It's a new year, y'all. Resolutions are still riding strong (at least for now) and week one of Dry January is slowing driving the lot of you loopy with impatience for the stroke of midnight, February 1st. But this is a new year, this is a new you; your early-bird schedule and otherwise misguided new commitments are clearly indicative of your post-holiday evolution. Your playlists, however, not so much.
Music is always the last thing to change come January 1st. The week long rift between the annual DRAM Christmas album and the first New Music Friday of the new year can be pretty dull, even downright agonizing for those of us with nothing better to talk about than the week's new releases. Regardless, your a different person now, a better version of yourself and your new six-hour workout mix should reflect that. To that end, here are five great ways to broaden your musical horizons and find more new music than ever in 2024.
Support your local scene and see a band you've never heard of.
Do it! Stop waiting for your favorite global sensation to throw a dart at a map and end up touring near your tiny, shit town, just for you to shell out a thousand dollars in fine print fees and watch the entire show on a screen. Head down the street, go to the open-mic nights, support your local dive bar, and check out some of the talent (or lack thereof) in your backyard. My hometown, Charlotte, NC, is home to several dive and live bars. You want to hear some hardcore shit and some killer DJ's? Try the Skylark Social Club or Snug Harbor in Plaza Midwood. Maybe you're into some calmer stuff, something with a some deeper roots, try the The Evening Muse in NoDa, or if you're more soulful than you let on, try Middle C Jazz on Brevard or The Rabbit Hole on Commonwealth for Mambo Nights! You could see all types of bands at the most unassuming spots in town, but you'll never know until you hop in that Uber and see for yourself. So as part of your resolutions, get out to a dive and see some music live. Plus, there's no better feeling than being able to tell someone "I saw them before they sold out."
Ask a family member (no matter how much it pains you).
This may be the only case where quality does not beat quantity. Regardless of how lame you may think your parents are or how convinced you may be that your generation's music washes out yesterday's geezer rock, they have still heard more tunes than you and lived longer than you. Annoying, yes, but an unfortunate truth. Ask your folks or older siblings, hell, ask your weirdo cousins and extended family what they're listening to, what they listened to when they were your age, what was coming out then, what was happening then. Sadly, you might learn something over the course of the conversation, but you just might find a new song you like.
Raid the dollar bin at your local record store.
If you've been following us for a while, you know we're big time supporters of the local brick-and-mortars, so you really should have seen this coming. If you're into the physical media aspect of music, or one of the swaggering many that own a record player to impress suitors, this tip will probably suit you well. Put that needle to good use; take a trip down to your local record store and get to digging through the dollar bins and used record crates. Personally, I've found some of my now favorite albums and artists on the Dollar World shelf at Repo Records in Charlotte, NC, which would inspire not only the title of our very own Dollar World series, but would lead to a now borderline incessant need to flip through every individual record for my next diamond in the rough. Besides, what's the worst that could happen? You don't particularly dig what you picked out, you're only out a buck or two. No risk, big reward, all new music.
Once a week, listen to at least one album or artist that speaks a different language.
Yes, yes, we all love Bad Bunny and Peso Pluma, that's a given, but there are other places out there that enjoy music just as much as we do. There are whole other industries and brand new sounds for you to discover from every country around the world. Plus, according to a 2016 Cambridge study on rhythm and cognition in foreign language learning, exposure to a language's rhythm leaves a lasting impact on a person's ability to segment speech patterns . Basically, listening to music in languages other than your own just makes you better than everyone else. Try some English drill, Russian funk is a great place to start, you might just love some Tuareg rock and assouf (check out Mdou Moctar if you're interested, Afrique Victime is a great place to start).
P.S., if you watch the music video below for "Hey you, Porushka-Paranya," some great Russian funk, skip ahead to minute 3:38 to see what could very well be bass guitar at it's peak.
Start a shared playlist with a friend(s)
If there's any one place we get the majority of our musical influences from, it's out peers. Friends, classmates, coworkers, your manager's 15-song work playlist that they haven't updated or rotated since 1995-- we mooch all our favorite songs from the people present in our lives at the time, for better or for worse. Most of the albums that defined (and ruined) my high school experience, and subsequently my late teenage years, were introduced to me by my closest friends. Start a Spotify Blend or an Apple Shared Playlist with a friend or a sibling you tolerate and you can share songs and swap albums in real time without even having to conversate. You can share songs with each other back and forth with unlimited access to what the other(s) is listening to. Your buddy that only listens to black metal and breakbeat bands? Make a mix with him, I guarantee you algorithm is ridiculous. Your older sibling that grew out of their Tyler, The Creator/BROCKHAMPTON phase and now writes their own music? Blend! Your collective influences will surely build an interesting mix, or a funny one if nothing else.
As is the case with any list and/or guideline we have published here, this is completely unsolicited advice. I can't force you to listen to new music, hell, I can't force to even want to listen to anything. But if you made it all the way here, you must've been curious enough to listen to me blab about being a well-rounded listener. January alone is going to be a big month for new releases, so strap in, hike up your new socks and if you take to heart even one of our suggestions, you're sure to be a happy listener.
Gant, M. & Carmen Fonseca-Mora, M., 2016. Melodies, Rhythm and Cognition in Foreign Language Learning. s.l.:Cambridge Scholars Publishing.