Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.
Dearest reader, I have a confession to make: For (roughly) the past two years, I have been penning this column as some sort of knowledge on the present music scene, but for the last year, that hasn’t been entirely true.
I admit it! I haven’t been following anything at all! No Pitchfork, no Stereogum, no Rolling Stone! Nary a look at the A.V. Club! I don’t know which artists headlined sets at SXSW, which records ensnared the hearts of vinyl snobs, or which crooners are swooning Urban Outfitters girls everywhere!
But wait, this isn’t entirely my fault. When I lost all my music in the Great External Hard Drive Crash last May, I was disheartened. I waited months to get it fixed, and when I finally got the prognosis, it was D.O.A.
I tried using new external hard drives, but they wouldn’t work with my ancient laptop. Without the money to get a new computer, I fell into a deep, desperate hole. I had lost everything, and just didn’t have the resources to climb my way back.
I wandered the streets of music like a bum. I could look up and see the latest St. Vincent record, but I had no way to keep it. What few full-album streams I found and a single track here and there have sustained me over the last 15 months, but interestingly enough, I quickly found that I didn’t care anymore.
It was strange at first. After all, I had written a column only two weeks earlier proclaiming my addiction to new music, in which I said this now-damning phrase:
I’ve thought Could I go cold turkey, not listen to any new music at all for a week? A month? A year? My conclusion every time? No. No I could not. And you know, I think I’m just fine with that.
As it turns out, most people DON’T actually care about new music. Sure, among your circle of young, hip, urban friends, there are plenty of audiophiles. But in the REAL world (yes I’m about to get all haughty-western on you), people just couldn’t care less. It’s easy to fall out of the world of music once you see another, often more fulfilling, world outside it.
But let me hit the breaks for a second. If I could have jumped back in at any time, I would have. In fact, I plan on getting right back on the wagon as soon as I can afford the technology. Still, I’m cautious about rejoining the mayhem of the current indie scene. Simply put, it’s just not that good.
Three years ago, the always-experimental 2000s was exhibiting a beautiful sunset with landmark releases from artists like St. Vincent, Dirty Projectors and the incomparable Animal Collective. Over the last two years, indie chilled significantly. Today’s music is frozen solid, like thin, wispy sheets of ice – the kind between the grass and the sidewalk you love to crunch under your February sneaker.
I’ve found that by ignoring that scene entirely, my eyes have opened to new kinds of music, kinds you won’t find on the pages of mainstream music blogs. There’s the simplistic folk of Boise and the raucous “outlaw country” sweeping the west. Then there’s the music of yesteryear, aging genres like electro swing, which I rediscovered on Songza last week.
My extended vacation from the new music scene has been nice, and although I’m ready to come back to the latest records and hottest new artists, I’m glad I had the time off.
In fact, I would recommend a little sabbatical for everybody lost in the world of new releases. Yes you, the obsessive music blogger, and you, the vinyl snob. Even you, hipster douchebag, presently in a Facebook squabble about the merits of some new artist vs. some old artist.
Give it a rest, people, if only for a week, a month or even a year. Animal Collective will still be there when you come back, I promise.