April 7, 2023 | ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT | By Jan Alfaro

There are a few genres of music of which credit is due to other people for showing me, and this is one of them. ‘Genres’ is actually a pretty strong word because, as a previous article in The Catalyst debriefed, what does stating a genre really do for somebody who is unfamiliar with musical jargon, or even those familiar with the larger umbrella terms?

So, I’d say this music is music you’d stereotypically imagine listening to in an old car – just think variations of rock: classic, psychedelic, punk, progressive. And aside from genre naming (as I just dismissed it), consider heavy guitar riffs layered with drums. Variations include more distorted guitar, edgier lyrics, inclusion of the experimental use of atypical rock instruments, catchy melodies, complex compositions, extreme vocals, reverb, and so much more.

My parents weren’t huge rock people, so it was up to one of my close high school friends to show me, which I thought at the time meant he was just an old soul. Who starts their musical journey with John Lennon and Spiritualized? Only old folks, I thought.

Come to find, artists like David Bowie, The Stone Roses, The Velvet Underground, and The Smiths gained global fame for good reasons. I have to say that I still think this takes some maturity to realize, so to my friend and all those who were listening to this type of music as young pre-teens, you were ahead of your time, and I commend your preferences.

This short column is really an emphasis and reflection on music that holds a special place in your heart, and for me, it’s currently rock front-and-center. The associated playlist includes artists already mentioned, so Bowie, The Stone Roses, Lennon, The Velvet Underground, and The Smiths, and more including This Mortal Coil, George Harrison, David Gilmour, Blue Öyster Cult, and U2. Of the songs in the playlist, I’ve been heavily listening to “There’s No Way Out of Here” by Gilmour — embarrassingly, without knowing he was vocalist and guitarist of Pink Floyd.

To touch on some other artists, The Velvet Underground is a 1960s band who inspired the punk and alternative rock movements of the 1970s and 1980s; The Stone Roses, a 1960s English band influential in the “Madchester movement” (movement in Manchester with a wave of indie dance/pop/psychedelia music influenced by drugs, namely MDMA); in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then there is Harrison, the quiet member of the Beatles who incorporated Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the group’s work. This Mortal Coil’s “Another Day” is the dreamiest song in the playlist as Cocteau Twin’s lead vocalist, Elizabeth Fraser, is featured layered on an orchestral background.

To end with a banger, one of Blue Öyster Cult’s most popular songs, creepy “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, was born after lead guitarist and co-vocalist Buck Dharma learned that he had an erratic heartbeat in his mid-20s. “I was thinking about mortality,” says Dharma. “The whole idea of the Reaper was that if there was another sphere of existence, maybe lovers could bridge that gap if their love was strong enough.” I’d say strange bridge of learning of a medical condition to making a song but I’m not complaining about the outcome.

To recap, think about the people that might’ve introduced new music into your life and maybe give them a call, shoot them a text, send them a voice message… whatever you do to let them know, you’re indebted. Until next time, cheers!

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