March 18, 2013

Music: Is There Anything New Worth Hearing?

The Grammy Awards a few weeks ago made it crystal clear to me that my music knowledge and growth stopped about 30 years ago. For someone who spent his life in radio hanging out with recording artists and staying on top of all the new music, this is a depressing realization. Play any rock song from the late 1950's through the mid 1980's and I can name it in 3 notes. Play any song after that and I am pretty much lost.

Not being one who is content to become an old geezer who complains about the quality of music today ( I sound like my parents!) I am making a concerted effort to find new artists I enjoy. I am absolutely sure they are out there. I just have to stop listening to The 60s on 6 or Classic Vinyl on XM radio. I am not trying to be hip, I'm just trying to find new music to like.

I asked my 32 year old daughter to recommend some artists. I printed out a list of the award winners and nominees for the Grammys. I have started listening to The Pulse channel on satellite radio. I looked at the most popular downloads on iTunes.

Guess what...there is some really good music being made today! The instrumentation, vocal and lyrical qualities, and technical production techniques are very engaging. This may not come as a shock to you, but for someone who views the Beatles as the last group to create memorable music, this is a big deal.

So, what I have done is include several YouTube clips of some artists I found who I like. What do you think?


Any newer artists you have found that make you smile whenever you hear their songs on the radio or Internet? Suggest away.


  1. Bob, I walk a lot, and on those walks I typically have my iPod which for the most part is filled with tunes from the 60s & 70s. I also saw the need/desire to expand my playlist. Instead of moving forward on the time line though, I moved backward. For 2013 I decided to go through the 20th century, decade by decade (January 1900-1901, February 1910-1919,...) and zero in on 'top' tunes to download to the iPod. For March (1920-1929) I selected:

    California, Here I Come 1924
    My Blue Heaven 1927
    Ain’t She Sweet 1927
    Ol’ Man River 1928
    Charleston 1924
    Tip Toe Thru’ The Tulips With Me 1929
    When You’re Smiling 1929
    I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover 1927
    Rhapsody in Blue 1924
    Bolero 1928

    There is a lot of great music out there, it is good to get out of my comfort zone decades :)

    I too am lost post 1980s when it comes to music. I will have to remember this blog post and refer to it when I'm through with the 20th century.

    1. What a great idea, Scott. Where do you find the music..iTunes or some other source? Every song listed above is familiar to me (although way before my time) and would be fun to hear again.

      I like this a lot.

    2. Some I get via iTunes others can be found in (some songs are in the public domain and you can download as an mp3). The archive site is quite incredible. I've embedded a few of these songs from in a recent blogpost from March 2 "Songs from the 1920s" :

      The other site that helps me find popular tunes according to Billboard Chart:

    3. Excellent. Thanks, Scott. I will certainly check these out. Pam left a comment that she likes the idea, too.

    4. I have added the and Billboard chart info to my Favorites links. What a tremendous resource! I'm listening to Yes! We have no bananas as I type!

      Thanks, Scott

    5. Happily Retired Now! - by The Early Bird Specials

    6. Is that like the Blue Plates Specials?

  2. I listen to The Pulse as well . . . or at least I will until March 28, which is when our free trial of Sirius XM expires.

    I really enjoy Adele, Coldplay and yes, even Katy Perry. Katy Perry's music is terrific to work out too - very upbeat. Adele and Coldplay's lyrics and sound both give me chills when I listen.

    I get quickly bored with music and am always searching for the next new thing. It's fun, and it keeps me relevant.

    1. Katy Perry is a name that keeps popping up. I'll have to check her out. Adele is a superstar who has really come into her own.

      Frankly. I'd have a hard time without satellite radio. It will probably be one of the next things we have installed in the RV. I listen to dozens of different channels each week, everything from Bluegrass Junction to The Blend, The Pulse, Escape, and the classical channels.

    2. Katy Perry's Firework..strong.

  3. It is wise to ask your kids for what's new. I've done that for years and usually don't regret it. My younger son and I are usually simpatico but he's a huge Mumford and Sons/Avett Brothers fan now. I can take it for short spurts but I can only stand so much banjo.
    I like Adelle in a mix. I also listen to a legendary jock here in Philly, Pierre Robert, who knows all music inside and out. I tend to follow his lead on new stuff. But nothing ages you more than being stuck in a decade of music. Just sayin'. ;)

    1. I take part in a weekly meeting on amateur radio with several other ham radio operators...focused on the music and TV shows of the 60's. For an hour we answer trivia questions. It is fun for an hour a week but I am tired of that music and that part of my life.

    2. You know iTunes is a good way to 'try out' some new music and not have to commit to buying the whole album. I often go and sample things my son and others tell me about. If I like it I'll buy it one song at a time. I like that plan.

    3. I agree. The ability to sample songs on both iTunes and Amazon before buying is a real bonus. How many CDs have I bought in the past for one or two songs and found the rest of the songs disappointing.

  4. Bob, be sure to check out Adele and Esperanza Spaulding. I've known about Adele for awhile, but just recently started listening to Ms. Spaulding. She was recently featured on an episode of Austin City Limits.

    Good luck on your "new" music search.

    1. I will listen to Esperanza in just a bit. YouTube makes it so easy to sample new artists quickly. Then, downloading from iTunes or Amazon is a snap.

      Thanks, Gail

  5. Every once in a while I hear myself say, "They call that music?"(insert geezer face).....Then I try to listen to something other than Springsteen and Mellencamp. I now listen to Brandi Carlile on long runs through the woods.

    1. I'm listening to Folsom Prison Blues by Brandi Carlile right now. What a great version! Thanks, Mike.

  6. I am going to echo the Adele comment...absolutely love many of her songs. My kids finished growing in the '80' at that time, I had music from the '30's/'40's through the '80's.Now I am also behind the times, except for a few artists.

    One genre not mentioned is country. Alabama among many others for older tunes, Brad Peaisley, the Band Perry & Tim McGraw for newer ones. I tend to lick less rackety music, so loud rock has never been my forte, but beginning to listen might be a good idea.

    wow...good thoughts. My horizon is expanding, even as I read!

    Going back through the decades is an awesome idea... I might also try that.

  7. You are is cool. I do listen to Outlaw Country and the Highway on XM Radio. Back in my radio days I never worked at a country station but did listen to a lot of C&W (country & western) tunes to find something that might fit adult contemporary music.

  8. With three teenagers still at home, I am *always* being introduced to new stuff, some of which I like and some which I don't. My favorite genre is . . . hip hop (never could have seen that coming, but I do like a lot of it), but I pretty much like anything with a beat you can dance to.

    My favorite right now is: Thrift Shop Feat by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: (language is a bit NSFW, but the video is funny. I also loved the recently popular "Gangnam Style" by Psy and "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 (not hip hop but very danceable).

    Favorite singer right now is Emili Sande out of Scotland. She's got an amazing voice. Here's one song, "Next to Me":

    Lots more out there I like as well, thanks to my kids. And I've been able to turn them on to some older stuff as well that they now like.

    1. What....No Hawaiian or Polynesian recommendations?

      I do like a lot of Maroon 5 stuff, including Moves Like Jagger.

  9. Radio plays an important role in making sure that we're no longer exposed to new music. As a teenager, my local FM rock station was all over new music. The second a new album was available, they would play Side One uninterrupted, and then an hour later, Side Two. Then something happened to radio...Classic Rock. Suddenly, time stood still. There was no new music, only the same 100 songs over and over and over.

    Classic Rock ensured that even new music from the 'classic rockers' themselves was suddenly ignored. Bob Dylan had the gorgeous 1998 Album of the Year, "Time Out of Mind", and now 15 years later, I've yet to hear a single track from that album on radio.

    So I'm kind of in the same boat. I find myself out of the loop when it comes to great new music. I don't listen to Classic Rock or Oldies stations simply because I can't expect to hear anything that I haven't heard a zillion times before.

    It's not hopeless, though. Voices like Adele (as many have mentioned) will not be ignored. And, if you keep your ears peeled, you can find new music in strange places. TV/movie soundtracks are a great source of fresh music for people like me who seldom listen to music on the radio. Making the rounds these days are Scala & Kolacny Brothers, who you can hear in the "Zero Dark Thirty" trailer, as well as "Homeland" and "Covert Affairs".

    And, if you're paying attention to a certain Citi commercial (the rock climbing one that has you reaching for your airsick bag), you might discover the awesome LP (aka Laura Pergolizzi)

    And, sometimes "new music" is as simple as someone putting their spin on an old song. You can't go wrong with Pink singing the classics.

    1. Radio stopped being a reliable source for new music when strict formats became commonplace in the early 70's. I should job as a radio consultant was to be sure only the hits were played. There was too much money involved to stray from the safe and well known.

      Today radio is primarily an advertising vehicle with commercials separated by non offensive, safe songs. Even SiriusXM radio, with all those channels, still plays a proven mix of winners on all but the college radio channel.

      There are at least 10,000 Internet radio stations available with every format and country available. The vast majority are free so for fresh music that is a great place to start.

      Thanks for your suggestions and links, Page 48!

  10. My kids got their music genes from me, one does classic rock and the blues and the other lisstens to motown. That said, having a twenty four and thirty four year old I do get introduced to a lot of music and I generally watch the grammys and music award just to hear what's out there. I had never heard of the black Keys before the grammy's and I am hooked. Like Adele but think she has really gotten over played.

    Like the other posters i tunes is my friend, but I dont have an ipod. I download play lists and stream them from my laptop or burn to cds to put in the car. I also listen to a lot of older music and after driving cross country with me my kid can hum Rhapsody in Blue, Slaughter on tenth avenue, and mack the knife at a minimum.

    1. I don't have an iPod either. I listen on the computers or Kindle Fire. This post has given me several new acts to check out.

  11. Bob, where to start?

    I can't believe that no-one's mentioned Lady Gaga. She's amazing. Ce lo Green (Gnarles Barkley), Christina Aguilera (absolutely the best most powerful signing voice out there, even bigger than Celine Dion), Muse, Rihanna, Samantha Rox, Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, Ellie Goulding, Bruno Mars, Black Eyed Peas (the "old stuff" from 2008 / 2009, I could go on.

    Bob, I'm 60, I've seen the Beatles, the Stone, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, I've seen and loved them all. But today's music is really good.

    1. An excellent list for me to check out, Jim. If I can just listen to her music and not watch a video, Lady Gaga does know how to perform.

      The one group I just can't get into is the Black Eyed Peas. I don't know what it is but their harmonies and performances leave me unsatisfied.

    2. Yeah, that's why I went with a restricted time period for Black Eyed Peas. Some of their stuff has a version of rap that I can't stand.

  12. I like a lot of "Jim from Florida's" favorites, too. Through the exercise classes that I attend, I get introduced to a lot of music I might not otherwise have heard. Then, I'll hear one of the songs on the radio or in a store, and it reminds me of the moves we do in class!

    A couple more people/bands that I like: Nelly Furtado, Pink Martini, Sean Kingston (reggae), Ziggy Marley (also reggae), Shakira, Sonya Kitchell,Spoon, The Veronicas,Weezer,and The Black Keys.

    Because I enjoy Jazzercise so much, I'm into watching the dance programs on TV: Dancing with the Stars and So You think You Can Dance. They feature a mix of current artists and music with more classic ones, and some of those dancers are incredible to watch.

    1. I had forgotten about Pink Martini. I have created a Pandora station built around their music which introduces me to all sorts of new artists, many from France. I enjoy Weezer, too.

      Thanks, Colette.

  13. Huffington Post 50 recently had a list of new music artists for us to consider. I give you this list and ask for any feedback if you try some of them.

    Aaron Parks
    Alabama Shakes
    Arcade Fire
    Black Keys
    Bomba Estereo
    Brett Dennen
    Django Django
    Fleet Foxes
    Heartless Bastards
    James Carr
    James Carter
    Jason Moran
    K.T. Tunstall
    Kid Koala
    Nada Surf
    New Pornographers
    Porcupine Tree
    Sleigh Bells
    Son Volt
    Ron Sexsmith
    The Go! Team
    The Hold Steady
    Tommy Emmanuel
    Zero 7
    Read mo


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