So. Much. Bad.

As every year, my slog through the SXSW torrents is making my question why I enjoy music at all. So. Much. Bad.

However, I'd like to thank all the hiphop artists out there who begin every track with their MC deadpanning, "Yo. Yo. Huh. Yo." It's good to have that fast indicator that I can hit Next without listening to more than five seconds of the song.

(There is hiphop that I enjoy, but if your level of lyrical creativity is such that your song begins with "Yo", then I'm sorry but we're done here.)

Almost as useful an indicator is the Black Metal Growl, though sadly, they sometimes wait until 20 seconds into the song to unleash that nonsense.

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24 Responses:

  1. Ted Mielczarek says:

    Yeah, I've done this in years past and it's excruciating. I really want someone to make a webapp of it so I don't have to download a few hundred GB just to find the 10 songs I like.

  2. Pavel says:

    Nothing quite like the disappointment of rocking out to a minute-long metal intro, and suddenly hearing what sounds like a horse going through a garbage disposal. next.

  3. cthulhu says:

    I require some nanotechnology device that will detect the sound patterns of hip-hop (any hip-hop, I am not as generous as you) and, within 10 milliseconds, generate the 180-deg-phase-reversed signal to cancel the hip-hop before my conscious awareness is polluted by the hip-hop. Thank you.

    (I would settle for some nanotech gray goo that would only attack hip-hop artists; a suboptimal solution is better than no solution.)

    • Jon says:

      I'm pretty sure what you want is software, not nanotech, and what you describe is possibly achievable today.

    • Russell Borogove says:

      This is actually an AI problem. In order to train the hip-hop evaluator, I recommend you start by going through the entire catalog of, say, the Beastie Boys, and deciding, for each track, hip-hop or not. I anxiously await your dataset.

  4. Different Jamie says:

    I'm getting old. I tried to listen to some of it. Then I went back to Leonard Cohen's album. Which is surprisingly like Tom Waits.

    I'm not dissing modern music. I love some of it. I just need a different discovery mechanism.

  5. Francis Hwang says:

    The SXSW slog is pretty exhausting, yeah. So I have to do it in small doses.

    But I figure it's either 1) endure the hard work of finding new music or 2) become one of those people whose only contact with music is paying a ton of money to see reunion tours of alt bands from the '90s. So, it's back to the SXSW mines I go.

    Seriously, sometimes I think The Pixies are my generation's Rolling Stones.

    • Jon says:

      Some people discover new music without the help of SXSW. Shocking, I know! Do you have *any* good radio over there?

      • jwz says:

        Radio? That's the layer SMS and wifi run on, right?

        • Jon says:

          Pertinent point, because the only decent stations here (UK) are DAB, and a quick search confirmed my suspicions: you don't use DAB over in the US. (not that this has any relationship to the quality of the material broadcast, of course. I grew up envious of the myriad of college and alternative FM stations you folks enjoyed. We had, and still have, next to nothing.) However, the same stations are available via web streams (albeit not shoutcast ones). I think the use of 'radio' here is roughly analogous to contemporary use of 'tapes' for video, or 'ringing' telephones.

    • jwz says:

      Nobody ever said, "Everyone who saw the first Rolling Stones tour formed a band."

      I mean, yeah, apparently that actually happened. But nobody said it because nobody was actually proud of it.

  6. Dr. Curiosity says:

    I want there to be more post-apocalyptic cyberpunk hip-hop. Deltron 3030 alone is not sufficient.

  7. Chris Cunningham says:

    For the last few years I've started by weeding out all the tracks which didn't get five stars from the "six word review" guy. That at last usually results in a playlist which is always at least tolerable, and if anything really stands out I can go from there. I've really no idea how anyone over the age of 25 is actually supposed to go about finding new music these days though. Three quarters of the gigs I went to last year were reunions.

    • Jon says:

      A quick think about the ways in which I have heard of some new music I like, recently (as oppose to newly hearing old music, which still occurs much more frequently), sorted by most-frequently-yielding-first:

      • because a group I already like promoted them as a supporting act or similar (e.g. The Horrors, DFA1979, Ladytron via NIN; Kinevil via Ladytron (who turned out to be a local band to me anyway); the Cranes, White Lies via the Cure, etc.)
      • because the group has covered an old song by someone I already like (Destroyer — Leave Me Alone; Warm Ghost — All Cats Are Grey, …) which turned up in a search
      • JWZ's mixtapes and filtered SXSW stuff probably sit around here
      • word of mouth from a friend (or via a mixtape swap)
      • heard on the radio (digital radio, via web streams, almost exclusively)

      The depressing thing is, none of the above scale to anything like the size needed to provide a steady stream of interesting new stuff. Also the complete absence of mainstream media (magazines/newspapers, even free ones; "Music" television; media shows on mainstream TV; mainstream/FM radio; reasonably priced local gigs)

      • M.E. says:

        That's the problem. People expect a steady stream of interesting new stuff. So the average quality decreases proportionally to how much interesting new stuff there actually is. What if there were no "top 10 albums of 2011"? Can't we just admit that they all sucked instead of picking 10 bad ones? Would that be the end of the world? Revolutions don't come every day. That's sort of the whole point.

        • Ben Brockert says:

          There can't not be top 10 albums unless there were less than 10 albums made. Top 10 does not require goodness.

          That said, you sound really old.

  8. Lun Esex says:

    As the worldwide corpus of music grows over time, there will always be increasingly less "good new stuff" each year compared to the amount of "good old stuff," as a percentage of the total "good stuff."

    The youth will always have the advantage, being able to both discover "good old stuff" as if it were new, and having less exposure to the "good old stuff" they don't have as full a measure of comparison for what they consider "good new stuff."

    Moral: Go ahead and destroy your hearing while you're still young. The older you get the less there'll be anything new worth listening to anyway.

    Counterpoint: 90% of everything is, and has always been, crap. 90% of the music being released in the golden days of your youth, when you remember discovering your favorite bands, was crap, too. You just didn't necessarily realize it as much because what was "new" to you then wasn't limited to what was just being released. (I, myself, remember ALWAYS hating 90% of the most popular music. Amusingly, I've actually come to later change my mind about some things after they stopped being played to death everywhere.) So destroying your hearing while young means you won't be able to get full enjoyment out of each year's 10% of new music that actually is good, if you somehow manage to keep up as your adult responsibilities grow. It's up to you whether you avoid becoming bitter enough to not care in the meantime.

    • nooj says:

      > Go ahead and destroy your hearing while you're young.

      Kids, don't try this at home. I mean, you have a fantastic analysis, but you're comparing apples to oranges: you should be comparing "I'd like to listen to this decent (but not good/great) music now at age 20 at a hearing-destroying volume" with "I'd like to be able to understand what people are saying to me without a hearing aid at age 60."

      • Lun Esex says:

        You seem to have missed the point I was making. Perhaps I was too subtle?

        More bluntly & less snarkily, then: There's actually about as much new good music now as at any time in your past.

        • nooj says:

          > There's actually about as much new good music now as at any time in your past.
          Oh, yeah, I agree completely. I just disagreed with the snark.

  9. jwz says:

    I discover more and better music now than I did in the past. The fact that there is more of it means there is more that is better. If this is not your experience, you're doing it wrong.

    • Patrick Berry says:

      Sometimes I wish I ran a club so that discovering awesome new music was my job, but then I read all your other posts. That being said, between, rdio, amazon mp3, and iTunes I always finding tons of new (and new to me) music that I love.