My Sonic Youth is Fading



If I never heard a new song on commercial radio, I’d be ok. I am only really happy listening to the music that I know. Angus and Julia Stone. Bob Evans. Crowded House. Darren Hayes. Fleetwood Mac. Genevieve Maynard. Kings of Leon. Matchbox Twenty. Motorace. Nirvana. Roxette. Sia. Silverchair. U2 prior to everything they released since All That You Can’t Leave Behind. You Am I. Shuffle and repeat.

Hold on. Woah. That can’t be right. I’m the girl who alphabetised the lyrics cut carefully from TV Hits magazine in the late 80s and right through to the mid 90s. If I can’t see a band from the front row, it’s not worth being there. And I once scraped through Statistics 101 at uni because I analysed two years of Australian music on the ARIA Charts. I can’t be falling out of love with music.

But seriously. I turned 31 last December and my only sign of ageing is that I can’t tolerate most of the new music played on commercial radio. I see heaps of bands. I have a large and varied CD collection (yes my 85 Savage Garden and Darren Hayes CDs are very varied, thanks). But I am just not warming to the commercial music of today. In fact I feel that my needle is stuck between 1997 and 1999, and the mid 2000s. And I really like the bogan Aussie rock that my parents never listened to when I was a kid (I saw Cold Chisel on my 30th birthday and it was a dream come true, singing along (badly) to Barnesy).

I had to babysit my friends’ kids the other day. Perhaps not babysit, because they are 11 and 13. The night before, I asked Facebook what I should talk to these kids about. I need to relate to the yoof. Facebook gave me some suggestions. Sport (hate it). Dolls (the 11 year old girl is a tomboy). Food (yep, the love is universal). Talk to them about bedtime (probably not a good idea). Reece Mastin. One Direction. Who??

So 7 pm came. Their parents were off to watch Pseudo Echo. Who?? I settled down with the kids in front of the computer, and the eldest was showing me iTunes. Perhaps he thought I was too old to use iTunes? He told me how he makes a decision to purchase songs. He samples the 90 seconds of the songs numerous times and weighs up whether he’s willing to part with $1.69. He started playing a whole heap of doof-doof. I pretended to be enthused. He played me some Aveci. “Mad as” he described the song. Then Rhianna. She was also “mad as”. I just hoped he hadn’t seen what she was (not) wearing in that song. And Skrillex. Yep. Mad as. I can’t pronounce their name. Like my parents did when I begged them to play Kylie’s Enjoy Yourself the whole car trip from Albury to Melbourne, I feigned interest. I feigned it hard. The music he played me sounded horrible.

“So how do you find out about music?” I asked him. He told me it’s usually Nova or his mates. Now this kid’s parents used to look after me when I was a little older than he is now. They introduced me to some fantastic music – The Verve, The Whitlams, Garbage, U2. I loved looking through their CD collection when I went to stay at their place. I asked the kid whether he still likes the music his parents listen to. “No way, hate it”, he told me. This is a kid who prides himself sitting through the 12 hour bushfire appeal concert at the MCG age 10, revelling in Crowded House, Midnight Oil and Kinds of Leon. What happened?

I’m down with technology. I am digitally literate. I’ve been using the internet for half of my life. I tweet like an addict. I blog most days. My arm was twisted into using Instagram. And now I photograph every single meal. I am an early adopter. But I feel myself straddling generations of audio technology. From records to cassingles to CDs to MP3s, I’ve had them … can you really have an MP3 though?

When I went on a hospital camp with young people a couple of years back, I had to supervise the back of the bus. The driver asked me to relay the following information: seatbelts on, lids on drinks, no feet on seats, and there was a cassette tape player if anyone wanted music over the speakers. What? A cassette tape? What’s a cassette tape? “A cassette tape came before CDs. It looks like an iPod, sort of. But only plays one album, and you have to turn it over when side one is finished” I told them. Nuh. They didn’t get it. Whatevs. They went back to talking to each other with one earphone in their ear.

I am getting to the point in my life where I truly understand what annoyed me about my parents. When I wanted to listen to the Top 40, they wanted to listen to The Bee Gees. My Dad feels modern thanks to the Best Of Crowded House CD I gave him in 2008. Mum asked me to buy her Adele for Mothers Day.

I prefer to listen to ABC radio podcasts rather than to new music. I change the radio station whenever I hear Bruno Mars. I find out about new music when I see live bands. I just don’t enjoy what’s being churned out (or autotuned out) on commercial radio or TV these days. And then I had my half yearly year check in conversation with a colleague about what would be on my Hottest 100 list. Um… I shyly told him I haven’t really listened to the radio or bought new music since late last year. “Shame on you” he told me. I felt like I’d let someone down. I’d let myself down.

So that night I got in the car and drove across the city. I tuned the channel to the yoof station. And I loved so many songs. When I got home, I signed into the iTunes store and purchased three EPs of new music. Like actual stuff that was released in 2013. Alright, it may sound remarkably similar to the music I’ve already got. But I’m dusting myself off and not letting myself get too set in the ways of my parents.

Plus, Mum told me the other day that she thinks Gotye is really cool. Yep, I gotta find the next best thing before my parents overtake me.

Has your taste in music changed? Do you find you’re listening to stuff produced years ago? 


  • John James

    I listen to EVERYTHING… my CD collection contains music from the 1930s all the way to now…

    I will admit that I don’t listen to as much new music as I used to, but I’m still discovering new bands and artists to listen to… and I still like to keep an ear open for new music, even if I don’t buy as much of it as I used to… I share my favourites on the New Music Revue (plug plug):

    My current favourites are School Of Seven Bells, Cosmo Jarvis, Tame Impala, St Vincent, and The Unthanks. None of this is Top 40, but that doesn’t matter. I never really listened to Top 40 music anyway.

    There’s still good music out there – new music – you just got to go look for it. I actually find social media is the best way to find new music. Follow bands you like, and then listen to what they like… I’ve made some great discoveries that way!

    (This is a post about my musical history, in case you’re interested: )

    • Hayley Ashman

      I find new music by stalking you on social media. Seriously. I rarely find anything I like in the Top 40 and reading your tweets has just been an easier way to expand my horizons. I enjoy that you do all the hard work ;P

      • John James

        lol – you should follow @NewMusicRevue then 😉

        New music in your Twitter feed daily, personally selected by yours truly!

        In fact, everyone should follow @NewMusicRevue !!! 😉

        • Hayley Ashman


  • Shane

    yeah i’ve recently broadened my music styles just cos i feel like i’ve missed out on the earlier stuff. i’ve been getting into David Bowie, 80s & 90s rock i haven’t previously heard of (especially Aussie stuff), a few 70s punk bands, a little bit of riot grrl stuff, and even some 80s/90s metal out of curiosity.

    I mainly use last fm recommendations on stuff i’ve already been listening to, but occasionally i scour websites for best album lists of the 80s/90s/whatevers and pick out a few that have reviews that suit my music tastes.

    Sometimes a band will be touring that i know as a big name but for whatever reason i never got into, so i google them. Some of it can be hit & miss but that’s the fun of seeking out previously unexplored music. Find those few gems and it can potentially change your life. Except 99% of pop music, I can’t find much to like about that. I was disgusted the other day to hear Xtina & Pitbull using A-Ha’s Take On Me as a backing song, and some cliched girl band turning De La Soul’s Ring Ring into a bastardised cover!

    • maree Talidu

      Riot grrl you say? Woohoo! A fellow fan!

  • Maryann

    I do not listen to the radio at all so have little idea what is going on in the music world today nor do I really care. My younger sister was the one that used to introduce me to new bands and we would go to gigs together. As a result we discovered bands such as The Church, The Crystal Set, The Triffids, James Griffin & the Subterranneans, The Lighthouse Keepers & had lots of fun going to every gig. These are the bands I still listen to plus some Jazz, swing & R&B. We recently went to a Church gig which was a little surreal, they are OLD! Of course I am not a day older than the last time I saw them some 15 years ago!

    • John James

      The Church may be old, but I’d still rank them as one of the best live bands around… I went to their 30th Anniversary Concert at the Sydney Opera House (with orchestra) – WOW!! :)

  • maree Talidu

    I don’t listen to the radio, but am ‘down’ with what kids listen to as they have their ipods cranked up so loud in class (yes, this is frowned upon) and it disturbs me. If you want some bands that have put out new stuff that don’t suck and aren’t lame, check out the band ‘Dot Hacker’ and also any of ‘Tegan and Sara’s’ Stuff. They RULE!

  • Kris

    I listen to new stuff as well. I’m a Triple J-er, so I guess I get a lot of stuff from there. I think a bit comes in by osmosis too. Having said that, I’ve never really been into pop as such, so it isn’t like I *was* all into the latest pop sensations, and now I’m not.

    What I have noticed (at least in the indie/alternative realm) is that it’s not quite as delineated along tribal lines as once it was. It’s OK to like the Hilltop Hoods, Lily Allen and Muse – I pondered this with a friend in his 40s at the BDO a few years ago (where we watched HH, LA and Muse) and said that it’s now totally OK for everyone to be into everything, you don’t need to strictly identify with a tribe and that’s it nowadays.
    My Mum still listens to new stuff, and it’s quite noticeable when you talk to her and my Uncles, who have no idea, and they’re only 4 and 2 years older than Mum. I just think it’s boring only listening to what you know. You didn’t always know that stuff either!

  • disqus_zHskxCXxcb

    itunes is seriously the best way that i find new music. i can spend hours on there sampling new stuff.
    well, a lot of the time it isn’t ‘new’ but it IS new to me.

    as a former dancer and musician, my music taste is pretty wideranging – jazz will always hold the number 1 place, but i’m also into 90s ska, classical (chopin especially), 90s/00 bubblegum pop (that stuff is my childhood and the music snobs can suck it), broadway tunes, latin, triple j indie/folksy stuff most of the time (although i find some of the more popular stuff less creative and more pretentious than current top 40), decent hiphop, 80s punk, k-pop, even some recent country stuff (but not taylor swift). even better when you find artists who fuse genres together! i really cant get into dubstep, screamo-metal, some 70s stuff but they all have their place.

    sure top 40 has a lot of crap but i never understand people who completely discount it . there are musical gems to be found everywhere. it makes people nostalgic for their childhood and dare i say some of that manufactured stuff is catchy and makes people smile,