Don’t Listen to (Some) of Your Elders / Peers — Music is the Best It’s Ever Been! [pt 1]

We’ve probably all heard about the good ol’ days. Apparently there was a time period before I was born where everything was so much better. You could let strangers into your home to babysit your children, nobody owned keys, and music was exceptionally good. This rose-colored glasses, nostalgia-overload view of history omits everything that fails to adhere to the premise. For music specifically, only the music with memories tied to emotional states is often remembered, with most of the riff raff forgotten.

Music used to be impossible to obtain unless you listened to a major genre of music. Well.. not entirely impossible, but coming across a rare album was like gaining access to a lost holy book. Non-mainstream music recommendations often traveled via word-of-mouth. The industry managed to create a gatekeeping apparatus. The advent of cassettes allowed for cheap duplication, as did CD-Rs. However, it wasn’t until the ‘aughts when digital music — thanks to the Apple iPod in particiular — really took off. Internet usage permeated society making it easy to find new music.

A few of these modern ways to find new music will be discussed in this article series. We’ll begin with a hybrid option: KEXP, a listener-funded radio station out of Seattle, Washington. We’ll be looking at their in-studio full performances through a few examples.

Zola Jesus — Live on KEXP [Recorded June 1, 2018]

The late 70s-to-late 90s is filled with goth and industrial music, with a few artists even gaining limited mainstream success. Dream pop and art rock were quite common as well. Zola Jesus (stage name for Nika Roza Danilova) sounds a bit like Kate Bush, a darker version of Cocteau Twins, Souixsee & the Banshees, and Joy Division combined into a new, almost pop-friendly packaging. Her opera training, a natural voice that’s on the lower end of soprano, and minimalist and haunting backing tracks, combine to create music that would be chart topping in a just world.

If you enjoyed this performance, she has a new album coming out soon! Check out her Bandcamp page: https://zolajesus.bandcamp.com/

Khruangbin — Live on KEXP [Recorded April 26th, 2018]

Khruangbin is a trio out of Texas, formed after two of the members met and bonded over an Afghan music documentary. Their music borrows heavily from Thai rock and funk and incorporates a variety of other styles including surf rock, Afghani rock, Iranian pop, and others.

It’s one of the more unique bands to emerge in the past decade and is definitely worth checking out if you are interested in world music or masterful guitar work.

Check back tomorrow for part 2, where we’ll continue discussing artists I discovered on KEXP.

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