Why do we listen to new music?
April 12, 2020 11:06 PM   Subscribe

Listening to new music is hard. Not hard compared to going to space or war, but hard compared to listening to music we already know. [...] Eventually, we bow our heads and cross a threshold where most music becomes something to remember rather than something to experience. And now, on top of everything else, here we all are, crawling through this tar pit of panic and dread, trying to heft some new music through historic gravity into our lives. It feels like lifting a couch. Why Do We Even Listen to New Music? -- Our brains reward us for seeking out what we already know. So why should we reach to listen to something we don’t? (Pitchfork long read)

The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should) (Alan Henry and Rebecca Fishbein for Lifehacker)
Routines can be stable and comforting, but they can also turn stale and confining over time. All those inspirational messages telling you to break out of your comfort zone aren’t just trying to sell you bungee cords. Doing something new and potentially frightening helps stave off burnout and is good for your brain. Still, it’s pretty hard to shake yourself out of a routine, and there’s plenty of science explaining why—and how to do it.
Similar, but different: music psychology, a long article on Wikipedia.
posted by filthy light thief (83 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
I can't relate. "New" to me is "1990"
posted by Italian Radio at 11:37 PM on April 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

Aren't our musical tastes weird?

I'm old. The only new music I hear is when something comes up on my car's streaming, or from my kids. But, I've heard new music from old bands that I've never heard before, and some of them stick. It's an interesting phenomenon.
posted by Windopaene at 11:38 PM on April 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm looking for new music that fits seamlessly into the existing family while bringing something new to the table, like when someone marries someone good.
posted by bleep at 11:41 PM on April 12, 2020 [29 favorites]

I haven't left the novelty seeking stage for music yet, and still regularly get into new-to-me stuff in my mid thirties. It's telling that I often buy tickets to shows for touring bands I've never seen and would like to see and then due to job/kids don't have time or energy to actually make it to the show. On the other hand I basically never make time anymore to watch a show or movie that isn't a Star War, so I've got lots of room for novelty in other areas of my life, I guess.
posted by potrzebie at 11:42 PM on April 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Finding new music is not a problem for me. The problem is understanding it.
posted by solarion at 11:53 PM on April 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

When I hear something new-to-me, and it's something I really enjoy, it's a wonderful experience, like welcoming a new companion into my life. If I hear something that ends up on my "these are the songs I will listen to all the time" list (currently over 500 songs), it's even better, a travelling companion, a window into the mood I felt when I discovered the song, a passageway back to when I went, hey, wow, this is good.

The problem for me, at least, is that most of the music that I find that puts me in that mindset, while new to me, is almost always something that was recorded during my most music-seeking years, roughly early 90s to roughly 2012-14. I'm sure there's a solid explanation about that, but on the other hand, I have very much entered the state of middle aged where not only do I not know the songs that are popular aside from people talking about them, when I finally hear the songs people are raving about, I just can't see them as all that enjoyable, with few exceptions.

Also, I'm a luddite, and have no streaming service. Seeking out new music requires steps and effort, and the urge to do so is not high on the list of priorities.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll just go back and listen my Lawrence Arms mix for the thousandth time.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:58 PM on April 12, 2020 [6 favorites]

If anyone wants to practice listening to some new music and get their brain doing some cool shit as described in the article, I'm just gonna put links to two songs released in 2013 by a virtually unknown and probably now defunct Swedish indie-pop band which I don't think I can spin an actual FPP out of:

A Hint (the best song I heard last year)
We Came Out of Our Hiding
posted by Panthalassa at 12:05 AM on April 13, 2020 [6 favorites]

I've no real problem with finding and liking new (to me) artists, but the genres/subgenres I gravitate toward are pretty calcified.
posted by juv3nal at 12:12 AM on April 13, 2020 [11 favorites]

I knew I was old when I realised every album I owned had been released before 1997, except one - and even that didn't really count.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 1:02 AM on April 13, 2020

My bands get 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it!
posted by thelonius at 1:23 AM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

The article talks about this as an individual thing but I think a big problem right now is this whole Zeitgeist we've got going on that holds late-60s-early-70s to be somehow the pinnacle of musical achievement. When I was in high school in the late 90s, we had the kid -- I think everyone's high school had this kid -- who only listened to Zeppelin. And it's like, that's cool, Zeppelin did some cool stuff, but there's other music out there you know.

I haven't kept in touch with that kid but my friends have offspring nearing that age and they'll gloat, thinking it's cool that "[my kid] doesn't listen to new music because he thinks it sucks. He just listens to Hendrix and Dylan". And I just feel bad for that kid's peers, some of whom are doubtless in bands or equipped with heretofore unimaginable digital production facilities and doing really cool stuff but instead of supporting them all your kid wants to do is throw money (or whatever the modern equivalent is before it turns into actual money, spotify listens or whatever) into some nameless corporate coffers for the privilege of peering into their ossuary and listening to some tape that was laid down 50 years ago.

I'm enamored of the Scandinavian mentality -- not unlike the Japanese approach to architecture -- wherein it's recognized that choosing to venerate old stuff comes at direct cultural and economic cost to a workforce capable of making new stuff, and which prefers to nourish and sustain the latter. And then I come back to the US where there's a significant contingent of people for whom no day is complete without hearing Freebird three times straight through and it makes me want to fucking die.
posted by 7segment at 1:24 AM on April 13, 2020 [39 favorites]

And yet IKEA chairs still cause lower back pain after sitting in them for ten minutes.
posted by darksasami at 1:32 AM on April 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

hearing Freebird three times straight through

The worst thing about the classic rock radio format is that it was made by Sauron in mockery of actual boomer FM AOR, where you had DJs at least attempting to expose listeners to deep cuts or even obscure albums....in classic rock radio, even a band like the Stones is reduced to about 5 songs, in perpetual rotation.
posted by thelonius at 1:39 AM on April 13, 2020 [36 favorites]

The article also serves for as good an explanation as any for why Joe Biden as well. People like the comfort and ease that comes with the familiar and not being challenged by something new and different.

The article could have maybe gone into a little more depth over the idea of "the new" as the use of The Rite of Spring as an example suggests something a bit more involved than hearing a "new" song from a familiar artist or even an unfamiliar artist who is makes use of similar patterns to those one is familiar with. People enjoy minor variations on the familiar, as that keeps it feeling fresh enough to seem new without actually challenging them to fully engage with the work in order to try to understand what it is "saying" that is different and why. Music, like all the arts, is a form of communication and denying the new is to avoid engagement with ideas or concepts one hasn't already digested as natural, as the way things are supposed to work according to one's own history of consumption.

It isn't really all that difficult to find interest in the new if one is willing to let go of attachment to the old and familiar and attend to what is being "said" by artists/musicians approaching the world through a different form because the old ones are no longer suitable for them as they are limited by their ties to a history that isn't that of the creator of the work. That's why the arts are constantly in flux and ever changing. There can't be a "right way" to make music because making music or any art necessarily means considering what came before and challenging it. That may mean accepting some elements of the old while trying to give them a different kind of meaning or life, or in rejecting the familiar for something more radically new.

That latter is the more difficult of course and in our times it is complicated by a history of art that has come to accept pretty much anything, in theory, as potentially being art worthy, making it much harder to say something "new" that can speak to both the "elites" in the art world and the general public that is increasingly distant from that world. Which isn't to say the art world doesn't have its own banality of pattern repetition, just that it takes a different form than the popular arts and has more room for challenge in the best of circumstances.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:54 AM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Perhaps people start to gradually lose their hearing and prefer their old favorite songs, because their mind can fill in the blanks.
posted by Beholder at 1:56 AM on April 13, 2020 [11 favorites]

To me music is like any art form: appreciate the classics, but also seek out new forms that riff off their predecessors or disrupt them in interesting ways, whether it be due to exploring a new technology, mixing together disparate genres, sheer creative willpower, or some combination thereof. And much like The Rite of Spring mentioned in the OP, there is a wealth of innovators and disrupters from the past who are a joy to go back and understand even though we came long after.

Some of my favorite "classic" innovators. I could name more but many of them are such household names now:
The Monks - Monk Chant (Proto-punk by a bunch of Army dudes in Germany)
Raymond Scott - Night and Day (early synth music pioneer)

In terms of modern experimental/progressive/avant garde music there's a lot to choose from. I've really enjoyed Ohmme's mix of creative harmonizing vocals and total wailing on two guitars that feels like a mix of QoTSA and 2009-era Dirty Projectors. There's the PC Music-type electronic stuff (a la Oneohtrix Point Never, who recently scored Uncut Gems) that's inspired even newer strange dark bubblegum music like SOPHIE or 100 gecs. You've got people combining YouTuber DIY vibes with big band jazz and funk like Louis Cole (song includes a Rite of Spring riff. also don't sleep on his wacky jazz metal side project ClownCore). There's frenetic "wonky" electronic music from Iglooghost or Dorian Concept. You've got your ragefilled apocalypse industrial rapcore like Death Grips . There's progressive classical/orchestral stuff like what Anna Meredith is up to.

And despite all the riffing and innovation, it can also be a joy to see a thing similar to what you've heard before executed well. There's too much good music out there.

Can't recommend Bandcamp enough as a way to support new and interesting artists, and you can still buy CD/vinyl there for most releases.
posted by JauntyFedora at 2:08 AM on April 13, 2020 [15 favorites]

The first link reminds us that members of the audience for the Premiere of Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' threw vegetables at the orchestra and dancers to show their displeasure. My suspicion is that that in 1913 Paris - as now - there were no vegetable vendors in the concert hall. So people expecting to demonstrate their apparently spontaneous outrage - would have had to plan well in advance. That aspect of human behaviour: not only being closed to new experiences but taking pleasure in that very act of being closed - is one that is still very much present.
posted by rongorongo at 2:47 AM on April 13, 2020 [8 favorites]

What gets mw is that Spotify, who has access to EVERYTHING, still replicates the awful repetition of radio by only playing a handful of songs from any musician and by somehow driving whatever genre I start a song radio from into the same genre of music i generally like but don't want to listen to ALL THE TIME.

(and for some reason thinking I want to hear the same three Frank Zappa songs even though I fast forward every single time they come on)
posted by kokaku at 3:22 AM on April 13, 2020 [14 favorites]

When I was a senior in High School I noticed that everybody stopped listening to new music in their 30s and promised myself I'd never be one of those people. I'm 50 now and I've kept to that, but it is a challenge.

Sometimes I just make myself listen to new stuff. It helps that I'm a musician, so part of it is wanting to see what people can do with the same synthesizers I have.

Some of the "new stuff" very quickly becomes "old stuff" -- like only one or two listens. Others never catch on.

It's constantly frustrating when other members of my generation insist on listening to non-stop 80s music (or worse, Zeppelin and the like, which were before our time) and when they ask me what I listen to I play them some Liquid Drum & Bass or Psytrance and they get confused.

I will admit my "new music" playlist has a threshold of 10-years-old or newer, though...
posted by mmoncur at 4:09 AM on April 13, 2020 [8 favorites]

That aspect of human behaviour: not only being closed to new experiences but taking pleasure in that very act of being closed - is one that is still very much present.

I suspect there is an element of exaggeration in the account of vegetables being thrown, some people I'm sure would bring in food to eat during a performance, but a full scale veggie riot seems doubtful. But your larger point has merit. It's easier and, to some degree, safer, to hold to an anti-aesthetic, mock things that are strange and outside the norm rather than risk the consequences of making a value statement that could put you at odds with the majority. The status quo is always difficult to break from.

Thankfully, one element of the internet era is that the status quo in music is much harder to locate, so it seems like young people aren't as readily caught up in trying to defend that turf. The downside is of course that they also aren't as likely to have shared aesthetic experiences of mass audience that leads towards a kind of community of era, but given how that kind of community has worked out in the past, who and what values it excludes, that might not be much of a price to pay at all.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:14 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

What gets mw is that Spotify, who has access to EVERYTHING, still replicates the awful repetition of radio by only playing a handful of songs from any musician and by somehow driving whatever genre I start a song radio from into the same genre of music i generally like but don't want to listen to ALL THE TIME.

No! Spotify is wonderful if you only listen to "Your release radar" and make an effort to actually like some of the songs once in a while. For instance, if you like some spoken word album then Spotify will start to throw Hip-Hop and Jazz at you and if you like some of that they will continue to share even more stuff with you...

Even better, since the Spotify recommendation algorithm is stupid name based, lets say you listened to brit-pop band Ride, then Spotify in its stupidity will put singles of some small Japanese hip-hop band with the same name in your playlists.

Listening to "Artists radio" and liking new stuff is also good but the main point is that if all you like is the same 3 Zappa songs then that is all Spotify will play for you will all be a very slight variation of these 3 songs
posted by uandt at 4:18 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm 48 and love seeking out new music -- just not new pop music.

I think it helps that I have eclectic tastes. When I was a kid in high school in the late 80s I was into electronic music, classical and started to get into jazz before I was that much into pop. In college I listened to pop radio but also got into industrial, darkwave, big beat, and Celtic and Scandanavian folk... then goth, IDM, chiptune, dubstep for a while, powernoise, post-punk, synthwave, and [whatever the heck you call bands like Belief Defect, SHXCXCHCXSH, and Shifted]. And I'm very much into "angrient" but there's not enough of it out there. New pop though is hard for me to like.
posted by Foosnark at 4:36 AM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

I just want a station that plays nothing but the songs I hear at Kroger Grocery. Yes, I'm serious.
posted by Beholder at 4:43 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Not Kroger, but try Coles Radio- Coles is an Australian supermarket.
posted by freethefeet at 4:47 AM on April 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

I can't relate. I almost always listen to new (to me) music. With access to so much music these days from all over the world, there's almost no need to even hear the same song twice. Once in a way I listen to old familiar stuff out of nostalgia, but generally the music I play daily is a continual process of discovery.
posted by dhruva at 5:03 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

When a specific sound maps onto a pattern, our brain releases a corresponding amount of dopamine, the main chemical source of some of our most intense emotions.

What this misses, probably due to the ongoing popular misunderstanding of the role of dopamine in the brain, is that what dopamine primarily does here is modulate salience, which is to say the process of identifying stimuli as distinctive and in need of attention. We experience familiar things as more salient, but the most salient things are unfamiliar things that force themselves upon our attention to themselves in some way. It wasn't just the unfamiliarity of The Rite of Spring that provoked such a response, but the social context of the premiere (predisposing the audience to salience) and the specific ways that the piece of music signifies salience. A piece that was unfamiliar, but unanticipated and bland, would not have provoked the same reaction. But the things that people actually chose to do cannot be understood solely in neurochemical terms. Dopamine is critically involved, but reducing the incredibly complicated (and currently very poorly understood) way that neurotransmitters/neuromodulators function in the brain to the idea that we're just looking for the "perfect dopamine lift" is actually pretty misleading.

Speaking of misleading, I'm also not convinced a 2007 book by Jonah Lehrer (noting both the very significant advances in our understanding of the brain in the last 13 years and that this was period before Lehrer got caught being a lying hack) is really a great source to rely on.
posted by howfar at 5:19 AM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Convinced there is another species that walks the earth that looks just like me but has a brain that works in completely different ways and this article reinforces it further.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:54 AM on April 13, 2020

What gets mw is that Spotify, who has access to EVERYTHING, still replicates the awful repetition of radio by only playing a handful of songs from any musician and by somehow driving whatever genre I start a song radio from into the same genre of music i generally like but don't want to listen to ALL THE TIME.
I sometimes really regret switching from Pandora to Spotify as my music platform of choice. I listened to a lot of new music through Pandora because something about that Music Genome Project or whatever it is that was behind their suggestions really was good at finding what it was about a song that made it a favorite and suggesting new songs along those lines. Whereas Spotify's algorithm, for all its data, is stupider - very stuck in genre and bad at helping me branch out.
posted by peacheater at 6:14 AM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Our brains reward us for seeking out what we already know.

Our brains also reward us for solving new problems and exploring unknown places.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:25 AM on April 13, 2020 [11 favorites]

The act of listening to new music in the midst of a global pandemic is hard, but it’s necessary. The world will keep spinning and culture must move with it, even if we are staid and static in our homes, even if the economy grinds to a halt, even if there are no shows, no release parties, and even artists sink even further into the precarity that defines a career as a musician. The choice to listen to new music prioritizes, if for one listen only, the artist over you. It is an emotional risk to live for a moment in the abyss of someone else’s world, but this invisible exchange powers the vanguard of art, even in times of historic inertia.

I'm 50, and bouncing around the Web to find new sounds is one of my hobbies. I troll some of the MP3 blogs that still exist, Spotify, Bandcamp, Hype Machine, and all sorts of other things to try to get new (at least to me) music that I might enjoy.

I only connect with a small percentage of what I try, but when I do it's a rush.

Since this whole pandemic started, though, it's seemed entirely futile. I have had time on my hands, but very little motivation to chase new music. Honestly I mostly feel numb even to stuff that I love thoroughly. I always listen to music when I'm working, and surprised myself the other day when I was actually feeling something listening to The Jayhawks Hollywood Town Hall.

All that to say, it's hard to muster any enthusiasm right now for much of anything. Music, which has always felt deeply important to me before, feels like a completely frivolous pursuit while all of this is going on. I won't criticize anybody else though. I am throwing some money at some of the indie artists I know are going through a rough(er) time right now.
posted by jzb at 6:28 AM on April 13, 2020 [5 favorites]

I try to listen to new music, even if it's just from my same favourite artists. They've been good these last few years at branching into different styles and subject matters which helps keep the sound fresh.

I though Spotify's algorithm worked by identifying people who listened to the same tracks as you and then recommending to you what they had listened to that you hadn't. This might have changed now. It works well enough that I save the playlists of new music it generates to go back through and find new stuff.
posted by Braeburn at 6:29 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

The combination to moving to an open plan office, buying a set of Bose noise cancelling headphones and subscribing to Spotify has done wonders for discovering new music the last few years.

The Spotify recommendation algorithm veers between very good and horribly bad, though. Now it's doing fine, but I still shudder to remember the "Harald probably really enjoys novelty EDM tracks" period from a few months back.
posted by Harald74 at 6:34 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm in the camp of enjoying new-to-me music (whether or not it is recent or old) more than familiar songs. That is why I have a Pandora subscription -- their algorithm isn't perfect, but it usually does a decent job of going "oh, you liked that one? How about these others that are somewhat related?" and then that eventually leads to more discoveries.

I also enjoy the music-related FPPs here, where I often encounter music that is new to me. I've been listening to a lot of grime over the last couple of months, after there was an FPP with links to really good music. That is music I'd heard for years as occasional soundtrack songs in British shows but had never just listened to it directly. Those are the kind of discoveries I appreciate, where it takes you in a new direction and opens doors to new experiences in music.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:46 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I, too, have been failed by the garbage that is commercial radio.

But for new music discovery, a public radio station is a godsend. The curated experience is what helps me—there's a ton of great new music out there, but I never know where to begin in terms of sifting through it myself, and I've never found streaming service algorithms to be any good.

I usually listen to WXPN, which is my local public radio station. They play a wide variety of music, both current and past, and they have actual programs, hosted by DJs that actually pick the music. I don't like everything I hear, but I like a lot of it—and it's not the same tired old songs over and over again.

If you're bored with what you're listening to, or want to expand your horizons, try public radio.
posted by vitout at 6:53 AM on April 13, 2020 [10 favorites]

I was the 90s Zepplin kid in high school, sort of. I obsessed over Rush, Pink Floyd and Yes, though secretly I was digging techno - specifically the Cool World soundtrack, Amiga MODs, Deep Forest and Enigma. Secretly because there was a lot of stigma around it back then.

But as an adult I've become ever more interested in new music. Sometimes because it is radically different - like the first time I heard Skrillex - and other times because it clicks something deep inside me, like Alvvays and Best Coast. I can't get enough of Dance Monkey, and generally feel that we're in a new golden age of pop. When I first heard Absrdst's Too Future mix it blew my mind. Same with Vektroid, which I've mentioned here before.

It was a long process, though, to open my mind to the new, because my childhood tastes were wrapped in layers of defensiveness and wrongheaded musical snobbery. Feeling trapped by the limitations of my own artistic branding and needing to shed that was a big part of it.

Fealty to the cult of 60s and 70s rock is repellent to me now. Whenever people on FB post videos of their kids who attend a School Of Rock doing a lifeless rendition of Foxy Lady, part of my soul dies. It was one thing when kids found and idolized that stuff of their own volition, but now that it is - like Star Wars or Harry Potter fandom - something imposed upon them by their ersatz tastemaker parents, it feels oppressive and stifling. Quick, somebody send those kids a random bandcamp link! Future great artists are definitely not idolizing Jack Black.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:00 AM on April 13, 2020 [5 favorites]

I'm kind of splitting the difference; Sirius has an "Indie 1.0" channel that is stuff from the 90s-aughts that I was too busy as a young adult to get into. I had heard some of the songs here and there at the time but not paid much attention, so now I'm catching up.

None of them are as deeply engraved on my brain as the stuff on the radio when I was 15, though.
posted by emjaybee at 7:11 AM on April 13, 2020

I'm 49, grew up on Hair Metal (Motley Crüe, Dokken, &c.) and later "real" Rock (Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, &c.). Also venerated the 'classics' like Zeppelin, Floyd and the Doors, etc. Now I can't stand listening to any of them, it feels like eating a stale piece of bread that somehow I've already eaten before a million times.
I listen almost exclusively to music ≤ 5 years old. My tastes have also gotten a lot poppier, currently have Halsey, PVRIS, Hayley Williams, Kitten, Meg Myers, Billie Eilish, MXMS and Grimes on heavy rotation. I still like current rock, but it's 99% female fronted and not metal: Charly Bliss, Dead Sara, Larkin Poe.
When I do listen to old music, it's usually to stuff I was aware of but didn't listen to in the '80s, Depeche Mode, Prince, Bauhaus, etc.
The only bummer is that I've had acts I really, realy like play in Santiago, but haven't gone to see them because: A) I don't have anybody to go with and B) I don't want to be the creepy old guy with his back against the wall at the Billie Eilish concert.
Discovering new music is to me one of the deepest pleasures of being alive, I refuse to give it up just because I'm an old.
posted by signal at 7:16 AM on April 13, 2020 [11 favorites]

I enjoy reading Bandcamp Daily, which has an "Album of the Day." I can listen to an album of some genre outside my wheelhouse (90s), enjoy it, then move on. I don't need to hook my identity to it. I don't need to add it to twelve playlists. I can just stumble upon something and appreciate it.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:17 AM on April 13, 2020

I’m in my early 50s, and I still listen to 5-15 new albums a week, pretty much every week. A lot of them I keep and continue to listen to. I’ve never thought about why I do it, it’s just a routine part of my life. I’m sure being a musician has something to do with it, but a lot of my band mates, past and present, never seek out new music so that’s not the full explanation. Probably a better explanation is that I worked at record stores in my early twenties, and seeking out new music became an engrained habit that I can’t (and don’t want to) kick. Of course I love listening to my favorites, but I think I equally love discovering new ones.
posted by outfielder at 7:23 AM on April 13, 2020 [6 favorites]

I love finding new music. As I've gotten older I've been able to shed societal expectations of me and fully embrace my tastes. I will devour anything by Carly Rae Jepsen, I will stan for Tegan and Sara, I go back and listen to a lot of '80s and '90s black music (Bobby Brown and New Jack Swing didn't get the recognition it deserved don't @ me) and I've even bought a damn Taylor Swift album (1989 was a masterpiece). I own all the Aqua albums. I love Scandinavian folk princesses. Marit Larsen, Lene Marlin, Marte Wulff.

Even if you are all about the derivative of the familiar, there is so much creativity going on over at Youtube. Jacob Collier's cover of All Night Long is just draw droppingly incredible, Tim Blais is explaining Evolutionary Development through a Despacio parody, Adam Neely is reharmonizing Ariana Grande, Pomplamoose is mashing up covers, 8-bit Big Band is doing full orchestrations of classic VGM tracks.

We have subscription services that allow us access to almost every piece of commercial music ever produced. People are creating all the time. We're in a golden age of being able to discover anything we ever want to. There's too much good stuff out in the world to stop looking.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:34 AM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

This article conflates “new-to-me” and “new” in a way that seems designed to flatter the kind of people who read Pitchfork. Most people who are listening to new music aren’t listening to anything that is truly new, nothing that’s going inspire Rite of Spring veggie throwing. The article touches on that with Adele, but the same could be said of something like “Old Town Road”, part of the appeal is that it sounds so familiar.

Personally, I’m listening to new Cornershop, new Strokes, new Hamilton Leithauser, but I doubt they’re doing anything for the plasticity of my brain even though they are new to me.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:34 AM on April 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have a very low attention threshold for music, and I've noticed that the only new music that I listen to repeatedly are songs that are catchy and high-energy enough to go on a workout playlist. Exercise music is also the rare case where a bit off unfamiliarity can work to my advantage -- somehow I'm less bored if I don't recall exactly where the song is going to go. And finding those kinds of songs are easy, while falling into a new artist can otherwise take a lot more time than I care to assign.

That said, when I do make an effort, NPR Music is invaluable. Like...they're really ridiculously good at presenting new albums and reasons why I should give them a chance.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:38 AM on April 13, 2020

I think some people are just wired differently. I recall being like 5 years old laying on a mat at daycare and listening to then new Men at Work and Boy George and whatever else was playing, and it clicked to me. And then classmates endlessly listening to George Michael's Faith before school (like listening to the tape, flipping it and listening again), and that way of listening to music not being for me. I recall everyone going crazy over New Kids on the Block, and definitely not for me. My wife is also like that - she almost viscerally hates new music, unless it is strongly tied to something shared and cultural - ie: Taylor Swift and our kids. I have no difficulty finding new music, not necessarily new 'genres', but new bands with something new to say to me.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:44 AM on April 13, 2020

Echoing what others have said above: The way I've been continually finding new music to love (and new genres even) is a combination of getting spotify and moving to a place with an excellent all-music public radio station.

Spotify because it lowers the bar to trying new things. And Minnesota Public Radio's the Current because as mentioned above, they have real DJs, real curation, and real variety.
posted by dbx at 7:54 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

So, Google Music has a section that it puts on the front page listing "Artists Playing Near You Soon". And that's a great way for me to get on to new music...not just "new to me". There was a brief window of time when it was still listing performers whose shows had almost certainly been cancelled by that time due to All the Social Distancing. But here's a great album I got onto because of it: "Cha Cha Palace", by Angelica Garcia. Just great.
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:05 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm on Team Still Stumbling Into New Things, which is something of a happy extension to my days, er years, in college radio, and I'm joyously experimenting on young minds with my kiddos. My five-year-old has taken to telling me that he's like me and likes weird music, which makes me ecstatic.

In college radio, we had weekly listening parties, because if you were playing free-format, you had to know what was new in rotation, and it was an hour of hanging out and chatting about music with people who had a range of musical tastes and backgrounds. Then for a year, I was co-music director, and I listened to about half of everything that was sent to us. It was overwhelming, and interesting to chart trends in what people sent to us. If you were a band who put out a sound-alike album at the tail end of a trend, we'd be bored, where as if you were the first one in the door, we would have given you airtime (there was a fuzzy/ grungy garage rock revival in the mid-2000s that comes to mind).

One of our engineers was an electrical engineer who loved classic rock, and he worked at one of the classic rock stations in town. I remember some new album coming out that sounded like really good classic rock, and he was so sad that the corporate station wouldn't even think of expanding their rotation with something actually new but inspired by the old.

Now I'm browsing and roaming around for new things, and I have an ever-growing list of artists and labels I know and love, but I'm not on many email lists, so it's usually a fun surprise when I see they have something new. My wife is on Team Sing-Along, so she's happiest with songs she already knows, but I've been a part of expanding her musical catalog, adding things to the USB drive full of music in our car (this still feels futuristic :) ) and seeing what she might like.

The Pitchfork article is interesting, in the idea that you could find some great, new (to you) music now and have this time marked not only as a traumatic and chaotic period, but also the time that you found That Great New Album or Band. So with that, I'll drop a few album and choice tunes for your possible enjoyment: posted by filthy light thief at 8:08 AM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Yep, new music can be really daunting, so much more so now than when I was younger, I'm not sure if this is a function of me getting older or of the ways people find music changing or what. This is what I love about Pandora/Spotify. I tell it what I already like and it makes suggestions. I've also found a really large amount of new-to-me music via TV shows and movies where the musical director has my kind of taste (and hooray for Shazam for that). I really miss the awesome blues programming my local NPR station used to have too, I found a ton of great blues music through that.
posted by biscotti at 8:10 AM on April 13, 2020

I am constantly seeking out new music, and Fridays are my favorite day of the week because it's when new music comes out. It's easier than ever to find new music you like, and there is so much incredible music being created these days in every genre. Truly, it is a wonderful and amazing time to be a listener of new music.

I keep large playlists of my favorite new music every year, with the rule that, with few exceptions, any given artist gets only one song on the list. It leans heavily toward indy pop/rock, but includes everything from modern classical to country. 2014. 2015. 2016. 2017.2018. 2019. 2020.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:16 AM on April 13, 2020 [5 favorites]

in classic rock radio, even a band like the Stones is reduced to about 5 songs, in perpetual rotation.

In 2013, I realized I could pull down the playlists that Q104.3 were posting on their website at the time. (Q104.3 is New York City's classic rock station.) I snagged just under a month's worth of playlists. I did some analysis of it, and 299 songs accounted for 66.7% of the 8000+ entries on the playlist, all of them being played over and over and over again.
posted by fings at 8:21 AM on April 13, 2020 [6 favorites]

I'm always on the search for something new to me, which is why I prefer a "station" style streaming platform, like pandora, to a self-curated style platform. I'm not often motivated enough to sift on my own, but I do like to be surprised by music that is adjacent to things I know and like and will maybe give me something to dive in to. I still find myself having trouble breaking free of familiar genres though.

I know lots of folks, lots of folks, who are just the opposite, and haven't sought out a new band in decades. They're happy to take my recommendations though.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:26 AM on April 13, 2020

in classic rock radio, even a band like the Stones is reduced to about 5 songs, in perpetual rotation.

I worked for a classic rock station in college, the program director wanted to program a Stones song every hour. We had a "no songs twice" thing every day, so in theory that meant you'd hear 24 Stones songs every day.

Most of the time I went off-list for songs, since I was doing midnight to six a.m. and there was little evidence he ever tuned in, and rarely put any Stones in at all.
posted by jzb at 8:26 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Chats new album dropped at the end of March. That's new. I'm old and listening to it.

Props to using meme heroes(?) in your music videos (end of the music video) and possibly being the first punk band to mention a VPN in one of their songs.

I don't always listen to new music, but when I do, friends my age are regularly annoyed by it because they don't understand it.

I have one friend who jives with me on this. We used to say we wanted to end up like John Peel, knowing good music and recording good music well into his old age. Hot Snakes was one of my favorite final Peel Sessions.

I also find myself listening to that super-popular-with-the-kids "lofi to study/sleep by" by ChilledCow which has introduced me to a slew of new artists like Joey Pecararo and ProleteR.

There's also Holland Patent Public Libary, which did the score for the calming and serene Joe Pera Talks With You. The soundtrack for Pera and HPPL's more recent albums are all quite good. (His older albums, with lyrics, are okay, not great.)
posted by deadaluspark at 8:51 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I find that I really miss the curation of mixtapes generated for me by my friends, and I'm not sure what the modern substitute for those is, because the streaming services are all limited by the fact that some things I'd like to share, like, for instance, the fact that the astonishing masterwork of intricate tuning and synthesized arrangement that is Wendy Carlos' Beauty In The Beast is not available to stream anywhere and likely never will be while Ms. Carlos is alive, and is, once again, depressingly out of print. There was a real churn of new things that I got into in my heyday because someone's friend had included something strange and glorious on a mixtape that got them into it, which had them share it with me, which got me interested, in a shaggy chain of interconnection full of new ideas.

At the same time, we've never, ever, in all of human history, had access to such massive archives of amazing stuff that's both new and new-to-me. There's ubuweb for the far-out and seldom heard, or archive.org for their live music archive and other amazing stuff. There's stuff that somehow escaped the evil gaze of Disney's Copyright Law™ (may Sonny Bono burn in hell for eternity) and made it to the public domain, and a plethora of new music on Bandcamp, and man, compared to the effort of taking a bus to the Metro to DC's Tower Records to go through the import bins in hope of some rare Japanese pressing of some little-known artist, it just feels almost magically effortless.

The discovery part is harder, because without curation, you're trying to drink from a firehose, and it's a firehose that, as described by Sturgeon's Law, is ninety percent crap. It helps to have friends with divergent tastes to move you sideways and into interesting new streams of discovery. I dated my way into the old-time music community, which is as far off my personal mainstream as you can get without delving into pop country and stadium rock, but through that, I discovered interesting stuff like Tunng and how there's a thing called "folktronica" that's surprisingly up my alley.

I love my old favorites.

I will never, ever get tired of every single magical moment of The Rite of Spring, or of the hypnotic masterpiece of Four Organs, or every astonishing, impossible texture of Stephen Scott's pieces for bowed piano. I have listened to those, and to Mister Heartbreak, and to the Eno, Moebius, Roedelius box of truffles that is After The Heat, and to Kate's The Dreaming, and to Abbey Road, and to Innervisions, to give some of my personal examples, thousands of times, and they are no longer surprising to me, though I still find new treasures in each even now.

Still, for me, the joy of the new is summed up in the moment, thirty-two years ago, when I was on the late shift duplicating microfilm in a room with an atmosphere roughly comparable to that of Neptune's thanks to an ammonia leak in a diazo duplicator, listening to the then-still-shambling-fantastic local Pacifica station (may Mary Frances Berry burn in hell for thirty-seven years), WPFW, in those wee hours when their stoned DJs would occasionally go on the nod and let a record skip for two straight hours, when a whole torrent of horrible-sounding saxophones just started to screech at me from my boom box, but I was too lazy to get up and put on a tape.

I listened, and kept doing my mundane overnight job, and man, a groove kicked in and it was like nothing I'd heard yet, and it was sort of pastoral and forceful, and what is this stuff, anyway? And then, out of seemingly nowhere, Leon Thomas started fucking yodeling and I was so overwhelmed I couldn't even fathom what had just happened to me emotionally, except that I suddenly wasn't sitting in a small yellow-lit room with an atmosphere roughly comparable to that of Neptune in a nondescript office building in a nondescript town in the wee hours anymore—I was in that elsewhere place where we go in our heads when we're connected directly to the root of joy…and it wasn't the fumes.

That, piece, too, the title track from Pharoah Sanders' 1969 album Karma, is one I've listened to hundreds or thousands of times since, but the joy of the new, of that first flush of discovery, has long since been replaced with a more settled, contemplative delight, and that's why I seek out new things, even if I already have enough music accumulated to score my life for the rest of my days.

Holger Czukay said, in an interview I read somewhere back in the eighties, that music should give you what you expect half the time and surprise you half the time, and I think that's a neat summation of what we look for as music lovers—the warm celebration of the familiar and the frisson of the new and novel.
posted by sonascope at 9:05 AM on April 13, 2020 [10 favorites]

Dopamine, serotonin, I don't know brain chemistry, but when I hear something really new, something lights up inside. I know this sounds elitist, but I don't know if I could call myself a real musician if I didn't listen to new music.

I'm not a vinyl fetishist, but every week or two I pick out an album I haven't listened to in decades and put it on and boy does it sound different than I remember.

I am definitely not in the camp of listening to the music I heard as a teenager, at least not on purpose. Every time I go out (back when leaving the house was a thing) I hear music from the Sixties. The same fucking songs over and over, unfortunately.

Unfortunately, I was never converted to hip-hop, so much of the popular music out there doesn't get much of a listen from me.

As for streaming services (mine is Apple Play), I am ambivalent to the extreme. Yes, I can find new music there sometimes, but I feel unfairly forced out my old music-buying habits into a world of too much music, and do not like the financial world younger musicians have been forced into.
posted by kozad at 9:07 AM on April 13, 2020

Hypothesis: Vegetables might be unlikely in a concert hall but fresh fruit for sale was probably still standard, and hurling one’s empty orange-peel could be satisfying. Maybe a description of this has gotten confused among moderns with different concert snack habits?

Still haven’t figured that out, but I love this from Wikipedia on unruly concert audiences:
1913 (March 31, Vienna): Alban Berg, Altenberg Lieder. As part of a front in Vienna's ongoing style wars, the audience booed and catcalled loudly, and some punches were thrown. The event came to be known as the Skandalkonzert.[9]

1913 (May 29, Paris): Igor Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring. Dueling factions tried to drown each other out during the ballet's premiere, unwittingly launching generations of exaggerations of what actually happened in the hall that night.
Stravinsky made an excellent story of the riot for the rest of his life, but I have not yet found a transcript or listened through the YouTube.

There’s a dissertation on the Rite premiere and what actually happened, but I don’t think it’s online.
posted by clew at 9:07 AM on April 13, 2020

I’m sitting here listening to KFJC, a local college station that I have been listening to since the late 70’s. A lot of the music I acquired during that time came from listening to them. A lot of the music I made during that time was influenced by what I heard. Right now they are playing a broadcast from the past. I hear sirens, noise, a little music, people talking, sort of Sonic chaos with a theme. I’ve never heard this before so I guess it is new to me. It’s quite nice to read MeFi by while I eat my breakfast. This is how they describe it:

“ KFJC rebroadcasts a special that first aired on Mayhem 1, 2014 (view playlist). Roland Blunt's special, "Prepare," is a four hour excursion into prepared guitar techniques, featuring work from the likes of Keith Rowe, Fred Frith, Glenn Branca, Derek Bailey, Hans Reichal, Lee Ranaldo, Marc Ribot, Duane Denison and others.”

You can find places that play what you don’t expect. Fear the familiar, grasp the unknown, and grow. It worked for me.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:10 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

----I'm 50, and bouncing around the Web to find new sounds is one of my hobbies. I troll some of the MP3 blogs that still exist, Spotify, Bandcamp, Hype Machine, and all sorts of other things to try to get new (at least to me) music that I might enjoy.

I only connect with a small percentage of what I try, but when I do it's a rush.

There ya go man! I'm 62 (yea, fuck it...technically I'm a Boomer...what of it?) and that is my modus operadi. And like another person said way up there, I'm still novelty seeking. Combine that with my very eclectic musical tastes and I'm seeing this as a golden age for music. There's more out there right now and more every day than I can begin to keep up with and I can only sip out of that huge flow as I have the mood and time for seeing what engages my ear and interest.

The first time I read the article from above, I thought WTF? Really? Is this what most people are like?
Sure, I've retracted from some of the musical forms that were on my youthful edges (like loud chaotic punk). But turning a deaf ear to anything that I haven't heard many times before because it's new? That's when I know that I've given up living.
posted by Oh_Bobloblaw at 9:12 AM on April 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Eastern European Death Metal Polka Bands 4evah!!!

Wait, that's not even actually very new. What's new? In the 'serious' classical arena the period around the time rock was exploding up to very recently had an extreme "atonal" requirement to be considered contemporary. Some of it was really really interesting, so many pieces revived accolades and one solitary single performance (attended by dozens I say dozens of appreciative academics :-) While the old standards, three B's or Rhapsody in Blue draws crowds.

So as much as I enjoy a quirky bandcamp stream or even a blond country western pop ditty, where is the new Gershwin? The contemporary Debussy, Satie, or Ravel? Where are the composers that create a new mindspace that takes us to another level like Le Sacre du printemps? or even an old waltz?

One reason is just that, bandcamp/the internet/streaming, many of the great old symphonies appropriated literally stole music from folk tunes and there really are few existing indigenous communities creating their own music anymore, they don't get out the violin around the campfire, they have ipods. And so many of the local bands in urban areas are working to become the next dead or the beattles or nirvanna and have a relatively limited repertory of influences (to steal from;)
posted by sammyo at 9:19 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Sure, I've retracted from some of the musical forms that were on my youthful edges (like loud chaotic punk)

By god, the punk is the only stuff that keeps making me feel young.

Thanks to the Mean Jeans, FIDLAR, and The Chats for helping me feeling young.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:20 AM on April 13, 2020

I'm not much of a music guy, I know some people really identify with performers but I never have really, but I've always been interested in how people relate to the media they consume so it is interesting to read some takes here.

I have a retired friend who was in a small indie band in the 90s who had a brief amount of fame as an opening act for another indie band upon the release of their breakthrough album. They are a footnote now but they had their fans. His bandmates and peers are now so locked into that specific indie sound of early 90s pop-rock, that's how they judge all music. Partly because he worked in a warehouse for many years where all they listened to was classic rock radio and his peers were still mooning over Nick Lowe, my friend has consciously pursued a different course. So he actively listens to mostly music that is new... as in new within the last 6 months via venues like Bandcamp and niche music blogs. So when I want to know about new music I usually go to him. But there are times where that generational peer pressure still rears its head - my friend for half a year felt guilty about not liking Elvis Costello, who for his cohort and bandmates was a hero and role model. I recall saying to him that it was really ok not like this guy anymore or ever but for my friend it was a big deal to abandon a performer that he and his peers idolised.

For my son and his peers? Almost none of them are that devoted to a band anymore. Well not his cousin who adores BTS beyond all comprehension so I guess there are exceptions.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:24 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've tried to stay on the "find and love new music" train, and I find that my success with this ebbs and flows. Some years it works out really well, and other years I end up listening to a bunch of new stuff and nothing really gels with me. I've never really left behind the novelty-seeking phase of my listening career, but there's also a part of me that finds it hard to muster the enthusiasm I had when I was a teenager for pretty much anything I thought was remotely cool. That just leads to me looking for stuff I haven't really heard before but then feeling disappointed because very little lights a fire under me like stuff did when I was in high school and university. Which then leads to the question of whether music just has less importance to me now, or if I'm just not finding the right stuff.

The article talks about this as an individual thing but I think a big problem right now is this whole Zeitgeist we've got going on that holds late-60s-early-70s to be somehow the pinnacle of musical achievement.

I'm actually kind of surprised at this, because occasionally I hear about kids deciding they're really into Dylan or Zeppelin and a part of me refuse to believe they exist. I've just always taken it as a given that teenagers of subsequent generations will naturally gravitate to music that I not only haven't heard of but barely even understand.
posted by chrominance at 9:45 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I know people who still just listen to whatever they liked in high school/college. But for me, I seem to require a constant stream of new music. Once music becomes too familiar to me I lose interest in it. I'm well past 50 and until the lockdown started I'd go out to hear live music at least once a week. A lot of jazz, which is always new, even if they are playing old songs! I get tired of stuff pretty quickly, I guess. I mean, I still love the Ramones, Talking Heads, and all that, on paper, but it's been forever since I put one of their records on the turntable. I'm too busy listening to 75 Dollar Bill and the Horse Lords and this new Dungen Live record. To me it's like books - do people read the same books over and over or do they read new ones? Why is listening to new music any different?
posted by crazy_yeti at 9:46 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

chrominance: "I'm actually kind of surprised at this, because occasionally I hear about kids deciding they're really into Dylan or Zeppelin and a part of me refuse to believe they exist. I've just always taken it as a given that teenagers of subsequent generations will naturally gravitate to music that I not only haven't heard of but barely even understand.

Here in Chile, with a LOT of metal heads, I'm surprised that all the 16 year olds with long hair and metal t-shirts, it's always AC/DC, Metallica, Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer. The most up-to-date ones might have an Avenged Sevenfold shirt. I've asked young'uns about this, they sort of shrug and say they don't really like any 'new' bands (as in from the last 30 years).
Anyway, I blame their parents for insisting on passing on their own limited tastes.
posted by signal at 10:28 AM on April 13, 2020

I only connect with a small percentage of what I try, but when I do it's a rush. ----

speaking of Rush, does connecting with something you long ago wrote off as beneath you count as listening to new music? Because in the wake of Neil Peart's recent death, I found myself tracking a Facebook group where people started posting their favorite Rush tracks that they were pretty sure "most people hadn't heard" and most of them were coming from later albums, post-1980s albums ... and holy wow! Some genuinely great stuff. Geddy Lee (the singer) was finally reining in the most extreme of his vocal atrocities and Mr. Peart's lyrics had matured and the playing ... well that was never in doubt.

Anyway, if you like your rock hard and inventive, I can think of worst things to recommend than:

Counterparts (1993)
Snakes + Arrows (2007)
Clockwork Angels (2012)

Also Blue Oyster Cult's Black + White Years ... but that's another complex diversion for which I mostly blame Patti Smith.

As for actually new new stuff I'm almost entirely driven by random internet finds, which often as not send me searching through an artist's back catalogue rather than trying to have handle on what's happening right now right here. My current deep dive in this regard is Madlib's Beat Konducta series.

And who knows where this thread will now send me?
posted by philip-random at 10:29 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I mostly listen to current public radio & college radio, so there's a decent proportion of unfamiliar stuff, some of it quite brilliant... and quite difficult to identify if the announcer mumbles or if the playlist is hard to access (which often happens with genre programming). So I'm swimming in a pile of groovy stuff, and some of it doesn't even have a name for me...
posted by ovvl at 11:09 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Is this a recommendation thread for below the radar bands? If you like 80s dream pop, check out Sea Pony.
posted by Beholder at 11:18 AM on April 13, 2020

The most startlingly great new music I've come across in the last week is actually from 2019 (can't believe I slept on this!) - Orville Peck, queer glam cowboy crooner that has absolutely floored me with every track he's got. Pony came out last year, a new track just dropped last week ('Summertime') and it's all just such a delight. The vids are all absolute gems as well - 'Queen of the Rodeo / Roses are Falling'

seriously put all of this in your ears it's phenomenal
posted by FatherDagon at 11:44 AM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Another 62 year old looking for jolts. I use a combination of friend's recommendations, music forums, BandCamp, and public radio. Because I've heard so much music over the years, it's pretty hard for something to set its hooks in me. There's a lot of been there, done that. One more indie band that likes telecasters and I'm gonna scream. But I still find new thrills.

With bands that were around for a long time and whose catalog has calcified, I find it enlightening to seek out live boots and alternative tracks. One might be dismissive of classic rock but there is a ton of it that never saw the light of day (and still doesn't on commercial radio).

On occasion I dip way back in the past. When I first got into jazz, there was a sticking point for me. Anything recorded prior to the late 50s sounded thin and brittle. So I was pretty dismissive of that stuff. But curiosity finally won out. Yesterday morning I annoyed my wife with some Charlie Parker. And the sound recorded on 78s in the 20s and 30s now make sense to me.

I work out of my home office and the music flows most of the day. I'll start with something low key to not stir up the house, maybe some jazz or ambient but then the gloves are off. It could be live Rush or The National or now, revisting the John Prine catalog. There are some genres I absolutely abhor but my schizophrenic taste has served me well. And I always hunger for that new thrill.
posted by Ber at 11:49 AM on April 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Foosnark: I'm very much into "angrient" but there's not enough of it out there.

Thank you for inspiring me to Google that new-to-me neologism, Foosnark. Apparently it means "dark metal ambient." That doesn't sound like my thing; I love both "light" and dark ambient music, but once it veers into metal or noise territory I usually lose interest.

However, as a dark ambient nerd I love the term "angrient" and have now adopted it into my music-classification vocabulary. I'll mention it in a future issue of my newsletter.
posted by velvet winter at 12:18 PM on April 13, 2020

I don't know what's new enough or strange enough to be what people are looking for, but I can commend HU as not sounding like everyone else.

Have a book about an indie rock snob critic finding out what's worth liking about Celine Dion.

Dedaluspark, thank you for recommending The Chats.

Panthalassa, thank you for the recommendations-- those songs seemed to be made of normal components but they were fresh and enjoyable.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:08 PM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Lots of great discussion here! I used to “acquire” music in the old days of Napster and WinMX and would get into discussions with the other participants. I learned a lot from what other folks were listening to and what influenced those artists as well as what they in turn influenced. My musical taste has widened and the old stuff from my youth doesn’t have the same flavor it used to. I’m glad.

A couple of places I listen regularly: KEXP.org (especially good for their morning show)
And the great French station FIP at fipradio.fr

Sorry for no links; I can’t seem to figure out how to do links on an IPhone.
posted by cybrcamper at 1:51 PM on April 13, 2020

KEXP is great - I follow their "Song of the Day" playlist on Spotify, and that always has a few things that I like that I'd never heard of before.

I'm always trying to find out new (at least to me) music, and lately, I've been playing with a bunch of folkies, and getting introduced to a lot of great stuff I've never heard before from that genre. Generally speaking, though, I tend to listen to new stuff by bands I already like or somewhat adjacent to them. In particular I've been really enjoying Four Tet's last few, and Caribou's most recent is great. As is Floating Points'. My friends and I still try to make year-end mixes, but the success has been sporadic at best.

Song Exploder is always good to get a couple of songs a month from usually unknown places. If you love music it's a great listen.
posted by sauril at 2:06 PM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I often find new music by accident. Wax Fang had a song in an episode of American Dad. I ended up buying all of their albums. Yes, vinyl albums. Thing is, the new music I find sounds strangely like the old music I like.
posted by Splunge at 2:09 PM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't know what's new enough or strange enough to be what people are looking for, but I can commend HU as not sounding like everyone else.

Oh man I was listening to these guys about a year ago and I wasn't able to remember their name! Thank you.

You're welcome for The Chats. Everyone is welcome for The Chats. I have a real soft spot for dumb guy rock and they scratch that itch tenfold.

Fun note: In Australian slang, "chat" roughly means "shit."

I often find new music by accident. Wax Fang had a song in an episode of American Dad. I ended up buying all of their albums.

If only everyone who watched How I Met Your Mother had went out and bought that Unicorns album.
posted by deadaluspark at 2:10 PM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sometimes at night I like to put on my headphones and listen to radio.garden. I don't really get song titles out of it, but I can just get lost in listening to whatever the taxi drivers in Bangalore (or wherever) are listening to *right now*.

There's something about the live aspect that really reaches me. There's a sense of community in listening to live broadcast radio from *somewhere* in the world, and know that there are other people listening to the same thing at the same time.

The ephemeral nature of it is interesting too -- maybe I discover something I just *love*, but since I often can't identify the track I'm forced to really enjoy it in the moment.

It's some small group of guys in the Netherlands that set it up -- I even sent them a few bucks 'cause the concept is totally worthy.

I don't know if there's been an FPP on it, but I considered doing one.
posted by jpziller at 2:45 PM on April 13, 2020 [11 favorites]

I’m 64, so 1968 was the year I mark as the beginning of the years that formed my musical tastes. And yeah, I love the Beatles and all that...but I was also pretty heavily into classical music and soundtracks. The only group I am still in love with from my college years is ABBA.

I still open myself up to new music now and then, and new-to-me music. When it comes to pop and pop-like music, I can almost only stand female artists. Over the past few years I’ve discovered I genuinely like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Christina Perri, Lorde, Shakira, Purity Ring. Then for some reason I discovered Sia, and went backwards to realize I like Sade, though I’m not really a jazz fan.

My lifelong love of movie soundtracks (kicked off by Dr. Zhivago and solidified by Star Wars, with the eventual revelation that Korngold and Steiner preceded them both), led me to Thomas Bergerson and Two Steps From Hell — epic music, but by artists who are evolving into more than scoring move trailers.

The last year my quest for music that could really hang out in the background led to chillhop, which surprises and delights me.

I suppose I’m really very pedestrian. But at least I’m not the kind of older guy Dave Barry writes about, who arrives at the point where he likes only one song.
posted by lhauser at 7:51 PM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Definitely enjoy discovering new music. As a relative oldie I still prefer to own it rather than stream it and I've been bitten by Apples DRM one too many times to use their store - so mostly I discover stuff via Bandcamp, KEXP and NPR's Tiny-Desk youtube series. Also Ameobas live videos and their 'Whats in my bag' series. Also tend to plow through various sites 'Best of' annual lists - theres always a little bit of gold to be found in The Quietus, Popmatters, Treble, Slant and yes, even Pitchfork. Particularly in some of their off the beaten track genres like World/International.

Mention of the Chats reminds me to plug the Cosmic Psychos; probably more of the elderly, brutish end of Aussie grunge rock spectrum than the Chats but with a similar sense of humour.

Some other bands I've come to enjoy via the discovery mechanisms mentioned above - La Luz, Los Bitchos, Lucy Dacus/Phoebe Bridgers/Julien Baker/Boygenius, Windhand/Dorthia Cottrell, Cherry Glazer, Bill Orcutt, Daniel Bachman, Lingua Ignota, Pity Sex, Juana Molina, Sudan Archives, Blanck Mass, Big Business, Khun Narin etc etc etc

I've also circled back to a few bands I was really into but figured they couldn't possibly sustain their quality once they'd peaked in the 90's (IMHO) so passed on subsequent albums. I've been pleasantly surprised by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (post Let Love In) but underwhelmed by Sonic Youth (post Jet Set).
posted by phigmov at 8:56 PM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Streaming has let me stumble into a lot of new-to-me and new music, but I do wish they had a mode for "play something that's 50/50 whether I'll like it." Maximize information gain!

If this is where we list some recent-ish discoveries -- I'm kind of curious whether these are "oh, the algorithms recommend those to everybody, hon": Moses Sumney, This Is the Kit, TR/ST, Princess Century, Maya Jane Coles, Miya Folick, Mirah, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Mdou Moctar, Android Lust, Chong the Nomad, Ibibio Sound Machine, Tor, Blevin Blectum, Djrum, Gem Club, Dessa, Mercan Dede, The Drink, Odonis, Blackblack, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Trespassers William, Lotic.

Now I go plug in some interesting names from other comments...
posted by away for regrooving at 10:12 PM on April 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

And the great French station FIP at fipradio.fr
I made an FPP about FIP a few years ago. A radio station without ads or normal DJs that plays amazing music you have mostly never heard befpre. Going constantly since the mid 70s - and funded for the world by the French government. You can listen here.

I think of musical catholocism as being somewhat similar to the phenomenon of perfect pitch (which is well explained by Rick Beato with the help of his gifted son Dylan here). You can only learn perfect pitch as an adult: and the method of learning is one of not forgetting some of the innate listening capabilities with which we are born. Babies can distinguish all phonemes of the world but start to lose their ability to distinguish ones they are not exposed to by 9 months. If you want your kid to develop perfect pitch then you need to play it "Sketches of Spain" or "Bach's C# Major Prelude and Fugue" in place of "The Wheels on the Bus" - before they reach 2. It is the same for general appreciation, I think: to be able to get that dopamine rush of primal familiarity from anything other than a narrow range of music - then you need to start right. And keep in practice!
posted by rongorongo at 11:22 PM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

The legendary British radio DJ John Peel started listening when Elvis arrived, became central to the hippy scene, championed punk and reggae when progrock became too pompous to bear and carried on digging out interesting new stuff from every imaginable genre all the way through to his death aged 65 in 2004. Asked in interviews which records he was most excited about, he'd always reply "The ones I haven't heard yet". That's an admirable attitude in my view, and one I've tried (not always successfully) to emulate.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:14 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you're like me -- an old looking for something new -- I highly recommend giving OHMME a listen

They're always doing something different and have never failed to deliver the goods.
posted by MrJM at 11:34 AM on April 14, 2020

Since this whole pandemic started, though, it's seemed entirely futile. I have had time on my hands, but very little motivation to chase new music. Honestly I mostly feel numb even to stuff that I love thoroughly. I always listen to music when I'm working, and surprised myself the other day when I was actually feeling something listening to The Jayhawks Hollywood Town Hall.
All that to say, it's hard to muster any enthusiasm right now for much of anything. Music, which has always felt deeply important to me before, feels like a completely frivolous pursuit while all of this is going on.

With you there. I usually find a lot of new stuff on YouTube (like you, I refuse to limit my musical tastes and so far I have not!), but man, I am not in the mood to listen to music. I watch the "quarantunes" parodies and that's about it any more. I am not in the mood for "fun online dance party," any of that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:33 PM on April 14, 2020

but man, I am not in the mood to listen to music. I watch the "quarantunes" parodies and that's about it any more. I am not in the mood for "fun online dance party," any of that.

The desire to listen to music can take various forms. I can totally understand not wanting to listen to music as a mood boost in the light background energizing way when that feels counter to the times, but as someone who no longer collects music for that kind of playstream I find listening to things like Counterstream radio or the New Sounds stream from WQXR to provide some useful distraction for not being so much a mood boost as music that feeds a different kind of attentive focus by often not falling into familiar patterns of emotional distraction.

I don't always note who or what song is playing since I'm not going to collect the music, but listening to the stream keeps me on my toes, so to speak, as there is often something unexpected keeping me from sinking into emotional patterns I've been habituated to just roll with. It's not all stuff I like, though a lot of it I do, but it works kinda like a music version of caffeine for me for the diversity of approach.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:44 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

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