Music Monday: Discovering New Music

I’ve been really bored with my music lately.  A lot of my library is old and dated and I honestly only listen to about 1/3 of it.  But even my favorite third is getting kinda old.  Updating my iPod really made me think about how hard it is for me to “discover” music on my own.  I really need other people (and-to a lesser extent–the Internet) to introduce me to new bands.  My musical tastes have mostly been shaped by:

  • Family— There’s no way I’d have such an affinity for old school country music if it wasn’t for my family.  I grew up on Don Williams, Kenny Rogers, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and, yes– The Oak Ridge Boys.  My mom also liked Air Supply and James Taylor and The Commodores, so I have a bit of a soft spot for these artists as well. 
    My biggest influence, however, is my brother.  Growing up, he’d “discover” some new band and force me to listen to it.   His latest musical obsession was always thrust upon me until it became my latest musical obsession.  It didn’t always work out that way (I’ll never quite get Pink Floyd, for example) but my brother introduced me to some of my very favorite artists including Black Sabbath, Green Day, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Prine, They Might Be Giants, and The Who as well as recent additions Cross Canadian Ragweed, Old Crow Medicine Show, Todd Snider, and Backyard Tire Fire. (It’s also the reason I still know all the words to Weird Al Yankovic‘s Fat album, but we won’t go there.)

  • Friends–  A quick glance through my iTunes reveals a number of different genres of music, and I can pinpoint with a great deal of accuracy who I was hanging out with or dating at the time.   There’s Nirvana and Dr. Dre from high school, the Lilith Fair-esq girl power from my early college days (Jewel, Sarah McLachlan,  Tori Amos, Tracy Chapman), the “hippie” music from a guy I dated in college (Widespread Panic, Phish, Dave Matthews Band), college rock favorites from when I worked at the campus radio station (Stroke 9, Ani DiFranco), a bunch of blues and heavy metal from a former boyfriend (Eric Clapton’s From the Cradle is an amazing album of blues covers and Zakk Wylde’s Book of Shadows is one of the deepest heavy metal records I’ve ever heard), some R&B (R.Kelly, Brian McKnight) and a TON of *really cheesy shit* I like to listen to with my girlfriends.  
  • The Internet— To be honest, I don’t listen to the radio much.  And I stopped watching MTV when they stopped showing videos, so I’m usually a bit behind when it comes to new music.  I rely mostly on iTunes and mySpace to tell me what’s “hot” as far as Top 40/Pop music is concerned (yeah, I like it… and I’m not ashamed to admit it!).  But when I’m looking for something out of the ordinary it’s a bit harder. I might hear a band on someone’s mySpace page and listen to their other tracks, or I might read about a band on a blog and check them out.
    Lately, I’ve been listening to the Pop Candy podcasts for new music.  They’re usually about 20 minutes long, which just happens to be the length of my commute.  Although I’ve found some great artists (Hays CarllOkkervil River, The Whigs), some of Whitney’s suggestions are a little too “modern rock” for me.  That is, they sound like bad rip offs of The Beatles/The Rolling Stones/The Who.  And all the “new” punk music sounds like a watered-down version of the Sex Pistols.

So, how do you  discover new music?  And who are some bands I should check out?  I’m really in need of an iPod overhaul.


6 responses to “Music Monday: Discovering New Music

  1. Well, tag-mistress, we definitely need to do some forced loaning. I’m starting to see some areas of overlap…including a planned blog on the newish Okkervil River…

  2. Oh, yeah– I should have been clearer. I’m not just looking for NEW bands… just “new to me”

  3. There’s an NPR show/podcast called All Songs Considered that’s really good. I also read, and then follow up with listening to tracks from the bands’ myspace pages. Mostly I rely on music-geek friends, including Arun, who suggest albums or live shows to check out. My friend Sally just made me a iTunes mix with a bunch of interesting stuff on it.

    If you like a little bit of a country vibe, you might like Wilco or Neko Case. Neko Case is also in the New Pornographers, who I love.

    Stuff that I’m listening to a lot of right now:
    LCD Soundsystem, MIA, The Knife, The Walkmen, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, Kimya Dawson, St. Vincent, & The Hold Steady.

    I’ve also been going back and rediscovering old Fugazi, REM, & Ben Harper lately. :)

  4. Jane– Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll definitely have to check out that podcast. Maybe I just need more music-geek friends!

    I do like Wilco and Scott is going to force loan me some Neko Case, so those are right up my alley.

    I’ve been in love with Kimya Dawson since Juno and I love both REM and Ben Harper.

    I’ve heard lots of rave reviews about some of the other bands you mention, so I’ll definitely check them out! Thanks!

  5. I have recently decided to support a lot of local music. I try to go see local acts as often as I can (I’m a big fan of the Iron Post and Canopy Club) and buy their music to support them too. A friend of mine has had two bands – Synesthesia and Ambitious Pie Party. I had a great time seeing them at Nargile. You and I have talked about Bottle of Justus before – they are “local” from Bloomington. On a personal note, I love to watch New Twang City play, often at Hubers. This past weekend, I heard the Feuding Hillbillies. I hope to see them again soon! So, my suggestion is to find some great local acts and add them to your playlists!

  6. Thanks, Lisa– Local music is near and dear to my heart, too… thanks for reminding me.

    I saw FH this weekend too :) BOJ was at Highdive (or maybe Canopy) a couple weekends ago, but I missed them.

    There are actually a few bands I’m wanting to see at the Canopy Club coming up… including Cross Canadian Ragweed and Girl Talk. Usually finding someone to go with on a random weeknight is the hardest part.

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