So my goal this week was to single out some artists I’ve heard about but never really heard. I went with two bona fide legends (Tom Waits and Patti Smith), two lesser-known but well-regarded 70s bands (Buzzoccks and Faces) and one contemporary artist who enjoys great critical acclaim (Bjork).
Overall, my takeaway is that I wasn’t missing much. I’m most intrigued by Tom Waits, though his voice remains a stumbling block, and I like the idea of Patti Smith even if her song didn’t completely sell me. Faces seems like a generic 70s rock band. Buzzcocks wrote a great song but their style isn’t up my alley. And Bjork is intriguing but too much of an art-school show-off to really grab me.
So I guess the question is… was I missing out on these artists because I somehow subliminally knew they weren’t my cup of tea? Or was it just the luck of the draw and maybe five other choices would have led to some amazing discovery? I’m guessing it’s a bit of both. My impressions of these artists were based on descriptions of them in popular culture, not their actual music, but perhaps those descriptions were accurate enough to convey some truth about the music too.
If that’s the case, kudos to all the music journalists I read. You’re performing a public service. I believe it was Roger Ebert who once wrote that a good film critic isn’t somebody who likes the same things you like, but somebody who writes openly and intelligently every film he sees. If I read a rave but still know the film or album isn’t for me, that’s probably a good critic.
I’m a bit relieved that I didn’t stumble upon any must-listens this week. Lord knows I have too much music I don’t get around to as it is. But I do love that thrill of discovery, and I think I’ll return to this theme in the future — maybe focusing on more contemporary artists — and hope for better results.