Old and New Music: One is Silver, the Other is Gold

There are a lot of things that confuse me about us millenials. Yes, we have had the great advantage of the internet and smartphone in our lifetimes, but at least for me, I find this has made our generation in particular less appreciative of history and more likely to prematurely antiquate things, specifically music.

There are too many times I can remember songs like Gotye’s 2011 single “Somebody That I Used to Know” and the 2004 smash hit “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day coming on before my friends would say “this song is so old” or “put something on from this century.” 

Call me idealistic. Call me what you may, but the idea of rejecting something because of it’s relative age alone does not sit well with me. 

Music is supposed to be timeless and for me, a millennial, it definitely is. Many things in my life have changed over the years. From the friends I’ve had, to jobs I’ve experienced and the schools I’ve gone to, one thing has always remained constant and that is my love and appreciation for music. 

Music is something that I enjoy sharing with my friends and family through word-of-mouth, many times transcending these “generational boundaries” that millenials have seemingly constructed. 

As a jazz pianist, past employee at Blue Note Records and overall music savant, my dad has taught me so much about the art. He’s introduced me to some of my all-time favorite bands like Rush, Soundgarden and The Cranberries, just to name a few. 

On the other hand, I have introduced my dad to many of my favorite current bands including Muse, Coheed and Cambria, Queens of the Stone Age as well as the new kings of rock – Nothing But Thieves, whom he embraced with open arms. He didn’t tell me, “turn this off, it’s too new” or “this is sh*t compared to the music from my day.” He shrewdly embraced the music for what it was, recognizing its influences while also took the original aspects. 

When I discovered the band Muse back in 2015, I had heard of some of their pop hits like “Madness” and “Uprising” but never really delved into the bowels of their discography. That same year their seventh studio album Drones was released spearheaded by the lead single “Psycho” with its punchy, hard-hitting guitar riff. 

At the time, “Psycho” was not something that I had heard a lot of modern popular rock bands release: a hard, riff driven rock song. From that point on, Muse quickly became my favorite band. I bought all of their CDs jumped on any opportunity to see them live and listened to their albums religiously. It was clear to notice the influences from bands like Radiohead, who, thanks to Muse, was my next major music phase. 

As Muse’s seventh studio album was filling the airwaves of alternative rock stations it was quickly making its way out of my regular music rotation, with its void being filled by Muse’s earlier albums. They were simply better. Every song on the new album was just a duller, less unique version of their older material. 

New music is great. It’s a fantastic feeling when you discover a new artist from our generation that could rival those of the past. However, almost every successful band has a peak, usually four or five albums where they really come into their own and perfect their sound. I unfortunately discovered Muse after this peak, and as a result found myself listening to their earlier material (mid 2000s) that many millennials would consider “old.” 

Here at the end of 2018, I have discovered many other bands since Muse, including the aforementioned Nothing But Thieves who I firmly believe will be one of the biggest bands in the world in the near future. Even with discoveries like this, I still go back to my roots and listen to older albums because in music, time can be the enemy of originality and in music, like anything, history provides us with context of how the present came to be. 

Just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s good and just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s bad. So the next time your friend tells you to turn off “Hotel California” for “Mo Bamba” use quality, not age, to make your decision.