Music tastes and habituality

It’s a curious thing, really. Back in the ’80s I hated the Cure, or the Talking Heads, or any other progressive rock band. I also disliked heavy metal, although I didn’t mind the milder Bon Jovi. I also hated my native Greek music (and I still do). I was a yet another pop girl, in love with Michael Jackson and Madonna.

But in the ’90s, things changed. The time I became an adult was also the time we were able to acquire MTV signal from the local pirate re-broadcasters in my area. It made me more used to rock, alternative rock in particular, but that was also the time that Eurodance was big in Europe/Japan, which I also loved at the time.

This current decade has been all about rock though. JBQ is a heavy metal/alt/hard rock guy (big Iron Maiden fan), so I naturally got used to the sound even more. Franz Ferdinand, AFI, Green Day, Rise Against, Disturbed, Linkin Park, Metallica are all in our daily rotation.

However, I am changing again.

This time, my favorite music is actually the indie experimental sound, a sound that usually sits somewhere between pop, rock and folk — with a twist. Bands like Arcade Fire, Cloud Cult, British Sea Power, Blitzen Trapper, Feist, Orenda Fink, Portugal The Man, Ratatat, Scissors for Lefty, Midlake, Sea Wolf, Sin Fang Bous, We Are Wolves, and Wye Oak are what I like listening to. I don’t like all of their songs, but some of their stuff, I find amazing.

Now, you are probably thinking: “wait a fucking second. Aren’t you the same person who said just a few weeks ago that indie rock is not that epic, or that this is the kind of music you actually dislike?”.

I am. Or, maybe I am not.

I feel that I am changing again. During my vast research of free, legal mp3s on the internet last month I had to listen to this “new” sound a lot. Most of the new bands out there play such music. And I got used to it. I now “get it”.

For some of that music we have a specific word in Greek: “κουλτουριαρικη”. Means that it’s somewhat modern art, difficult to get into at first, and usually liked by specific kind of people, not your normal Joe & Jane. This doesn’t mean that it’s the music for snobs, but rather somewhat underground and unappreciated by the public at large. The funny thing here is that I always disliked that kind of music and I even opposed it all my life. I liked accessibility. But I think I now too get the endorphins associated with it. Update: I guess the international equivalent term to that Greek word is “avant-garde”.

I think one reason this music is not more popular (especially in Europe), it’s because is it’s uneven. I mentioned some bands above, and yet, I only like a fraction of their songs. For example, I bought the whole repertoire of Arcade Fire the other day, and I only find 10 songs that I like in there (and only 5 that I really like). As for my favorite indie band, the Cloud Cult, I *only* like their latest album! And while I love the current Blitzen Trapper, I can’t stand their first two albums. On the other hand, I can go through an AFI, Green Day, Muse, Franz Ferdinand, Madonna album without skipping songs! Some of these guys with a major’s contract might be history in terms of music genre, but their albums are overall better because they have more evenly good songs in them. The only indie bands that I like all their albums and all the songs, from start to finish, are the Malbec and the Drist (JBQ likes them too).

However, JBQ hates that vast majority of that indie folk-y music (he can’t stand Cloud Cult for example, to my surprise). He in fact finds it “painful”, he said, on at best “nothing special”. But I think it’s just that: getting used to it and “get” the serene melody with complex layers these songs offer compared to a hard rock shouting match that probably we heard it all before. To me, indie music is like rock married pop and had babies. However, I did notice that for some songs that JBQ hated originally, when I replayed them days later he was more susceptible to them (e.g. Feist’s “One Evening”).

These days iTunes is playing for me alternative rock, that new crop of indie rock, and some hard rock and trance songs. Very rarely I listen to pop anymore. Regardless of what kind of music I will be listening to in the new decade, one thing is for sure though: it won’t be Greek.


memson wrote on July 13th, 2009 at 11:58 AM PST:

Have you heard any Sebadoh or even Pavement? If you are getting in to slightly more indie/folkey stuff, you’d probably like them. With Sebadoh, try Bakesale or Harmacy, with Pavement, try Brighten Corners or Croocked rain, Croocked rain. I’m not saying you’ll love them, but they are very good, clever and interesting bands. Actually, Pavement sound quite a lot like some of the music Baron Arnold was doing with Ficus, if that helps.

tOnGAs wrote on July 15th, 2009 at 6:55 AM PST:

Music has a strange property : even if you dislike a song the first time you hear it, sometimes, by listening it again and again, you might like it very much after all.
A long time ago, a friend gave me a tape with some Iron Maiden album on the A-side, and a Slayer album on the B-side. I couldn’t stand the brutal sound of Slayer ! But rewinding the tape to play only the A-side drained the batteries way too fast, so I ended up listening this Slayer album more and more. A few weeks (or days ?) later, I was looking for mure Slayer albums.

Recently, it was Joanna Newsom’s album : “Ys” that had a similar effect on me. Yuck! the first time, but I can’t get those strange sounds and lyrics out of my head.

About “κουλτουριαρικη”, it reminds me of a saying we have around here : “Musique pour musiciens”. Roughly translated : “Music for musicians”

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