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Each week, during the Crash Chords Podcast, Matt, Jon, and I task ourselves to an engrossing album review—usually ripe with vehement discourse, a heated exchange of opinions and observations, and a few revelations. Then, once all has been said, a fixed summation is usually warranted to close the book on the matter and call it a day. But the book is never quite closed, is it? That’s the wonderful thing about music (and art in general), that all it really takes for a work to gain someone’s favor is for that person to see it in a personal light. As long as it’s something provocative and close to home, anything has a chance at success. This is why, I believe, once our ratings have been spoken, they often result in a more generalized debate on the grounds with which we make such judgments, and the flexibilities we must grant.
In Crash Chords Podcast #9, we looked at the pros and cons of Rock n’ Roll in its infant state through the lens of our album review, Take a Vacation! by The Young Veins. Though their work was dated as recent as 2010, they hearkened back to a much earlier incarnation of Rock, delivering unto us the carefree beach sounds of the early 60s once again. Though the album sparked an intriguing debate on how it should be rated, it was unanimously agreed upon that there is much to be owed to this early era, as a basis for modern instrumentation and common structural forms. But, as with a great many other things in the 1960s, Rock was inevitably on an unstoppable evolutionary track.
In determining our musical leanings, I put great stock into the constructs of our musical backgrounds. Almost irrefutably, the experiences we have with music in our pasts will determine the music we listen to in the future. “But wait, no!” you might say. “That can’t be true! Surely I’ve been lured by fresh artists into foreign genres before, some which I’d never have given a chance otherwise!” Well sure, we’ve all been there (and probably felt like quite the pioneer, haven’t we?), but in today’s modern society where genres are plentiful and tastes subjective, it can be interesting to ask ourselves from time to time a variety of questions. Under what pretenses do we make these choices? What defines our threshold for acceptance vs. rejection? More fundamentally, what is it that makes our back-hair stand on end, and where does it come from?
How often have we encountered folks who strictly distinguish the disciplined process of music composition from its fun little brother: the laid-back, youthful Rock culture? In my experience, the two are viewed as glaringly dissimilar. But is the truth of the matter so clear-cut and dry? If there’s one thing the Alternative era has taught me, it’s that the two entities may, in fact, be distant, yet kindred spirits… who are just beginning to flirt. Personally, I can’t think of a better example—a fastidious, hardworking band, bent on eloping the two— than a spirited Long Island-based band called As Tall as Lions.