Dean Clough

October 1, 2021

Portico Darwin: This Music Sucks


OMFG congratulations to Andy Jones and Libby Baines Jones:  Libby gave birth last night to Dean Andrew Jones, Jr.! 

10 seconds of seriousness:  it's the first baby for these two and wow.  These are two of the greatest people in the world and they've wanted a baby for a long time.  Congratulations and that is one lucky kid.  Julie and I can't wait to meet the little guy!  I'm sure they're reading this now, so:  pictures please!

OK, back to me.

Yesterday, we arrived for a 3 day weekend at The Sea Ranch, a unique outpost on the supernatural northern California coast.  It is a community founded on blending architecture with nature, and its strictly-enforced covenants have maintained a balance between the two since its development in the mid 1960's.  What we have up here is the literal definition of a Textbook place, with Chamber of Commerce weather.   

We are with two of our closest pals, Arthur and Mrs. Crup.  Arthur and I go way, way back, and music has been an integral part of what is now an almost 40 year friendship.  Clearly, I was in my David Lee Roth phase.

Follow me here.  While there's a mini Sea Ranch Travel Guide likely coming early next week, today, the topic is music, or the lack thereof.  Not at our house at The Sea Ranch, I can assure you - but in general. 

Sure, one could dismiss this as another unwanted addition to my canon of "Get Off My Lawn, Punk" rants.  But if you care about music, can you disagree with the following grizzled harrumph?

The music being produced today is mostly junk, and there are no longer performers of substance rising to the top and sticking around. 


Put another way:  I would love, love, LOVE for anyone, young or old, to turn me onto a new or new-ish band, that has a cool sound and will have staying power.  The last band that was introduced to me that had any lasting impact is Tame Impala, in 2016.  I thank Alden Michaels, and they are very good and I can even imagine them being around for a while.  But that was 5 years ago.

Yes, I know the music industry has forever changed, first by (largely pirated) MP3's and then streaming.  The Artists & Repertoire (A&R) people didn't make it past the first round of budget cuts by the green eyeshade types at BMG, Universal, and Sony - the only major record companies left.  Thus, there are no longer professional midwives out there to help birth cream-of-the-crop musicians into the mainstream.  So we don't hear them, yet you know they're out there.  Sure, anyone can have a website that makes their music available to the world, but I can confirm getting noticed with a website - no matter how completely fucking awesome it may be - is not easy.

Is that why there's no Radiohead of today?  Gomez?  My Morning Jacket?  Guided by Voices?  Doves?  Replacements?  I could go on.  Sure, some of these bands are still around, but you get my point.  Where is the next War on Drugs (although I thought even they were boring on Colbert a couple of weeks back, Byron Browne, IV)?

No, Black Keys doesn't get it done.  Nor does Lady Gaga.  I don't even get what K-Pop is or why it is.  Or any of the thousands of Auto-Tuned clones (drones?) that plague the airwaves of today.  Queue the old man voice:  is it me or don't a lot of the vocals today sound the same?

How about Lorde?  Drake?  I am not moved. 

I see your Billie Eilish and raise you a Sheryl Crow.  We do have my hero Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters, so there's that, but still.  Here are my two favorite albums of new material released since 2020:

Paul McCartney, "McCartney III"
Nine Inch Nails, "Ghosts V:  Together"

Need I say more?  At least Trent Reznor was born after World War II.

I long for a meaningful music scene - please prove me wrong and tell me to whom I should listen.  It's not that I want to listen to live recordings of The Steve Miller Band from 1977:  it's just that I'm not hearing anything new that's better.  In fact, it's not even close. 

Please - I'm serious - prove me wrong.  Name some bands that 1) are producing great music today and 2) will be around tomorrow. 

Another 10 seconds of seriousness:  heartfelt thanks to those of you that reached out in response to my post on mental health.  I don't typically go for this kind of thing, but "if my writing helped only one person, it was worth sharing the story".  Corny, I know, but very true in the case of mental health.  I will wager if just one of my mother's peers had encouraged her to seek treatment, she would have.  

Via a highly secretive (but mentally quite stable) Sherry Pace comes this affirmation of my whine about the lack of high speed rail in the United States.  France and Europe have deployed a sophisticated high speed rail network over the past 40 years.  Meanwhile, our own leaders can't unite on an infrastructure bill of any kind, let alone something as exotic and crazy as high speed rail. 

The photo below is from the debut of the first Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) in 1981WTF?  Why can't we have this here?  It's really quite stunning when you think about it.  The jobs and commerce it would create!

The Train That Shrunk France… and Western Europe


Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.  Here's a link to invite a friend to subscribe.  I'm just sayin'.

Wow, I better come up with something good, given this post.  This will not be what you expect, and it really has nothing to with anything, apart from 1) it's very rare, and 2) it's very good.  Here, in an extraordinary collection of live recordings, are Elvis Costello and Steve Nieve


About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.