I know it's been a while since I posted.  Planning season, lots going on with the know the story. Anyway, there's been a post rattling around inside my head for a few days now, and I gotta get it out there.  It deals with one of my biggest frustrations - the lack of good rock music.

Part of me wonders if this is what my Dad must have felt like as Doo-Wop died and the music he grew up on started to fade away.  It must have been frustrating to not be able to replicate that great feeling you get when you buy a record you absolutely love, go home and literally wear out the record because you love the song so much.  As far as I'm concerned, there have been precious few of those records since I graduated college.  Worse yet, they've been more difficult to locate.

I think the advent of digital technologies forever altered the way music is put out.  But there was one change that I thought would come about that never really did.  Whereas when I was a kid, a band could put out an album with only one or two good songs on it and still chalk up album sales, the dynamic is completely altered in the age of iTunes.  Now that every song is a single, kids can and do cherry-pick the songs they like and pay only 99 cents a pop for them, rather than blow $10-15 on an entire album and be disappointed when they listen to it all the way through.  I thought this would force artists to weed out the weak stuff and give us more songs that could stand on their own.  Fat chance.

I think I must have underestimated inertia.  I can rattle off dozens of bands that put out a great song and pushed it on satellite and Internet radio and got me interested enough to buy a whole album.  Maybe they won't score album sales with the kiddies, but they might be getting full-album sales from older buyers like me who are used to supporting artists with good tracks by buying the entire thing.  Problem is, I'm probably now going to switch my habits because I'm tired of getting burned.

I think the overall problem, though, goes back to weak songwriting.  There just aren't that many artists who can continually and consistently churn out great songs.  Mind you, I'm talking about great songs, not great tracks.

There's another problem.  My mechanism for discovering great music has completely broken down.  When I was in high school, my friends and I would spend a lot of time listening to music together.  We'd cruise around in one another's cars, or we'd sit around in someone's basement listening to stuff, and it was a great way to find out what everyone else was listening to and discovering.  I recall eagerly anticipating bringing an album that no one had heard yet to the next gathering, popping in a cassette tape and saying, "Wait'll you get a load of THIS!"

When I was in college, we'd all be going to see new bands every weekend.  When I lived in a fraternity house, everyone would have stereos in their room and would be blasting stuff they liked all the time.  It was impossible to NOT be exposed to new stuff.

Now that I'm old and lame, I can do two things - 1) Ask my buddies what they're listening to, and 2) Log on to stuff like Pandora or get Apple to make music recommendations for me.  Problem is, the technology just isn't there yet, and my friends are all stuck in the same ruts I'm in, their mechanisms for discovering new music having broken down the same way mine have.  As a technologist, I have some faith that someday, a technology solution will emerge that will help connect people with music they like.  But it's just not there today.  Apple tells me I might like AC/DC.  Great, I knew that in 1980.

Since 2000, I've discovered maybe a dozen albums that I like to listen to all the way through.  Here are some of them:

  • Coheed & Cambria - Second Stage Turbine Blade
  • The Click Five - Greetings from Imrie House
  • Creeper Lagoon - Watering Ghost Garden
  • Further Seems Forever - Hide Nothing
  • Gringo Love Show - Gringo Love Show
  • Jack's Mannequin - Everything In Transit
  • Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American
  • Mae - The Everglow
  • Matt Wertz - Twentythree Places
  • My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade

Of the artists listed above, only a handful released anything afterward with strong enough songwriting to carry me through the album all the way through.  Coheed drowned in their own concept albums.  Gringo Love Show broke up.  Mae released disappointing follow-ups.  Jimmy Eat World put out albums with a couple strong songs per release, but with junk strewn throughout the rest.

My point here is that I really don't have too many artists to cling to anymore.  When I was a kid, I'd wear out just about everything that Van Halen, AC/DC, Def Leppard, the Police, Pink Floyd and Ozzy put out.  Where are those consistently good artists today?

I guess no one wants to slide into middle age and become that nostalgic old fart who sits around dismissing what kids are listening to and comparing it to what was popular "back in the day."  But you know what?  I am.  I'm hoping technology will save me.  Then there's what my cousin is doing.  I can only hope that he and Sandy decide to take Dromedary off hiatus and help us get guitar-driven rock back.  I don't always like everything Cousin Al recommends, but he's responsible for my finding at least two or three of the really enjoyable albums I listed above.

Screw my MTV.  I want my rock back.