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Sound Grenade

by Archives March 3, 2009

Ever sit down and scroll through your mp3/Ipod or look at your CD/record collection or even turn on an FM radio station and think, “Oh man, I am so sick of this! I need some new music because if I listen to Katy Perry one more time I will go rampant at the pharmacy and destroy all cherry chap sticks?”
It’s not that the music is horrible . . . it’s just that the lack of variety would drive anyone insane. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who was content with hearing the same song over and over again.
All you old school movie buffs and Bill Murray fans, remember Ground Hog Day? It’s a film about this guy who keeps reliving the same day over and over again, and he wakes up every morning to the radio playing the same song, Sonny and Cher’s “I got you Babe.” Midway through the movie, the audience wants to forever mute the singing duo in hopes of never hearing the song again. Why? Because repetition is annoying!
Especially musical repetition . . . the first time you hear a song, it’s new, interesting and exciting, but after a while, it gets boring and the only way to rekindle with it is to take a break and go back to it months later. The romance of music is a complicated one – it’s not like you can go to musical counselling or communicate your differences. The only solution is time and exploration.
Explore new music and by new I mean “new to you,” because old music can be a refreshing change as well. The Beatles, The Clash, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, Etta James, Nina Simone, The Sex Pistols, Queen, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Pixies, Nirvana, Pat Benatar, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. These guys are old, but they’re also the mothers and fathers of music, and most probably influenced the artists you listen to today. Ask your parents, grandparents and those lonely old people at bus stops about their musical preferences; they might have an interesting selection to offer. Ever read a music column about your favourite band, and wonder about the lists of artists they mention as positive influences? Chances are that you too will like those groups, so check them out.
A music dry spell is never fun, it’s downright depressing. Songs sound bland, you know all the words (sometimes you don’t, but sing along anyways) and you feel that your favourite band has lost their magic touch. Don’t worry, it’s not them . . . it’s you. The only way to cure a song-related blah mood is to do some musical research and take the time to understand your own personal tastes, rather than going along with what you’re told is musical quality. Be critical and biased. It’s your personal preference that counts, no one else’s, so if you love instrumental spoons accompanied by cowbells find as many bands as you can with that specific sound and then compare, compare, compare and listen.
Variety is great, but if you hate heavy metal or country don’t force yourself to like it. Or perhaps find an artist you enjoy and listen to some metal or country songs he or she covers. Now that you’re in the “I need new music mindset,” what to do? How do you go about this epic trek of tunes? First take a trip to a computer near you and Google artists you already like, check out their biographies, reviews and interviews, because they will include musical influences, favourite artists and bands that sound like them. Now you’re making some progress because these guys will link you to even more sounds and genres than you had ever hoped for. Most artists and MySpace music pages allow visitors to listen to mp3 clips and download a song or two for free, so that you don’t have to shop blindly, or in this instance deafly. Some online music magazines like, CJLO, CMJ and SPIN offer links that allow people to sample entire full length albums that in some instances have yet to be released to the public.
Also, some of us have access to these insane technologies, like the new Ipod that actually groups your music together for you and recommends bands that have similar sounds. It’s music made simple. You obviously won’t like everything you hear and will have to sift through many cherry chapsticks and you’re beautifuls – but once you come across that “it” song, it’ll be worth it and the next time a friend is in a musical drought of unhappiness, you’ll be able to offer up some hugs and two words of advice. “Research, now.”

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