We drove up to college to move in in a rental car -- some model by Dodge that allegedly has a huge blind spot -- and, as is typical these days, satellite radio, provided by the merger of XM and Sirius, was provided. What this means is the trip over provided a rare chance to see what normal people listen to.
I'll first say that the XM-Sirius people make some odd choices as to what music goes on each station. In the rock stations alone, there is an all Elvis all the time station, a Jimmy Buffet-run station (I presume on it you hear all those Jimmy Buffett soundalikes, like the dude who sang the "Pina Colada" song), and -- how do they find enough material for 24 hours of this -- a Bruce Springsteen all the time station. The only thing that seems to connect most of the rock stations is they (almost all) play the music of our parents' (or older brothers/sisters) generation -- stuff that must have rocked the airwaves of terrestrial radio back in the 1970s or 1980s, when it was, dare I say it, considered new and exciting.
There is also an indie-rock station . Somehow, by using the words "indie rock" in its promotional materials, I guess they think it legitimizes whatever music it plays, giving it the "indie rock" label just because they say it deserves it. And to be honest, I heard a ton of indie music on that station, but very little rock music. There seemed to be two trends: first, most every contemporary song of the last year they played was an electronic song, like "Infinity Guitars" by Sleigh Bells. Sleigh Bells themselves are quite an interesting peek at what gets the hipsters excited and a rather concise summation of the development of the so-called "postmodern" music, but that's for another post. Second, most every rock song they played was either at least twenty years old or was designed to sound like it was.
In short, if you liked the post-punk revival, a couple hours on the fake indie station at XM-Sirius could turn your admiration into seething hate for all these damn bands that sound the same. At one time, I joked that all the bands you heard on the station were all studio musicians, which some major label boss told, "First, make a song that sounds like Echo and the Bunnymen, and then make another song that sounds like the Cure" -- and there is a point in this, since after a few hours, I rather would be listening to the Cure or Echo and the Bunnymen.
Back to actual terrestrial radio, Respect is Due should be on the radio in two weeks' time. The plan this semester is to have a two-hour show; only one hour to spin records means there isn't much freedom to go off in different directions or play particularly long songs. We get air-shift proposals next Wednesday, and the new season starts August 30 -- the Monday immediately following. Stay tuned for more info.