How do you listen to new music?
I understand it’s really common for most people to listen to music in their cars or using systems like Spotify, which I don’t like and don’t drive. That’s right, I don’t like cars and I don’t drive Spotify. I listen to podcasts when I travel, usually, and I listen to music while I work at my computer, because I want something that affects my mood while I’m doing, like, this work.
Frustratingly, just because it’s usually there and ad-free, I let Youtube throw mixes at me. Then when I’ve noticed I’ve done that enough that some songs are part of my personal lexicon, I go and acquire those songs some other way, whether bandcamp (in the case of small bands) or
I want to nakedly recommend an mp3 collection to you. You don’t need special software to manage it. You can just dump all your music in a great big heap and use the search function on any mp3 player you like to find the songs you want. You have paid for music, you have paid for the right to use it in different forms, spotify subscriptions are not paying artists and they are rent-seeking on things you can buy directly, or in many cases have already bought.
Anyway, here’s the stuff that I added to my mp3 collection this year.
The Lads are a Christian band from New Zealand I listened to as a kid. I re-found them on Youtube this year. They’d had a song that stuck in my head, an idea that I’ve been trying to stick to, which is if you need a reason to make a change in your life, anything will do. Why not make a big change on Arbor Day, a day you probably had no idea was a day on your calendar?
I mean this isn’t amazing music, but I like having it on hand, you know? The detritus of what we are. Not all of us were influenced by absolute bangers. Sometimes the idea that ‘you can make changes to your life for any given arbitary reason’ is a good thing and it doesn’t matter that much that I got it from a band of dorks who moved to Nashville to sing songs to megachurch kids (which is their spot now).
Next up, a parody song. Stacy’s Mom is a banger of a song about having a crush on an older woman (and the song doesn’t, like, go anywhere with it). Then we get a delightful genderswapped version here, which I hesitate to call a ‘parody’? It’s the same song, basically, it’s just a different orientation with the same comedy bent.
One thing I do find a little awkward is, now I’m starting on being ‘in my forties’ (man that feels weird to say), hearing someone talk about ‘is he learning about the Civil War’ like – so what?! So what if that’s a thing that interests me!? How did I get read like that?
The band Andrew Jackson Jihad, for, perhaps sensibly obvious reasons, changed their name recently. This meant they made an announcement on Youtube at some point and I noticed that (‘AJJ on their name announcement?’ what did AJJ mean?) and that meant I listened to some of their music, annnnnd I like it! I’m told they make Folk Punk, which sounds to me like nonsense but I also am firmly of the opinion that there’s nothing quite so punk as making very specific categorisations that everyone around you must adhere to, right?
Thanks to the Last Life Youtube series of Minecraft Hardcore Lets Plays –
What are you laughing at –
I wound up listening to some cool music that was made as part of animatics by cool fans of the series, too. And while sometimes that meant learning about something cool like the band AJR (who are not the same thing as AJJ, thanks file sorting),
Or something interestingly indie and creepily jazzy, like The Crane Wives (and I’m sure I’ve shared this before, surely it was in my list of new music last year),
Or maybe even something else normal people like like Devon Cole’s WITCH, it did also mean I wound up appreciating a song…
By Imagine Dragons of all people.
Animatics are great. They recontextualise songs and the recontextualisation means that now I have a story for these songs to be about and not just, like, Imagine Dragons’ latest car ad.
I think I shared this earlier this year too, but it’s the Killers cover of A Pirate Looks At Forty. I may be a bit overly maudlin about anything to do with Jimmy Buffett this year, since this is now the point at which I know that he’s had to leave the party.
Also, this year I listened to a bunch of Anime OPs, because I was watching more anime this year. And the anime this year that I liked just happened to have OPs that I think are great, so I added them to my list. In the vein of ‘sounds like just cool music you might seem international and interesting for listening to,’ there’s the band Creepy Nuts! They do Japanese hiphop and, in addition to the songs from the Call of the Night anime soundtrack, you should also check out Song for the Prodigies.
The opening of Summer Time Render sounds to me like jangly folk rock? I think people call it College Rock? Problem here is I don’t even know this song’s name. It’s just The Opening To Summer Time Render, which is my favourite anime of the year, like it just absolutely whips ass, so I hear this song and I remember how that show makes me feel, from its first embarrassing opening of boobs and butts to its astoundingly sweet conclusion.
The opening to Witch from Mercury has a similar effect, but I really like the way it has this, like, descending step effect? The staggering of it, it sings like dancing, and I love the way it feels like it’s responding to its own anxieties.
I have no idea what this song is saying.
I think that the opening and ending of Lycoris Recoil whip ass. There’s this thing the opening does which I think anime openings love doing, which is this sort of crooning that turns into a high, wide arc and then abruptly stops and regathers its footing?
Perhaps obviously, Ya Boy Kongming, an anime about music in Shibuya District, has nothing but bangers in its soundtrack. Everything, even the song by the Evil Bad Band That Sucks are good, but I especially like this cover of Kibun Jojo for the ending that adds instrumentation and a rap verse as the series progresses.
On the other hand, Honey Jet Coaster is just… like, energetic sugary pop music, it feels completely artificial and I have no reason to recommend it. Much like everything to do with Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie you kinda have to get something out of it on a very superficial level, because there is nothing going on here.
(That’s a lie, the song is voiced as if it’s a boyfriend singing about Shikimori, but the vocalist is a woman who sounds like Shikimori, and it describes how Shikimori is a ‘better boyfriend than him’ but you know, so what.)
Now a hard swerve from songs I absolutely cannot sing to songs I absolutely can. I learned about Corb Lund this year! He’s a Canadian country musician, who I learned about after a comedian who appeared on Behind The Bastards told a story about how one time, a racist on a neo nazi website reviewed his set he did opening for Corb Lund, and was so upset he realised that Corb Lund might not be racist enough for him.
Anyway, truck got stuck.
Continuing Canadian songs I can sing along to, The Dreadnoughts dropped an album late last year, lot of good songs but especially good is this version of Roll Northumbria, which is a song I already liked, but this time rendered as a big loud stomping song.
Also, something that a lot of bands I like have in common is how good they get when they say, turn forty and stop carrying around a focus on high school. That’s what happened to the Littlest Man Band, which is actually a spinoff band from Reel Big Fish, a 90s Ska Band One And A Half Hit Wonder. I have liked Reel Big Fish all through the years, but on a few tracks, as a gag, they let their member Scott Klopfenstein just do a wholly soulful rendition of a totally different style.
And uh, then he went and made his own band that just does those songs and they’re great.
Talking about things from the 90s that got better as they matured, Blink 182 have a single this year. Apparently it’s part of an album I have no interest in listening to, but this single, on its own, phew. Just fantastic vibes and a real improvement on their baseline sound. It’s Blink 182, but with just a lot more musical competence and fewer mangled half-rhymes.
I thought after I was done with single paragraph summaries I’d go back through the article and bulk it out with more details, to get up to the word count I wanted. Turns out I’m at one and a half times my word count, oops!