A few years ago I gave up listening to Exclaim!’s album previews both as part of my boycott of the magazine and also because I felt like so much of the music was so very similar. I have tried to replace that listening habit with NPR’s “First Listen“, but I have not been wholly successful in part because I borrow way too much old music from the library at the moment.
But I do try sporadically, but oftentimes I do not even bother to listen to the band or artist on display for more than a few songs despite my claim that I will listen to “anything” three times. (I guess I should clarify: in my defense, I will listen to pretty much “anything” if someone swears to me that’s it’s good, but if I’m doing it on my own, I no longer have the time.) Earlier in the year, I planned a long blog post about the various “First Listen” artists that I couldn’t even handle. I think I just forgot about it – understandable given the year I’ve had – and so I am left with only a couple of artists: Eric Church and Temples.
Eric Church: The Outsiders
“I hear talent, yes. But this is everything I hate about “country” now. This is not country music.”
That’s literally all I could muster. I mean, I can’t tell you how much I hate this “arena country” that thinks it’s rock music with an accent. I miss country. I do.
Temples: Sun Structures
I tried – I really tried – to listen to Temples. I made it through maybe 3 or 4 songs before I gave up. Then, on my way home, I see a NNNN out of 5 review in NOW. I think I should become a hermit.
Temples sounds like members of the Beatles and the Byrds – and maybe the Zombies? – got together in mid to late 1967 and made a record, only they were so obsessed with sounding exactly like an exact Beatles / Byrds hybrid that they left the interesting parts off the album. (And they magically were able to access 21st century digital record production!)
Bands like Temples should remember that the people they so desperately try to imitate were influenced by other music too, just like them. Temples would do well to try listening to what the Beatles and Byrds were listening to in 1967 – country, folk, free and modal jazz, musique concrete, and who knows what else – and maybe they might make some more varied – and interesting – music.