Music Today - It Is What It Isn`t

I was watching Austin City Limits last night on PBS. They had M.Ward and Okkervil River performing, God, it was awful! but, I stayed with it! It didn't get any better.

Both these acts wouldn't have gotten on the show without a strong following, and music industry connections to help them get to this level. M. Ward has been around 10 years, and I can't understand why or how he is such a popular attraction.

His interaction with the audience was non-existent. In a short interview he is so introverted that he couldn't even keep up eye contact with the interviewer!

As for his music, apparently it grows on you. It won't grow on me that's for sure. I know introverts are 'in' right now, but will people put up with that immature attitude for 10 or more years to come? I hope not. I wanted to slap the guy around and tell him to get a grip on himself. When it came for him to talk for a few moments about his music and how he perceives it, he stumbled around like a lost baby duck trying to find his mommy. Boring guy, Boring music.

What do his fans see in him?

I have heard many people say that we are living in "the most creative musical time ever". Well if we are, the tastes of the public are in dire straits.

No way are we living in such an era. The mid '60s - yes. Most of the '70s - yes. The '80s had its moments. The '90s - only the early years. This last decade - give me a break!

Yes, my age has a lot to do with my opinions - it better! We are supposed to have the ability to distinguish between good and bad better as we age. Anyone who is a teenager today, or in their 20s and 30s, I feel sorry for them when it comes to music.


Well for one thing the media has de-evolved over the last three decades and it's harder and harder to find great new talent out there to play on TV, commercial radio, and now on the more popular music sites. Accessible music, music that is 'safe' has been the name of the game for a long time now.

So, I don't get it, The fact is that there is today more music than ever to choose from - tons of it. But most of it really is crap. So what do the bookers of Austin City Limits, or the late night TV shows book? Artists and bands that are on the so-called 'cutting edge'... not!

I haven't even reviewed Okkervil River. I was looking forward to them because of the work they have done recently with Texas legend Roky Erickson. But their own music? Yikes, a horrible lead singer who thinks he is a rock-god and insists on singing off-key as if that was a real cutting-edge thing to do.

Oh, and the band itself. Well, a drummer, bass player, guitars, piano and on this show another singer who did not compliment the other off-key lead singer. And, they had a small string section, a guy on horn, and a woman guitarist who had to get on her knees to create the unoriginal feedback sounds she used to 'compliment' the previously mentioned off-key lead singer.

Music is in good shape as we end this first decade of the new millennium?

If that's true, no wonder there are so many movies and novels about the end of the world, zombies, and vampires. If what I viewed last night on Austin City Limits is any indication about the state of music today, I wonder if those creatures of the night that are coming out to eat and kill us all, might just land up getting an upset stomach and spitting out what they had hoped would nourish their brain-dead appetites.

Enough already!

Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.

Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.

He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".

Christopher Knab