Russian Circles, "Vorel"
Russian Circles usually gets tagged with the post-rock label, which doesn't really hang together to me. There's nothing really post- about most of their stuff. To me, this is really just straight up instrumental metal, and it's faaaantastic at that. They've been cranking out fantastic albums for years now, and it seems like it would get tired, but it absolutely does not. This is from the magnificent Guidance, which is as good a place to start as any.
Wu-Tang Clan, "Bells of War"
We've talked about how scattered Wu-Tang Forever is. It's the double album that brought the crew back together after a round of solo records, and some of the cracks in the band were already showing. It's not as hungry and focused as the debut record. This song is a good example. It sounds good, but it's a little too smooth. Each rapper that comes in sounds solid, but it doesn't really gel together as something that kind of blows you away.
Young Hunter, "Children of a Hungry World"
Another track from Young Hunter, the desert-inflected rock band that a friend pointed me towards one day on a gaming forum. There's a definite doom influence in a lot of what they do, but you can hear a nice black-metal inflected bit in here. You can hear from the quality of the recording that this is some real basement stuff, but it's well done. Always nice to find a small band like this.
Big Drill Car, "Take Away"
As Spotify automatically kicked into the Dead Kennedys today in the car today and I just rolled with it despite my youngest being in the car, I thought about my own music discovery and what it'll be like for my kids. From about the age of 13, slowly learning about bands, learning about their discographies, and gradually expanding my knowledge was a huge part of my teenage years. It was a way that I bonded with my friends, and a way of connecting to their interests. We would introduce each other to bands and albums, and because it wasn't easy to find things, the shared joy of discovery was a massive pleasure.
In today's world, with vast music libraries available for streaming at any moment, the act of finding records to listen to is a totally different one. There are a couple things that strike me about this. The first, that any artist or record that's missing from the streaming libraries is effectively invisible, seems like it's a real loss. Are people going to pursue those offline wonders when there are plenty of great songs they can play? Are they even going to learn about them? The second thing is, will curation feel the same as sharing that album you found at a used record store? There's no scarcity in these things, and will a playlist or recommendation carry the same weight? Will people stick with albums that might be difficult at first, just because they bought it so they might as well give it a try?
To be clear, this isn't a suggestion to go back to the way things were. We shouldn't want to turn back the clock (but we should fix the business models!). And it's not a "kids won't love music" complaint - of course they will, they're human, there's no doubt they'll love music. It's just sort of an acknowledgment that the cultural context, the media environment I grew up in, provided methods of interaction with my peers that are completely gone now. And I wonder what will replace them.
All of which is to say, I sincerely hope that my kids have the experience of sitting in a dorm room with a friend, and the friend puts on some record they've never heard before, and it's like a gap that they were never aware of had been filled. I hope they have the experience of taking that album from their friend, and just listening to it over and over in the back of a darkened car when they're supposed to be sleeping. I hope they have the chance to cement a lifelong friendship through the joy of shared music. And mostly, I hope that if they don't have those chances, they have something even better.
Drive Like Jehu, "Golden Brown"
Oh, would you look at that! I'm sitting in a dorm room right now!