The End of an Era? Sort Of.


August 21, 2010 was a turning point for me musically.

I woke up slowly and, with no plans until later in the day, decided to try out Ra Ra Riot’s new album The Orchard. A pleasant listen indeed, but by about the 20th minute, I was itching for something different. Something fresh. Something unexpected.

So, I decided to dedicate some long-overdue time to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. Another pleasant listen, but by about the 20th minute, I felt dissatisfied yet again. In the words of the always-relevant Radiohead, there were no surprises.

That’s when I decided to look elsewhere. I had recently picked up Cafe Tacvba‘s Cuatro Caminos from the library after noticing it on Rolling Stone’s Top 10 list for 2003. I pushed play and finally found what I had been looking for… something that felt mature and well constructed yet pulsating with an almost-youthful zeal and a novelty that kept my ears perked.

That night, I had the chance to attend a free performance in Downtown Los Angeles. Nortec Collective, a popular Mexican outfit, kept me entertained for hours on end with their unique Norteno / electronic hybrid. They offered more of what I had been craving that day – something fresh and full of surprises.

After Nortec Collective, my friends and I arrived unfashionably late at a house party and were pleased to stumble upon an insanely high-quality speaker system outside with Trance tunes erupting from its pores. We quickly got swept away by the beat and emotion of the songs and ended up dancing until the noise police were forced to intervene.

Gareth Emery playing the soccer of musical styles: Trance.

The next morning, I did some reflecting and realized that I may be entering a new phase as a music consumer. I still enjoy Arcade Fire and Ra Ra Riot and The National and other “indie rock” heavyweights but these are not the bands that truly excite and challenge me these days. I realized that Cuatro Caminos may have been the album that catapulted me in a new direction, just as Arcade Fire’s Funeral did when I was starting college. Back then, I was still devoting my time to bands like Taking Back Sunday and Bloc Party, and it was Arcade Fire who offered me something mature and well-constructed yet entirely fresh and unexpected.

In the past handful of days, it has been Rock En Espanol, Trance, and New Classical (Philip Glass, Arvo Part, Steve Reich) that has offered me what I am looking for in music. I am now putting forth a conscious effort to devote more time uncovering masterpiece albums within these genres that I had once overlooked.


Of course, more time digging through these archives will necessarily mean less time on sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum, but I will not ignore the indie genre all together. Hopefully, this will make me a more well-rounded music fan. If nothing else, it will surely make me more discerning with regards to “The Pitchfork Package” (you know, that group of 20 or so Pitchfork-approved buzz bands that end up playing every music festival between May and September).


2 Responses to “The End of an Era? Sort Of.”

  1. 1 Patrick S

    I definitely recommend Cafe Tacuba. I saw them 5 years ago on Austin City Limits – and they just seemed to have an awesome live energy and an intriguing sound. A pair of my favorite songs “Eres” and “El baile y el Salon.”

  2. 2 Z.Vera

    I can definitely see how many people of our generational culture (college-educated) are growing through and out of certain genres of music. However, I think your evolution, like anyone else’s in other parts of the world, has to do with your given demographic. In your case the Hispanic culture has opened up a new musical world to you. I experienced and continue experiencing this due to my Mexican heritage in a Caucasian-American society. I am always looking for new tunes and at times I am satisfied, but there are those days when it is insatiable.

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