Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Travesties - Great and Small, Vol. 1

When I decided to get back into blogging, I determined that I would make it a goal to post every day for one week. Furthermore, I actually came up with a theme for the week. Now, yesterday's "The Ducks are back" post wasn't related at all. I didn't plan on doing a rambling ode to Colson Whitehead's marvelous writing (and you know it's serious when I bust out the word "marvelous"!!), but Elana Johnson's blog inspired me...

Anyway, the theme for this week is back on. Without further fanfare, I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, Travesties - Great and Small.

There are major travesties to be addressed, this is for certain, but I'm going to start small. I was driving my stepson to school the other morning and listening to Nada Surf's "The Weight is a Gift." It is a beautifully-crafted pop rock album. Perhaps the most popular (if such a term can be used, but more on that later...) track is "Always Love." It's a positive, upbeat song imploring/cautioning us to "Always love/Hate will get you every time."

Now, I listen to a lot of different music, but I usually veer towards "different" music. I'm not a fan of top-40 and have little use for the radio. For a year or two, there was a radio station here in Happy-but-not-as-happy-as-Boulder-Colorado Holland, MI (96.1 FM) which played great stuff and I was a devout listener.

No one would really know this except for me, but I would even listen to the commercials to "support" them in my own little way. Other stations, I change the channel quickly once the music dies. Especially 97.9 WGRD. If you advertise on that station, you aren’t getting my business by doing so (no offense intended). My problem with WGRD began via the fact that every time I started my car, they were playing a commercial. Without fail I would hear a salesman trying to pitch me on something instead of tunes. I get that stations need commercials to survive, but let's keep it reasonable folks!

Also, now that I'm getting older I just don't like as much of the music they play. I've become a curmudgeon.

Anyhow, since the painful death of 96.1, I rarely listen to the radio and mostly rely on cd's to soothe my restless soul as I cruise down the highways of life.

Still not at my point just yet, but 96.1 (R.I.P.) not being able to thrive was certainly a travesty. I miss being able to hear The Gaslight Anthem, Nada Surf and Modest Mouse on the radio. These bands aren't terribly obscure (perhaps Nada Surf more than the others...), but I don't think there is anywhere I can catch them in West Michigan radio.

I tweeted about this a while back now, but I feel it is a complete shame that Ryan Adams is not more popular. His music is authentic and has actual messages. He crafts his songs and this is something that cannot be said about such popular fare as The Black Eyed Peas (just saying their name makes me vomit a little...). Mark Kozelek is another true American music genius who doesn't receive enough credit amongst the masses. Sure, critics know the front man for Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, but say his name to 99.9% of the other people on the street and you will be greeted with a blank stare. Sun Kil Moon's "April" album is full of hauntingly beautiful songs and I cannot wait for the July 13th release of their "Admiral Fell Promises."

I don't want to give the mistaken impression that I'm some sort of hipster who only listens to indie artists. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Radiohead are some of my absolute favorites and it's not like those bands are local guys trying to make it for the first time. In spite of his flaws -- well, we all have flaws! -- I like Kanye West's music. Jay-Z's most recent album is incredible. The Beatles, Led Zepplin, Neil Diamond... doubt I'll get much street cred from enjoying those artists.

My point -- yes, I do have one! -- is simply that I think it is a travesty that extremely talented artists such as Ryan Adams, Sun Kil Moon, Atmosphere (for hip-hop enthusiasts), and Nada Surf aren't more popular in the U.S.

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