The Artificial Cracker
Unfortunately, I'm Right

Some Dad-Rock for Father's Day

The existence of the term "dad-rock" has only recently come to my attention, although I think it's been around for several years. It seems to be a mostly pejorative label for some of the rock of the '60s and '70s that old guys like, overlapping "classic rock" to a great degree, as far as I can tell. And more or less synonymous with "boring"--dull and predictable and conventional, at least from the vantage point of today, when there is so much brilliant innovation in popular music. Since I'm a "dad" of that generation (although all my children are, as of this year, past 30), I thought it would be appropriate to present some of my favorites from those old days. On the mellow and sentimental side for contemporary tastes, perhaps, but, you know, we were young and idealistic back then.

(Take that, whippersnappers.)


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There is so much brilliant innovation in popular music today? I may be sensing a little sarcasm (I hope)? :)

Maybe. Maybe not the only sarcasm in that paragraph, either. ;-)

Though actually there is some brilliant stuff being done. But I don't think it's on the radio.

On the other hand, the brilliance that old people might see as lacking in current pop is more than made up for in teenage-girl-quasi-academic-sexual-politics spite and drama:

This was pointed out to me by a friend who's sort of a recovering Taylor Swift fan and is having trouble accepting what is apparently the New Taylor.

Ha! I think ignoring the entirety of Taylor Swift's catalog is the way to go, which is where I have been from the beginning. I know who she is, but couldn't tell you if she was singing.

Well yeah, that's the thing. Whether you liked it or not, I always think of 1977-78 when Rumours by Fleetwood Mac was the most played album in the country.

It's hard to imagine something with that level of musicianship, songwriting and great singing ever being that popular again. So you have to look at the culture and say, "What is wildy popular right now?" I couldn't tell you, but none of it sounds good to me.

Yes, there will always be young people playing good music and writing good songs, but they're not selling out football stadiums!

I'm reluctant to judge very definitely because I very very rarely hear current pop anymore--I mean the stuff on the radio, the stuff that sells a lot. But on the occasions when I do hear a bit I don't like it. In fact I pretty much hate the very sound of it. Like a Glen Miller fan of my parents's generation hated the sound of the Stones.

Right now the number one single on the Billboard charts is Billy Ray Cyrus singing, with some guy rapping. I went to youtube and listened for about 20 seconds. Obvious garbage.

I have not heard a single thing from the Billboard Top 100.

I've heard of maybe a fifth of the performers. I did watch part of an Austin City Limits show featuring Khalid. It didn't last very long because after a couple of similar attempts I decided that as soon as the artist grabs his crotch I turn him off.

I haven't been a fan of the "Top 40" since I was about 14, but this stuff today is just utter crap. Totally unlistenable.

On the other hand the watering hole I frequent has a staff of young-uns in their late 20s and 30s, and they are the ones who have put me on to the good current stuff. (The place has a general policy that whoever's tending bar gets to pick the music. On other nights if the owner's there, he'll play vinyl, which runs the gamut from the 60s to current stuff he's just bought.) There's a lot of that out there, but it's under the radar, and thus seldom if ever makes it to the "radio." A lot of it seems to fall under the category of "indie" music, which doesn't seem to mean the same thing as it did 20 years ago.

I've had a couple of similar experiences recently. There are plenty of under-40 people who are listening to and making good music. This is a local group, The Underhill Family Orchestra, which seems to have a wider following. I heard them at the local brewery a few weeks ago.

Underhill Family Orchestra sounds like a musical group of Hobbits.

Yeah, it does, but the music doesn't.

Funny, one of the groups I got introduced to by a 20-something is the band Manchester Orchestra, who are neither an orchestra nor from Manchester. I don't like their earlier stuff too much but their most recent album, Black Mile to the Surface, is outstanding.

I don't have any idea whether any of the Underhills are actually related to each other or named Underhill. Not all of them at any rate, I'm pretty sure, as another of their videos has several different people in it.

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