what is it about music geekery that it gets to avoid the stigma? every other kind of geek is uncool, but if you know obsessivley way too much about some obscure music scene that has as it’s twin meccas an unpronounceable midwestern small city and Radom, Poland you are a DJ.
If you are normal (normal in the sense of boring-normal, not should-be-normal), then you may think that there isn’t much of a music scene to be a geek of. Geeks, after all, thrive on detail. A quick visit to the listening booths in any medium size virgin record store is enough to absorb all of the detail currently available in what appears to be the modern music scene.
Wrong wrong wrong. Despite the frightening plastic homogeneity of the Crappy with 6 or 7 capital Cs mainstream music scene, there is a paradox at play here. Two contrasting forces, operating in nearly opposite directions, in the same world at the same time. Or perhaps more accurately, one big force operating in one direction in contrast to many many forces operating in many smaller directions. I speak of course of the simultaneous consolidation of the mainstream music industry, which is the face of music to the great majority of western listeners, and the diversification and thrivingness of all of the alternative musical genres and distribution channels. Today, thanks I suspect largely due to the reduction in cost of music recording and distribution technology, there are many successful niche music scenes. Or maybe there have always been lots of them, and I have simply been unaware because of the limited number of distribution channels and/or my own basic ignorance. That would be cool too. In fact, that is almost certainly true, now that I think about it. Ahem. In any case, there is plenty of detail for the modern music know-it-all to make their own.
Now, let’s say you would like to pretend that you yourself are deeply versed in the all the 3100 hundred flavours that Baskin Throbbins has to offer the music lover of today. You want to give out that you have your finger on the pulse of the vast and thriving music culture. You want to make like a connected insider. With your finger on the pulse. For chicks or whatever. Easy: just go to these sites: Flux Blog, Tangomonkey’s Said the Gramaphone, and download all the songs and read the blurbs and follow the links. There are more sites like these but I haven’t yet found any more that are quite as good. I’m sure they are out there by the dozens.
It’s a simple but effective concept: the mp3 blog. The author writes a blurb about a song they like/find interesting and post a download link. It’s like listening to campus radio except the DJ gets to talk about each song in turn and the sound quality is better and you can listen to the song again and again. And because of the diversity of songs and the care of the bloggers, you can quickly pick up the lingo and spirit for purposes of superficial imitation.
Fer instance, from Said the Gramaphone:
The Arcade Fire don’t do chamber pop any more – in fact, they don’t do pop – but the rock they play is wild and varied and rich. Apart from nu-“Headlights” and “Alexander [?]”, every single song they played could be an indie megahit – heck, maybe even a bona fine Billboard hit, with the right producer. Their sounds-likes circled like frantic birds (from Modest Mouse to New Order to Coldplay), and yet it was braver, wiser than all of this. Like Broken Social Scene with its gloves off (and with lyricists worth their salt); like the Flamings Lips if the Lips had been living in a post-apocalyptic no-dancing dystopia and were only now emerging, high-hats ringing, broadswords raised, to reclaim the Earth for youth and love and dream.
Damn. Go to a party in Rome and say that and see if it don’t net you some play or something.
Also, there is this place, which I don’t quite get yet but shows up in the discussion of many different music blogs. For slightly better faking, you could burn all of these suggested “guides-to” into mixed CDs and leave them lieing around in your car.
Note that those lists include, along with guides-to “Brit Pop”, “French House”, and “American Indie-Rock (1990s)”, quickie primers for “Queen Street West, Toronto”, “Three Chord Feedback Romps” and “Memphisian Hip-Hop”. Gettin a little on the comprehensive side there, and growing.
Even if you aren’t in it for the frontin’, taking a rip through the tracks on the mp3 blogs is bound to net you something that makes you bounce and/or feel plaintive. There’s a lot of bloody good stuff in there. All for the taking. Good job, music playing and sharing humans everywhere.