Matthew Bell: Rant & Rave (24/07/11)

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The Independent Online


It's a cliché that fogeys disapprove of new music. So you might, judging by the picture of me here, expect a rant on how today's popular beat combos aren't a patch on Elgar.

In fact, as we celebrate MTV's 30th birthday, what bothers me more is the homogenisation of our listening experience. As Paul Bignell writes overleaf, what did for MTV was the rise of YouTube. Likewise, what has done for sound systems has been the iPod. You may be able to access all your records in one natty white unit, but the quality is so bad. As it is on your laptop, which is how most people access their music. Matters are made worse by radio stations, which equalise sound output. Even Radio 3! Apparently, this is to prevent us being shocked into crashing the car by a sudden loud bit. Which must be why so many people spend their summers at festivals, to experience the thrill of live music. Apparently, many bands now depend on gigs for their income, not the records they sell for peanuts. The industry is struggling to come to terms with how to make money in the internet age. Perhaps a solution has emerged: don't record all your music, just enough to whet the appetite. After all, Elgar still pulls the crowds at the Proms.


MTV may have had its day, but the art of video-making is still alive. One band making innovations is Everything Everything, the four-man group from Manchester. Nominated just last week for the Mercury Prize, they have already won two Ivor Novello nominations for their debut album, Man Alive, but their homemade clips deserve recognition too. Surreal and witty, they would once have been staples of MTV. I should declare an interest, as a colleague is the mother of one of them. But as no money will be generated by the playing of their videos, I don't feel too bad.