Ongoing History of New Music

By 102.1 the Edge


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.


172 ratings


Arkells - In Their Own Words: Part 1

When you’re in a band, you want to make sure the public record is correct…but you’re often at the mercy of someone else when it comes to creating that record… First, there’s your publicist and anyone at your record label dealing with marketing…they issue bios and press releases where the writer seems to have been paid by the word…they’re paid to fill a page or two in 10-point font, so they revert to lots of flowery language signifying nothing…frankly, I find most official band bios close to useless because they don’t really tell me anything about the band… A site like does better, but often all the writer has to work with are those official bios… Then there’s Wikipedia…it has its drawbacks, but for the most part, Wikipedia entries can be very good because editors incorporate information from a variety of sources, including lots of feature stories and interviews… In my opinion, though, nothing beats getting every member of the band together in a room at the same time and getting them to tell their own story…it’s hard, given the schedules musicians keep, but with a little persistent persuasion, it can be done… So, Wikipedia editors, listen up…if you want to make additions and changes to the entry on Arkells, here’s your chance…this is a conversation between me and all five members of the band…it’s their story, in their own words…start taking notes…here are all the citations you need…


Modern Guitar Heroes 2: The Women

It’s been a rough decade for the electric guitar…sales of new instruments have dropped by a third, from 1.5 million globally to around just one million… Why?...generations brought up on electronics are opting out of creating music with traditional instruments like the guitar…instead, they use laptops, iPads, gear like Ableton Live an any number of programmable keyboard devices… Most guitars are being bought and sold by older players…and there are fewer and fewer of them each year… All this has hurt manufacturers like Gibson, who filed for bankruptcy in 2018…it’s hurt music stores, both big and small…it’s hurt music teachers who have fewer students… Sounds dire, right?...maybe…but there’s one bright spot: there has been a steady rise in the number of young women taking up the electric guitar… According to fender, women now make up at least 50% of all the beginner guitar players in North America and the UK…in South East Asia, that number is more like 70%... That’s interesting, given that it wasn’t all that long ago that it was accepted fact that a girl could not play an electric guitar—not as good as a guy, anyway… That attitude abounded through the 70s and 80s…today, that’s no longer the case…the intimidation factor is gone…women are marching right into male-dominated music stores and buying guitars…some take traditional lessons, but others are using online tutorials so they can avoid any hassles and harassment… And most importantly, we’re seeing more female guitar heroes…you no longer have to be a dude to be a guitar role model…and those are the people we’re going to explore on this episode…this is modern guitar heroes: the women…


What’s with Florence + the Machine? | From the Archives

One of my favourite movie lines of all time comes from a 1982 Peter O’Toole film called “My Favorite Year”… O’Toole plays a movie idol named Alan Swann who is reduced to appearing on a variety tv show of the 1950s… a junior writer named Benji Stone is put in charge of babysitting Swann… “just keep him out of trouble,” his bosses say… Naturally, it doesn’t go well and they have a fight when Swann grows angry when Benji insists on the hero worship…then Benji replies: Whoever you were in those movies, those silly heroes meant a lot to me! what does it matter if it was an illusion? it worked! so don't tell me this is you life-size. I can't use you life-size. I need Alan Swanns as big as I can get them! That’s how a lot of us feel about our heroes… and I include our musical heroes in that number… Music is an escape for us…it’s also a fantasyland populated by exotic creatures who do and say things far, far beyond what we could ever dream of doing… but at the same time, we want these creatures to be at least a little accessible, so we can make that all-important personal connection… It’s a tricky balance…we want heroes and heroines, but we also want to know that they’re real… keep the fantasy but open the door a crack, you know?... And it’s more difficult with some artists than others…how, for example, do you handle like someone like Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine?... much of her success is based on a kooky, quirky, fantastical image, like someone who looks like they just stepped out of a renaissance painting or out of a book of Grimm’s fairytales… And then you learn she’s not a natural redhead…I’m sorry, but she’s not… she’s dark-haired and dyed it as a kid…did that just ruin something for you?... It did?... oh, dear… this could be a rough show for you, then…


60 Mind-Blowing Facts in 60 Minutes: 4th Edition

One of the occupational hazards of my job is I run across all kinds of facts, bits of data, and pieces of knowledge that don’t have any immediate practical application… For example, I ran across this piece of royal etiquette…the British royals are forbidden to play “monopoly”—as in the board game… I have no idea why, but this is apparently a hard and fast rule… If you have a cat, you know all about hairballs…the technical term for one of those is a “bezoar”… Still with animals, there’s a psychological disorder called “Boanthropy”…this is when a person believes they are a cow and tries to live their lives accordingly… What do you think the most popular item sold at Wal-Mart is?...bananas…Wal-Mart sells more bananas than anything else in its inventory… Astronauts cannot burp is space…that’s because the lack of gravity means all the gases in your stomach get mixed with the liquids and the solids instead of separating out…if you tried to burp, everything would come up at the same time…so where do gastric gases go?...out the other end… And before you ask, no you cannot use that to propel yourself through the international space station…Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield tried that and he reports that the thrust produced isn’t enough to produce the requisite Newtonian shift in vector… I have more, but I think you get the idea…this brings me to the topic of this program…when researching “ongoing history” episodes and my blog, I always come across pieces of information that are, if not useless, very close to being so… But much of this stuff is just too weird, too fascinating, too fun to ignore…so once a year, it has become my habit to conduct a big data dump of this information…what you do with this what I’m about to tell you is completely up to you…. This is the annual show I called “60 mind-blowing facts about music in 60 minutes”….


Bush: The Post-CD Band Featuring Gavin Rossdale | From the Archives

Once upon a time, not that long ago and in a land not that far away, musicians—not all, but some—could become very, very rich… Their riches came by selling pieces of plastic to those who enjoyed their music…those pieces of plastic were very, very precious because they were this was the only way musicians could distribute recordings of their art and their supply and their price was strictly regulated by the lords of the music industry… Eons earlier, the oracles had foretold that this plastic would come down—but that never seemed to happen…the overlords enjoyed their immense wealth and were loathe to do anything that might jeopardize the power of their kingdoms… Meanwhile, musicians—not all, but some—also reaped huge riches as millions and even tens of millions of people handed over money for the privilege of owning certain pieces of plastic…the musicians never made as much as their overlords, but plenty just the same…and it was good… In fact, it was very good…there were lavish parties, obscene luxuries and plenty of indulgences on a scale unimaginable by the good citizens of the regular world… Yeah, it’s not like that anymore…new artists know this…but what if you are one of those acts who had a taste of the good life—the old record industry—and then had to adjust to the new realities?... Let’s talk to one of those artists—someone who has adjusted to life in the post-cd world…how was it then—and what’s it like now…really…


Radiohead - A History: Part 3

When you sign your first record deal, it’s usually for around seven albums…theoretically; this is to protect both sides… First, it offers the artist a degree of security…it gives the artist a few records to develop and mature so if they don’t score big with the first album, they’ll a little longer to establish their career and reputation… Second, the label has a chance to see if their investment in this act pays off…the label puts all kinds of money into the artist up front and therefore needs the artist to turn profitable as soon as possible so they can make that money back and start seeing a return… But a record deal is like a marriage…sometimes things go well and everyone lives together happily ever after…and sometimes (and for whatever reason), one party wants out…a divorce is in order… It was this second scenario in which Radiohead found itself at the beginning of 2005…they had fulfilled their end of the bargain to EMI Records: six studio albums, a live album, half a dozen EP’s along with at least four video releases…and now they wanted out… they had no wish to resign with EMI … But were their options?... Option (a): negotiate a killer deal with EMI with the hopes of signing a contract that addressed every single one of their concerts…but EMI was in trouble, the smallest and weakest of the major labels…the internet was killing the company and management didn’t seem to have a clue…it looked like they were determined to drive the label into the ground no matter what they did… Option (b) sign with another major label when it looked like the entire recording industry was melting down, again thanks to rampant piracy and the disruption brought about by the other words, a contract with another major might be no better than signing with EMI … But then there was option (c):  go it alone and redefine what it would mean to be an “independent artist”…after thinking long and hard about it, Radiohead went with option (c)… Crazy idea…then again…


Radiohead - A History: Part 1

Is it just me or has there been an uptick in the number of one-hit-wonders over the past couple of years?...think about all the hot bands who have had just one good album–or even just one good song–before they’re forgotten... In the old days, a group developed and evolved over a series of albums...three, four, five, six records, was slow and look a lot of patience and a lot of fighting to keep things together, but more often than not, it paid off...look at U2...or REM...or Blur...or Depeche Mode...or Nine Inch Nails... None of these bands was what you’d called immediate, instant, hit-it-out-of-the-park successes...each group was allowed to build a career the old-fashioned way: slowly and carefully...and most importantly, they were allowed to make mistakes along the way... Oh–you know who we missed in that list of bands?...Radiohead... They started slow–really slow...they’ve made a bunch of mistakes...they’ve conducted a lot of experiments–some successful, some failures...but because they’ve stuck together, because they’ve always believed in their mission, and most of all, because they all happen to be exceptional musicians, Radiohead has become one of the most revered, most influential and most analyzed groups in the history of alt-rock… And that’s not all…along the way, they’ve managed to rewrite a lot of the rules about what a band is and isn’t supposed to do… This is the story of Radiohead got to where they are today…


Lost CanRock Bands of the 90s: Part 2

Before 1971, there really wasn’t much of a Canadian music industry…sure, there were record labels and recording studios and promoters and agents, but we didn’t have what you’d call a “first-world” industry… Canada was a backwater, a place where the big labels had branch offices…anyone who wanted to make it big had to leave the country, usually for the United States… But then came the Canadian content laws in January 1971…overnight, it became law that Canadian radio stations had to devote 30% of their playlists to Canadian artists…this created an artificial demand for this music which a lot of people screamed bloody murder about… But this demand needed to be serviced, so a modern music industry grew up around it—all the infrastructure required to have a proper domestic scene…that meant more record labels, more recording studios, more promoters, more agents… A domestic star system began to emerge…Canadians started buying more music by Canadian artists…and those artists who didn’t want to bolt for the united states found that they could make a decent living by staying in Canada… It took about 20 years for our music industry to mature into something truly world class…and by the time we got to the 1990s, there was a sense that our best could compete with anyone in the world… That’s when everything exploded…Canadian generation Xers not only embraced the alt-rock that was coming from the States—grunge, industrial, punk, whatever—but also the homegrown stuff…walking into a record store in, say, 1995, meant being faced with racks of Canadian product right up front…and people were mad for it… This is our second half of our remembrance of some great Can-Rock bands of the 90s…


Lost CanRock Bands of the '90s: Part 1

If you came of age musically in Canada in the 1990s, you’ll remember that it was an extraordinary time…there was this mass embracing of homegrown music…it was part nationalism and part patriotism, but it was also something else… A vast generation of young people simultaneously said, “Canadian music is as good as anything the rest of the world has to offer and we want more of it”…and we got it… More acts were signed to the big labels and made records…radio played those records…MuchMusic ran the videos…there were tours and festivals…record stores stacked this new stuff up front…and over a few short years, a brand new star system emerged… Some of those stars are still with us…Our Lady Peace, Matthew Good, The Barenaked Ladies, Sloan …they’ve all had fruitful mult-decade careers that began in either the very late 80s or early 90s… The Tragically Hip became a juggernaut…Alanis Morissette had the biggest-selling album from female artist of all time…and let’s not forget that a couple of the “Big Shiny Tunes” compilations from MuchMusic—which were heavy on the Can-Con—sold more than a million units just in this country… Like all eras of music, there was attrition as bands came and went, passing into the realm of memories…that’s the music business…there are some long-term survivors, but most of it is evanescent… So what happen to the rest of acts?...did they really break up?...are they still doing stuff?...where are the members of these bands today?... Let’s try to track down some of the CanRock groups of the 90s, part 1…


It's A Family Affair

Music is one of those things that can bring families together…and sometimes, that togetherness grows into a business… The BeeGees had the three Gibb brothers…baby brother Andy Gibb was also part of that universe for a while… Then there’s The Beach Boys…the original lineup included Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson and their cousin Mike Love…Murray Wilson—the father of Brian, Dennis, and carl—was their manager…he was terrible at it (in fact, Murray was an all-round disasters for his sons), but at least they were all together…or something like that…three brothers, their father and a cousin… We have The Cowsills…this was a 60s pop group from Rhode island who had a series of hits…six siblings: Bob, Bill, Barry, John, Paul and Susan…they ranged from 8 to 18…and then there was mother Barbra…this arrangement was the inspiration for the TV show “the partridge family”…that’s seven people, which later became eight when Bob’s twin brother Richard joined up for a bit… And we have to talk about the Jackson 5: Michael, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon…when the group left Motown, Jermaine was replaced by randy… So that’s six members of the Jackson 5… then we have Janet, LaToya and Rebbie…that’s nine and everything was run by father Joe Jackson—another abusive disaster…so the count is up to 10… All this got me thinking: are their equivalents in the world of alt-rock?...what are the biggest family affairs the genre has ever seen?...let’s take a look…


More Famous Recording Studios

I love the smell and feel of recording studios…if you’ve been inside a proper one, you’ll know what i mean… The air is kept clean and dust-free to protect the equipment…the a/c is usually cranked up to offset the heat generated by the electronics…there’s a slight whiff of ozone created by all the electrical circuits…and it’s usually very, very quiet…loads of isolation and baffling and sound-proofing… To me, a recording studio is the musical equivalent of an operating theatre; a place that’s dedicated to one thing and one thing only…and what goes on within the walls is deadly serious… Okay, I’m not saying that recording a song is the same as a heart transplant or something, but there is the same sort of vibe… There used to be dozens and dozens of these places around the planet…people would travel thousands of kilometers to work there because they were thought to be magical in some way… But that’s when you needed a full-equipped recording studio to make a record…today, you can do a pretty good job with a laptop in your bedroom… Many of the legendary studios are gone, a victim of the changing economics of the music industry…a few of these behemoth still exist… This is another look at the world’s legendary recording studios, both past and present…   Songs in this Episode: David Bowie - Life on Mars Sex Pistols - Holiday in the Sun The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony Mumford & Sons - Believe The Clash - The Magnificent Seven The Black Keys - Tighten Up The Tragically Hip - Poets Bob Marley and the Wailers - No Woman, No Cry


Songs Based on Real Events

Streaming is a very cool way to access tens of millions of songs with a few pokes on your phone…the idea of being able to listen to virtually any song from any era of human history with such ease is something akin to magic… The downside of streaming is that it doesn’t provide any context to what we’re hearing…a continuous stream of music tells us nothing about the artist or the song…it’s just music, standing alone with nothing to anchor it to anything… It was different in the old days…if you bought an album, dammit, that was an investment…you paid money for it, which created a fiscal relationship with the artist…that meant you were more likely to stick with an album and get deeper into the artist and the songs…otherwise, you had this nagging feeling you had wasted your money… Context means so much to the enjoyment of music—which is probably a reason you’re listening to me right now…you want more than the notes that make up a song… Yeah, sometimes a song is just a song…you know, it’s got a good beat, you can dance to it and maybe sing along…it doesn’t really mean anything more than that… But some songs are very deep…they actually form some part of a historical record…they tell the story of real people, real events and the things that came after… That’s where we’re going with this show: everything we’re about to hear is based on fact, on history, on actual events…and you may be shocked by the truth beyond songs that you’ve been digging all your life…this isn’t anything you’re gonna get from a stream…trust me… Songs in this episode: The Clash - White Riot Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Monday's U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday REM - What's the Frequency Kenneth? Pearl Jam - Jeremy Nirvana - Polly The Tragically Hip - Wheat Kings Filter - Hey Man, Nice Shot!


A Brief History of Alt Psychedelic Rock

Here’s one of the most misunderstood and misused words in the English language: “psychedelic” … The word first came into use in 1956 when a psychiatrist named Humphrey Osmond was studying a new class of pharmaceuticals that had potential when it came to treating certain mental disorders… A chemical known as lysergic acid diethylamide—LSD, for short—had been extracted by a Swiss scientist named Albert Hoffman from a fungus called “ergot”…from 1943 on, medical professionals tried to figure out what it could be used for…it was even marketed commercially for a while under the brand name “delysid”… Then the CIA got involved, thinking that LSD could be used for things like interrogation, chemical warfare and mind control…but that’s a whole other story... Because the chemical resulted in people entering an altered state of perception, some started using it recreationally… artists discovered its properties and started taking acid trip, looking for inspiration and new creative roads… Then other psychedelics went mainstream, including mescaline (which comes from the peyote plant) and psylocybin (which you get from certain mushrooms) before just about all of these drugs were made illegal… Meanwhile, “psychedelic”—which means “soul-revealing” in Greek—became an adjective…it describes anything that could be described as mind expanding, anything that alters the way we perceive reality… Naturally, this quickly extended to music…psych became a thing in the 60s—that sound, feel, vibe, attitude continues today with alt-rock… This is a quick history of psych in the world of alternative music…   Songs used in this episode: Kula Skaker - Tattva The Soft Boys - Give It To The Soft Boys Teardrop Explodes - Sleeping Gas Echo and the Bunnymen - Bring on the Dancing Horses Siousxie and the Banshees - Dear Prudence Spaceman 3 - Revolution The Bangles - Hero Takes A Fall My Bloody Valentine - Soon The Verve - Slide Away Tame Impala - Elephant

Ongoing History of New Music Podcast


A Deep Dive Into Vinyl Trivia


There are people who still believe that the resurrection of vinyl is a fad, a passing trend, something of which people will tire and we’ll all move on… This, frankly, is insanity…total insanity… Vinyl LP sales have been going up ...