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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Column: Tune in

Welcome to MUSE’s newest column. From the title, I’m sure you can deduce that it will primarily discuss music. What kind, you ask? Well, good sir or madam, I will tell you what kind: ALL KINDS. I love talking about music, and this column will act as a relay mechanism for my personal opinions about it.

I will discuss what is getting played at parties around campus, what people are listening to, what bands and songs I think are weird, which ones I like — pretty much anything you can think of.

I’m going to start off by simply stating that I don’t enjoy a lot of mainstream music: I tend to gravitate away from “swag”-focused music and toward music from the heart. I enjoy music in which the artist actually has evident emotions.

Although I’m not the biggest fan, I feel that there IS evident emotion in Country music. Yes, classical Country (like Johnny Cash) and soft, slow Country (like the song “She’s Everything” By Brad Paisley) contain emotion, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now.

I’m talking about the Country music that mothers, daughters and many men alike, all adore. The stuff you hear at day parties and rodeos. I know a bunch of people out there love Country, and I know a ton of people hate it. Personally, I don’t hate Country. I am by no means a fanatic (I cannot tell apart or even name two songs by Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton or Keith Urban), but if a Country song comes on, I won’t be one of the people who instantly stands up and screams angrily “What the hell? Who put this on?!”

I find Country to be soothing and relaxing, which is a feeling I think I share with almost all other Country fans. Most Country songs I hear are about romance and about having a good time — these are things that I’m sure the Country artists are passionate about, and things that are also easy to relate to.

Country music is easy on the ear, it keeps the energy up, and it rarely gets too heavy. It’s simple — Country artists rarely try too hard or overcomplicate their songs. I suppose this all is what makes Country music so desirable for parties — especially day parties it seems.

Although there is obviously emotion present in Country songs, all songs within the genre (regardless of the artist) sound the same to me. Maybe I just haven’t developed my Country palate enough yet, but every male Country singer’s voice has the same deep, wholesome, manly, “twangy,” sexy tone.

In addition to my vocal peeves, the guitar featured in Country music seems to be very limited in terms of sound variety. It seems to either be a simple, constantly repeated acoustic strumming pattern (like in “The Good Stuff” by Kenny Chesney) or a rough, loud electric guitar riff paired with heavy rock style drums (like Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah”).

This lack of variety is totally understandable — I get it, there is only so much an artist can do within a given genre. And people like these riffs and this party style of country, so why not keep making the music?

A sidenote about Country music (that I noticed while writing this article) is that almost 100% of country album cover artwork features the singer, in the outdoors, often on a field, wearing a cowboy hat, staring at the camera. It gets old really fast.

To all you stubborn Country fans, you might like a band called Drive-By Truckers. They have Southern accents, they utilize heavy rock guitar (like in the song: “Highway 72”), but there is an alternative and very unique sound and feel to their style.

Their songs are genuine, from the heart (great examples include: “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac” and “Outfit”), and just sound freakin’ good. They have a great pair of guitarists who make use of the slide (“Late For Church”) which designs a cool, “warpy” guitar sound.

They have a ton of upbeat stuff that I could easily imagine hearing at parties. Their themes are sometimes similar to that of mainstream country and sometimes different, but as a band “Drive-By Truckers” are easy to relate to, moreso than the more popular country artists.

Yes, there are some Country bands that even I can enjoy listening to. And even though Country music is not my cup of tea, I still believe there are redeeming qualities to it, just as there are in Polka, Disco or Jazz. In this column, I will delve into what those are, even if it pains me to do so.

 

TYLER WEBB will be bumping the coolest tunes in his crib incessantly. To find out what he’s listening to, contact him at arts@theaggie.org.

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