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Henry Rollins: The Column! Stop Whining About How Today's Music Sucks

[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]

I am lucky to be someone who is easily contented. For me, listening to music is the best thing. I don't need company or even a very high-end system. Just to be able to spend some time listening to music and not have to jump and do anything for a little while, this is as good as it gets for me. Truly, this is the best thing I know.

Listening to music at night: If there is anything that is perfect, it is this. Sitting alone, with music filling the air, I disappear completely into the night, into the sound. I am no longer weighted down by the concerns of the day. In these moments, I am beyond time.

While I would like to think that I have a wide appreciation of music, at this point I am perhaps a music snob, with an ear for what some might find objectionable, precious or just plain awful. This is absolutely fine with me. I am not looking for consensus or camaraderie.

Tonight, some records have been committed to the turntable. The first was a one-sided 12" by the Neokarma Jooklo Trio, called Meditative, which is on the excellent Italian label Qbico. At its core are three players, Virginia Genta, David Vanzan and Luca Massolin. They are self-taught multi-instrumentalists -- Genta is a monster saxophone player. Their material is not all that easy to procure, as their albums are pressed in small numbers. Nonetheless, they are a great favorite of mine right now.

Next was a collaboration between Golden Jooklo Age and Peaking Lights on the Holidays label. Peaking Lights is a duo, Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis, which I know little about but I have one of its records, Imaginary Falcons, which I really like. This is all very ambient, avant, droning, noisy stuff that might send some packing but for me is perfect nighttime listening.

I have been back in Los Angeles for a few days now. The days have been taxing, often starting before 0700 hrs. I am basically here to shamelessly promote my Canadian dates, as well as three specials I shot for National Geographic called Animal Underworld, not to mention go to meetings, pretape upcoming radio shows and do some voiceover work. It's not much of a break, but it did allow me some rare LP listening time.

Throughout the 30-plus interviews I was dragged through, the questioners often were trying to find my sympathies as they opined about the deplorable state of music. I can't join in on that whine, however, because I find music to be really happening right now. Of course, good music is in the ear of the listener, but I don't have the problem of not enough good music to listen to as much as I can't find enough time to listen to all the good music that has been coming out.

The whole "music sucks now" thing to me is so lame. Youths write me and tell me that their band will go nowhere because of all the bad bands in the world. I tell them there has always been awful music and that no great band ever wasted any time complaining, they just got it done. Their ropey ranting is just a way to get out of the hard work of making music that will do some lasting damage.

To drive this point home, here are a few recent releases that plunge a sword into the whole "music sucks now" lie. I can't believe how easily some people are whipped.

KTL, V: The next installment of room-shaking, dark, droning hugeness from Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg. All of their records are challenging, swallow-you-whole listening experiences. I am quite the fan. Besides CD and 2LP versions, this particular album also has a limited pressing of 300 that has an extra 12".

High on Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis: Matt Pike, Des Kensel and Jeff Matz have done it again. Yet another bone-breaking, vaporizing metal masterpiece. This is High on Fire's sixth studio album, and it kills as hard as the other five.

Heavy Blanket, Heavy Blanket: Six mind-melting instrumentals with our man J Mascis on guitar. I saw J's main band, Dinosaur Jr., 15 times last year, and I do believe he is better than ever. Stratospheric guitar oblivianation. I am so happy about this album.

Young Prisms, In Between: I became a fan of this band when I heard their previous album, Friends for Now. This is smart, atmospheric pop music. This new album is a bit less wall-of-sound than what came before, but I like it and it's growing on me steadily.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring, So Many Things: This great rockin' band from Australia have put all their pain-in-the-ass-to-find singles and split-singles sides into one collection, making for a great, ricocheting ride through their brand of straight-up tuneage. Their three albums are great as well. One of the upsides of many Australian bands is that there are often offshoot and related bands, and the ECSR gang have a few that are really worth checking out: The Ooga Boogas, The UV Race and Total Control. Not a bad record in the bunch.

OK, so we just laid waste to the "music sucks now" thing. Music is just fine, cheer up!

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