How This New Music Will Make You Smarter (Thanks, Science)

Categories: News

This is your brain on sound.

A good 90 percent of my job as a music journalist is keeping my finger on new music, continuously discovering the vast spectrum of sound that human beings can create. Another 9 percent is attending concerts, where I destroy my liver and my hearing for shits and gigs. That final 1 percent is being a cynical asshole and judging everyone, but I promise I am (somewhat unsuccessfully) trying to improve that about myself. Yeah, I should give boring mainstream music a break once in a while, stop being a hipster dick without trying, yadda, yadda, "All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not," blah, blah, blah.

 But let's focus on that 90 percent today. A fancy schmancy article came out this week, edifying me about my undying thirst for unheard tunes. It claims new music is "rewarding for the brain," which is like, duh, but now we know why, all because a bunch of researchers with too much free time and access to an MRI machine played fresh music while poking around in the nucleus accumbens.

What's that? It's this funky region of gray matter that perks up when you do something good for your survival, like eating the flesh of another animal or boning something. So it's pretty fucking cool that our skull sponges also give us bursts of feel-good fluids when sweetass new tunes tickle our eardrums. No other animals (that we know of) get that same result.

More: Five party jams about dying alone in the darkness of space.

There's a lot more sciencey mumbo jumbo that I find fascinating, but I'm too lazy to explain it. I'd much rather share some jams that have been on my radar lately. And if you were one of the few who got offended by snidely writing about Katy Perry or Justin Timberlake, the amount of dopamine I'm gonna have soaring through your nervous system by the end of this article will make us even. Here: Have some new-ish albums.

Let's start with The Terror, the latest from mind-blowing masters we call The Flaming Lips, who have spent like 100 years churning the butter in our ears. Their latest work forgives their weird attempts at covering Pink Floyd and King Crimson, by a fucking ton.

And OHMYGAWD the new Knife album makes me want to explode. Consequence of Sound wasn't kidding when they said it's the "bravest and most challenging album of the year -- quite possibly the decade." Even if you don't "get" it (my roommate made me turn it off during the 19-minute "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized"), it's nice to double-dog-dare yourself and try something new, even if you don't like it.

Lastly, Tyler, The Creator made me think he could save hip-hop in 2010. He wasn't concerned about jewelry or sneakers or blacked-out bitches or stupid bullshit like that, unlike some idiots I know. He was gonna make hip-hop relevant again with his whole posse of weirdos! Awesome! I don't know why, but that feeling faded when ol' Ace started pranking idiots on MTV. With Wolf, I have my hopes up again.

After the jump: Some '90s music that will probably also make you smarter.

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