Recency? Not at all, mate.

I am someone who has always liked to listen to new music. This flagged for a few years post university, when I found myself in a rhythm of The National, Radiohead, Laura Marling, Frightened Rabbit, and The Tallest Man On Earth, as well as some of the old classics such as Bobs Dylan and Marley, Joy Division, and David Bowie. For a while that was everything. But only a very short while, if I’m being honest. My love for discovering new music was well and truly reignited when we started the Picky Bastards Podcast three years ago and has only grown and grown since the launch of this website last year. It’s been a revolution. I have discovered new loves that fit firmly into my usual genres of folk, indie, and art-rock (I hate that term) but have also found myself getting more into punk, post punk, and even R&B. And, more valuably than any of that for me, I have rediscovered the love of hip-hop that I had in my late teens and early twenties. Hip-hop, it turns out, didn’t die when 50 Cent said ‘I love you like a fat kid love’s cake’ in one of his songs.

With this being my general attitude to music, I have never really had a problem with saying that a recently discovered artist or album is among the best things I have heard. I can say with no hesitation that Little Simz’s Grey Area is as good if not better than a lot of the nineties and early noughties hip-hop that I grew up listening to. I’m comfortable saying that When I Have Fears by The Murder Capital is a more exciting album to me than anything from the Interpol led post punk revival of the previous decade. If you ask me who my favourite folk singer is, I’ll tell you Laura Marling. Without skipping a beat. And if you want to know two bands from the history of music who I think have the best bodies of work, I will tell you that I have no doubt that those two bands are Radiohead and The National.

I can almost feel some of you cringing as you read. But I’d like to remind you, at this point, that these are just my opinions – no matter how strongly I hold them and believe them to be true. It’s opinion. Just as your opinion that hip-hop has never produced anything as good as A Tribe Called Quest is just an opinion. Just like your belief that Turn on The Bright Lights heralded the freshest and most exciting musical movement since Punk is, I’m afraid, just an opinion, too. And to those of who are shaking their heads at my Laura Marling claims, I’m afraid that your insistence on the superiority of Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez is, while totally valid, not quantifiable in any way that is ever going to make me change my mind. And I’m not even going to bother getting into an argument with those of you who have started pulling out their Beatles and R.E.M. records to debunk my Radiohead and The National ‘idiocy.’ Just sit down, will you?

But what is the point of all this, I hear you cry? What am I banging on about? Well I’ll tell you. My moan today is aimed at the people out there who think they can dismiss my opinions on music because I believe that some of what I have discovered over the past twenty years, or even the past five years, is as good as anything that’s come before. Those who cry ‘recency’ when I say I prefer the work of IDLES to the work of The Sex Pistols. Those who dare to say to me, when I claim to prefer the music of The Twilight Sad to the music of The Beatles, that I would feel differently if I went back and listened to everything the lads from Liverpool released. Would I fuck, mate. It’s the presumption that bothers me more than anything – the idea that, because I have claimed to not really enjoy something that is considered part of the musical canon, that means I must not have spent the time trying to get to know it. Trust me, I have. And I have made up my mind. Just as you have probably made up your mind that my claim that Nadine Shah, Aldous Harding, and Big Thief have some of the most exciting opening albums runs in the history of music is also bullshit. But I wonder if you have spent the same time with them as I have with The Beatles before coming to that conclusion.

I suppose, in the end, what I am asking for is a little bit of acceptance when it comes to opinions on music. If you think The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, and Jimi Hendrix are the best thing that happened to music, that’s okay. But if someone thinks the same about Kendrick Lamar, Phoebe Bridgers, or Fontaines DC, then that is, of course, okay, too. Unless, that is, they make the same claims about The 1975…

I jest. But before signing off I will acknowledge my hypocrisy here. I do sort of believe that if people really gave all the bands I love and have listed here a go that they, too, would fall in love with them. I cling to that hope. And part of the fun of being a music fan is having these arguments; I wouldn’t want them to disappear completely. But maybe don’t dismiss people’s musical knowledge or love just because their favourite artists come from a different era to yours. Deal?

Words by Fran Slater

2 comments

  1. I’ve been writing about music for a long, long time, and I remain a big believer that the best music ever made is usually the music being made RIGHT NOW. To believe otherwise is to accept that it’s not worth looking for new music, and I can’t psychologically embrace a world view that music’s best days are behind it. Because of that, I always hate it when people make statements about “The best music ever was from the ’60s” or “It’s all been downhill since the ’70s” or other such reactionary claims. I really do believe that there are just as many musical geniuses plying their trades now as there were then, and I view claims to the contrary as nothing more than admissions that the claimant’s musical tastes have ossified, typically around the tunes that defined their teen-aged years.

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    • Yes, Eric – thank you!!! Totally agree with this. I think people don’t listen to enough new music and therefore decide that there isn’t new music worth listening to. Music is always advancing and, for me, the fact that new acts come out now and do something different and new is far more impressive than people doing that in the 60s and 70s, when sounding new and original was a hell of a lot easier.

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