07 January 2008

A to Z: EAR FARM's favorite unlikely places to hear good music

Airplanes. Because I try to fly Jet Blue whenever possible, I very often find myself rocking out to the XM radio they offer at each seat. But some of the "adult" rock you'll hear as you're boarding and waiting to takeoff on certain other airlines is not exactly shabby either. I'm talking Styx and Gwen Stefani and Lionel Richie not long ago on a Delta flight. Giddyup!

Bathrooms. To me, there's almost nothing worse than a public restroom without a little extra non-human noise of some kind. Recently I heard Metallica in a men's room in a New York restaurant. No shit. And because it was Metallica, that's all I heard. Thank you James, Kirk, Lars, and Cliff.

Commercials. I know we all know it by now, but one of the best places to hear great new songs you've never heard before (or to hear old New Wave/Alt-rock favorites) is during certain commercials. Very often, car commercials. However, as much as I love hearing songs by bands I love on TV, I definitely miss old-school jingles. The only recent one I can remember loving was that one for Skippy Snack Bars. That shit was hott!

Dentist office. Last time I was at my dentist's office, I heard "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin, "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" by Van Halen, and "That Smell" by Lynrd Skynrd. Hey, two out of three ain't bad.

Elevators. A major complaint of mine is the serious lack of music in New York's elevators. However, from time to time I find myself in an elevator with music that makes me smile. Most recently: a muzak version of the Buzzcocks in a building downtown on 6th ave.

Filling station. Can I use this term? Well I'm going to, for two reasons. One: I heard some kick ass Leo Sayer while filling up at a "gas station" in California recently. Two: I think people should return to using the terms 'motor vehicles', 'automobiles', 'rumble seat', and 'filling stations'. Terms like these make our national oil addiction seem a tad less severe and even a bit more friendly, don't you think? Tell you what's definitely friendly - hearing "More Than I Can Say" while you pump fuel into your jalopy.

Guitar stores. WTF, Guitar stores? Those horrifying menageries of 10 idiots trying to play "show-off riffs" as they test out guitars and amps, all at the same time? I know, right? But I'll tell you what - like two years ago I was at Guitar Center and I heard the most amazingly spot-on version of the solo in the song "Wasted Years" by Iron Maiden. It was just some long hair testing out a guitar in the store, but he'd drawn an audience. Because he ruled.

Hold music on the phone. You know, there are actually some good ones out there... my consistent favorite being this one business I have to call for work that always plays Peter Gabriel. Always. Not that I'm a huge fan or anything, but jamming out to "Sledgehammer" while waiting on the phone isn't exactly torture. Okay, to me it isn't.

In your head. It's not always the most annoying songs that get stuck in your head, is it? Aw, come on. You have to learn to go with it sometimes! I woke up singing "Zombie" by The Cranberries on New Year's Day and I loved it. At first. Until "in your head" kept repeating over and over in my head, nearly causing my brain to short circuit.

Jukebox in a crappy bar that surprisingly, and thankfully, has a good selection. This'll happen from time to time if you let it. What I mean is, go and check out the jukebox every time you're in a new bar. Sometimes you'll be surprised at what you might find. Hey, you might even surprise the people in the bar by picking the one Iggy Pop record they have buried amongst a slew of '90s pop-country.

Kinky sex toy shops. Not that any of us would really know what kind of music can be heard in such places... I’m just sayin'. I bet it's dirty, hot, sleazy, and awesome. It should be at least.

Lead-in music on talk radio shows. Or, "bumper music". But I needed one for "L". Anyway, I listen to a lot of talk radio, so this is always a favorite place of mine to hear a pleasant surprise song.

MTV. Seriously, there's music on this channel sometimes. No, I mean good music. Listen for it in the background of their shitty reality shows. I like to imagine that the three people who are left at MTV who have good taste in music are actually locked up in a dungeon in the basement and the little snippets of good music you'll hear from time to time within their regular programming are like tiny S.O.S. distress calls asking for us to help free them from their corporate captors. I have an active imagination.

Next door neighbor. When I moved into my first "alone apartment", how did I know my neighbor and I were going to be friends? Because I put up a Smiths flag on my first night there as I finished moving in the last few boxes of stuff. I hit 'play' on the final album by The Smiths and opened my window - not too loud, but loud enough. In no time my neighbor was at the door. "STRANGEWAYS!" he exclaimed. We were fast friends.

Online. Right? I mean, sure it's not super unlikely that you'll find good music online, but then again sometimes I'm surprised at just where it can be found. For example, on Friday Pitchfork actually posted good music they've never talked about before. Quelle shock!

Public transportation. Last month I listened to three MIA songs on the subway. The funny thing: I had no ipod that day. But thankfully the girl next to me did, and apparently didn't have much in the way of hearing either.

Quotidian places; meaning just about any old average place, once you're of a certain age and people of your generation are suddenly the ones calling the shots. I've noticed this more and more and I'm always reminded of that awesome/terrible commercial from the '80s. Freedom Rock. It's what I feel like whenever I hear music I grew up with in what used to be the most unlikely of places. Watching an NFL playoff game this past weekend I heard a Depeche Mode song followed by a Talking Heads song. Depeche Mode and football?!

Restaurants. If you go to a restaurant that has a clue, these can be a fantastic place for hearing good music. My two neighborhood favorites are Momofuku and The Mermaid Inn.

Supermarket. Yesterday mine played Beastie Boys, The Beatles, Beck, and Belle And Sebastian. I plan on returning on the 17th, at which point I'll be hoping to hear some Morphine, Morrissey, and My Morning Jacket.

Taxis. Recently I've heard Django Reinhardt, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Rachmaninov in various NYC taxis. Often I hear Pakistani music that flat out rocks. All I'm saying is give the music a chance before putting on those headphones and your "leave me the shit alone" face.

Urban greeting cards. Serious. No, really - see?

Video Games. Not just Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but games such as the Tony Hawk series, Grand Theft Auto, and a variety of sports games have literally redefined the musical landscape by making video game music a top arena for the dispersal of good music.

Work. I don't know about you, but I've discovered some mighty fine music by being forced to listen to what a coworker wanted to listen to.

Xmas parties. I was at this one Christmas party and they were playing the best music! It was a mix of music done by some website or blog or something. I think it was called EAR FARM's All I Want For Christmas Is Music Mix. Yeah.

Your parents' house. Okay, I don't mean the times that you walk in on your parents grooving to Andrea Bocelli (not that there's anything wrong with him), I mean times such as when you find yourself back at home for a holiday and your mom is rocking out to "LoveStoned" by Justin Timberlake. And you're so happy to see that you're not the only one in your immediate family who is shamelessly in love with JT.

At a Zoo. I'm serious. Back me up zoos in Minnesota, Albuquerque, and Sacramento. But I wonder how the animals feel? Historically they don't really care, but I beg to differ. My cat, for one, loves Britpop and Gangsta Rap. What can I say? He's stuck in the '90s.

7 comments:

lisa said...

this was a lot of fun to read! thanks for the post, btw- which market do you shop at?! i think i need a change in my grocery soundtrack.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, my thoughts exactly! Maybe in New York there are all these killer stores and restaurants that play great music but at Albertsons we sure aren't hearing Belle And Sebastian or My Morning Jacket!

randy said...

guitar stores hahahaha!

i heard some kid murdering crazy train last time i was at a store poor kid

muzak hatr said...

all muzak is bad muzak!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

how about:
Bar
Hairdresser
Movie Theater
and in another car on the road as your driving

street performer said...

what about buskers?!!!

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