I can’t get into American music

Friday, April 20, 2018

Okay, so way back when I was a teenager and dinosaurs roamed the Earth, there was music in the U.S. of A. that I could vibe with. As other metalheads will know, metal experienced a big resurgence in the states around the early 2000s. I naturally gravitated to this. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I would borrow CDs from the library (yeah, that was a thing, at least in Jersey). My interests in metal now obviously are not what they were then, but, you know, I would listen to stuff like Killswitch Engage and Cradle of Filth (don’t kill me, guys). You know how teens are, they need to identify with music. As you mature, though, you stop using music this way and actually begin to appreciate it for what it is. As this happens, your tastes evolve and grow more sophisticated.

It was at this point, when I was in my early 20s, that I realized I really didn’t ‘click’ with any popular music in America (even if it wasn’t mainstream, the alternative stuff didn’t grab me, either). Not least because metal, my favorite music genre, began to decline in popularity here, but also because the metal people listened to was something that I found kind of superficial and simplistic (at least lyrically). And that’s how most modern music is here, so I guess you could say that it was too “American” for me.

With music, I can actually relate very well to many people my age in Europe, especially in the Slavic countries, adjacent to where my family is from. I like black metal, Viking metal, Russian and Ukrainian folk and pagan metal, Nordic folk music, classical music (I particularly like composers like Grieg and Shostakovich), dark ambient pieces, and classic rock. Aside from some metalheads, no one in the U.S. really knows what I’m talking about when I speak about music. Meanwhile, I’m seeing all my European friends going to see bands like Аркона, Mgła, and Батюшка, and getting jealous! (Though I was lucky enough to see Аркона in Paris, along with Svartsot). These bands mostly don’t play here (with some exceptions), because the following for them is too small. And anyway, people here prefer awful shit like Five Finger Death Punch or Butcher Babies. It’s amazing, the intellectual difference between American metal bands and those in Europe.

You know, even outside of metal, I usually can’t carry on a conversation with a fellow American about music. Millennials here aren’t listening to classical music, they’re listening to pop or rap or hip-hop or whatever else the big record companies tell them to listen to. I can’t even keep track of what the “popular groups” or “artists” are in the U.S. anymore. Is it still Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, all that stuff? With rap I’d have no idea, since I absolutely can’t stand that kind of music (no disrespect meant toward anyone who likes it, however; I’m not trying to put it down or insult it in any way).

So what do I listen to when it comes to American music? Is there any pop or ‘modern rock’ (though who even knows what that means) that I actually enjoy? I do enjoy some lame 80s and 90s music. Like . . . *looks at YouTube playlist* . . . “Are We Ourselves” by The Fixx or “True Faith” by New Order. Like anything by Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, etc. And, of course, classic rock is something I love so the 60s and 70s are huge for me. Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix. So there is music from “the homeland” (I hate that term) that I do like, but when it comes to modern music? Nope.

This is one of the many increasing factors that may lead to me someday moving to Europe (probably Slovakia). I want to hear songs about nature, paganism, ancient history, and the occult, not songs about bad relationships, sex, drugs, partying, or any of the other vapid bullshit young Americans seem to be obsessed with. I want something that stimulates me intellectually and makes me grow mentally and spiritually. And again, I am not criticizing other Americans my age and I’m not challenging or dissing their taste in music. They can listen to whatever they enjoy, and more power to them! But the music itself is something that clashes with me on every level.

So what am I listening to lately? I was on a black metal binge for a few weeks, so I was listening to a lot of Black Funeral, Thantifaxath, Watain, Rotting Christ, Dissection, and Nightbringer. As of this week, I’ve been enjoying a lot of pagan or folk music, so that means Аркона, ГРАЙ, Eluveitie, Enslaved, Myrkur, Wardruna, Смута, Solstafir, Hindarfjäll, stuff like that. YouTube has been my friend for music, since I have a relatively new laptop and I’m still involved in the long process of adding all my music into my iTunes. Anyway, that was my little rant/explanation. I need to get over to Europe and see some good shows.

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