Musical Extravaganza

Been a frustrating, stressful, non-writing sort of a week this week. So much so that this is the first writing-related thing I’ve done all week. I haven’t even looked at anything related to my story, much less done any writing on it. So in keeping with this week’s apparent non-writing theme, I’m breaking from my normal story-related topics for this week’s blog post, and instead I’m going to write about music. I know that I’ve previously written about music (specifically about having a soundtrack for my novel), but this week I’m going to just write about music completely unrelated to writing.

This topic is mostly inspired by the fact that I just discovered a new band on YouTube this week. Which is YouTube’s most redeeming quality in my mind – it’s a surprisingly great source for music (this is also one of YouTube’s very few redeeming qualities, but that’s a rant for another day). I think I’ve found almost as many great musicians/bands on YouTube as I have on Pandora, and that’s saying something.

To say that I have eclectic tastes in music is likely more than an understatement. As a child of the 70s and 80s, I long ago lost interest for the most part in popular, Top 40 music. I’d much rather listen to obscure indie bands and foreign music – the stuff you’re just not going to hear on the radio. The last few years in particular have seen me gravitate more and more towards foreign music – Japanese rock/pop and Scandinavian folk metal and Electro Swing, to name but a few genres.

Most recently, I’ve found myself drawn to musical genres that combine traditional music and instruments with a more modern rock sound. And my most recent musical discovery fits perfectly into this style. They are a Japanese group called Wagakki Band, who combine traditional Japanese instruments with rock music. Even their look seems to be a blending of traditional dress and punk rock fashion.

Another band I really enjoy that follows this same general concept (although with a very different sound) is the Finnish folk-metal band Korpiklaani, who combine traditional Scandinavian folk instruments with heavy metal. Despite not really being a big heavy metal fan, I really enjoy their music because of that blending of styles. It reminds me in many ways of Celtic Punk, a genre that I have long enjoyed (for examples, check out the music of Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys).

On the subject of unusual foreign metal bands, I can’t write an article about eclectic music without mentioning one of the most unusual bands I’ve come across in quite some time – the Japanese pop-metal band Babymetal. Yes, you read that right, pop-metal. The band features three teenage girls singing pop lyrics with a heavy metal band providing the instrumentation. Their music is a bizarre mix of bubblegum pop with metal guitars, that really shouldn’t work, but somehow does (I will admit that it’s not to everyone’s tastes by any means, but I absolutely love their music). For a great example of their sound, check out their song Gimme Chocolate.

I’ll touch on one final unusual genre of music that I enjoy, and then we’ll bring this musical extravaganza to a close. And that genre would be Electro Swing, which is a European genre of music that combines old school swing jazz with modern techno/dance music. As someone who’s long been a fan of big band swing music, and who enjoyed his fair share of techno back in the 90s, hearing them blended together was amazing. Anyone who likes fun, upbeat, danceable music should give it a listen. I would recommend the band Caravan Palace, or any of the songs from the compilation album Electro Swing Revolution vol. 2 as a great place to start.

If I were looking for a “moral to the story” to summarize this post, it would be that there is a world of amazing music out there beyond the generic auto-tuned repetition that fills the ranks of mainstream music. It’s just a matter of getting out there and finding it, and then being open to the possibilities, because a lot of what’s out there isn’t what you’re used to. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a listen. Here endeth the sermon.

No idea what next week’s blog will be about, but I am really hoping I can get my head back in the game and get refocused on my writing next week. Sadly winter tends to play hell with my creative motivation (and life’s thrown me a few curveballs recently that have only aggravated the problem). But my goal is to push through it all and get back on track with moving my story forward. Only time will tell what next week brings.

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