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Sunday
Sep162012

Have you ever listened to.....

Over the last few years I may have moved to consuming media digitally where ever possible but there is still a FM radio in my bathroom that gets used everyday. Sadly for the BBC Radio 4's listening figures it's only used to catch up on the morning's headlines while I brush my teeth. In fact with the exception of one or two BBC podcasts I rarely listen to the radio and never listen to music.

It wasn't always like this, radio was how I found new music. Many afternoons and evenings were spent with my finger hovering over the record button on a tape deck waiting for songs on the radio that I liked so I could enjoy music on my schedule. Even then I avoided the more mainstream radio shows, and while we may not have had John Peel in Ireland we did have Dave Fanning on RTE Radio 2. Fanning's record collection may not have reached the size that Peel's did but I looked forward to the opening bars of Fleetwood Mac's 'Oh Well' indicating that Dave Fanning's show was starting (While I enjoy the more produced sound of the late 1970's Rumours era Fleetwood Mac, Oh Well was 1960's Pete Green, black & white, raw guitar and blues Fleetwood Mac. As someone once called it, dirty old Mac).

Music discovery for me now takes two forms. While friends and family regularly suggest music worth listening to (like my Brother in Law offering me a spare ticket to see tUnE-yArDs in Dublin last year), the greatest source of music discovery for me now is TV shows and Movies.

If you can wander away from the lowest common denominator TV shows that fill our TVs today, you find that TV can showcase great music. While The L Word will be remembered for filling the screen with the lives, losses and loves of lipstick lesbians, many overlook the quality of music used in the show, Natalia Zukerman, Holly Miranda, even Feist before that iPod advert catapulted her into the mainstream. I only have to look at the music tags in Shazam (a smartphone app that can identify tracks by listening to them) grabbed while watching TV to see that the TV shows I now enjoy are the source of so much of the great music I've discovered over the last few years.

But there are other sources. This morning, while browsing Japlopnik.com I came across a trailer for new documentary called Black Air. The documentary is about a muscle car manufactured by Buick in the early 1980s called the Grand National. Seen by some as the swan song of the American muscle car, the Grand National was initially ignored because rather than following the traditional muscle car formula of stuffing a big yank V8 engine into an intermediate sized car platform, the Grand National used the more European idea of employing a smaller engine but equipping it with fuel injection and turbo charging. While many in the US never appreciated this less traditional muscle car it has achieved a cult following in the last ten years, so much so that a documentary about the cars and its fans is being released on 11th December 2012, 25 years to the day that the last Buick Grand National rolled off the production line.

Black Air is an independent movie made on a shoestring budget, and this is were things become more interesting. Small budgets mean licensing costs rule out those expensive lowest common denominator musicians and bands. Rather than use expensive bands or cheap 'muzak' the director choose to use a local folk band to provide the soundtrack to the movie's trailer. Entitled 'Stones Awakening' it's a wonderful piece of music.

So thanks to a trailer for an independent movie you're unlikely to hear about, never mind watch, I have now become a fan of a Michigan based indie folk group called Doug Mains & The City folks, and they made a $5 sale to man in London who discovered their music over his Sunday morning Coffee because he was interested in an obscure American muscle car with a cult following.

And what makes me really happy, there wasn't a record company in sight.

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