As some of the other Picky Bastards will repeatedly tell you (well, just Fran really), I’m ancient. I remember settling down to watch The Word of a Friday night, and thinking to myself ‘this really is the musical cutting edge’ (and was I really that wrong?). When they arrived, Oasis were something for young ‘uns to get into, while I stuck to repeatedly playing my Deep Wound EP for a summer, thinking ‘they just don’t get it, these kids’.
While I was dead right about Oasis, thankfully I was able to break into something past late 80s hardcore, and 30 years later, I’m glad of it. I’ve gone through several generations of music with wildly different styles – I’m honestly quite proud of the range of things I’ve learned to at least tolerate. I’ve loved some metal, some trip hop, some hip hop, some drone, a very small amount of pop, etc. etc. etc.
There is an ongoing battle though, in myself, around that instinct to reject the new. The other PBs editors and I have a WhatsApp group of course and, beyond abusing each other, there is a pretty much constant stream of conversation about new releases. Each time another new artist is suggested, I really have to fight the feeling of ‘for fucks sake – yet another new fucking band? Probably shite’.
I think it’s partly the pace of change – everyone and their mum (including myself, to be fair) are producing more and more music, more and more easily, and it’s hard to keep up. Beyond that though, I think I’m at a point where I gravitate towards that music that has meant a lot to me in the past, and find it harder and harder to open up to new things.
That’s partly why myself and PBs writer Nirmal originally wanted to start this project about six years ago – to force ourselves to listen to new music. We’d give at least those five or six albums a month a chance to squeeze into the increasingly crowded space of our music taste.
There’s also the sense that I have to fight, that music is there to comfort me, more than expand my scope of experience. When things are not going well (which, let’s be honest, has been a pretty perennial state in the last year or so), I fall back on hearing the same old albums, over and over. Something about hearing that stuff from 10, 20, or sometimes even 30 years ago can give me a sense of security that some things aren’t falling apart, as we twist and turn through the experience of panic toilet roll buying, and worrying about standing within about 15 feet of another person (fuck two metres).
This is not just an admission that Fran is right about the fact that I’m an old man, but also, hopefully, something I can look back at, to remind myself that I must resist my old ears calcifying, and keep embracing new music. I will continue to be full of contempt for a fair proportion of all music, new or old – because I’m a music snob and that’s what I’m here for – but I need to keep thinking, this new artist is not just ‘new’ but might actually also be ‘good’.
See! I’m not out for the count as an old bastard as well as a picky one yet. Still – Tik Tok is still just a pile of shit, so you can’t always teach an old dog new tricks.
Words by Nick Parker