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Strangely, history has slowed down for popular music.  It's a remarkable phenomenon.  In 1964, the cutting edge of popular music was almost incommensurably different from twenty years previously.  The Beatles/Glenn Miller.  Today, bands of twenty - even thirty - years ago sound like our contemporaries.  I walked into a bar recently, and they were playing Patti Smith's Horses.  Thirty years old, but could have been released last week.

That's because *we're* old. Even the thirty-sumpthins.

 

Having teenagers puts this into perspective.

 

Edit: I'm not talking 'emo" music either,

 

Some of the newer metal stuff is hard to catagorize. I agree with the NY Times. very Jazz-like. I overhear bands like "Rage", Lots of Claypool bands (Primus and it's incarnations) sound very different from the 70s and even the 80s. Modern metal seems to be in the middle of a 15 year morph. Also different from the 80s.

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Strangely, history has slowed down for popular music. It's a remarkable phenomenon. In 1964, the cutting edge of popular music was almost incommensurably different from twenty years previously. The Beatles/Glenn Miller. Today, bands of twenty - even thirty - years ago sound like our contemporaries. I walked into a bar recently, and they were playing Patti Smith's Horses. Thirty years old, but could have been released last week.

I think there's a bit of an ongoing accident with how electronic music is treated (particularly here), which may be a contributing factor. But in many shows we've seen recently, I thought "what's the point in doing more of the same?"

 

ngatti -- I'm not sure I follow. The complaint isn't that music today has changed/is noise/is trash, but that it hasn't.

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Strangely, history has slowed down for popular music.  It's a remarkable phenomenon.  In 1964, the cutting edge of popular music was almost incommensurably different from twenty years previously.  The Beatles/Glenn Miller.  Today, bands of twenty - even thirty - years ago sound like our contemporaries.   I walked into a bar recently, and they were playing Patti Smith's Horses.  Thirty years old, but could have been released last week.

I think there's a bit of an ongoing accident with how electronic music is treated (particularly here), which may be a contributing factor. But in many shows we've seen recently, I thought "what's the point in doing more of the same?"

 

ngatti -- I'm not sure I follow. The complaint isn't that music today has changed/is noise/is trash, but that it hasn't.

I think it has changed. and is youth (under twenty) driven. The bands and styles I cite are about 15 years old. I Think they're different sounding.

 

edit: just raising the possibility that the idea of non-change may be self-defining.

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Strangely, history has slowed down for popular music. It's a remarkable phenomenon. In 1964, the cutting edge of popular music was almost incommensurably different from twenty years previously. The Beatles/Glenn Miller. Today, bands of twenty - even thirty - years ago sound like our contemporaries. I walked into a bar recently, and they were playing Patti Smith's Horses. Thirty years old, but could have been released last week.

There are only so many combinations of notes and chords that sound pleasing to the ear and we have found most of them, if not all. Unless you want to make atonal noise, you're going to have a bit of the familiar with whatever you do.

 

But there is new stuff in the way of arrangements and lyrics and even the way certain chord progressions are combined with others. Bands like TSOOL or Jet are shamelessly derivitive, but they both do it so well I dont' hold it against them (actually, I used to hold it against Jet until I heard a song and asked "Who is this? I like it" and it was them).

 

Other bands, like the Dears or the Futureheads, combine familar but disparate influences to make something you've never quite heard before.

 

And there there are people like Sufjan Stevens or New Pornographers' Carl Newman or Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard who are just amazing songwriters and are so good at it, it sounds effortless and new.

 

That's what it comes down to for me, the song. If it's good I don't care if it kinda sounds like the Smiths or the Stones or The Jam or Django Reinhardt. It's like comedy -- it's funny or it's not.

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Just to clarify, I didn't mean to say that new bands are doing new things - not at all. Still less did I mean to pass any comment on whether music is getting better or worse or staying the same.

 

My point was that something curious has happened such that many (not all) popular music acts from twenty or thirty years ago sound like they made their albums last week, or recently anyway. Sure, apart from some changes in production values - I'm talking about the music.

 

This was not the case in the sixties, or indeed the seventies. Not one act from the 1930s or 1940s sounded contemporary in the 1960s or 1970s.

 

A modest point, but do you see what I mean?

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Makes sense to me. Though I do think recorded music generally sounds a bit different since everyone went digital. Maybe it's that many of the same producers are still around. Maybe it's the music industry is playing it safe. Maybe it's that there doesn't seem to be any significant change in equipment and instruments used. Maybe it's that today's bands are in the thrall of the music they heard growing up and can't think of any new moves. Perhaps the music industry is just nostalgic. Maybe yesterday's musicians are hanging around longer and still getting airplay--not to cast any stones.

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I have another explanation, which is the prolongation of "youth". In the 1930s and 1940s, people put aside childish things at a fairly early age. These days, people continue to listen to popular music into their dotage. So, someone buying the latest releases in 2005 might well have been buying the latest releases in 1985. Less likely re 1965 and 1945. Associated with this is the increasing artistic longevity of the acts. I saw somewhere that U2 are celebrating 26 years together.

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My point was that something curious has happened such that many (not all) popular music acts from twenty or thirty years ago sound like they made their albums last week, or recently anyway. Sure, apart from some changes in production values - I'm talking about the music.

U2 have definitely gone back to their "classic" sound for the new album after spending the '90s flirting with dance music. They've stopped trying to be innovative and have gone back to doing what they do best.

 

Production-wise... I think there may be a general consensus that records from the '60s and '70s still sound good and maybe records from the '80s and early '90s don't. As great as the songs on Aztec Camera's High Land Hard Rain are -- and they're great -- those synth drums the producer made them use make it sound soooo dated. Actually almost all drums from the '80s -- real or electronic -- suffer from that 'gated' sound that producers seemed to like then.

 

maybe this shouldn't be part of the gigs thread, though.

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I have another explanation, which is the prolongation of "youth". In the 1930s and 1940s, people put aside childish things at a fairly early age. These days, people continue to listen to popular music into their dotage. So, someone buying the latest releases in 2005 might well have been buying the latest releases in 1985. Less likely re 1965 and 1945. Associated with this is the increasing artistic longevity of the acts. I saw somewhere that U2 are celebrating 26 years together.

Perhaps you read it here: Ms. Frere-Jones on aging rockers. http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?critics/050117crmu_music

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I just got tickets for LP at the Bowery Ballroom on the 28th. For the uninitiated, she’s a NY singer/songwriter with a dynamic stage presence and a powerful yet soulful voice that totally floored me the first time I heard her live. Absolutely incredible. Here’s a recent review from the Washington Post.

Aw come on, tell the truth, its really our very own Lippy, right? Thats what the LP is short for, right, I got it? right? right? :rolleyes:

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A friend once created a hypothetical nightclub act and stage persona for me named, "Sandy Lips." Sandy Lips (who sang monotone, like me) was supposed to come out on the stage singing Johnny One-Note. During the act, there would be so much going on with costume changes, lights, scenery, chorus boys, etc., that no one would realize that in fact, the whole show was sung on one note. My friend's day job was writing the zipper at Times Square (the original news in lights). He told me to come down to watch one day so I could see the headline: "Thrush takes NY by storm..."

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