How to get out of a musical rut. Plus, Ken Burns’s 'Country Music' and gig reports on Deer Tick and My Morning Jacket.
This is high quality work I expect from Pitchfork's EIC. :)
Seriously though, I broke that same rule. I mean, I probably could probably write about New Order all day, ever day--- or every a slightly less narrow niche like early 90s hardcore, but it gets old fast. More importantly, I think the idea that a writer needs their "find your niche" is at odds with what readers want. In my experience, people have pretty eclectic tastes, and what they read reflects that.
P.S. I used to point and laugh at Deadheads. Now I love 'em & have a Steal Your Face sticker on my Subaru. I've become a walking stereotype. lol.
Liked these thoughts a lot, Josh. I’m constantly on the hunt for what’s new and what’s next, which keeps me out of a rut. And to get out of THAT rut and engage with that childhood surprise and delight I usually listen to the 80GB of bootlegs I have on my iPhone while cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. The Beatles mucking about in the studio could be followed by 20,000 fans singing along to Billie Eilish and then Dick Gregory introducing Bob Marley in Boston, Santana on fire in Dortmund, Soccer Mommy ripping it up in Connecticut, Frank Sinatra trying to get it right during the Moonlight sessions, Bowie singing with Lou Reed at MSG, and back to The Beatles on the BBC. Keeps me on my toes and connected to some of my favorite stuff of all time.
Something I've found is that as music has become more accessible and easier to find (i.e. through Spotify) it's actually been easier for me to become stuck in musical ruts where I can't find anything I seem to want to listen to. It's counterintuitive but seems to be a thing a lot of folks also experience with Netflix, Hulu et al where the infinite possibilities of what to consume leads to decision paralysis. To combat this I dusted off my old iPod classic and have been using that to listen to music more, which has led to me rediscovering some stuff I used to love that I had simply forgotten about. I do like the idea of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone though, I think I may try that out next time I find myself stuck.
Loved to see "Too True" on the list, I caught Wishy in SLC a few weeks ago and loved it. Kevin Krauter is an all-time favorite of mine
Really connected with this Josh, particularly the ability to find joy around the music and to keep an open mind along with the childlike desire to consume everything.
I’ve definitely had phases in my musical listening journey. Soft Rock was the soundtrack of my pre-teen years, then new wave (and all things 80s) before getting hugely into reggae in my teens, Canadian rock in my early twenties (university in Canada), drum and bass and trip hop in my late twenties, numetal in my early thirties.
And then the menu of musical options seemingly exploded first with file sharing, then with streaming, and I found myself deep diving into early jazz and blues. Then I opened up to folk and country, genres I’d previously studiously avoided. And now it’s all about new music and filling in the black holes that exist in my musical timeline (Substack helps a lot here).
Thankfully I’m well beyond the musical snobbery and gatekeeper phase of my life. And I’m open to listening to just about anything. I’ve found so much joy over the last four months since joining Substack and feel like my musical discovery options have once again expanded massively. I also love hearing from others about how they connect with music, how a song, an album, an artist deeply impacts them. That passion is magical. And infectious. And I’m here for it.
Thanks for your newsletter, always look forward to it!
I’ll be at Thalia for Kyle Kinane on Monday!