265 episodes

Ongoing History of New Music looks at things from the alt-rock universe to hip hop, from artist profiles to various thematic explorations. It is Canada’s most well known music documentary hosted by the legendary Alan Cross. Whatever the episode, you’re definitely going to learn something that you might not find anywhere else. Trust us on this.

Ongoing History of New Music Curiouscast

    • Music
    • 4.9 • 348 Ratings

Ongoing History of New Music looks at things from the alt-rock universe to hip hop, from artist profiles to various thematic explorations. It is Canada’s most well known music documentary hosted by the legendary Alan Cross. Whatever the episode, you’re definitely going to learn something that you might not find anywhere else. Trust us on this.

    The History of the Record Store

    The History of the Record Store

    Before we begin, I am very aware that there are people listening to this program who have never, ever set foot in a record store…they came of age musical after the Internet changed everything about how we hear about, acquire, and consume music…

    But remember this: for over a hundred years, the only way you could hear music on-demand was to own it…you had to purchase a piece of plastic for x dollars and for that price, you could listen to that music an infinite number of times for no additional charge…

    You made not just an emotional investment in that music, but a financial one as well…and dammit, you were going to make sure you listened to that piece of plastic until you wrung out possible bit of enjoyment you could from it…otherwise, you’d have to come to terms with the fact that you wasted your money…

    There was another aspect to this emotional investment, too…in order to acquire this music, you had to leave your home, find your way to a record store, and search through all the shelves hoping the find something…if you were looking for something specific and it wasn’t in stock, you had to special-order it, which was a whole new level of emotional investment…

    And while you were at the record store, you interacted with records that you didn’t know about…just flipping through the racks looking at albums was an education in itself…maybe you’d go with a couple of friends, fan out across the store and then compare finds…

    Maybe you’d meet a stranger and strike up a conversation…and if you were a regular, it’s possible that the person behind the counter became a trusted source for recommendations…or maybe you’d go see an artist play live or for some kind of autograph session…

    Record stores are still with us, but there are fewer and fewer of them—certainly way less than the glory days of music shopping from the 60s through to the late 90s…and a lot of legendary stores and chains have disappeared forever…

    But while it lasted, it was pretty amazing…this is the story of the record store…

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Hobbies of Musicians

    Hobbies of Musicians

    What do you for fun?...hobbies, pastimes—things that you do just for you, away from your job and all your other responsibilities?...

    I’ve got my dogs…my wife and I like to travel…and I’ve always had this thing about the JFK assassination…I’ve read all the books, seen all the documentaries…I’ve even been to Dallas and the grassy knoll, and the book depository…I can’t explain it, but I just find it interesting…

    Maybe you’re into sports…collecting hockey cards or wine or rare scotches…video games, Japanese anime, beanie babies, souvenir spoons…no need to justify anything…it’s just something you enjoy doing…it fulfills you somehow…

    Now consider this….when we think of our favourite musicians, we probably imagine them being immersed in music all the time…I mean, 24 hours a day, seven days a week…all they do is think about music and make music…

    But the truth is, you can’t do that…no one can…everyone needs a break from whatever it is they do…you gotta rest the brain, recharge, and go on a search for new inspiration…put down the instruments and see what else is out there…become a more rounded person…that’s one aspect…

    Another is, “look…you’ve had some success in your career…you’ve made some money…enjoy it…indulge in those things that you’ve always dreamed of…you can’t take it with you, so spend some of that cash”…

    All right, so like what?...I think you may be surprised…let’s take a look at the hobbies and non-musical passions of some very famous musicians…

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Big Bands from Small Towns

    Big Bands from Small Towns

    Let me say from the outset that I have nothing against small towns…I grew up in one myself…population: 2000…it was in the middle of the Canadian prairies…the nearest big city was Winnipeg…after that, you had to go at least 500 miles before you hit any major population centre…

    I also want to make sure to let you know that I think living in a small town is a not bad idea…it’s not…it can be a wonderful, low-stress, low-cost secure existence…a lot of the people I went to school with still live in my small town…

    But there are those who want out, people who want to experience more of the world…they find their lot dull, a dead-end, too far from where the action is…but how to escape?...that’s the problem…

    One way would be to just buy a bus ticket and hit the highway…you could join the armed forces…or maybe you could form a band, write song songs and become world famous…yeah, that’ll never happen…or could it?...

    There’s this old saying that all you need to change the world—your world—is three chords and an attitude…and it doesn’t matter where you’re from…you can be from the smallest town the map—even a town too small to be on a map—but if you get in with the right bunch of people and manage to pull together some good songs, who knows what might happen?...

    Here…let me give you some concrete examples…you don’t have to be from L.A. or London or some other big city…you can be from—wherever…these are some big, big bands who actually came from small, small towns…

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 25 min
    The Post-Punk Explosion Part 7: All the rest

    The Post-Punk Explosion Part 7: All the rest

    The original punk rock explosion of the 1970s was two things…first, it was a major reset for rock’n’roll…think of it as a great musical decluttering…

    Punk of the 70s wasn’t revolutionary…it was reactionary…the music was stripped back, and everyone went back to the basics…very important…

    Second, there was an attitude shift…one of the central tenets of punk was that if you had the guts to say something, then do it…and if no one wanted to help you, well, then do it on your own…

    Taken together, these two principles resulted in what can be described as the big bang for what would later be called “alternative music”…punk set off chain reactions of new ideas, new sounds, new attitudes, new fashion, new belief systems, and generally new ways of doing things…

    The gloves were off, rules were broken, concepts were explored, and unintended consequences happened…we now look back on this as the great post-punk explosion of the late 70s and early 80s, an era that created so many of the basic foundations of the music we hear today…

    There was new wave, technopop and all its subsets…industrial music, goth, and a revival of ska…those are the major post-punk genres…but there was more…a lot more…

     

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 20 min
    The Post-Punk Explosion Part 6: Ska

    The Post-Punk Explosion Part 6: Ska

    Every once in a while, music enters a state of flux where the direction of everything is, shall we say, undefined…we see and hear change but we’re not quite sure what it all means just yet…something is coming—but what?...

    All bets are off, the rulebook has been declared invalid, and everyone is off doing their own thing…

    I’ll give you an example…in mid-to-late 1950s Britain, popular music was evolving and mutating very quickly…in the midst of imported American rock’n’roll records, the skiffle craze, and various flavours of folk music, some young people rejected contemporary sounds in favour of something known as “trad jazz”…

    This was a revival of something close to Dixieland jazz from New Orleans, which emerged around the same time as world war 1…that meant music made with trumpets, the trombone, clarinet, the banjo, upright bass, and drums…the new acts mined the more pure, more authentic sounds of the past, hoping to be inspired again…

    And for a while, it worked…trad jazz was a thing until sometime in the 60s…everyone from pop songs to nursery rhymes were fair game for trad jazz arrangements…

    I’ll give you another example—and it’s tangentially related to British trad jazz…it also has its roots in Dixieland but took a detour through the Caribbean before appearing in central Britain at the end of the 1970s…

    That was also a time when the direction of music seemed undefined…on the bright side, it also meant that nothing was off-limits or out of bounds…it was the post-punk era…popular music had been shaken up by punk so much that people were more willing than ever to find new paths…

    This is part 6 of the post-punk explosion…it’s the time of Ska…

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 24 min
    The Post-Punk Explosion Part 5: Goth

    The Post-Punk Explosion Part 5: Goth

    On April 10, 1815, a volcano erupted in the central part of the Indonesian archipelago…Mount Tambora blew up, ejecting nearly 200 cubic kilometres of debris into the atmosphere…all that dust circled the earth, blocking out a significant amount of sunlight…

    That blockage was so severe that the average temperature dropped almost a full degree…the result was that 1816 has gone down in history as “the year without a summer”…

    There were food shortages and famines and outbreaks of disease…and not only was it cold, but huge storms battered much of Europe…

    That summer, four artsy types were holed up at mansion called Villa Diodati near Geneva, Switzerland…to entertain themselves on through these dark, cold, wet, rainy days, these people drank, had sex, and took opium…and they tried to outdo each other by coming up with the best horror story…

    One of them, John William polidori, came up with “The Vampyre” about undead bloodsuckers 80 years before Bram Stoker wrote “Dracula”…meanwhile, 22-year-old Mary Shelley, conjured up the idea of a mad scientist who created a new being by sewing together the parts of dead people…she called her story “Frankenstein”…

    These two stories—imagined during the year without a summer, caused by the biggest volcanic eruption in 1300 years—created the foundation of gothic fiction, a type of horror that endures today…novels, movies, comic books, fashion styles, and yes, music…

    In fact, the music part of this equation has blown up to the both where Goth music culture is one of the biggest musical subcultures the planet has ever seen…and that explosion happened in the wake of the original punk era of the 1970s…

    This is the post-punk explosion part 5: Goth…

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 22 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
348 Ratings

348 Ratings

HopefulKayaker ,

A pleasure for the ears

If you like to roxk, check this out. Alan tells great stories and shares interesting music.

BillBillGreen ,

My review

It’s great! Whatever

Jcheesmond ,

Latest is your greatest!

Your latest on Canadian content (feb 2021), has all the hallmarks of great journalism! It’s slightly different in delivery and maybe polish, you’re back and inspiring! I’ve listened since my son as a child would listen with me while I drive him home to Barrie on a Sunday night... he’s 26 now, today I’m listening while cooking for my folks, and I know they keep turning the tv down in the other room to listen in.
You’ve become family, thank you for keeping it going, for feeling local. #truecanadianpassion

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