My Musical Appreciation

After long and careful thought considering my musical taste, I have come to the conclusion that it cannot be defined in a measured, succinct way. I realize that this sounds more than a little like a clich�d music student response, but I believe it to be true. Very little of the music that I listen to at this time in my life has any roots in childhood experience or memory.

I remember listening to Blondie and the Beatles constantly whilst on family holidays before I reached double figures in terms of years, and I’m still very fond of both bands. Similarly, Ferry Cross the Mersey’ – my favourite song as small child, despite me thinking that the song was all about a fairy – still holds a place close to me heart.

But from then on it all becomes more difficult. There really is no definite theme that runs through my musical taste. It varies greatly from extreme metal through hardcore punk, to electronica, briefly crossing into acoustic and pop. I constantly carry thirty mini discs with me wherever I go, most of which consist of two or more albums. I find this a necessity as my choice of listening material can change a number of times between getting on a bus, and getting off at the end of a journey.

The only umbrella comment that I can make is that all of the music that I am passionate about tends to be relatively obscure and, for the most part, verging towards the more extreme and boundary stretching areas of the genre. My favourite bands tend to blur these boundaries; and that is why I believe that I like them.

A few examples of these bands would be:

* Converge – a band renowned for ground breaking work that straddles both metal and hardcore, re-writing the rule book for each.

* Kid 606 – an artist well known for moving between complete noise and beautifully ambient electronica, and usually most points in between as well.

* Massive Attack – creators of a whole new genre (trip-hop) that took elements of almost all music that was around at the time.

* Glassjaw – possibly the least ground-breaking, but a band who is considered to be one of the most original and inspiring bands in the field of melodic hardcore.

Another element that plays a large role in my musical taste is my moral stance. I’m straight edge – a lifestyle of abstinence with its origins in hardcore punk – and as such, I gravitate towards bands that follow this same lifestyle. Minor Threat is seen as the originators of the scene; it was their song Straight Edge that gave the movement its name. Others bands include Gorilla Biscuits (whose Start Today album is credited as having inspired the majority of modern punk and hardcore bands), Bad Brains, Quicksand, Fugazi and Rival Schools; all of which have very unique and individual sounds, but still have the common factor of a straight edge lifestyle.

Lyrically, I don’t feel that I have a favourite form. I’m very much interested by vocalists that use interesting and rhythmic ways of delivering the lyrics, such as Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw) and Brandon Boyd (Incubus). By presenting the vocals in such a way that the listener is invited to interpret them in their own way, the singer draws them into the song.

I also find that a sense of humour is very important. I’m a big fan of the Locust, partly because of their song titles, above all else (Pssst, Is That a Halfie in Your Pants, Teenage Moustache, etc). Recently I have also found myself drawn to bands such as Twisted Sister and Van Halen, who existed almost as self-pastiches.

In conclusion, I find that musical taste depends on a number of different factors:

* Mood

* Humour

* Emotional interaction

* Personal interpretation

And these can simply be seen as a start. It is possibly the hardest thing to do; to define a person’s musical taste, because, in a way, it is like trying to define their whole person.