The Next Challenge: Alt. School

As much as I may have moaned (endlessly, and with great tedium) about the Rolling Stone Challenge, and the Emo School challenge, the truth is that I have enjoyed both the exposure to a lot of new music and the writing of guff about it on the internet. Writing guff is what the internet was invented for, anyway. So, with the bell ringing for the end of Emo School, it occurred to me that I can squeeze a bit more mileage out of this idea. I’m all about the squeezed mileage.

But that got me to wondering. What should be the subject of my next great challenge? Jazz? Classical? The works of Morrissey? Definitely not the latter, obviously. So, what area of music do I genuinely need to brush up on? Well, all of them, really. Even though I consider myself to be reasonably well informed about the whole music thing, I really know only a tiny fraction of the music released even in the genres I totally love. I mean, I joined a Facebook group about Post Rock and Post Rock and other really pretentious stuff and I barely recognise half the band names as words, let alone know what they sound like.

So that got me thinking a bit. I mean, I like alternative music. I mean, really like it. I will loudly declare the genius of almost anything released by people wearing flannel and guitars from the 90’s, or bore people silly about the continuation of the punk ethos in the work of Neurosis, or sit and devour the entire discography of some obscure band just because someone mentioned on Twitter that they liked them. But alternative music, as in, that which goes against the mainstream (generally just before the mainstream swallows it whole like I do with pasties) is such a huge and diverse tent that really I’m like an English tourist stumbling into a French play in Paris and complaining loudly that it’s all in Forin.

So, since I’m going to be educating myself a bit about music, why not stay on my own home turf? Having taken a jaunty little tour around emo music, why don’t I extend that tour to take in some of the other thousands of genres that make up alternative music? I could do little bursts of fifty albums, which should give me enough of a flavour of the music, then move on to something else before I get bored by it. Ten albums would only scratch the surface, twenty five would be better but still probably only give me the established classics, whereas fifty albums… that should do the trick nicely. Also, rather cheerfully, if you do that ten times you end up with 500 albums, which seems a very sensible length for a challenge and HEY I COULD MAKE A BOOK OUT OF THAT.

So, what to listen to? Well, therein lies the problem. According to the internet there are approximately the same number of sub-genres out there as there are atoms in the universe (citation needed) but I’ll have to choose ten of them. Well, nine, since I think we can all agree that my emo thing counts, right? So, what other 9 genres should I go for?

Well, since I clearly thought ahead, I’m going to do the following.

*unfurls parchment*

  • Riot Grrl
  • Hardcore
  • Alternative Hip Hop
  • Rave & Dance
  • British Indie
  • Post Punk
  • Goth
  • College Rock
  • Prog

The plan is to have a combination of lists I cobble together, some I might find fully formed on the internet, and then some lovingly crafted by an elite army of super-bloggers what I happen to be friends with, if I can cajole them into doing it for me.

So, that’s the new challenge, which you can follow along with by clicking on the RSS feed that must be around here somewhere. Or, you can like the Facebook Page. Or just come talk to me on that there Social Media they have these days. It’ll be fun. I hope.

Oh, and while you’re here, did you know that my first novel, Blood on the Motorway, is out now? It is, and you should absolutely go buy it. It’s available on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and many more.

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