We have nothing against Rolling Stone: We’re not its audience, and we know that. But we still couldn’t help but be sorely disappointed by its “40 Reasons to Get Excited About Music” issue. Black Eyed Peas at No. 1? Katy Perry? The obligatory “Animal Collective rulez teh underground” entry? Yawn!
But rather than whine and criticize, we’ve resolved to be constructive by providing a list that we hope will actually introduce readers to stuff they didn’t already know about and celebrate the accomplishments of under-appreciated bands, venues, labels, websites, and other music-related phenomena. With that in mind, we’ve enlisted some guest suggestions from our favorite music writers and put together Flavorpill’s very own 40 Better Reasons to Get Excited About Music — a list you don’t have to shell out five bucks to read.
1. Thrill Jockey: It’s not a new label, but it does seem to have been reborn in the past year, snapping up a handful of talented bands, from Mi Ami to Double Dagger to Future Islands to High Places. We love that it takes risks and signs bands based on the quality of their music, instead of following lame trends.
2. All Tomorrow’s Parties: “It figures that the best American rock festival is run by two Brits. There’s a reason that the Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Bonnaroo lineups are practically identical. ATP doesn’t bend to the whole Hype Machine/Pitchfork/label-money economy of R$$ hype. Their booking method is whimsical — hell, verging on outright stubborn — seemingly asking, ‘Will this be cool?’ before ‘Will this make money?’ This is why you get awesome, unpredictable shit like a Sleep reunion; or Aussie post-punk pioneers the Scientists playing their first American show; or Boris and SunnO))) teaming up; or co-curator Jim Jarmusch nabbing a bunch of stoned-out avant-riffers you’ve never heard of. Bonus: Your room is right on the festival site, so you can leave a show to catch a nap, have a snack, or take a shit in peace. It’s a lost weekend where everyone comes back with at least three amazing stories. My friends are sick of hearing me talk about it.” – Christopher R. Weingarten, @1000TimesYes, and author of the 33 1/3 book on Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back — out this week!
3. Streaming albums before you buy them: Want to listen to LCD Soundsystem’s new album, which doesn’t come out till May? Go ahead! (We recommend it!) In the past year or so, there’s been an explosion of free, online previews of music by great bands big and small. And it’s a total win-win: We get to check out our favorite artists’ new material before its street date, and labels like that it prevents illegal file sharing.
4. Bradford Cox: Seriously, we don’t know how the guy does it. But he somehow manages to put out roughly two transcendently brilliant albums a year, in his capacities as both the mastermind of Deerhunter and the sole force behind Atlas Sound. He is also really, really fun live.
5. Anyone can be a critic: “The ’90s may have taught us that ‘anyone can play guitar,’ but now any music lover with a working internet connection and a brain can share his or her enthusiasm with the public and rest assured that at least somebody out there will be listening. Having more music writers out there may mean a higher volume of shoddy criticism, but it also means that those of us who aspire to do more than post MediaFire downloads and paraphrase press releases can do so in dialogue with each other, prodding each other to come up with better and better explanations for why certain music makes us tick — and why it seems to be happening at this moment in history. Arriving at that understanding collectively — as a generation, even — is much more exciting than listening to what some snarky loner type sitting at an editorial desk has to say.” – Emilie Friedlander, who blogs at Visitation Rites, cohosts Arthur magazine’s weekly Newtown Radio show, and will debut the Newtown series “Underwater Visitations” this month