Monday, August 13, 2012

A New Way Forward

So it happens, in life. About halfway through a rather enjoyable month of July in this year 2012 by the common Gregorian calendar, I spilled a rather tasteless Corona right over the keyboard of my MacBook - just about where the motherboard resides. After a few days of hoping for some technological miracle, it became quite clear that the thing was dead. Along with my plans for having my album finished production by the end of the summer, because needless to say I wasn't about to go shell out on an MBP until I really needed it, which would be for the start of term in early September. So that sucked. At least we were playing with The Final Year, preparing for a couple gigs, including one this coming Thursday August 16th at the Bovine Sex Club.

And thus I am left with having to devise a new way forward to completing this album. I had made the extremely wise choice of keeping everything music-related on my external, so all I need is a new computer and I can get started right away. As stated above, I'll be getting an MBP for the start of term, in a couple weeks. At that point I'll start being very busy with school and it's going to be my #1 priority; however, I will be taking a digital recording course that could very well help me in my endeavours, and I'll have some free time on weekends to work on finishing the production of this thing. Basically the album will be my #2 priority, just below school.

Progress will be a lot slower than if I had been able to work intensively on production for the last month-and-a-half of summer, but recklessness and stupidity made things work out quite differently. I guess this is the best I can offer, which according to my calculations brings us towards a late December/early January release. I hope to find ears for this project then, considering how much work I have and will have put into it and how much of an adventure it will have been to get it to you. But mostly I just hope it will find ears that will genuinely enjoy my creative explorations and experiments - it's all I really want as an artist.

Monday, May 7, 2012

An Early May Update

Well, I've just snuck past the half-way point in the completion of the new album, having finished tracking the sixth song out of eleven at the end of last week. The album has a name I'm not going to reveal yet (read: until I can launch a full-blown teaser promo campaign with it) and it's sounding like an eclectic yet coherent project that mixes many of my influences in a way I'm happy to hear.

The studio is my room, or rather my room is the studio, or rather the line is quite blurred but I somehow survive and the album progresses. I've also come up with an idea for an EP entitled "Epitomes" that will feature nine short pieces created with an experimental mindset, poetry, and a vintage reel-to-reel tape recorder. Parallel to these solo projects, The Final Year has started practicing again, this time in a trio configuration that features Alex on guitar and vocals, myself on bass and vocals, and Marco on drums. We hope to play some shows around Toronto this summer, which is something we really miss and would be tons of fun.

I'm also creating a 69dB Productions website that will hopefully go live sometime this month, which will be a nice central point for all things connected to the 69dB appellation.

So yeah, stay tuned through the usual channels as things move forward and get more and more exciting!



Tuesday, April 10, 2012


C’est l’histoire d’un point d’exclamation.
En fait, c’est l’histoire d’un point.
Mais, contraint à son environnement comme chacun de nous, il se retrouve sous barres.
Sous une barre.
Une seule, svelte, verticale, qui lui pendouille au-dessus comme un nuage orageux qui ne se précipite pas à se dégager, ceux qui arrivent au milieu du mois d’aout et se plantent sur nos vies pour des semaines entières.
Sauf que notre petit point, il est coincé à vie sous cette barre.
Et ce n’est pas que cette barre n’est point intéressante ; en effet, une multitude de symboles apparaît en la visionnant.
Une flèche, une lance, une matraque.
Elle lui montre au doigt.
Pauvre petit con, putain de point.
Mais ce n’était pas toujours le cas. Au début, cette barre était un index, montrant au loin les merveilles de ce monde, emmenant notre point à découvrir toute une vie. C’était un bâton de marche pendant de longs kilomètres, un grand mat quand la tempête était rude, une allumette quand il n’y avait plus de feu ; bref, un tronc épais comme la vie, fort comme un père, doux comme une mère.
Aujourd’hui, elle nargue. Elle le met en avant-plan. Elle le fait ressortir avec des moyens autres que ceux qu’il souhaiterait.
! ! ! !
C’est tellement vulgaire. C’est tellement in your fucking face.
Lui, il rêve que d’une chose : un point final.
En vie sans en avoir envie, mais par conséquence d’exister naturellement.
Être différent, être bizarre même, mais être comme tout le monde en même temps.
Un ciel bleu, le mois de juin.
Un point, c’est tout.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sounds from the Cornerstone: Episode 1 - Best of 2011

Welcome to Episode 1 of the Sounds from the Cornerstone podcast! For this opening episode I decided to run through my Best of 2011 – one song from each of the 12 albums I had ranked on my Best of 2011 blog post. Here is the track listing with links to each band's music. (Note: song titles link to YouTube videos [of either album versions or particularly awesome live versions] or other streams of the songs, band names link to official band websites or most prominent social network page, and album titles link to online stores where you can buy the album in either high-quality lossless or CD format.)

"Monday Morning" – Death Cab for Cutie (Codes and Keys)

"The Attic" – In Flames (Sounds of a Playground Fading)

"Töck's Taunt - Loke's Treachery Part II" – Amon Amarth (Surtur Rising)

"Reunion" – M83 (Hurry Up, We're Dreaming)

"A Year Afloat" – Steve Lawson (11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything Else)

"Rushden Fair" – Matt Stevens (Relic)

"Morning Mr. Magpie" – Radiohead (The King of Limbs)

"10x10" – The Fierce and The Dead (If It Carries On Like This We're Moving to Morecambe)

"Taken for a Fool" – The Strokes (Angles)

"Rox in the Box" – The Decemberists (The King Is Dead)

"Canon" – Justice (Audio, Video, Disco)

"The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala" – Arctic Monkeys (Suck It and See)

So there you have it. If you liked some, a lot of, or everything you heard in the podcast, go check out those awesome bands and support them!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Few Thoughts on SOPA and the General Fight Against Piracy

I was just thinking about SOPA and its consequences, and I started thinking about it the way I've viewed the numerous attempts to fight Internet piracy over the years. The conclusion I've come to, every time, is that it doesn't matter. No legislation, no control mechanism, no technology can take down the online piracy network that has been around, growing, and consolidating itself since the very start of the Internet. And that's a good thing. 

Why? Because it means that whatever they try, the MPAA, the RIAA, and those other vestiges of an industry whose methodology is quickly fading into history will not find a way to circumvent the "problem" of online piracy. This will lead to the self-collapse of their industry and the further development of the new, Internet- and sharing-based entertainment industry of tomorrow (well, actually, today too). (Note: For argument's sake, I'm going to use the music industry as a specific case because it is the one I know best.) And gloriously, this new industry has the capacity to bring back the music culture of yesteryear - yes, the one the Big 4 and the RIAA have been moaning about: how concert attendance is down, how no one pays for tickets anymore... This might seem strange, but follow my logic for a bit.

In the "Golden Age" of the dying mainstream music industry, people bought vinyls which enticed them to go to concerts, get high, hook up, and buy merch. The dinosaur music industry made money from three of those activities: the "purchase of music", or rather the purchase of vinyl discs (and then cassettes and then CDs) containing music, the concert tickets, and the merch. The artist would make a (horribly small) percentage of each revenue stream. But it didn't matter because the industry paid for them to live like rockstars, which they gladly did. The problem was, the industry started realizing that very quickly, the largest and most lucrative revenue stream was the sale of vinyls/cassettes/CDs. So that became the main product. The entire focus of the industry fell on marketing these objects that contained the music. David Byrne once said in an extremely good article: "Calling the product music is like selling a shopping cart and calling it groceries." The point is that the music was no longer the central aspect of the entire music industry! The industry assumed that people would buy these music containers and they assumed this would lead to concert attendance. Which it did...

Until the Internet arrived. At first, the industry struggled to comprehend what had just landed. And with good reason: it's extremely hard to forecast how new technologies are going to affect things. But it has to be said that the music industry didn't exactly handle it well. As soon as it became practical to do so, people started copying CDs and sharing them, online as well as offline, for free! The established industry didn't know what was happening and decided to continue their same old business model online. Thus was born the iTunes Store - the single biggest disgrace in the entire history of the music industry. The industry thought that since people had moved from vinyls to cassettes to CDs so easily, they could just move to this new digital format without any problem. But they could not have been more wrong.

As illustrated in the brief CD sharing example above, the music had suddenly re-become the focus of the consumer's attention. Not the vinyl/cassette/CD, but the music itself. And an industry that for 50 years had been selling products containing music were suddenly trying to sell pure music. Because that's what a digital song file is: nothing tangible, just 100% audio. But when something becomes the focus of the consumer's attention, any successful industry needs to make that its focus as well. Yet the old music industry kept trying to sell us (shitty quality) files. However, the true music consumers were having none of it - they turned first to Napster, then to true piracy.

This all naturally coincided with the rise of the indie musician: home recording was becoming cheap and high-quality enough to seriously contend with the "professional" stuff. And with indie musicians came indie thinking: what if we didn't need the old-style music industry? These visionaries realized that if the people wanted music - well then, we should give them music. So they started sharing their work for free. Nada! You could get a professional-sounding album of amazing music for absolutely nothing, and the artist was totally OK with it! What?!

Then came services like Bandcamp, which offered artists their own online store and complete control over how to charge (or not) for their work. And it quickly became apparent that the real winners were the artists who weren't afraid to let their audience pay whatever they wanted (or could afford) for their music. Matt Stevens and Steve Lawson, I'm looking at you. Obviously physical CDs need a minimum price to pay for the manufacturing and distribution costs - but that's exactly the point (again): with vinyls/cassettes/CDs, the music industry had led us to believe that the $14 we were paying was for "music", but it wasn't. It was for a disc which contained music on it. The Internet made us re-discover the fact that pure music is hard to charge for.

The music industry kept a watchful eye on all of this, and got seriously freaked out. So they (logically?) decided to fight back. They saw Napster and managed to shut it down. They even managed to shut down Limewire (thankfully - that thing was horrible). But they could not shut down the pirates. They could not shut down YouTube. They could not shut down all the places where you can get or stream stuff "illegally". They could not shut down the mighty Google that gives access to all these things. They could not shut down the piracy of the intangible digital files that have become our focus as consumers. And they kept thinking about it in terms of a product whose theft goes against copyright.

The copyright discussion is for another time and place, but the main idea is that copyright was originally meant to protect the intellectual property of the content creator (hence the name of the Protect IP Act). But you are in absolutely no way harming the IP of a content creator when you pirate their work for private purposes. This was true even before the Internet. When you steal a physical CD, it's not the music on it whose "copyright you are violating". It is the fact that you wrongfully stole an object with a set monetary value that is wrong. The IP of the musician(s) whose music is on that CD would be intact whether you paid for it or not. The Internet has simply exposed this side of it all.

I'm a content creator, and I have no problem giving my music away for free. As long as others don't make money from it, and as long as it is properly and correctly credited as mine, my IP is intact. The same goes for every single band and musician and filmmaker and photographer in the world. And this is why Creative Commons is the answer.

How in the hell does this bring back the music culture? you might rightfully ask at this point. Well, here's my theory. As musicians, we can no longer count on the "sale of music" (whatever that means) as a reliable revenue stream. We can sell CDs to the passionate few, we can sell vinyls to the hipsters, and we'll get nice people who will drop a few bucks for an album download. On the other side, consumers aren't going crazy over having a certain piece of music - it's so easy to get when it's free, it's not special anymore. Having a vinyl or a CD is special - having a downloaded folder isn't. But what is special?

A fucking insane live show. Concert attendance in the alternative groups I have mingled with, who have no problem downloading music for free, is through the roof. While Lady Gaga might have trouble selling out a stadium now, Eluveitie has no problem filling the Opera House in Toronto. They know most of their audience listens to pirated copies of their music. So their live show is awesome and people go to it.

Other special things? Merch. Doing exclusive things with the band. Anything else that is physical and/or tangible. These can all be monetized by musicians. And that's the way the new music industry is going to work. And that's how it's going to bring back the music culture that is apparently being lost.

So back to SOPA, shall we? If it goes through, it would suck. Majorly. They could take down countless websites. But as long as they keep thinking of digital files in terms of a product whose theft constitutes copyright violation, they will not win. They will slowly collapse (as they are already doing), and a new industry will be already there, thriving, ready to pick up the pieces. I hope to be a part of that industry, even if it isn't full time. I just know how awesome it's going to be and how cool the future looks. And there's absolutely nothing SOPA, or any other form of legislation, can do about that.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Best of 2011

This is a post attempting to sort and describe my 12 favourite albums released this year. This was extremely hard, because it’s been such an amazing year. Let’s just recap it, shall we? It started in royal fashion, with the January 14th release of The Decemberists’ The King is Dead, followed by The King of Limbs by Radiohead on February 18th. The indie vibe continued one month later with the release of The Strokes’ first album in 5 years, Angles, on the 18th of March. Amon Amarth also released their latest viking-metal epic, Surtur Rising, on March 29th. April was quieter, but only to make way for an amazing month of May (any reference to a 2010 Arcade Fire song is purely coincidental here), which saw If It Carries on Like This We’re Moving to Morecambe by The Fierce and The Dead on the 16th, 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everythingby Steve Lawson on the 18th, and finally Codes and Keys by Death Cab for Cutie on the 31st. A few days later, on June 7th, we were blessed to receive the Arctic Monkeys’ latest masterpiece, Suck It and See, before Sounds of a Playground Fading came to us from In Flames on June 15th. It was a quiet summer, which allowed us to digest all these amazing albums and ready for the fall, which started with the September 26th release of Matt Stevens’ (supposedly) final “acoustic” album, Relic. October brought M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming on the 18th andJustice’s long-awaited, highly-anticipated second album, Audio, Video, Disco on the 24th to close out a year of truly awesome releases (and probably a host of others I never got a chance to discover).

So, here goes the ranking…

12. Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys

I only recently got into Death Cab, but I enjoyed them enough to be excited for the release of their new record. My favourite of theirs was their latest album, Narrow Stairs (2008), so I naturally thought that I’d continue enjoying their slow but steady evolution as a band. And I did, but not as much as I thought I would. The problem is, I don’t think they evolved enough, so everything still sounds like Narrow Stairs - which is hardly a problem, but it’s just disappointing in a weird way. I expected something new and didn’t get it. Instead we got an amazing album from a great band which sounds just like their last amazing album.

11. In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading

In Flames has been going through quite a bit recently. 2008’s A Sense of Purpose had already signaled a strong departure from the melodic death-metal sound these guys had pioneered with fellow Gothenburg natives Dark Tranquillity. But last year they also permanently lost Jesper Strömblad, one of their guitarists and main creative forces. They got a solid replacement in Niclas Engelin (Gardenian, Passenger), but losing Jesper was still a big deal. Nevertheless, Björn Gelotte promised he would step into the creative gap left by Jesper and the band got to work.

Fast forward to June 15th of this year and we get to hear what they’ve come up with. From the opening title track, a few things immediately became clear. First, this was a logical evolution from the sound of ASoP. Second, Björn had done an amazing job as In Flames’ main creative guitar force. The signature IF melodeath sound was still there, manipulated like they’d done in ASoP but with different flavours - departures in style I credit to Björn. SoaPF is a much more rich and interesting album than ASoP, although it is modelled in the same way and based off the same general sound. As great an album as it is, however, it is not an In Flames masterpiece of the grandeur of 2002’sReroute to Remain. And somehow I get the sad feeling that those days are long gone… Yet SoaPF remains a splendid album by a band who keeps making solid, interesting, and daring records.

10. Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising

Amon Amarth is one of those bands who barely evolve, if at all, and yet keep making interesting albums you can’t stop listening to. This year’s release, Surtur Rising, is no exception. Although one can point out a few stylistic departures from 2008’s Twilight of the Thunder God, it’s essentially the same brand of epic viking metal that these crazy Swedes have been making forever, it seems. It’s beautiful, it’s powerful, it’s epic, it’s full of doom and blood and guts and sweat and tears. Somehow, though, I think Surtur Rising is a touch better than Twilight of the Thunder God - it seems they’ve done a couple more interesting things, but that might just be me. It’s a great album and if you like Amon Amarth you should get it.

9. M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

To me, M83 set the bar so incredibly high with 2008’sSaturdays=Youth that it would be almost impossible for their follow-up to be anywhere near as good. When they revealed it was going to be a double-album, however, I gave it some hope. And I’m glad I did, because I think Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is now my second-favourite M83, afterSaturdays=Youth, of course. It’s long, so you supporters of the 30-minute album can go buzz off somewhere while I talk about this. It’s like other M83 albums in that it’s a voyage through different atmospheres, but it’s fresh because they’re using some new sounds and new arrangements. M83 has always been able to create these albums that all have the same overall feel and sound but are all incredibly different somehow, and this album keeps that going. So if you could get through The Wall, then boldly pop this on and enjoy the ride.

8. Steve Lawson - 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything

I find everything about this album brilliant, from the cryptic title (think 11 tracks and “everything” < 3) to the content. So why isn’t it number 1 on this list? Because there are seven other albums I liked better… But this is truly a piece of genius. I’d downloaded some of Steve’s stuff before but hadn’t really gotten into it, but after listening through11RW3IGTE (that’s an amazing acronym - better than In Flames’!) I went on and rediscovered everything else. It’s solo bass stuff, looped and arranged and improvised and awesome. It’s for everyone from serious musos to people who just like chilled out background music. It should definitely be in your music library.

7. Matt Stevens - Relic

Matt Stevens is one of the first musicians who I saw harnessing the awesome power of the Internet and using it in ways I just thought were brilliant. This was around the time of his first album Echo, in or just after 2008. Not only was his social networking avant-garde to me, but so was his playing - looping himself and building these awesome instrumental tracks filled with sheer greatness. I followed his evolution throughGhost in 2010 and finally Relic this year, and saw as he started adding different instrumentations and more careful production. Relic is the amazing pinnacle of all this work, and although I think it’s his most creative album, I don’t think it’s my favourite. I seem to prefer Echo andGhost but there’s no denying that Relic is another work of genius and should be treated as such (by going and getting it, for example).

6. Radiohead - The King of Limbs

We’re getting to the part where it was really hard to separate these albums and give them an order. It pains me to see Radiohead’s latest gem “so far down” at number 6, but the truth is there are five other albums that I enjoyed more. Even though I think The King of Limbs is a brilliant continuation of Radiohead’s work on In Rainbows (2007) and should be in everyone’s music library. Even though I will argue passionately and endlessly with anyone who tries to say that Radiohead’s best material is behind them and that their new stuff is just “too weird”. Even though everything about this album is beautiful and simply phenomenal. I just wish there was a way to make “number 6” look way more badass.

5. The Fierce and The Dead - If It Carries on Like This We’re Moving to Morecambe

Matt Stevens shouldn’t be too disappointed that I didn’t like Relic as much as his earlier albums, because I certainly loved the full-length he finally put out with his band The Fierce and The Dead. (Warning: acronyms beyond Steve Lawson’s level are forthcoming.) TFATD came out last year with an EP and a single that whetted my appetite for their amazing instrumental rock sound and left me begging for a full length which 2011 finally delivered in the shape of IICOLTWMTM (see, I told you). This is some of the finest and weirdest instrumental rock around and I absolutely love. And you should absolutely have a listen.

4. The Strokes - Angles

Boy did we wait for this one. I discovered The Strokes a few years ago and didn’t go through the wait other fans did after 2006’s two-faced First Impressions of Earth (which has to be one of the most brilliant album titles ever - too bad only the first half is good), but the hype was still enormous surrounding the release of this year’s Angles. Then it finally dropped, and the Internet came alive - with disappointed fans. And I couldn’t understand. I’d been listening to Angles almost constantly after its release and I saw these fans complaining about “the sound” or how it “wasn’t as good as their old stuff” - and I just didn’t get it. Sure, it’s no game changer like Is This It was in 2001, and it doesn’t have the same sound as 2003’s Room on Fire, but Angles is one bloody amazing album. It’s interesting, polished yet raw, driving yet atmospheric, popular yet indie and still very much The Strokes. It’s not a “sellout” album, it’s an amazing work of music from a band that is showing us how great they still are and will (hopefully) continue to be.

3. The Decemberists - The King is Dead

What a way to open the year. Not even halfway through January, the wannabe-East Coasters from Portland release an absolutely outstanding album. Recorded in a barn, just to add to their image of being the original pure hipsters. But yeah, it’s so good, and so different. They’ve almost gone country, but it’s so refreshing and so still The Decemberists. It’s very acoustic, much more “back to their roots” than their first album even is, if that makes sense. A huge change from 2009’s epic concept album The Hazards of Love. Changes and evolutions always make me happy, as you may have noticed. So it started the year as my favourite and only got bumped down twice - once in June and once in October. It’s just that awesome.

2. Justice - Audio, Video, Disco

This is one for which I’ve actually waited, because I’ve been a Justice fan since their first album, , came out in 2007. Their concert at the Sound Academy in March 2008 was my first real “rock” style event, even though it was, y’know, electro. Whatever, it was awesome. And then we waited. A Cross the Universe dropped and we revisited  in a live setting, and hugely enjoyed the documentary. All the meanwhile, I grew disenchanted with the electronic music scene. House was doing alright - deadmau5 was absolutely killing it (in the best of ways) and I was discovering the older stuff (Jean-Michel Jarre, Laurent Garnier, St. Germain). But harsh, Justice-style electro was just full of wannabe Justice acts, copy-cats with little to no creativity and zero interest to me. I knew that whatever Justice were preparing would be amazingand would completely turn the electro world on its head. Again. And it did. Listening to Audio, Video, Disco completely blew me away. And it showed me how electro could be done in a completely new way. Again. Quite literally mind-blowing stuff.

1. Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See

Quite simply my favourite album of 2011. Partly because of the cheekiness (the title being a jab at everyone who complained about the “drastic” evolution in the band’s sound between 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare and 2006’s Humbug), but mostly because it’s a purely awesome evolution from Humbug. Everything the Arctic Monkeys have ever done well (which is, in my mind, quite a few things), is done better in this album. The interplay between the two guitars, the lyrics, the vocals, the interplay between the drums and bass, the dynamic range in the album - everything is simply beautiful and, well, ridiculously awesome. Phenomenal. Outstanding. Whatever. Make up words. This album deserves them.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Objective and Subjective Appreciation of Music

All of us, albeit to varying degrees, enjoy listening to some type of music. We connect with it, we "like" it, and we develop a strange type of relationship with the creators/interpretators of it. We stick by our favourites, and when they're challenged, we clash with whoever said "Man, those guys suck!" or "Yeah, I don't really like them." And that's when things get interesting.

I've had enough of these arguments to see that most people support either a completely subjective evaluation of musical quality, or a completely objective one. Funnily enough, it seems to be the subjective ones who are the most stubborn. For them, musical "quality" is a question of whether you like it or not - whether the music speaks to you, whether you feel connected to it in any way. A lot of people actually fit this bill. A smaller group are completely objective and think that all you need to do to get "into" a band is to see whether their music is of any objective quality. The truth is, however, appreciating music requires a bit of each, on some sort of scale.

You see, we can't deny that some bands just connect with us on a level that has nothing to do with the objective analysis of their music. The ones with which that connection is the deepest are usually our "favourite" bands - my top two are Muse and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That is not to say that I don't have that connection with other bands, but those are the strongest. However, we also can't ignore the fact that music has an objective side - there is such a thing as "good" and "bad" music, speaking from a completely objective, quality-wise point of view. I guess "good" and "bad" aren't exactly the best terms - rather, we should use something that alludes to the fact that music is created on a scale that goes from formulaic bubble-gum pop simplicity to inter-dimensional telekinetic jazz improv complexity. There's quite a bit in between there, and somewhere there is a line to be drawn - a line on which one side lies objectively good music and on the other is everything that isn't good. The placement of this line requires a whole other argument and quite a bit of research that I'm not gonna get into now, but I just may at some point...

Anyways, back to our studies. Let's say we've managed to place this line somewhere. Now we must bring into play the undeniable human aesthetic nature that drives us to like and dislike things. We must however, re-emphasize how different this is compared to the objective quality of music. Liking and/or disliking music does not have anything to do with whether music is good or bad. Which is why we can have those "guilty pleasures", where we very much like music that we know is objectively bad. Essentially, we need to understand that although music can be good or bad, the aesthetic attraction we feel towards the music can be in complete disregard of its objective quality. The combination of the strength of this attraction with the objective quality of the music is what has led me to declare Muse and RHCP as my favourites.

So then, how are we to go about evaluating music we come across so easily in this age of the Internet and social media - where bands (and my projects are no exception) pummel you with links to their material and demand that you give them plays so they may feel a little better about themselves. My basic strategy is this: first, begin with an objective evaluation of the music's quality. I know this is harsh, but if the music's truly bad, close the tab and move on. If the music's objectively of some quality, keep listening. If there's something that right away throws you off about the music - be it the guitarist's style, the vocalist's sound, or something else - then again, close the tab and move on. If not, keep listening. Listen to all the songs that they've put online through various social music networks. Once you've listened to everything, then you can decide whether you like it or not. And that's where the subjectivity kicks in. Did it elicit some sort of aesthetic reaction from you? Were you interested in the band? Did it just make you want to say "Awesome!"? From that, decide whether or not to like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, get their music, or whatever. But that's just how you're gonna have to survive here. To help everyone, we can't give crappy music a chance because you think the singer is cute or you like their happy-emo-contradictory genre. As mean as that sounds, I'm sorry but it's true. If I make something terrible, please ignore it and walk away. Or offer constructive criticism. Your choice.

But this discussion is not really about the Internet, so let's get back to the main point. Objective and subjective appreciation of music are not two concepts that are at odds with each other. They are two concepts that should be used together to determine whether an artist or band or composer's music is something that you would put in your music library. Think of it as a threshold above which music is good, and above that threshold you can separate music into stuff you like and stuff you don't like.

The final warning is to not confuse good music you don't like with bad music. It's easy to call music you don't like "bad", but is it truly bad? There are a lot of very talented bands whose music I cannot stand, but it's an insult to them to say they are bad - for they are not. I just don't like their music. This must be differentiated from truly bad music. Because the people who make truly bad music should not be allowed to "make it" in this new music industry, but people who make good music you don't like definitely deserve it.

I wrote this little essay because I think this is a very important point to wrap our heads around - not only for ourselves but also because it can affect the way the new music industry is created, and who gets in (or doesn't). Although I know that the explanations I've provided here are not altogether complete, like the fact that the threshold where music stops being bad and starts being good is more like a grey area than a line, I hope this gives a basic overview of the ideas behind appreciating music this way. And I truly think this is the way we should be looking at music.