Dead Radio

September 12, 2008

The high-stakes pressure of top 40 radio is enough to squeeze the last bit of life out of music and turn it into the Jonas Brothers, Linkin Park and Miley Cyrus.  What we end up with is a polished, bland, inoffensive, formulaic and altogether useless product.  



I know I’m not the first to grow bored of the pop hits.  Luckily, hardworking music lovers have put forth the effort to seek out the raw and authentic sounds the radio ignores. 


Folklorist and musicologist Alan Lomax travelled through the southern United States to capture the sounds of Woody Guthrie, Jelly Roll Morton, Muddy Waters and Lead Belly.


These musicians oozed the soul of the countryside and painted an authentic, more eclectic picture of life in the 1930s and 1940s.


Like a modern day Lomax, new archivists are taking up the mantle and documenting the current raw sound of lesser-known indie musicians and local acts.  Vincent Moon’s popular Take-away shows presents rising acts like Bon Iver, The National and Francois Virot. 


The effort has been beneficial for Moon, the musical acts he profiles and his ever-growing audience. 


A recent article on highlights the work of three Reno-ians (or whatever you call people from Reno) who document local acts for, giving a global platform to the area’s talent. 


The work of these video archivists, along with Myspace pages, blogs and word-of-mouth buzz across the web, is crucial to unearthing new and exciting music.  These tactics have gone from fringe marketing techniques to standard protocol for unknown bands looking to reach an audience.


Thanks to this new technology and those smart enough to take advatage of it the musical atmosphere is richer and more complex.


Hopefully, future generations will look back on our time and look past the fluff to see the true musical geniouses of our era.