scandalized at fifteen to meet a grown-up who listened to rock music on the radio. I assumed that at some point I’d just become bored with pop music and suddenly be able to comprehend classical, and in fact felt rather guilty about this from my late teens through my mid-twenties because my family had always described a taste for pop music as childish and ignorant.


Platonist 07.20.12 at 3:51 pm

jonnybutter, a genre of art. I agree, music is both. But it can be also either: there are highly intellectual musical pieces that have little emotional or aesthetic quality, and there are powerful pieces of music (dance music–whether ragtime or swing or techno) that have little intellectual content.

Also Kvetch, et al:

I do hope this doesn’t turn into an Arcade Fire skeptics thread. So you dislike something that’s critically acclaimed. I know the feeling; it’s frustrating. I think The Wire is one of the worst TV shows I’ve ever seen (try making it through a dinner party with that contrarian opinion).

But leave it be: those are deadend debates. You could be right about Arcade Fire and I could be right about The Wire. But the evidence is on their side: too many intelligent critics and aficianados have consistently, over an extensive period of time, confirmed the majority view. AF has passed the main “Next Big Thing” test: they’ve survived multiple albums, each one more critically successful than the last.

That doesn’t prove the majority right, but shows there’s a pretty deep taste divide between you and them that will prevent any fruitful debate about the real merits of the case. Let history settle it. If in 10 years they’re forgotten, tell us you told us so. (Of course, if they’re forgotten, no one will care.)


rf 07.20.12 at 4:10 pm

“Late 80s/early 90s: Stone Roses, Charlatans, Pavement, Galaxie 500/Luna, Trash Can Sinatras (Cake is a brilliant album!), Portishead, Saint Etienne.”

Although a little before my time, I’m surprised there’s not more love for Portishead here. At the very least Beth Gibbon is a genius, surely? (Sam Cooke live at The Harlem Square Club in 63, some of you must be old enough to have been there? Bill Benzon I’m looking at you, fill me in.)

“I think The Wire is one of the worst TV shows I’ve ever seen”

This seems over the top!


ernie 07.20.12 at 4:36 pm

@Keith (#40) and Uncle Ebeneezer (#78) Glad you guys mentioned The Smashing Pumpkins. The new stuff hasn’t really grabbed me, but Gish and Siamese Dream have definitely stood the test of time. Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and (to echo Keith) Nirvana have long since fallen by the wayside for me, but I fully expect to be listening to the Pumpkins for years to come.


Uncle Kvetch 07.20.12 at 4:41 pm

Let history settle it.

No argument from me on that, Platonist. When I was younger and more passionate about these things it would really make me angry that “deserving” artists were being ignored while the “undeserving” got all the hype and riches. I’m now able to say “Eh…I don’t get it” and move on.

Part of that’s the natural mellowing of age, and part of it is the availability of music on the Internet. Back in the days when I was in range of exactly two “rock” stations, and both of them were playing an endless loop of Zep/Stones/Who/Doors, these things mattered a hell of a lot more.


tracey's husband 07.20.12 at 4:46 pm

it comes to something when even CT makes me feel old. I was with you (Henry) for the first paragraph but then the examples…
…. being a really old curmudgeon (b 1957) i have stopped listening to anything that could be considered rock or pop (apart of tom waites and ry cooder obviously) in favour of, err, grown up music; Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Sinatra, Miles Davis and Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Schubert…….
The stuff i listened to way back when (Beatles, Stones, Clapton, Hendrix, Pink Floyd etc) only seems interesting now as archaeology rather than to actually listen to.

And don’t get me started on what my teenage daughter’s listens to.


tracey's husband 07.20.12 at 4:50 pm

‘s (sigh)


bert 07.20.12 at 5:00 pm

Plenty of love for Portishead over here.
Beth Gibbons is terrific. Geoff Barrow has his dance music/crate digger angle (how many other people from Bristol got namechecked in the liner notes to Endtroducing? Not many). And anyone who’s seen Adrian Utley talk about Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop will know how important he is to their sound. Their last album was stonking.
I think maybe they suffer from the same syndrome that turned Cian against drum and bass. They got tainted by the use the culture put them to. For a while in the 90s you couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing Portishead thoughtlessly slapped onto the background of a property makeover show. “They turned our songs into a fondue set.”


Platonist 07.20.12 at 5:10 pm

rf, you’re right–that’s a pretty severe exaggeration. I should say one of the worst critically acclaimed shows I’ve ever seen.

Kvetch, I agree: it’s a much bigger deal when you’re worried you’ll never get to hear the good stuff if it’s unappreciated. Kind of gives the lie to the thread topic: thanks to digital technology, it’s likely that ALL music will survive for a very long time. So, the stakes of these debates are pretty low.

On the other hand, there is the question of the *musician’s* survival. It’s probably true that the stellar success of bands like Arcade Fire–particularly in a genre where so many bands sell so few records–may hurt the survivability of very good, less appreciated musicians. So, as much as I like AF, it might be better if indie rock moved away from the star system.


That One Guy 07.20.12 at 5:40 pm

And you know what else? Tom Waits. The Jayhawks.

Happy to see Townes Van Zandt mentioned. Which prompts: Justin Townes Earle.

Other more recent and worthy unmentioneds: The Mountain Goats, Old Crow Medicine Show


js. 07.20.12 at 5:43 pm

Henry @88,

If you like the first two Wire albums, the third one (titled 154) is pretty awesome as well — worth it just for the song “The 15th” if nothing else. (Though maybe you already know this.) Also, they put out an album a few years back called Object 47, which is a lot like their early stuff and well worth a listen.


js. 07.20.12 at 6:07 pm

And a couple of new/new-ish things that no one else has mentioned (or is likely to!):

1. Connan Mockasin, esp. his latest, Forever Dolphin Love. To give you some sense, the title track is almost 10 minutes and overlays Matching Mole-style psych (AFAICT) over a pretty Krautrock-y/motorik style beat. Really awesome if you’re into that kind of stuff.

2. Fujiya & Miyagi, esp. Lightbulbs (ca. 2007). Again, pretty heavy Krautrock influence, both direct and indirect (e.g. via Stereolab).

Anyway, clearly revealing a pattern in my likes…


Cian 07.20.12 at 6:19 pm

I think maybe they suffer from the same syndrome that turned Cian against drum and bass.

No I disliked it as long before that happened. Hype probably had something to do with it, but I also found the music deeply boring and not much fun to dance to. There were a few record I liked, plus Squarepusher’s take it on was entertainingly bonkers.


js. 07.20.12 at 6:42 pm

I notice that there’s almost no rap or hip-hop on most people’s lists

Other people have made similar points, so I just want to note: at least for me, the types of music and bands I was thinking of was structured by Henry’s mention of Pulp/Smiths/My Bloody Valentine, etc. in the OP. If the thread had started in a somewhat different, I’d very happily have gone on (and on!) about late-80’s and 90’s hip hop. I’d hope I’m not the only here of whom this is true.


Michael E Sullivan 07.20.12 at 7:12 pm

I could have mentioned some of my favorite hip-hop artists of the 80s and 90s, but honestly I wasn’t listening to any of them when they were working. I started listening to hip-hop in my mid-30s because my wife liked it, so what I listen to is pretty much defined by what has survived. Since it’s not the music of my formative years, I didn’t think it fit what Henry was going for in this thread.


Hidari 07.20.12 at 7:39 pm

This is not strictly relevant, except possibly to post number 152, but Radio 3 has been running a long series of fantastic podcasts entitled ’50 Modern Classics’ in which various experts and celebs talk about 50 post WW2 modern/modernist classics,why they are good, why they were made, and so on. And then, of course, you can go off and listen to them on YouTube. A superb season which hasn’t had nearly as much publicity as it should have done.


Chris Bertram 07.20.12 at 7:42 pm

Very glad to see Bristol getting so much recognition in this thread!


Jen Cypher 07.20.12 at 7:56 pm

Oh yes, Tom Waits! Not sure if Elvis Costello has been mentioned here or not. I’m not a fan of his more recent work but some of the old songs still stand up well. Peter Gabriel is also holding his own. The Beastie Boys still sound great after all these years (RIP MCA).

Frowner – I also grew up listening to a lot of classical (via grandparents tuning into WQXR in NYC) and jazz (via my dads) and don’t listen to either genre much any more. I was quite into jazz for awhile (especially Pat Metheny) but it kind of faded away for me, not sure why, I think the whole ‘neo’ movement wasn’t differentiated enough or something. I do listen to classical still, but in specific contexts (when writing or studying, for example). I like some modern classical that riffs on older classics, I’m a big fan of Michael Nyman for instance (via Peter Greenaway’s films) and Phillip Glass.


David J. Littleboy 07.20.12 at 8:40 pm

“I do find myself wondering why jazz and classical don’t seem to be as de rigeur among brainy left types as they once were.”

I think that that’s because they’ve both failed miserably to continue to be a source of new musical and intellectual content. I played violin from 4 until 20 (parents’ idea, of course), but really don’t like any of the “classical” stuff after Dvorak. Jazz seems to be having a similar problem. Miles Davis kept pushing it, and quite a bit of the fusion blokes (mostly folks who had played with Davis) kept producing good music for a while there, but I’m not noticing anything new coming out, and I’m not sure how much new stuff has entered the repertoire since the height of the Shorter, Hancock, et. al. generation (again, the guys who played with Davis).

Of course, I could be missing a lot of stuff. My head is wedged in late swing and Sonny Stitt bebop. What new (this century) jazz has (or is likely) to become as recognizable (and thus part of the standard repertoire) as Giant Steps, Cantelope Island, and the like? What new music does the outrageously talented jazz player who has a day job and gigs for the fun of it evenings and weekends add to his set list?


Neville Morley 07.20.12 at 9:05 pm

I’m not sure that “new stuff entering the repertoire” is actually the best way of trying to evaluate the quality and impact of contemporary jazz. Rather like popular music, the scene is now incredibly fragmented and various compared with decades up to the 1960s; there are still a lot of musicians focused on standards (and not just the Wynton Marsalis obsessive nostalgia projects), and musicians who are great soloists happy to play in any situation, but much of the more cutting-edge stuff is focused on overall sound and texture as much as on the songs, and in many cases it’s about the whole record, rather than the record simply being a recording of a performance – one legacy of Miles has, belatedly, been the acceptance of recording techniques and studio manipulation as legitimate.

So, contemporary stuff that I’d recommend. New York avant-garde scene with people like William Parker and Matthew Shipp. Evan Parker is still producing amazing records, and increasingly involved in experiments in live electronica and sound manupilation. Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko is one of the true greats, and his former backing group the Marcin Wasilewski Trio are fabulous. Bojan Z, whether solo or in groups. Iain Ballamy’s Food project.

Okay, I’ll shut up now.


Sus. 07.20.12 at 9:26 pm

Several of my top picks have already been mentioned: The Band, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, and Bruce Springsteen. I’m going out on a limb to suggest John Mellencamp belongs on the list – he’s adapted and matured since his “Little Pink Houses” days, and his more recent albums (for example, No Better than This) have depth and appeal that I expect will last.


Cian 07.20.12 at 9:42 pm

I’d also add that in Europe, more than the US, there is still a fairly lively ‘commercial’ scene. So for example in Britain you had the people who came out of loose tubes and the exiles from South Africa (Township Jazz, which has resulted in some amazing records). In more recent years you have people like Acoustic Ladyland who are making ‘modern’ jazz that has generated a following. I love the avant-garde stuff also, but I realise that’s not everyone’s thing.

I played violin from 4 until 20 (parents’ idea, of course), but really don’t like any of the “classical” stuff after Dvorak.

Whereas some of us cannot stand Dvorak, but might love Xenakis beyond all reason. It’s a funny old world.


JP Stormcrow 07.20.12 at 10:23 pm

In the category of musicians themselves staying fresh over a period of time rather than their music, I will say that Neil Young will almost certainly end up with the musical resumé during my lifetime that I am most “jealous” of.


yabonn 07.20.12 at 11:02 pm

Henry at 88 : around Burial on my list are : Four Tet, Pantha du Prince, Trentemoller, Chapelier Fou, Clark (the Warp thingie), Jan Jelinek, Brandt Brauer Frick, Red Snapper, Ricardo Villalobos.


Henry 07.20.12 at 11:33 pm

yabonn thanks – Four Tet and Kieran Hebden, the various works of I know, Red Snapper I’ve heard of at least, but the rest are completely new to me …


novakant 07.21.12 at 12:20 am

Some stuff not yet mentioned that I think will/should survive:

DJ Shadow, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Lali Puna, Goldfrapp, Hooverphonic, Coldcut

Stereo MC’s, Die Sterne, Sia, 10000 Maniacs, Heather Nova (early), Mazzy Star

Jason Moran, Don Byron, Kurt Elling, Jacky Terrasson, Erik Truffaz, Courtney Pine


rf 07.21.12 at 1:35 am

“I don’t include Whitney Houston, because the golden age was over by the time she came up.”

She may not be in the same bracket as Ray and Aretha et al for the songs she produced, but none of them came even close as a singer. It’s just unfortunate she sang in the same era as Mariah Carey and Celine Dion….


Sebastian 07.21.12 at 3:51 am

Holy cow that Whitney Houston isolated vocal track is amazing.

I love many of the artists mentioned here but I notice a distinct lack of hip hop and pop influences and maybe relatedly a lack of female voices, as they didn’t tend to sing so much in the punk influenced genres. While pop and hip hop genres have their candy corn examples (by the millions) they still have some excellent examples that deserve to be heard.

I agree with novakant about Goldfrapp, Mazzy Star and Heather Nova (her Oyster album really was amazing). How about Salt N Pepa? They were amazing and hold up great thirty years later. Queen Latifah has gone big screen, but her singing and rapping holds up great. TLC had songs that still suck you in, though they do have some songs that sound very dated. En Vogue could both rock and croon. Their Free Your Mind holds up great, as does Love Don’t Love You (though as I cruise the internet for it, the original version doesn’t seem to be anywhere–more of a busy extra beat version that doesn’t match the one I have at home. Actually all of their songs on Youtube sound like they were recorded off someone’s tape set or VCR). I thought that My Love (Never Gonna Get It) was going to be embarrassing when I listened to it for the first time in like 15 years, but it stood up fine.


Sebastian 07.21.12 at 4:05 am

Am I allowed to mention a current artist who I think ought to survive?

Janelle Monae: See Cold War, or Many Moons especially. She has a science fiction theme through her albums that many here might enjoy on top of her amazing voice.


Sebastian H 07.21.12 at 4:06 am

Whoops I’m sorry, didn’t mean to change my tag, that is me above.


praymont 07.21.12 at 6:09 am

Thanks, Purple Platypus (#34) for reminding me of the Pukka Orchestra. I agree with you about the Spoons. Amazing! Some other good 80’s Canadian bands: Strange Advance (esp. their song ‘Worlds Away’). Jane Sibbery was absolutely perfect. And there’s a song by the Extras for which there’s a great animated video: The song is called ‘Can’t Stand Still’. And I still like Saga — for some reason, people thought they were German. They weren’t. They were just super cool. Beyond Canada, I think some of Nina Hagen’s stuff will last. Also, Blondie and the Pretenders. I also like the Lotus Eaters. They were a British band. I heard them a few times on Toronto radio in the 80’s but it was years before I could find any recordings of their music.


js. 07.21.12 at 6:21 am

Re Phil @41:

Completely missed this earlier, but so true about the first two Eno albums. My sense is that Here Come The Jets and Another Green World get massive cred (entirely well deserved, of course), but Taking Tiger Mountain gets semi-neglected, which is practically criminal. Probably my favorite Eno album.

And of course For Your Pleasure is ridiculously good as well, as is the first the first Roxy Music.


Purple Platypus 07.21.12 at 8:24 am

praymont @ 182, I was just kicking myself earlier today for not mentioning Strange Advance in that post, so good on you for bringing them in. And I remember that Extras video well and probably still have it on a VHS tape somewhere, along with much else I mentioned in my earlier post and tons of contemporaneous non-Canadian stuff from the likes of Duran Duran, Tears For Fears, Bronski Beat (to name three I’m still fond of) and numerous others whose inclusion I am, in retrospect, far less proud of (Wham! jumps to mind).

What little Jane Sibbery I ever heard, on the other hand, I couldn’t stand.

I should add that a few years after the sort of music I mentioned above vanished without a trace, I got into prog. Floyd first, then Yes – I was also listening to Genesis by then but mostly their later, poppier stuff, which I now can’t stand, though in my defense my favorite track from Invisible Touch was always ‘The Brazillian”, then and now. (Just occurred to me that that title now has rather different connotations than it did in 1986… oh well.)

I’ll say a lot of the prog I liked then still holds up – Floyd, most Yes, some Tull, the first King Crimson album (I’ve never, then or now, liked the next three, except for bits of Lizard, and the three after that – starting with Lark’s Tongues in Aspic – I wouldn’t have liked if I’d heard them then, but dig now).

I’ve gone completely off ELP, however (totally outclassed even by some of their imitators, like Japan’s all-female Ars Nova). I went through a brief phase when Styx seemed like a good idea – not so much now. I still listen to Rush, but on the whole I don’t think nearly as highly of them as I did in my teens, and nowadays I mostly listen to neither their 70s prog nor their 80s synthpop, but the surprisingly gritty metal that dominates their albums since the mid-90s. These patterns seem to roughly correspond to what the more critical end of the prog community as a whole thinks of these three bands, except lots of people still rate some mid-70s Rush a lot more highly than I do.

People who still like most of those bands owe it to themselves to check out Porcupine Tree and Ayreon, among others. Some remarkably exciting things happened in that genre in the late 90s and throughout the 00s.


LFC 07.21.12 at 2:00 pm

This thread is mostly about pop music of one sort or another, as CB noted above, which I don’t listen to much of. But Cahokia @138 mentioned Rufus Wainwright. I’ve listened to Want One. I think ‘Dinner at Eight’ is pretty good (for what it is); my reaction to the rest of the album is, on the whole, tepid.
Surprisingly — and unless ctrl+f is wrong — no one has mentioned Stevie Wonder. How can anyone not like ‘I Wish’?


chris y 07.21.12 at 2:09 pm

While I was doing something else last night it occurred to me to wonder whether Kevin Ayres should have survived better than he has. And the other components of Soft Machine as well, of course, but Ayres was the most accessible in his solo career


LFC 07.21.12 at 2:13 pm

from the OP:

Music that has (at least sort of) survived, and that deserved to: My Bloody Valentine (obviously), The Smiths (I used not like them, preferring the Cure, whose music I now find insufferable), Pulp, Primal Scream. Music that hasn’t survived, and that ought to have – The Boo Radleys (Giant Steps), The Blue Aeroplanes (Swagger, Beatsongs), the House of Love (Babe Rainbow, their masterpiece, received startlingly bad reviews at the time).

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that not a single one of these names — My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths, The Cure, Pulp, Primal Scream, The Boo Radleys, The Blue Aeroplanes, The House of Love — means much of anything to me (except I recognize that The Boo Radleys obviously lifted their name from To Kill a Mockingbird).


David J. Littleboy 07.21.12 at 4:54 pm

“I still listen to Rush, but on the whole I don’t think nearly as highly of them as I did in my teens”

I caught them live at the New Haven Colliseum back in the 80s. I was in grad school and my then girlfriend taught French through Berlitz, and the drummer took a lesson before every show (his then wife was French Canadian and they wanted to raise the daughter bilingual), so I got to hear the sound check as well as the show. I thought the opening act “Mama’s Boys” (a long forgotten heavy-metal trio) far more interesting; Rush struck me as speaking far more to generic teenagers than us pseudointellectual snobs. But they’ve certainly lasted.

“Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion”
I used to not get them, but I play guitar in a band that backs amateur singers (doing jazz standards) once a month; live Karaoke, so to speak. The singers take lessons and rehearse with the pianist in between sessions, so it’s not as bad as one might think. One of them brought their vocal teacher along once, and she sang the livin bejesus out of a Celine Dion tune. An “Oh, that’s what they’re about” light went on. I prefer Aretha, though. Music isn’t just about chops.


Uncle Ebeneezer 07.21.12 at 5:15 pm

@Frowner: The case with jazz and classical music is a strange one. Here’s my theory. Jazz and classical music are awesome in their complexity and richness but can also be very inaccessible to many listeners. You don’t have to necessarily be knowledgable in the music theory to appreciate them (though it helps) but you definitely have to have a relatively long attention span, a high tolerance for variation, and an overall appreciation for a musical arc or narrative that gives the payoff only after a good amount of development (couple minutes.) I think that alot of people just don’t have the ears to like it.

The history of American music is odd, in that really the first mainstream music to capture the interest of the American psyche, was big-band/showtunes/jazz (the standards.) Odd because, you would expect popular music to start simple and get more complex with time, but the opposite occurred. The much simpler form of the blues (which was at the very heart, or the seed that spawned jazz) was out there early on, but I think the number of people who were aware of it or had access to it was pretty small compared to the big-band/swing music which dominated early radio. So the American listener really didn’t have many musical options outside of jazz/swing music that was, as previously mentioned, not the kind of music that appealed to people who prefer a simpler musical fix.* Rock N’ Roll changed that. When rock came out it was straight, to-the-point. Short songs. Simple melodies. I would bet that this approach stimulates a different part of the brain. I know it feels quite different to me than jazz/classical. So Rock N’ Roll effectively tapped into something that jazz/classical couldn’t, and the big surprise was that whatever it tapped into was something that FAR MORE people seemed to have. Think of it like two meals. You have a good roasted chicken that is totally yummy and healthy and a great meal. But then you have a cheeseburger! Both do the job, but the cheeseburger triggers our taste buds in ways that are far more addictive/impulsive etc. Thus, despite no drop in the quality of the roasted chicken, other forces (fast food companies etc.) realize the potential of the cheeseburger and pretty soon you have a situation where way more people are going for the quick-fix and higher stimulation meal. Jazz/classical would be the chicken, pop/rock would be the fast food. You get the idea. Anyways, that’s my theory. People don’t listen to jazz/classical as much anymore, because there are far more options than there used to be.

As far as the quality of jazz, the amount of innovation, good songwriting etc., having decreased over the years, I say “nonsense.” There are plenty of great jazz players doing very interesting stuff. Brad Mehldau, Ben Allison, Kurt Rosenwinkel, just to name a few. Covering rock songs. Experimenting with technology. Exploring other genres such as hip-hop, drum-bass. Using instruments from other cultures. I think alot of jazz listeners like to make the “nothing fresh” complaint, not realizing that a big factor in that is their own tight restrictions on what they consider to be appropriate for jazz. In other words, that they just don’t like the new stuff that people are doing.

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine (Ledocs) who raised the point about why there haven’t been many additions to the modern songbook. He suggested it was an issue of song-writing quality. I disagreed. You can read it here:

*I always have to remind myself that as much as I love it, most people do NOT listen to jazz. Some like it once in a while for a certain kindof retro vibe at a party. Some like it as background music at a restaurant. But even in a circle of friends like mine that includes alot of musicians, very few like jazz, and many actively dislike it with a passion.


Freshly Squeezed Cynic 07.21.12 at 5:18 pm

@Phil – David Byrne, an honorary Brit? He’s Dumbarton born, is he not?

I adored Funeral, Arcade Fire’s first album, but sort of drifted away from them after that.

relatedly a lack of female voices, as they didn’t tend to sing so much in the punk influenced genres

Dunno about that; post-punk especially had a lot of very good female singers: Ari Up, Poly Styrene, and Siouxsie Sioux stand out. And then there’s the whole Riot Grrl thing…


Freshly Squeezed Cynic 07.21.12 at 5:32 pm

Also seconding the Associates as criminally underrated; Billy Mackenzie’s voice was a thing of beauty, and backed up by consistently surprising, innovative and entertaining music.


LFC 07.21.12 at 5:42 pm

@ Uncle Ebeneezer

I disagree with you re classical/jazz being terribly complicated and stimulating different parts of the brain than pop, etc. Perhaps I’m wrong and too influenced by my own background/tastes, but lots of classical and jazz I think is just as accessible, if by that you mean based on fairly simple musical ideas, repetition, predictability, theme/variations, etc., as pop music. From Vivaldi to Philip Glass, a lot of classical music is just stuffed with repetition. Conversely, the Beatles, say, are quite un-simple in some of their harmonies and song structure. The divide between the genres has less to do with simplicity/complexity than you suggest. And a lot of the underlying structures are similar, as, e.g., Leonard Bernstein frequently pointed out in his musical lectures.


Hidari 07.21.12 at 5:46 pm

Another, perhaps more interesting question is, from the field of pop and rock, who is still doing interesting work, even at an ‘advanced’ age?


Hogan 07.21.12 at 5:57 pm

@189: The history of American music is odd, in that really the first mainstream music to capture the interest of the American psyche, was big-band/showtunes/jazz (the standards.)

That’s true only if you’re talking about recorded music. Before that there’s a much longer tradition of songs written specifically for DYI at home, church, tavern etc.


Neville Morley 07.21.12 at 6:23 pm

@David #188: Mama’s Boys? That brings on a really scary flashback…

@Hidari #193: Kate Bush?

@LFC #192: I agree about the irrelevance of the complexity argument, though jazz is, I think, simultaneously anti-repetition (never play the verse or chorus the same way twice) and to untrained ears rather repetitious (either no vocals at all, or often just repeating the chorus). I think the key issue may be familiarity; we now hear all sorts of varieties of pop music all the times (films, adverts, tv shows, shop music), whereas with classical (other than really bland familiar stuff) and jazz we have to learn quite deliberately how to listen to it.


LFC 07.21.12 at 7:05 pm

N Morley:
though jazz is, I think, simultaneously anti-repetition (never play the verse or chorus the same way twice) and to untrained ears rather repetitious



Hidari 07.21.12 at 7:18 pm

My votes:

Kate Bush, Mark Stewart, Paul Weller, Neil Young, possibly Lou Reed, possibly Bruce Springsteen, possibly Jah Wobble….there are many others who might qualify but I’m simply not aware of their current work…..the work well beneath the radar.

Patrik Fitzgerald anyone? T.V. Smith?

Any others that anyone knows? All the above are highly debatable, of course.


Neville Morley 07.21.12 at 7:27 pm

“All the above are highly debatable, of course.”

Indeed. Paul Weller????????


praymont 07.21.12 at 7:37 pm



Hidari 07.21.12 at 7:58 pm


Well ‘on 24 February 2010, Weller received the Godlike Genius Award at the NME Awards. His 2010 album, Wake Up the Nation, released in April, was met with critical acclaim and subsequently nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. … In May 2010 Weller was presented with the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement award.’

But it’s all subjective, innit?


ogmb 07.21.12 at 8:25 pm

Isn’t that the band that has Dave Langford’s younger brother?

To fill that glaring hole in your musical knowledge you might want to pick up Jon Langford’s Skull Orchard Revisited, which comes with a book of stories about growing up in Newport, Wales to which Dave contributed. From there, The Mekons Rock ‘n Roll is a must.


Henry 07.21.12 at 8:31 pm

To fill that glaring hole in your musical knowledge you might want to pick up Jon Langford’s Skull Orchard Revisited, which comes with a book of stories about growing up in Newport, Wales to which Dave contributed. From there, The Mekons Rock ‘n Roll is a must.

It was a joke, as I hoped the bit about twitting David Aaronovitch made clear, but it obviously fell flat …


Henry 07.21.12 at 8:36 pm

bq. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that not a single one of these names—My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths, The Cure, Pulp, Primal Scream, The Boo Radleys, The Blue Aeroplanes, The House of Love—means much of anything to me (except I recognize that The Boo Radleys obviously lifted their name from To Kill a Mockingbird).

A lot has to do with where you grew up – these are all names that would be familiar to a lot of people from the UK/Ireland, in my generation. Didn’t mention much Irish music though – Engine Alley, A House, Microdisney and Sinead O’Connor’s first album are all still worth listening to.


tomslee 07.21.12 at 9:34 pm

I suspect that almost all music that gets attention for being “extreme” ages badly, simply because it will cease to be on the cutting edge after a while.

Watching a YouTube video of the Sex Pistols makes me think “wow, that’s a pretty thin sound” and also “weren’t they just adorable?” Not the look they were going for, I think.


bob mcmanus 07.21.12 at 11:20 pm

Current playlist: Esquires, Popol Vuh, Prosper, Darwin’s Theory, Anthony Phillips, Savoy Brown, Echo & Bunnymen, Nickel Creek, Hazel Dickens, Springsteen, Joe Harriot, Silver Apples, Son Seals, Louis Smith, Sumlin Dixon Sunnyland, Bob Marley, Eels, Early Day Miners, Iron Butterfly, Free, Becky Schlegel, Aswad, Kasabian, Phoebe Snow, Low, Florence & the Machine

All the comment I can make and might speak for itself. There is almost no music that doesn’t endure with me. I’ll carry my lack of taste into the incinerator.


LFC 07.22.12 at 1:03 am

Henry @203
“a lot has to do with where you grew up…”

Fair enough. (And perhaps also when one grew up, but I’d just as soon skip over that. :))


Freshly Squeezed Cynic 07.22.12 at 1:09 am

Didn’t mention much Irish music though – Engine Alley, A House, Microdisney and Sinead O’Connor’s first album are all still worth listening to.

I am disgusted and shocked that you didn’t mention The Cranberries, Henry.


Watson Ladd 07.22.12 at 3:42 am

Or failed to: I cannot name a single band that was popular in the time of my youth, but spent it listening to King Crimson, Miles Davis, Yes, and other music that survived. But survival is a tricky thing: who here considers J.S. Bach superior to C.P.E. Bach? Yet that judgement is only commonly accepted after Mendelssohn reintroduced the music of JS Bach to audiences.

Today I think music is in a bit of a bind. The late 70’s are forever going to be the era when innovation sold. The latest Autechre album reached #124 in Britain. Insofar as survival depends on memory, the good music of today is going to need rediscovery.


Alex 07.22.12 at 4:09 am

Some who deserve to have survived:

Monster Magnet.

Habib Koite and Bamada.


Frank Zappa.

Howlin’ Wolf.



Alex 07.22.12 at 4:19 am

Oh, and sometimes I find that the “classic” album for some artists isn’t as good as another one of their albums.

e.g. In Utero beats Nevermind, Sandinista beats London Calling.

This is just my opinion of course, but it may be useful for those who aren’t so keen on the “classic” album to try a different “flavour” of the same artist if they offered it.


anon/portly 07.22.12 at 4:39 am

Re: Dave Maier at 45:

Wow, that was just about the last sentence I ever thought I’d see on this thread (it’s “Namtchylak” though). I’ll have to check out those other two names [Rokia Traore, Susheela Raman] in that sentence, which are unknown to me.

Raman was unknown to me too, but Wyatt fans (like Maier) should already know this album:


anon/portly 07.22.12 at 5:08 am

I would answer the question in 193 with the already-mentioned Young and Bush, plus Richard Thompson, Robert Wyatt and Peter Hammill. There must be more….

For 1980-era new wave, there’s the aleady-mentioned Wobble and I’d add David Sylvian and David Thomas. The only band I can think of that might actually produce something interesting and new are, oddly enough for this thread, The Mekons. They’re still good live and still very funny – see . Julian Cope is interesting as a person and critic.

Oddly enough there’s tons of 1990-era musicians who are still turning out good stuff. They seem to last a lot longer now; because there’s less money or because there’s less substance abuse or because what, I don’t know.

My last comment: hey! No one’s mentioned Elvis! Or The Owl Service.


dinosaur 07.22.12 at 5:10 am

maybe relatedly a lack of female voices, as they didn’t tend to sing so much in the punk influenced genres

The Au Pairs. Goddamn it everyone needs the Au Pairs, frequently.

Followed by X-Ray Spex/Essential Logic.

And no love yet for Throwing Muses? If I were handing out genius grants, Kristin Hersh would be first in line.


anon/portly 07.22.12 at 5:11 am

Sandinista beats London Calling

No wait, my last comment is that The Prisoner b/w White Man in Hammersmith Palais beats both.


Bill Benzon 07.22.12 at 12:06 pm

@Uncle Ebeneezer #189

“The history of American music is odd, in that really the first mainstream music to capture the interest of the American psyche, was big-band/showtunes/jazz (the standards.) ”

Um, err, There was music in America before the 20th century. Stephen Collins Foster was big in the 19th century; his tunes sold tons of sheet music. Every city, town, and hamlet had its band, and those bands played marches, excerpts from the classics, and pop tunes of all sorts.


Uncle Ebeneezer 07.22.12 at 5:06 pm

@LFC/Neville Morley- I meant to begin with a caveat that I don’t think that jazz is always more complex than pop/rock, or that there aren’t songwriter’s who write complex pop songs. Some of my favorite songwriters do just that. But I would argue on the whole that jazz is more complex if only because the vocabulary used by the artists is so much more advanced. Rock songs are typically built on major and minor chords. With a few 7’s, and dim chords sparsely used here and there for flavor. Jazz features far more diminished, augmented, 11’s, 6’s, 13’s, maj7’s, maj/min’s etc. You can see this easily by picking up a book of classic rock covers and comparing it to a Real Book of jazz standards. I forget where I read it (I think in Levitin’s “This Is Your Brain On Music”) there was an account of studies that have shown that people greatly prefer simple major and minor chords over the more complex chords. Major and minor chords tend to feel more solid and have less tension built into them. Diminished and augmented chords are unsettling and feel unresolved or off kilter. They probably somehow work the brain harder because they have more going on (just a guess.) I’ve even had numerous instances where I’ve tried sneaking in some jazzier chords into songs and had more pop/rock minded band-leaders say something like “Cut it out. We play the chords people wanna hear. Save that shit for your jazz gigs.” An arrogant statement, but there’s also some truth to it. I’ve also seen it when I play various chords for young relatives. Major and minor chords get quick reception. More complex chords get looks of discomfort or confusion. Anyways, in addition to the chords, there are also other elements like polyrhythmic approaches, odd time signatures, unpredictable key changes that I see far more often in jazz (one of the reasons I love listening to it and playing it) that I think account for my view that jazz (and classical) are far more complex genres than pop/rock.

Re: repetition, I meant to make it clear that obviously repetition is a large part of jazz as well. The typical AABA form demands it. And there are some standards (Impressions, Caravan, etc.) that are highly repetitious. But the difference, imo, between jazz and pop/rock in this regard is that jazz features repetition of a form, but then it is livened up by a melody or solo that varies and goes off on a little exploration. You rarely hear a jazz song where not only are the chords and rhythm repetitive, but so is the melody (which is not to say it never happens, but it’s generally frowned upon.) Whereas in pop/rock and especially reggae and various dance music, you can have 4+ minutes of the exact same rhythm, the exact same chords, the exact same melody all played with the simplest major or minor chords. And you have yourself a big hit!

Re: Beatles, I agree that they can have some incredibly complex (which is why I love them, and why they are very popular for jazz covers) but they also broke-through with alot of extremely catchy, simple material. I would argue that if I wanted to pick a Beatles song to represent rock/pop, that the best pick would be something closer to the “I wanna hold your hand” end of the spectrum rather than “Eleanor Rigby”, even though I greatly prefer the latter.

@Hogan/Bill Benson- Good points. I confess to not knowing a ton about pre-recorded music and 19th century popular music. I was mainly looking at the fact that the musical revolution happened to coincide with a major shift on song-writing style (Elvis, Beatles, Beach Boys etc.) Obviously changes in recording, distribution, radio, television play a large role, so it’s hard to say whether rock just got lucky by coming about when the technology was ripe for something new, or whether there was something stylistically different about rock that made it appeal to more people than whatever music had existed before. Comparing pre-recorded hymn/marching music, to phonograph-era swing, to 45’s era Elvis, to mainstream-radio rock, to internet/Itunes is obviously a challenging comparison to make due to all the differences in the availability of the music to the general public. For the record, I think of hymns and marches to be fairly simple musically (lotsa major chords, lotsa repetition) so I’m not sure how they would change my (admittedly rough) theory. Of course, with hymns you also have added complications because: are they popular because they are well-written songs, or because the church forces you to listen to them and sing them as part of your duty to God? So it’s hard to compare their popularity with their secular competitors.


Phil 07.22.12 at 5:33 pm

they also broke-through with alot of extremely catchy, simple material. I would argue that if I wanted to pick a Beatles song to represent rock/pop, that the best pick would be something closer to the “I wanna hold your hand” end of the spectrum rather than “Eleanor Rigby”

If you think “I wanna hold your hand” is simple you haven’t listened to it lately. The first ten seconds alone put the band are in a different league from their then competition. (Read Days in the life – you’ll never hear their early straightforward stuff the same way.)


Henry 07.22.12 at 6:07 pm

bq. My last comment: hey! No one’s mentioned Elvis! Or The Owl Service.

That’s the book by Alan Garner, right? Seriously, though I am excited for the next book in the Brisingamen series …


Piermont Steve 07.22.12 at 6:47 pm

Older than most of you – with my intense pop listening days from about 1965 to 80. Almost none of this music survived for me but I hear it constantly in stores, public spaces, etc. Baby boomers are trapped in an elevator with the same sound track playing over and over again. The world would be better off with a 10 year moratorium on Led Zepplin – maybe we could hear it with fresh ears after that. I was a big fan of jazz-rock fusion – a form that gave up in exhaustion while the remnants were hunted down and killed by Wynton Marsalis and his ilk to “protect” classic jazz. Occasionally I hear something from the old days that sounds okay – Steely Dan, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Velvet Underground, etc; and even some new stuff, Pixies, Jane’s Addiction, etc but I have happily switched to classical music and even opera. This is a country and I can live in and prosper for the rest of my days….


Igor Belanov 07.22.12 at 7:16 pm

Given the amount of North Americans commenting here, I’m surprised that there haven’t been any mentions of Interpol or The Walkmen yet. Or the little-known and sadly short-lived The Organ.


Bill Murray 07.22.12 at 8:58 pm

Henry @ 203

I would say when you grew up is also pretty important. I am 50 and grew up in South Dakota and have heard all the bands you named (well, excepting the first two Irish bands). At the very least, The Smiths and The Cure were quite popular in the US during the mid-80s. I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah in the late 80s and most concerts I went to had hundreds of kids that were trying to be Robert Smith.

Uncle Ebenezer @216

One thing you leave out is the prevalence of lyrics in rock for which the repetition serves as a platform for the words


tomslee 07.22.12 at 9:20 pm

the next book in the Brisingamen series

I came across this the other day, and it’s just about the best news of the year. CT seminar material?


Henry 07.22.12 at 9:27 pm

We’ve already got a backlog, but if anyone has any leads to Alan Garner, I’d be very tempted. Revisiting the Brisingamen books via something like _Thursbitch_ sounds very interesting …


David J. Littleboy 07.22.12 at 10:55 pm

“Diminished and augmented chords are unsettling and feel unresolved or off kilter.”

Well, yes. That’s the point. They drive the music forward into the next chord, which resolves that tension. Jazz (prior to modal jazz, anyway) was solidly based in functional harmony, and as such is very much the same game as classical music. The book “The Chord Scale Theory & Jazz Harmony” is recommended here (Nettles & Graf).

“there was an account of studies that have shown that people greatly prefer simple major and minor chords over the more complex chords.”

ROFL. If it’s as bad as that, it’s the sort of thing that gives psychology a bad name. The whole point of functional harmony is to build melodies over chord _progressions_ that lead your ear into the resolution. From Bach to Coltrane, it’s how Western Music works. Even Giant Steps does that (in little pieces, though; it’s interest is in the rapidly changing tonal centers in a manner that is (I think) unique to Coltrane) So the idea of “prefering major/minor chords” is, uh, doh, the whole point of functional harmony. Sigh.


David J. Littleboy 07.22.12 at 10:59 pm

By the way, Uncle Ebeneezer, sorry to seem to be jumping on you: you actually have it pretty much exactly right, leaving yourself open to obnoxious quibblers. (Another quibble: I almost fell off my chair at big band rehearsal when I first saw the chart to Michelle: harmonically, it’s a jazz standard. Those blokes were not just writing rock/folk stuff.)


gavinf 07.23.12 at 12:33 am

Hardly any mentioned of what is nowadays being called electronic dance music (EDM), of course a underground but increasingly substantial part of the music biz, but not one where the single artist album predominates – much of it is mixes of other artists. Despite being a fan for 15 odd years I struggle to think of albums that will really last – it is a genre that is all about the fresh sound and beat and to an EDM fan even 5 years ago can sound very tired, plus there are myriad subgenres where people become part of the “scene” to the exclusion of others. But there are veterans that have been in the main game and managing to stay relevant, making original albums for many years – Orbital, Sasha, John Digweed/Bedrock, Hybrid, James Zabiela.
For an excellent and entertaining view of the development of EDM and its many styles check this


Fr. 07.23.12 at 1:55 am

I’m the 1980-1985 generation and was raised on classical, King Crimson, Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt and David Sylvian, plus Underworld, Kraftwerk and electronic music later on, and then jazz and metal (which can combine very well).

If I could choose one band and make it survive forever, that would be Magma (progressive rock meets John Coltrane).

My favourite undervalued song is “The White Ship” by H.P. Lovecraft (the band; folk/prog/psych).

What you are missing if you do not dig post-1990 music:

1. Much, much more sophisticated repetitive music. If you enjoy Terry Riley or Fripp/Eno, then try out Biosphere’s “Translation” (first track on album Autour de la lune, based on Jules Vernes) and the Reich Remixed collection.

2. Ultra-weird electronic music, i.e. the true descendance of Xenakis and Stockhausen. Venetian Snares, Aphex Twin. Illbient. Favourited a decade ago: FSOL’s Dead Cities.

3. Some very, very interesting things in the metal vein. Tool and Isis (progressive), Deafheaven and Liturgy (black metal gets Ligeti), or Sunn O))) because Buddhism.


LFC 07.23.12 at 2:16 am

@Bill Murray:
I probably should have made clearer in the colloquy w/ H. that I’m ignorant of a great deal of pop music (Irish or American or whatever), for reasons that have little to do with when I grew up (b. ’57) or where. I just never got into pop/rock in a big way, though it was impossible not to absorb a bit b/c it so drenched the general environment. OTOH I played a wind instrument seriously through college so I was exposed to a lot of the classical orchestral & chamber music repertoire. (And some jazz, though that tended to be more listening than playing, though I did a bit of the latter.)

@Uncle Ebenezeer
Ok, I don’t think we are far apart on most of this.


JTERP 07.23.12 at 3:20 am

There is always great music being made. The challenge is finding it.

I like the upgrade that was recently made to’s site, which links related albums to other albums (e.g. an influential album like My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” will have a lot of other albums associated with it). It’s possible to sample the music online through YouTube, Amazon, or other streaming sites in ways that weren’t possible in the past.

Some of the “Post-Rock” bands like Explosion in the Sky, Mogwai, God is An Astronaut are doing really interesting stuff (e.g. mostly instrumental bands — their sound is somewhere between prog rock and shoe-gaze bands — a heavy emphasis on dynamic shifts).

With respect to the Metal vein — I would second the recommendation of Isis. I would also throw in a band like Pallbearer, which is a bit of a throw-back to the heavy sound of Black Sabbath — they have been getting a lot of buzz lately in connection with their debut album, which is well deserved.


prognostication 07.23.12 at 4:17 am

I am young compared even to most of the commenters other folks are calling young, but nonetheless beginning to reach an age where I am listening to more old music than new, so perhaps I can respond.

Then-contemporary things I listened to in my preteen and teen years that hold up well for me: some 90s R&B like Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” or Boyz II Men; Smashing Pumpkins prior to the initial dissolution of the band in 2000; Alice in Chains; Soundgarden; At the Drive-In; Nine Inch Nails; some of the popular 90s hip-hop like Biggie and 2-Pac. I wish I could claim I’d listened to cooler stuff at this age, but I mostly didn’t until college.

Things that have not held up well that I enjoyed at the time: pretty much any nu-metal or screamo, most Rage Against the Machine songs, most Incubus songs, Pearl Jam’s bigger hits (though I’ll defend some of the deeper cuts).

As far as more recent bands with staying power, I’ll make a few suggestions: Wilco, who continue to make great albums; St. Vincent, who has pulled off the neat trick of three consecutive albums of high quality where each is more challenging than its predecessor; Gillian Welch, rightly mentioned upthread.

All of that said, most of what I love most has never been popular and never will be, like the Red House Painters or Idaho.


Sofisten 07.23.12 at 6:07 am

Pet Shop Boys, obviously.


anon/portly 07.23.12 at 7:19 am

That’s the book by Alan Garner, right?


Brad 07.23.12 at 7:20 am

A little late, but as there was a mention of, so I had to mention KEXP (which, incidentally, is right next to WEVL on Paste’s “40 best radio stations” list) for those who want a radio station where you can hear tons of great new and esoteric stuff interspersed with the occasional “classic” track. Technically a service of the University of Washington (though operated independently), so commercials consist of things like “KEXP is supported by .”

First station in the country to effectively stream music, huge archive of every in-studio ever done, and absolutely amazing DJs. Evenings and weekends are genre shows, mornings and afternoons are more general (rock oriented), and if you’re not on the west coast you get to listen to the morning show without getting up at 6am, which is simply amazing.


CB 07.23.12 at 8:14 am

FWIW I teach high school students and often ask about the favorite songs they have listened to the most in life. Recently a pigtailed 16 year old girl said her all time favorite was definitely Over The Hills and Far Away by Led Zeppelin! Other students favorites included some Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, quite a few Beatles songs and even Creedence Clearwater Revival. Ancient music BEFORE their parents were in high school. So those appear to have some (generation skipping) staying power.


mrearl 07.23.12 at 3:18 pm

The Bo Diddley Beat has demonstrated a high survival quotient.


B S 07.23.12 at 3:25 pm

There’s basically only one thing I need say:

Give it a few hours and you will understand why I sent you there, fellow music lovers.


Hogan 07.23.12 at 3:54 pm

Uncle Ebenezer @216: “Of course, with hymns you also have added complications because: are they popular because they are well-written songs, or because the church forces you to listen to them and sing them as part of your duty to God?”

I can tell you this: back when I was trailing clouds of glory I attended mass in the post-Vatican II era. The hymns were a mix of old-school Bach and Anglican/Methodist, and newer stuff being written by mod Jesuits in St. Louis. I can still give you multiple verses of Faith of Our Fathers or Jesus Christ is Risen Today, but I can’t even remember the titles of the mod Jesuit stuff.


Bradley Gardner 07.23.12 at 5:38 pm

Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel and Joanna Newsome are far and away the best songwriters of the past 20 years. Xiu Xiu, who are actually from my home town, are also reliably good.

But why listen to anything modern when you can listen to Bukka White, Skip James, Tommy Johnson, and Dock Boggs.


anon/portly 07.23.12 at 6:22 pm

A little late, but as there was a mention of, so I had to mention KEXP …. huge archive of every in-studio ever done

Not just the “live in-studio” things but many special (/short) concerts also. There’s some real gold there.

Technically a service of the University of Washington (though operated independently),

Every time you listen, Paul Allen acquires a little tiny piece of your soul.


Rich (in name only) in Reno 07.24.12 at 12:36 am

I’m pushing sixty, so maybe it’s no surprise that I didn’t recognize a single name on Henry’s list.

I had pretty catholic tastes in Rock music when I first got into it in the mid-sixties, and listened to The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, Cream, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix. Four things threw me off the rails way back when; 1) hearing “Seven Ate Sweet” by the Kaleidoscope on KMPX, 2) hearing Captain Beefheart sing “Electricity” on the same station, and later “Willie the Pimp” on Zappa’s “Hot Rats” album, 3) finding a cassette of African Soucous that my ex’s second husband had left behind, and 4) hearing Khaled sing “Chebba” (Safy Boutella produced version) on KPFA.

I went running off into the bush and never came back. Latest weakness: London Club Mix Bhangra.


NAH 07.24.12 at 3:12 am

I would say, don’t despair. As someone of a presumably similar vintage and taste, and who went through some dark musical times in terms of hope, I’ve come around to the view that we are currently in a golden age of indie music.

Current artists responsible for this welcomed view include:

Beachhouse, Burial, Cut Copy, Deerhunter/Atlas Sound, Gold Panda, Kurt Vile, Pantha Du Prince, Radio Dept, Soft Moon, Twin Shadow, Ty Segall, Wild Nothing

Things that have stood the test of time for me:

Aphex Twin (more significant than Kraftwerk now), Chameleons, Cocteau Twins, MBV, Talking Heads

(Wake up Boo!, and Everything is Alright Forever for that matter, are much better than Giant Steps, which marked the end of my time with the Radleys (who don’t stand the test of time, as don’t Primal Scream, or really much of ‘brit pop’).


Fr. 07.24.12 at 3:05 pm

Some of the ‘Post-Rock’ bands like Explosion in the Sky, Mogwai, God is An Astronaut are doing really interesting stuff (e.g. mostly instrumental bands—their sound is somewhere between prog rock and shoe-gaze bands—a heavy emphasis on dynamic shifts).

I’ll second that and add my favourite in that strand: Tortoise.


Benj D. 07.24.12 at 4:54 pm

Folks interested in how pop music “may exist in its time justly” might dig Charles O’Brien’s “At Ease in Azania.” …O’Brien’s piece begins with a critique of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” but it rock and rolls back to the 60s (before returning to the Motherland). It takes in the Stones and Aretha, bringing home how/why their best stuff amounted to pop’s peak…

O’Brien’s essay was first published more than 20 years ago in an obscure – now defunct – journal. But it had an influence – (Greil Marcus picked up on it right away.) You can detect the essay’s effect in writing done over the last generation on bebop, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, and the Rolling Stones. O’Brien’s piece is politically aware but not p.c. – O’Brien is a musician himself – always HATED the leftish tendency to pump up the salience of lyric sheets over SOUND – He’d take Abba in a hot second over the Clash (though he shouted the lyric of “I’m So Bored with the USA ” in my ear during their first show in NYC ) – ((and a great show it was – though not better than Bonds!)) (((or the Stones in a Tent full of Mormons in Salt Lake city in the summer of 66)))).

New music: – Kathleen Edwards – though her new album “Voyageur” isn’t up to her first or third – Arcade Fire, Frank Ocean’s “Nostalgia Ultra” – Yeezy Taught Me… And since I just saw themn in the Park Sunday – Benin’s “Orchestre Poly-Rythmo” – one of those classic Afro-pop bands of the 70s and 80s that defy time…


Platonist 07.24.12 at 6:17 pm

Agreed: it’s a golden age for indie. From the last decade: Sigur Ros, Sufjan Stevens, Interpol, Beirut, the National, TV on the Radio and the early Canadian invasion–New Pornographers, Metric, The Dears, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Final Fantasy.

More recently, I agree that Twin Shadow is a good one–worth a listen for those into vintage 80s electronic (hints of everything from New Order to Phil Collins). Chairlift, Stars, and Destroyer also draw on that territory very well.

A few mentioned Bob Mould and Sugar. The Menzingers’ recent album remind me of them, and of other bands from the early 90s (The Connells, Social Distortion).

And fans of My Bloody Valentine and showcase might like Pains of Being Pure at Heart and The Horrors.

Any other good ‘similar to’ recommendations for those looking to discover more recent music?


N/A 07.24.12 at 7:37 pm

This was a funny and unexpected thread… A bunch of presumably older people expressing an affinity for contemp “indie” music most likely as an attempt to stay current and/or relevant… Contemporary indie music isn’t that exciting. Its largely formulaic like any other pop. genre. Also given the unchanged nature of rock instruments and gear the music all sounds the same. What we see know is not the “golden age of indie music” but rather its professionalization. The musicians know are younger, well trained, pros who excel at mimicry.


Salient 07.25.12 at 12:17 am

Sherman Hemsley died today. Relevant to this thread because in addition to famously expressing his enthusiasm^1^ for Yes, Gentle Giant, Nektar, and Gong at various points in his career, etc, he was a jazz player himself in the ’60s and became somewhat of a surprise early 90s funk star. Actually The Jeffersons might have been the first show to play a prog rock song during an episode, I think? Not sure how to check that though. Hemsley’s epic funk-prog-spacerock-godonlyknowswhatelse collaboration Festival of Dreams and his glorious spontaneous exaltation of Gentle Giant in an interview to Dinah Shore both appear to be lost to history, or at least not readily LMGTFY-accessible.

^1^for anyone else this would mean “praised in passing in an interview”; for Hemsley, this additionally meant stuff like “locate, contact, and pester a member of Gong and offer to fly them halfway around the world, just because, then buy ’em plane tickets not only to fly to meet him in Hollywood, but also to take an extended stay in Jamaica just because the band member and his girlfriend mentioned they wanted to spend some time there”


dana 07.25.12 at 2:14 am

the 6ths “wasp’s nest”


Platonist 07.25.12 at 12:34 pm

dana, great link! I’ll have to look them up. I know Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs, but don’t know any of the spin-offs and relatives.

And the vocalist’s voice reminded me of another band that deserves to survive: Yo La Tengo.


Phil 07.25.12 at 1:58 pm

+several to Stephin Merritt (Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, other projects). I wish he didn’t give so many of his songs to other vocalists – he has the perfect voice for his songs. He also has a bad habit – which is so consistent that I assume he thinks of it as a good habit – of ending a song when its point has been made; even some of his greatest songs could be improved by one more chorus. On the other hand, some of his greatest songs are very great indeed.


xkcd 386 07.25.12 at 7:27 pm

Pushing 250 now, and I counted only 1, maybe two commenters not mentioning exclusively bands or singer using English. Chikamatsu , I would bet dollars on the pennies you grew somewhere else than in the US, Uk or Oz.

I know it now, from many such threads on other sites, but I am still baffled how you English mother speaker are cut from the rest of the world. And seriously and self-uncousciously discussing if some obscure garage band was unjustly forgotten, when you ignore hugely talented and proven foreign artists…

Hoping the future is different, one can cross now a few of american commenters on Youtube under “foreign language” videos.
And maybe the hispanic demography factor in the US will do something for your ears starting accepting a song not in your mothertongue.


Platonist 07.26.12 at 4:27 am

xkcd, you’re right, but do you have any recommendations?

How about some French? Serge Gainsbourg, Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf, Juliette Greco, Francoise Hardy. I don’t know much beyond English and French. There’s Os Mutantes. Anton Carlos Jobim and Joao and Astrud Gilberto. From Iceland, Sugarcubes and (again) Sigur Ros. I don’t know what else. Ofra Haza? I think someone already mentioned Neu! (or Can or Faust?). Shonen Knife. Oh, I don’t know. Does Esquivel count?


There’s plenty of formulaic indie, but it’s no more or less formulaic than any other musical genre–and that includes sacred cows like classical and jazz. No formula would be sound, not music. The unchanged nature of rock instruments–again, is this different in other genres? Pianos? Violins? Trumpets? Rock instruments are much more varied with technology and time than other styles.

You also claim that indie has been professionalized. This is a strange claim. Technology and commercialization have led to the opposite (for better and worse): many “next big thing” indie stars are so on the basis of one song posted online, or an album put together in the bedroom on a laptop. And since when is “well trained” characteristic of indie or pop music? I’d think music today is more vulnerable to the opposite criticism: too little training, too sporadic, incomplete, and eclectic knowledge of music and musical history.

Out of curiosity, when you criticize contemporary ‘indie’ for being unexciting and formulaic, what do you contrast it to? What era or genre or both, what musicians, are your gold standard? What is your ‘golden age’?


xkcd 386 07.26.12 at 9:28 am

Ok platonist, I’ll try to be of help.
However, I am not really the right person, never been deeply into music listening. I mostly let the radio on in the background, I cannot stay more than 10mn listening Music without doing something else.

So in this spirit, my suggestion would be to find some internet radio outside of the English sphere, and to start from there.
first example for French Musicand beyond (including some English artists ;-):
I like it, because it is public – no nada niente commercials nor lobbying from big labels for the last hyped artist on tour- , 95% of the time music playing (the rest being 2 minutes news every hour and some live concert) , and not limiting itself to a style or a period.

Unfortunately I do not have found an equivalent for other popular music cultures I would know (german/English/Italian) ; not to speak for the one I do not know (slavophone, lusophone, asian…)

Let see if crooked timber may help?


dave heasman 07.26.12 at 11:06 am

I guess it is the music of one’s teens and early 20s that resonates still; in my case it started with the rock n roll instrumental. First LP I bought was Duane Eddy’s “Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel” and I last played it last week. Played “The Twang’s the Thang” then, too.
Being at boarding school meant that one could take risks buying records; the pile was more-or-less communal, so for every dodgy single from the junkshop there was Jimmy Reed’s “caress Me Baby” or these two instrumentals. Have them on 45 still, play em as MP3s all the time –

I still listen to Buddy Holly, early Elvis, Everly Bros, bit of Ray Charles pre-1961. Not so much James Brown or Motown these days, though.

In 1962 came a bit of a breakthrough – a weekday after-school radio program called “Salut Les Copains”. Played American records before they came out in England, “Green Onions” I recall, and Matt Lucas’ “I’m Movin’ On”, Barbara Lynn’s “Second Fiddle Girl”, later covered with French lyrics by Petula Clark and not bad at all, and also played lots of French pop. Some of which, astonishingly, I thought pretty good. Francoise Hardy, Hugues Aufray, Eddy Mitchell. (I saw a Lucky Blondo CD the other day – can’t imagine anyone ever bought his stuff.)

I could go on; I played a King Oliver record yesterday, and have to mention the first 2 LPs by Yes, the first 4 by Spirit, Steely Dan from “Countdown” to “Royal Scam” – still play ’em, can anyone really say they’re ephemeral?

Like people still play Mozart & Monteverdi I feel there’s a “continuous present” in music, and I’m not sure about Sturgeon’s Law any more.


dave heasman 07.26.12 at 12:08 pm

tomslee – “Watching a YouTube video of the Sex Pistols makes me think “wow, that’s a pretty thin sound” ”

Hmm. I saw them once, while Matlock was in the band, and thought the rhythm section was almost as good as Entwistle/Moon. Didn’t think so much of the other two.


gavinf 07.27.12 at 3:00 am

@ 250 indeed, there is much not in English to be discovered. To whit, Japan’s incomparable Boris, featuring in addition that rare creatures, the chick leader guitarist:

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