And so it begins! I've finally started my contributor showcases, and started it with a bang. For the first showcase, let's look into our most experimental contributor. Here's what Edgar Castro, our second most frequent writer after yours truly, had to say about Songs of the Week.
Why do you participate in Songs of the Week to the Extent that you do?
Well, when you brought up the idea of Songs of the Week in the newspaper meeting, I thought that the whole idea of being able to share interesting music with the Peabody High student body was a really nice idea, because most people seem bound to certain genres like generic pop and hip hop and stuff that you hear on the radio. That isn't bad, of course, but a lot of people seem like they would reach out to new music if they just had a way to be introduced to it - I know, personally, that for a long time I just listened to whatever was on the radio or whatever my mom played on her boombox because that's all the music I knew. But, when I discovered some slightly-less-generic music - Radiohead's OK Computer and Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea were my first in that respect - I loved it and I embraced it as one would embrace some moist and spicy taco bell after a week of just bland salmon, and from that point on my tastes just developed more and more and I started appreciating music more. It was amazing and eye opening. (Or, ear opening?) I want to extend that experience - the discovery of new music - to others, and Songs of the Week seems like one of the best ways to do it, so that's why I got really into it.
If you could recommend one artist to our readers as a good gateway into less popular or accessible music, who would it be?
That's tough, because, I think, what would be a good recommendation to, say, a Led Zeppelin fan would be different than what would be a good recommendation to a fan of Eminem, or Lady Gaga, or any other popular artist - I say that most people stick to generic pop and radio music and such, but generic pop and radio music are still incredibly diverse. Speaking of radio, maybe Radiohead would be good just because of the diversity of their catalogue. OK Computer would probably appeal well to fans of rock, as In Rainbows would to fans of pop, as Kid A would to fans electronic. Ween might be nice too, as their catalogue is a ton more diverse than Radiohead's, but some of it also might be a little more out there. I don't know. Probably Radiohead, though.
I've noticed that most of our top contributors seem to be listening to very diverse, less popular music. Do you think this is a coincidence?
No, I don't think so. A requirement about Songs of the Week is that you have to write about the music you submit, and, I think, if you're submitting a lot of the same kind of music, you just don't have a lot of stuff to write interesting things about. Additionally, as Songs of the Week drags on, you're continually using up your pool of things that you can write interesting things about, and if it wasn't large enough to begin with and continually branching out to new music isn't part of your listening habits, you'll get sucked into the "this is all sort of the same" situation, too.
How well has Songs of the Week worked for you in terms of music discovery?
Well, it hasn't been too fruitful for me, but there have been a few nice finds. I distinctly remember that Elbow song you submitted that really caught my ear, and Demetri's Tim Hecker and Animal Collective suggestions that got me back into both of those bands.
Has this lack of discovery been a fault of the article itself?
No, I feel like it's sort of more my fault because I've already developed my tastes quite a bit, so there's certain things that I look for in music (which unfortunately don't show up in submissions often) and I've already explored a ton of artists on the way to developing that taste.
What do you look for in music?
Well, going back to the first question, I sort of tend partly towards music that is more interesting and inventive - you could sort of see a tiny bit of it when I submitted This Heat  and Throbbing Gristle , but until recently I've tried to tone it down a little for the sake of accessibility. I'm sort of at that point where, going back to the food analogy, you went to tacos because tuna got boring, and then you went to American Chinese food, and then you went to gourmet croissants or something, and now you're eating out of a bowl of pig feet or maggot cheese or whatever. It's really unpalatable for people just getting into it, but since you got there gradually it's actually quite enjoyable. It's fresh and interesting. I also sort of like music that's more sad or ambivalent as opposed to happy or upbeat, mainly because those songs tend to be a lot more emotive, involved, and complex than upbeat ones. It sort of feels like they have a stronger message and more meaning and emotion to them than songs that just sing about how everything is nice and going well and everybody is happy and cheery. That's not to bash on happy music or anything - that's just my taste. I feel like that applies to all art in general, too - some of the best works of art are borne from negative feelings and emotions, a sort of catharsis and expression of those feelings.
Lastly, of the tracks you've submitted, which is your favorite?
Oh, that's a really tough one. I love most of them equally. If I had to choose, though, maybe Natural Snow Buildings' Cut Joint Sinews & Divided Reincarnation . Or The Microphones' The Moon , or Pauline Oliveros' Primordial Lift .
Here's a list of Edgar's submissions so far:
The Microphones - The Moon
Slint - Breadcrumb Trail
Sun Kil Moon - Duk Koo Kim**
Deafheaven - Dream House
Jenny Hval - That Battle is Over
Jarboe - Troll Lullaby
Throbbing Gristle - Hamburger Lady*
Radiohead - Reckoner*
Set Fire to Flames - Omaha
Modest Mouse - Dramamine
Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian at Best
Deltron 3030 - 3030
Joanna Newsom - Emily*
Lemon Jelly - Elements
田中雅之 - Katamari on the Rocks ~ Main Theme*
Coil - Penetralia*
This Heat - S.P.Q.R.*
Viet Cong - Bunker Buster
The Raincoats - Fairytale in the Supermarket
PJ Harvey - On Battleship Hill
Boris - Flood*
Earl Sweatshirt - solace*
Sun Kil Moon - Garden of Lavender
Daniel Bachman - Won't You Cross over to That Other Shore
Fleet Foxes - The Shrine / An Argument
Jonny Greenwood - Splitter
Songs: Ohia - Hold on Mangolia
Neutral Milk Hotel - Oh Comely
Death Blues - Obtain
The Velvet Underground - The Black Angel's Death Song