Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Kids Are Alright...

by Sean Chercover

There comes an age (for me, it happened when I was still using fake I.D. to get into bars) when most of the "new stuff" - the popular art being produced by young folks - just seems like crap. And this unfortunate attitude seems only to deepen over time (the last great rock 'n' roll album was Exile, wasn't it?).

I know, I know. Get off my lawn. Old guy talk, and coming from such a young man as myself...

I admit to going out of my way to sound like a curmudgeon, and yes, I exaggerate, but really, most of the new stuff is pretty lame. And yes, much of the "new stuff" of previous eras was crap, mercifully forgotten over time. But still...

My friends try to help my condition, suggest new stuff to me, and I give it a fair listen, or viewing, or reading. And some of it is very good, although much of the very good new stuff is also derivative of the very good older stuff. I'm okay with derivative - if it's good, I dig it - but I still hanker for something truly new. For some evidence that the next generation is taking us in unexpected and exciting directions.

Well, they are.

First up, Trombone Shorty. Trombone Shorty (real name: Troy Andrews) is an incredible musician from New Orleans, and you must check him out. His first album (recorded at the tender age of 23) is called Backatown.

Visit Trombone Shorty's website, listen to the music you'll find there, and buy his album. You'll thank me later.

Next up, Christian Scott. Also from New Orleans, and only a few years older than Troy Andrews, Christian Scott has already made four stunning albums (including a live album at Newport). He drives purists crazy with his incorporation of rock and hip hop within jazz, but purists are always going crazy (see: Miles, or Dylan going electric, for that matter). Purists can bite me.

Visit Christian Scott's website, listen to the music you'll find there, and buy his albums. You'll thank me later.

It's not just that these guys are fantastic (and young). They're fantastic, and young, and bold - intelligently taking the music in new directions, while honoring what came before.

So now, I ask for your help. Hit me with some of the great "new stuff" - music, novels, movies - that makes you hopeful about the future of popular art.

But here's the thing: I'm looking for "new stuff" created by people under the age of 30.

And here's the other thing: I'm not looking for "pretty good" new stuff. I'm looking for stuff that you will still think is excellent 20 years from now, when it is no longer new.

Thanks for your help.


Bryan Gruley said...

Thanks, Sean. Will check out. Here's a suggestion: old guy, not nearly known well enough, Alejandro Escovedo, new album Street Songs of Love, searing lyrical rocking alt coungtry laced wigth punk and straigh-ahead rocknroll.

Picks By Pat said...

You want something that will stand the test of time? How about The Blade Itself or Good People by Marcus Sakey? (OK, maybe 30ish, not sure)

Or Double Exposure by Michael Lister.

Or the founding of Bleak House Books by Benjamin Leroy. (I believe he was 22 when he started it).

And music...Jane Monheit, the best female jazz vocalist today.

If I'm allowed to list a link, check out her performance of Cheek To Cheek on youtube:

And look in the're hardly an old guy. Ah, to be 43 again!

Sean Chercover said...

Pat - on Marcus's behalf, you are very kind. I don't want to give away any of his secrets, but let's just say he uses a lot of moisturizer.

Don't know if Michael Lister is under-30, but I do love his work.

Ben Leroy is everything that is good about the under-30 crowd! Absolutely. Also, Alison Janssen, who edits those great books at Tyrus Books.

Links are welcome, and thanks for that one - I'll check it out.

Bryan - You're not playing by the rules, but I'll check out your old guy. Thanks.

kids furniture said...

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Libby Hellmann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Libby Hellmann said...

You're right, Bryan. He's awesome. Where did you find him?

Alison said...

Sean, try Janelle Monae. Not jus this song, the whole album:

(and thank you, but I'm 30 now (gasp!), so disqualified!) :)

jeroen ten berge said...

Hi Sean,

Just bought Trombone Shorty's CD!

Also in the music scene - Shaun Escoffery. A British dude with a fantastic voice, daring to be different. Not sure about his age, but would guess just under 30. Here is a link to youtube of him performing live.

Sean Chercover said...

Jeroen - You're gonna love BACKATOWN. It's been in heavy rotation in my house since it came out, and it only gets better with repeated listening. Thanks for the link. Will check out Shaun Escoffery.

Alison - Shut your mouth, girlfriend! You can't be 30! Anyway, you still qualify. And thanks for that link - I'm digging Janelle Monae, which is not surprising, given that you turned me on to Saul Williams once upon a time.

Time for a couple of Saul Williams links: