A 57-Year-Old’s Guide to Indie Rock

As I get older, I find I have to work harder to discover new music that I like. When you combine this with the balkanization of the music industry and the rise in popularity of music genres I don’t particularly like (rap, hip hop and so forth), it can be downright tricky to come across new bands.

New tools like iTunes and Pandora help, certainly, but I still find that I have to work at the process.

D.J. Palladino is working harder than I am at it. He’s written a long article (found via Waxy) about his indie rock education. In particular, I like how he correlates today’s music to the rock and roll he grew up with:

Much of my pleasure came from the surprising connection this new music had to the stuff I loved when I was a kid. Most of my friends are stuck in the 1960s, their formative years, but who can blame them? The long feedback howling in songs like “Omaha” by Moby Grape were screams against our parents’ bland lives; they gave us hope that music could reorder the world. When that music died, many of my generation failed to find the same spirit even in the simplistic delights of punk rebellion. All I can say is my musical tastes are much like my working habits, which might charitably be considered ADHD.

I was pleased to recognize the names of about half the bands he references in the article. My favourites among those he lists aren’t particularly obscure: Rilo Kiley, New Pornographers, M. Ward and The Shins.

If this is entirely new territory to you, there’s a handy infographic primer at the end of the piece that’s worth a look.


  1. The “Radio” feature on LastFM.com is pretty good for finding new music. Go to the page of a musician you like, say Rio Kiley and click “Listen to Rio Kiley radio” to play artists that have been tagged on the site as (somewhat) similar.

  2. I know all those “new” names you mentioned thanks to http://www.radioparadise.com – worth checking out, unlike so many. The human filter (DJ) working there is fairly reliable for new music, though music is so subjective that I would not expect 100% of it to resonate with me. Try it out, I think you might like it.

  3. I’m also a music lover and find it hard to keep up – particularly as I get older. Not sure if you know it, but Paste Magazine is stellar and has a VIP/online version that is amazing.

    You get a monthly magazine of music stuff (think Spin) in PDF, a downloadable CD of new music to try, and then they have weekly free MP3s and usually an additional 2 free CDs per month.

    The subscription is ridiculously cheap for all the music you end up getting. And it’s the greenest magazine subscription I’ve ever had. I highly recommend.

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