Accounting for Taste: Music and Your Personality

“Michaela was a strong, confident woman who loved mainstream contemporary pop. Her boyfriend was a fan of electronic dance music. When the two had been together for a few months, they decided to take a road trip to Philadelphia so he could meet her parents. The problem was that Michaela’s boyfriend was driving—and thus controlling the radio. “I hated his taste in music,” she recalls. “It was weird and rattled my nerves.” Meanwhile, he was bored by her favorite music. Each felt their artistic choices were superior—and both were convinced of the rightness of their own opinion. They couldn’t agree, and soon they were in a terrible fight. They never did make it to Philadelphia—and their relationship didn’t last much longer, either.”

Thus begins a very interesting article I read this weekend in Psychology Today entitled, Accounting for Taste” that describes how our interests in books, music and art goes to the core of who we are.   Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  Who hasn’t judged someone based upon the music they keep.  I know I have.  A friend of mine recently broke up with a girl he was dating citing her dislike of Radiohead as one of the reasons. (And can you really blame him?)

The article goes on to describe how the choices we make about music, art and books are based upon a desire to carve out identities for ourselves and articulate the stories of our lives. We look for those stories in others as well.  The author goes on to identify a few key categories that we tend to fall into:

  • The Taste Maker
  • The Thrill Seeker
  • The Self Medicator

I’m a cross between Taste Maker and Self Medicator. What are you?  Read the entire Psychology Today article here.

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Trendspotting: SF Bands You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of – Part 1

I first really started diving into the San Francisco music scene at SXSW this year, thanks to The Bay Bridged and their efforts in organizing the fantastic SXSW Bay Area Takeover event.  Interesting isn’t it?  There is so much great music in our own backyard and I had to go to Austin to discover it.  It was at that point I decided to start playing in my own sandbox.  And I haven’t looked back since.  The only downside to this strategy is that it becomes harder and harder to rope my music friends into coming to shows with me.  “You want me to see who?  Never heard of them.”

The following series of posts – SF Bands You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of – is a culmination of this research and discovery since March of this year.  There’s a lot of good music coming out of our town – putting San Francisco squarely on the map as a vital music city.  And you should know about it.  Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of all the Bay Area bands around.  Just my favorites. In alphabetical order, of course.

60 Watt Kid

One of the things I’ve discovered in my local band research is that there appears to be some momentum in specific genres – like psyche rock and experimental. 60 Watt Kid encompasses a bit of both to me. Their self-titled debut is chaotic, bizarre and intriguing all at the same time.  

Listen to: ‘Cobblestone Sunglasses’

Citay

It’s 1970 in San Francisco and the hippies are back. Or perhaps they never left.  Listening to the flower power psych rock of Citay will certainly transport you back in time with the influences of some of the greats sprinkled all over the place – from Led Zepplin to Jerry Garcia.  It feels good.

Listen to: ‘Little Kingdom’

Cousin Chris

Cousin Chris (aka Chris Schreiber), is a veritable one man band who released his solo effort Moon Paper in July. The album was recorded at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone Studios. The album is beautiful, with a folky-blues sound and vocals that remind me of Neil Young at times. There’s a good interview with Chris on Stranger Dance.

Listen to: ‘Head Down’

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Beach House – Used to Be

Beach House is streaming a new track, ‘Used to Be, from their forthcoming 7″ single (here we go with the Indie artists and 7″ vinyl again) to be released on October 21.  I love their etherial, haunting, lovelorn music and their latest album Devotion is a late night favorite on my headphones.  The duo is set to play The Swedish American Music Hall this Sunday, September 28.  How cool is that?

Stream Used to Be.

Listen to ‘Gila:

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Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line

 

ArtistRa Ra Riot
AlbumThe Rhumb Line
File Under: Indie Pop
Recommended if You Like: Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend
Featured Track: Under Ghost Rocks

The best way I can describe Syracuse-based Ra Ra Riot is Arcade Fire meets Vampire Weekend – upbeat rhythms layered over rich orchestral-based melodies. And their live shows, with their huge ensemble cast, are raucous and infectious – just like Arcade Fire.  If you like either of those bands, it would be worth your while to give Ra Ra Riot a listen.  They were the darlings of SXSW this year and are fast becoming a critics choice for 2008 as well.

‘The Rhumb Line’ is the band’s first LP and a tribute to the recent drowning of band member, drummer John Pike, who co-wrote most of the lyrics for their debut album. The title of the album, ‘The Rhumb Line’, is fitting in both its nautical theme and meaning – a term for the constant course a vessel takes in a give direction.  Which is what the remaining band members have had to do.

See them live tomorrow, September 24, at The Rickshaw Stop or watch the video for, ‘Ghost Under Rocks’:

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Treasure Island Music Festival – Rock Fist Forever

 

The sun sets on Treasure Island

The sun sets on Treasure Island

Judah rocks it for his first festival.

Judah rocks it for his first festival.

Judah Meets The Morning Benders!

Judah Meets The Morning Benders!

The Treasure Island Music Festival epitomizes the ideal festival experience for me. You could almost say it’s the anti-festival. The crowd size is small – around 10,000 a day, the location is beautiful, the line up is thoughtfully curated with the most cutting-edge indie artists, and the event organization is impeccable – no lines for food, beverages or toilets and only 2 stages scheduled with non-competing performances so the attendee never has to choose or compromise. The result is a beautiful day of rockin’ music.  In an era where behemoth, corporate festivals reign supreme, these qualities do not go unnoticed.  Kudos to Noise Pop and APE. Please, keep up the good work and don’t change a thing!

Day 2 of Treasure Island was one of the better festival line ups I’ve yet to see. Fleet Foxes, Dr. Dog, The Kills and – most of all – The Raconteurs were the highlights for me.  ‘The Rockin-tours’ as Judah calls them. Quite astute for a 3 year old, for these gentleman do ROCK.  I’ve had the pleasure to see them twice this year (the first time at Bimbos!) and can say with certainty that, after last night, Jack White has firmly secured a spot in my rock god pantheon. Which is precisely what separates a Raconteurs show from so many of the shows I see these days.  It’s just straight up, fist pumping, good ‘ol rock-n-roll.  When’s the last time you’ve seen a good rock show?  The kind that just makes you want to bang your head and play air guitar. I’m hard pressed to recall one.  Rock fist forever, Raconteurs.

What do you think: Is Jack White the rock god of our generation?

Here’s one of my favorite songs from the Sunday set:

The Raconteurs, ‘Level’:  

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8tracks is the New Muxtape

With Muxtape still battling the RIAA, 8tracks has emerged as the new online MP3 playlist solution.  8tracks allows you to create a playlist of 8 tracks and share it with your friends online.  It’s easy to use and they are Beta testing an Uploader feature for Mac users that allows you to drag and drop a playlist directly from iTunes to 8track. Hmmm, given how DRM happy Apple is, I wonder how long that will last.  Well, go check it out now before the RIAA shuts them down too.

Here’s a mix I created for the Treasure Island Music Festival this Sunday in San Francisco, featuring Fleet Foxes, Port O’Brien, The Dodos, Okkervil River, The Morning Benders, Vampire Weekend, Dr. Dog and The Raconteurs.  Can’t wait!

Listen to Treasure Island Music Festival Playlist.

For a more complete sampler of Sunday’s line up, check out HearYa’s complete playlist of all the artists featured.

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Indie Artists and 7″ Vinyl

I’ve noticed lately that every Indie music artist seems to release their singles on 7″ vinyl these days.  I see full LPs on vinyl too but this appears to be the predominant trend.  Can please someone explain this to me?  I just don’t get it.  Aren’t we living in a digital age and still fighting for the rights of digital music?  I understand the nostalgia for vinyl, cassette tapes and 8 Tracks.  But if you’re an emerging indie rock band, what is the practicality of having a merch table full of vinyl singles?  I never see anyone actually buy them. I don’t own a turntable anymore, do you? And if you are a band that only has two songs, wouldn’t it behoove you to make them available for download online?

Someone, please help me understand.

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“She’s Magic. That’s Why She Has a Microphone.”

My 3-year old’s latest musical obsession is Karen O. from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And frankly, I can’t blame him.  

It all started with Rock Band.  I play a lot of it and one of my favorite songs is Maps. I drum, he sings (with his console unplugged, of course, so we don’t get booed off). One day I decided to show him the video to Maps so he can work on his Karen O. moves.  To say he’s smitten is an understatement.  He watches her completely transfixed, with mouth agape.  After seeing the video for Gold Lion for the first time, he turned to me, all serious, and said: “Momma, she’s magic.  That’s why she has a microphone.”

Listen to ‘Gold Lion’:  

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Air France Video – Collapsing at Your Doorstep

Swedish electronic duo, Air France, have released a new video for the track Collapsing at Your Doorstep’ off their import-only EP No Way Down.  Their sound is very St. Etienne.  It’s sorta like a dream.  No… better.

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Lackthereof – My Haunted

Artist: Lackthereof
Album: My Haunted
File Under: Lo Fi Indie Pop
Recommended if You Like: The National, Bon Iver, Bonnie Prince Billy
Featured Track: The Columbia

Lackthereof is the solo side project of Portland, Oregon’s Menomena drummer, Danny Seim.  He’s self recorded many albums under this moniker.  I just stumbled upon this release from earlier this year entitled, ‘My Haunted’, and can’t stop listening to it.  It’s such a beautiful, gentle, lo-fi, atmospheric album – in the same sense that Bon Iver evokes.  But his voice is like listening to The National’s, ‘Fake Empire’.  A lovely combination indeed.

He also just released a new album, Your Anchor, last month.  Check it out as you won’t be seeing him live anytime soon. He doesn’t have any plans to take this gig outside of Portland at the moment.  

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