Sunday, 21 April 2013

Music For A Reason UPDATED: Now With a Working List

I don't know when the change happened, it's likely that there wasn't a date or time specifically.  But over the last number of years an evolution has taken place in the kinds of music that enjoy.  Truth be told, I have branched out, a lot.  I'm actually having a laugh and smile as I think about it, but as recently as a couple of years ago, I was still hanging on to my teenage ideas of what I thought was "good music".  I was a rap fan, and I still am.  I've just allowed other genres to reach my ears, and I am very glad that I did.  It's not that rap music sucks or isn't any good.  It's a genre like any other, there is good and there is bad.  The commercialized generic stuff I was told to like by media and advertising, I just went ahead and "liked".

Now, it has been about 17 years since I first started enjoying rap music.  Sadly, as I look back my choices were made for all of the wrong reasons.  See, I was a scrawny, little guy who had a ridiculous number of things for bullies to key on, from said tiny, short build, to my parents both being teachers, to my old sister being not only adopted but handicapped as well.  I had a small number of friends, and part of this is my personality.  I like an uncluttered life, and at the same time I am a bit outspoken, both things that lend themselves to keeping a small circle of friends.  As memory serves, I chose rap music as a way of "being cool" but because I was young and dumb, this just led to more teasing.  I am about as un hiphop as one can get.  I grew up in a middle class neighbourhood in a small city almost completely devoid of any African American people.  We had one black family in the city of 15,000, and a few other black kids who had been adopted by white families.  My parents listened to country music, and eventually my Dad gravitated towards the easy listening genre.  Today, I can't think of anything my Dad enjoys other then bagpipe music in all its splendor.  He has taken up the bagpipes, which is damn cool, but it's pretty far from urban.  I digress, but my point is, I had absolutely no reason to enjoy rap music, other then it being what the other guys on the volleyball team were listening to.  Now, don't take this as me denouncing the genre.  That's not my intention.  I have always enjoyed the beats and hooks more then the lyrical content.

I find a lot of similarities between rap music, and one of my new loves, electronica.  When stripped down, both rely on catchy, different hooks that get you into the song.  While rap lyrics are often hate-filled, spat out in an angry tone, the same hook with the generally upbeat positive style associated with electronica lyrics can pick up ones mood, something that most people can relate to.  I am eventually trying to get to a point here, and that is that while music can be many things, for me as I near the age of 30, it shouldn't be based on what other people think, and it isn't anymore.  It truly is a liberating feeling to know this, be aware of it, and embrace it.  I still listen to the rap genre, more specifically hip hop.  It's a slower style rap that I am often into, and when one looks at it, hip hop's slow delivery style has a lot of similarities to folk music.  I like a good story, be it a novel, a movie, a folk song or a hip hop song.  Capture my attention, and I will return that interest.  I find that I now listen to music for a reason.  My love of exercise has been well documented in this space, and I never workout without music playing loudly either on my computer speakers, or on my ipod touch.  Different genres serve the motivational purpose, but my tastes often differ with my mood.  When I want to relax, I gravitate towards folk, or my new interest, country.  I like a good R & B album, if I am in a reflective mood.  Heart rate raising music could be electronica, standard pop music, or my reliable rap music.  Rock albums get played too, but I am having a hard time pinning down what mood they best serve.  It really depends.  My music collection is huge, it really is big.  I know everyone says that, but between my numerous computers and hard drives, I probably have upwards of ~5,000 albums.  Not all are good, but through my meticulous research and sampling I have found some absolute gems that I never would have heard otherwise.  God bless the internet, bit torrent, mininova, pirate bay, metacritic, and most of all, my favorite website currently, wikipedia.  I've decided that I will provide a few videos below, giving my current favorite artists in each genre that I can think of.  This won't be forced, rather it will demonstrate my wide variety of tastes.  Perhaps I can help you find something new to listen to.

After compiling the list below I have a few observations.

-Yes, I have listened to the albums from every one of these artists.  These are my current favorites in each genre, not necessarily my favorites ever.  I have listened to all of these album at least once in the last month.

-I can hardly believe it myself, but currently my favorite album is by The Steeldrivers "Hammer Down".  I had not listened to any bluegrass whatsoever until 2012.  To round out my top 5, Hot Chip "The Warning", fat boy slim "The Greatest Hits", Corb Lund & the Hurtin' Albertans "Cabin Fever", and fun. "Some Nights".  That is 1 electronica album, 1 country, 1 pop, 1 house and 1 bluegrass album.  Perfect.

-Some of these albums are current, some most definitely are not.  I often will get stuck on an album for years, not even realizing that the artists has released new material since.  On occasion I can't find the new stuff, but usually I just don't realize it has been released.  Over the last number of months I have been more diligent about keeping up with new releases. 

-I love to try new genres that I haven't explored previously.  One of the albums on the list below is India.Arie's "Testimony Volume 2: Love and Politics" that she released in 2009.  I have been listening to it fairly regularly since then.  I haven't found many other artists in her soul genre that I have liked, but for whatever reason her album never gets old. 

-This list has a small amount of Canadian content.  For my international readers, the Canadians are as follows: Neil Young, Corb Lund, Dan Mangan, Tegan and Sara, Yukon Blonde, and Big Wreck's lead singer Ian Thornley.  Don't be afraid to give them a go, as a nation we aren't half bad at this music thing.

- In less than 3 weeks Sheila and I are going to see Corb Lund in concert.  I am very excited, as it has been a few years since my last concert.  My love for music has really grown in the last year, so my concert quota will likely rise.  Money is an issue, one that held me back from grabbing tickets to this week's Motley Crue concert with Big Wreck opening.  I have had some strong feelings of regret in the last few days over deciding to skip it, and am considering buying last minute tickets.  The choice comes down to replacing my worn out bicycle, or attending the concert with Sheila.  I'll let you know how that turns out.

-When the idea to compile this list came to me, I figured it would take some work.  Well, it most definitely did.  I had a lot of fun with it though, and a couple of tough calls in genres which resulted in two videos being posted. 

These are my current favorites in each genre, from A to Z.

Alternative  My Bloody Valentine

Americana  Neil Young and Crazyhorse

Bluegrass - The Steeldrivers

Blues - Ry Cooder

Country - Corb Lund & the Hurtin' Albertans

Dancehall - Elephant Man

Dubstep - Skrillex

Electronica - (a) Hot Chip (b) Pepe Deluxe

Folk - (a) Laura Marling (b) Jeff Bridges

Gypsy - Hawk and a Hacksaw

Hip Hop - (a) Rizzle Kicks (b) Kendrick Lamar

House - Fat Boy Slim

Indie Folk - Dan Mangan

Indie Rock - (a) Tegan and Sara (b) Yukon Blonde

Metal - Motley Crue

Pop - fun.

Punk - Propagandhi

Rap - (a) Hopsin and SwizZz (b) Glasses Malone

Rap Rock - Hollywood Undead

Reggae - Matisyahu

R & B - Frank Ocean

Rock - Big Wreck

Ska - Cas Haley

Soul - India.Arie


  1. Hey, great post. Only one problem I am having--your link looks like HTML that I can't click on. Is this a post in progress?

    I'll be back tomorrow to see if the link is working.

  2. It appears as though your link is broke.
    Also - I love music of all kinda and while I was younger I found myself listening to what other friends were, some of that got me into stuff I never would have liked before.

    My Teenage years I grew up listening to Old School Gangsta Rap (Eazy E, NWA, etc) - Bad White Rappers (Vanilla Ice who I still love to this day lol), Bad 80's Music, Hair Metal (Guns n Roses, Poison, Def Lep, etc..) and then going to the extreme of Religious Death Metal at one point (though that faded away quickly).

    My tastes have always been varied.

    (paraphrased) "As I approach 30"
    Oh, I remember those years....

  3. Interesting to hear what led you to rap music, which I have never particularly liked. I grew up (VERY early years)listening to AM radio in the 1960's and have always loved the British Invasion music, rock, and pop rock. The best of almost any genre is usually pretty good.

    My son, who will turn 19 soon, is into folk punk. Interesting stuff!

  4. Great post! I like listening to all types of music and I listen to music everyday depending on my mood. I've been looking for good music lately and I would love to know about your current favorites. I hope you'll find time to fix the link. Thanks a lot for sharing! :)

  5. Hi folks! Thanks for all the responses. I think I am going to try this partial post thing more often, I've never had 4 comments on one post before! So, my excuse is that when I went to start loading videos into this post, my computer at work decided to show it's age and nothing would load properly. I am at home tonight, with a little time on my hands, so I will finish this post now. The idea was a bit ambitious, as you will see when I am done.

  6. I've tried to respond twice to this, not sure what's going on with my laptop. I'm sure it isn't your blog that is responsible. Anyway, your variety of musical tastes are very impressive, and I'm with you with a bunch of them--My Bloody Valentine, Hot Chip, Frank Ocean, Neil Young, and Ry Cooder especially, whose "Chavez Ravine" album is my favorite by him.

    Anyway, I'll check this blog post out in the future when I'm looking for ideas for a new band. Thanks.