Why aren’t I down with the kids anymore?

by Steve

cassette tapeOver the past couple of days I’ve discovered the musical wonders of a certain Kurt Vile. If it wasn’t for my rather belated embrace of Spotify, I probably would have never listened to a note of his, convinced that he was a snotty post-modern punk playing pre-war German songs. Which, thinking about it, would probably sound quite good. But, I digress. Once upon a time, I’d have heard him, heard about him, and formed a fully-fledged opinion on his oeuvre. What went wrong? Why aren’t I down with the kids anymore?

My first excuse is the decline and fall of the music press. From Christmas 1992 to the end of the decade I bought Melody Maker religiously every Wednesday. I’d pore over the news, features and record reviews and eventually develop a pretty encyclopaedic knowledge of Alternative Music, for want of a better phrase (there must be a better phrase, right?).

Then, Melody Maker went glossy, tried for a more mainstream approach, and died. I tried NME, but found it to be pretty awful. Also, as a staunch Melody Maker loyalist, it felt like treachery buying its rival.

Many of Melody Maker’s staff, along with a former editor, had decamped to the monthly magazine, Uncut. And from the late nineties until a few years ago, that provided by main route to new music. Yet, eventually I tied of yet another feature on Dylan/Young/Springsteen/Beatles, and gave up my subscription.

I tried Plan B magazine. Plan B died. I tried a few American magazines, but they either died (Harp), or were impossible to get hold of (Under the Radar). I pick up the Wire magazine infrequently, which is two parts fascinating to one part infuriating.

The internet is awash with reviews and new music, obviously. But where is the one-stop shop for me? Pitchfork is OK, but I tend to skip the pseudo-intellectual reviews and just look at the ratings. I read a few blogs here and there, but they haven’t filled the gap.

I don’t listen to as much radio as I did in the past. I’ve yet to find a great new music podcast. If I do listen to a music podcast it is likely to be the WFMU old soul and gospel efforts, rather than anything showcasing new and shiny stuff.

Also, so many record shops have closed down. These were always a great place to hear new music and to try something new. Online shopping or downloading just isn’t geared towards finding new discoveries. Spotify is a start, though.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’m just getting old. Maybe I like listening to my old albums, or new albums from old acts I’ve grown up (and old) with. Maybe, deep down, I don’t like the idea of listening to acts ten years younger than me. Maybe they aren’t pitching their act at settled-down guys in their thirties, either.

But I’m not going to give up just yet. However, any pointers would be welcome.

Image by Patrick Feller via Flickr