2012 has been revolutionary for me. Isn’t that a great kicker to a post? Well, seriously, 2012 has been remarkable so far – specifically in the music department. You know, for as much as I consider myself a “music snob,” my taste has been pretty rusty as of the past few years. Beween the high school days and twenty-twelve, I’ve been slacking hardcore at listening to new releases. And you know why? It’s safer that way. There’s something wonderfully cozy about having a set-in-stone list of your favorite artists, mine of which have been Death Cab, Elliott Smith, Brand New, and Bright Eyes for the past 5 years or so. In all, there’s a list of 15-20 bands/artists that dominate my iTunes, my ear buds, and my car speakers. They’re all fantastic. They’re all familiar. They’re all safe.
Honestly, it takes effort to play new music. It takes a couple of turns before you finally catch onto the songs, and it might even take several more plays before you can sing along and remember the titles. And what if you end up not loving them? You’ll have wasted multiple hours of musical devotion that could have been spent on Death Cab for Cutie’s exceptional “We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes,” circa 2000. Good grief, what an album.
Anyway, let’s cut to the point. This year I’ve taken the plunge. Many times. And holy toledo, has it paid off. No longer will I be caught spewing untruths such as “there’s no good new music anymore!” to whoever seems to be remotely interested in my words. Those dark days are over, my friends. I have seen the light. Here’s a run-down of the artists I’ve played for the first time this year. Some are embarrassing because it’s about time I got on board.
1. Cursive. I owe this one to my boss, Derek. He introduced me to The Ugly Organ early enough in the year for me to become engrossed and super pumped for the show they played at Off Broadway. It was amazing. Tim Kasher is incredible.
2. Sleigh Bells. Is there a better band to skateboard to? Nope.
3. Cults. This band is so freaking fun to sing. I’m all about female singers lately, and Cults swept me off my feet. Hoping for a new album in the next year, as they only have one out.
4. Real Estate. I love the head-bopping tunes and the crooning voices. Real Estate is like the early stages of dating. You can’t get over the excitement. Seeing them at Plush has only fueled my infatuation by confirming their capabilities. Someone smack me.
5. Lana Del Rey. Listen to me. You can say what you want about her lips or her less-than-stellar SNL performance. I do not care. Lana Del Rey is one of the most beautiful, talented women I can even think of. Her hip hop-inspired beats/lyrics, sultry articulations, and deep, heavy vocals have make her into one of my all-time favorite artists, period. If you think I’m obsessed, come closer: you have no idea. I will not reveal how many times I’ve played her album, but I will tell you that it’s more than 50.
6. Cymbals Eat Guitars. Um… saw them at Off Broadway; they opened for Cursive. I was tempted to throw money at them because my $13 ticket to get into the show wasn’t possibly a fair trade. These guys are unreal. Pavement reincarnated, but with their own East Coast flair. Come back, fellas.
7. mewithoutYou. Sometimes I’m not ready for certain artists. When I first heard Brand New, I shrugged. Meh. Same with Bright Eyes. And same for mewithoutYou. The vocals are primarily shouted, making it an acquired taste for many people. Being someone who relies much more on lyrics than music, I have found myself suddenly, viciously, drawn to mewithoutYou. It’s so strange; I haven’t given a second thought to them since high school; in fact, I forgot about them. But their latest album, released last week, has washed out the bad taste they left in my naive mouth, and I’m overwhelmed by the story telling, the honest, raw lyrics, and the musical talent that Ten Stories conveys. MAN. And they’re coming to Off Broadway this summer. Heart attack.
8. Beach House. Very rarely do I blow more than $15 on a concert. But that’s changing. Because I have to see Beach House when they come to The Pageant this year. I downloaded Bloom (their new release) and Teen Dream at once. It was just a week or so ago. Since then, I’ve engulfed every bit of each album. And I”m still hungry.
There you have it. 8 solid musicians who have proven to me that new music is all around. I still play Elliott Smith on a daily basis. I still wail the lyrics to Brand New’s Seventy Times Seven in my car. But I’m so, so happy that I made some room for new friends. Glad I stopped playing it safe for a while.
Thanks for reading.