Several months ago I was in my office listening to London Calling when my (25 year-old) graphic artist came in and said, "Wow, that's pretty cool. Is it new?"

That was the day I officially became old.


I'm going through a similar scene here at work myself: Two of my staffers are devoted to BMRC. My suggestion that they might want to check out the "real deal" in The Jesus & Mary Chain's first recording was met with, "who?" It pains me to think that the above 20-something may NOT EVEN KNOW WHO XTC is, and just kind of let it fall. Skylarking and the Dukes of Stratosphere volume: Chips from the Chocolate Fireball, should be must listening for anyone who likes Franz Ferdinan, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Snow Patrol bla bla bla. Now, if I could just find my walker, I'd go tell those kids in the art department a thing or two about rock n roll!

Eric Grubbs

I'm 28 and have been a curious music fan ever since high school. I reached a point during my junior year where what I heard on radio/saw on MTV just wasn't doing much for me. So, out of pure curiousity, I started looking around. There was no Internet, but what I could find at my local bookstore provided plenty of information.

It was through books like Come As You Are, The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock, Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-A-Rama and even Our Band Could Be Your Life that got me into bands that were before my time. I make no apologies for being into Men at Work, INXS and Janet Jackson while the Replacements, Husker Du and Sonic Youth put out their masterworks. I simply did not know about this world because all I knew about music was almost exclusively confined to Top 40 radio and MTV.

For me, I live for finding some record that I really love. Whether it's Small Change or Sky Blue Sky, I love that buzz. I definitely like finding new artists, but I don't want to exclusively look for/listen to new artists. There are so many artists I've heard about and sometimes they don't click with me right away. Sometimes a modern band that is compared to an older band helps me understand the older band a little bit better.

Case in point: Gang of Four. Here's a band that I read praises about in Guitar World as well as some of the aforementioned books. I didn't really understand what was so great about Entertainment! for years. I thought it was like a funky version of the Clash and not much more. Well, after really digging into Bloc Party's Silent Alarm in 2005, I pulled out Entertainment! and it clicked.

I agree that a lot of rock music's evolution has slowed to a crawl in the past quarter-century. But I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. I'm thankful that people are still finding inspiration from the Pixies, Led Zeppelin and the Ramones. However, when it comes to the choice of XTC or Dogs Die in Hot Cars, I go with XTC, hands down.

Dan E

I read an interview with Andy Partridge a few months back where he quite rightly (and humorously) noted that while it's cool for hip, angular-sounding young bands to drop names like Gang of Four and Wire in their interviews, absolutely NO ONE cops to being influenced by XTC. And what's up with THAT?

As for your "But what if it was 1982..." scenario, it might have happened -- provided your name was Slim Jim Phantom, and you were jamming along to a Gene Vincent record.

Michael Azerrad

People seem to be bringing their own insecurities to bear on my observation and letting them distort the intent of my question. I was most emphatically not asking why today's hipster bands ape vintage post-punk bands (the mere mention of XTC seems to be the red herring there), nor was I taking younger people to task for not taking better note of history (a crusade which is the exclusive province of the old coot who yells, "Hey you kids, get off my damn lawn!") No, what I was asking about was why rock music in general has progressed so little in the past 25 years. Just about anything recorded in 1980 doesn't sound nearly as out of date now as something recorded in 1957 sounded in 1980. Capisce?

Eric Grubbs

Capisce. I got more defensive by Carole and Jamie's comments way more than your post. I agree that music recorded in 1980 doesn't sound nearly as out of date now as something recorded in 1957 sounded in 1980. I felt like the ones born around 1978-1982 were being kicked around and needed to speak up about this.

Reid Davis

Recorded media has only been around for the better part of a century; depending on how you define it, rock has existed since the early- to mid-50s. I simply think we're running out of new ways to put together guitars, bass and drums (and sometimes keyboards). The last real period of innovation was the '80s — after that pretty much everything was rehash. Grunge was the first of many waves that existed upon dusting off old sounds.

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