Back in January I was talking to one of my mates about music, Owl City in particular (Postal Service lite that they are), and how out of touch we’d grown with new music. I miss the days of having a flat mate who wrote for the student newspaper and thus would abuse my ears with whatever strange or beautiful pre-release or upcoming band she was currently reviewing (Dogs Die in Hot Cars, where considerably better by the time they were being touted as ‘the next big thing’ in 2005 then they were when we saw them being a support act in 2003). I meant to make a post about it and then never got round to it. Appropriately a major reason for the delay, initially at least, was that I was busy doing new music related stuff.
Via the magic of twitter I ended up filming Kirsty McGee and the Hobopop Collective at Classic Grand during Celtic Connections.
Which was great fun (check them out if you can, a very fine selection of banjos there) and also the first gig I’ve been to since I saw the Plasticines in Camden back in September. My New Years resolution is nearly always to go to more gigs, though that’s not exactly viable in the current climate (though naturally if anyone reading this is in a band and would like their gig filmed and a wee DVD made for publicity purposes, then do feel free to get in touch, work is always welcome). Instead I’m stuck following local music blogs with envious eyes and scouring Spotify to swat up on the bands they rave about.
Frightened Rabbit are my newest discovery on that front (Keep Yourself Warm and Poke are favourites) on the surface they’re very much typical Scottish indie band in sound, but there’s something about them, a certain undertone to the lyrics perhaps, that makes me think I could come to love them the way I love Idlewild. I’m less certain about Second Hand Marching Band, there’s something strange and interesting about their musical sound but I’m not quite convinced by what the lead singer’s doing with his vocals.
Of course then comes the issue of what actually counts as ‘new music’ after all, many’s the band that chugs along in obscurity for years before gaining any sort of mainstream acceptance. Acts like VV Brown and We Were Promised Jetpacks are fairly straightforward to classify but others aren’t so easy. I first saw and fell in love with Drive-by Argument when they played our student union back in 2005 and some of those same songs appeared on the album they released in 2008, do they count as new (actually I think they might actually count as defunct these days but never mind)? Where does the line between new and simply a bit obscure fall. Where do people like Amplifico and Bastard Fairies fall? Personally I can’t think of Vampire Weekend as a ‘new band’ because I saw them live back in 2007 and they seemed to be pretty much on the up then. A lot of my new musical obsessions come from mix tapes friends make me, so there was a period of my life when new music and Canadian music got a bit conflated (which led to Wild Light and the National getting tagged incorrectly as ‘canadian’, I really ought to fix that) in my head. How new is new? Shiny and new in one country may be old and tired in another. Who decides, and at the end of the day does it really matter?