Hey, hey you, you there, drowning in that Coldplay song that I can hear from five feet away even though you’re listening through hot pink earbuds, you’re hurting your ears. No, not necessarily in the sense that Chris Martin’s waifish vocals are directly harmful to your hearing; it’s just that blasting amplified noise directly through your ears isn’t good for them. Maybe you’ve heard a nice, clear ringing noise after a particularly bouncy commute, at a certain pitch? This is because the hair cells in your ear that receive that pitch have literally snapped, dumping potassium ions into your inner ear for the last time, resulting in that high-pitched whine which is actually pretty analogous to the process behind rigor mortis. P.S. — unlike your nostalgia for *NSYNC, these hair cells don’t grow back, so listen closely to that ringing noise; it’ll likely be the last time you hear it.
While you might derive some hedonistic pleasure from having destroyed your hearing in your early 20s, it can’t be very good for you in the long run; you can forget about using the mosquito ringtone. Music’s a great escape, especially for a nice walk to campus, but sometimes it’s best to just turn it down a little and listen to what’s going on around you; you’ll probably get run over less. Anyway, please, turn it down and save your ears, or at least listen to some sweet metal if you’re going to blow them away. Either way, here are some quick recommendations:
Quiet: Stars of the Lid: If you want to take a nap listening to music that’s barely there, this is the group for you. Sometimes I forget I’m listening to something when I put them on, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. Lullatone: If the name isn’t a huge hint, this band is also good for the sleepier times. Play it soft, but listen close for splashes of water and glockenspiels. Bon Iver: This soft-spoken acoustic guitar-driven folk band is from Wisconsin, a Midwestern state that has managed to churn out a decent band. Listen while tossing back a Milwaukee’s Best and eating a brat; moping is optional. Dntel: If you haven’t checked out the (better) half of the Postal Service, now is the time to wean yourself from Ben Gibbard’s teat and check out some electronic noises from Jimmy Tamborello.
Loud: Boris: Hitting all kinds of metal genres, this Japanese group is not afraid to slay some dragons and burninate some sweet licks through the awesome might of guitars. LCD Soundsystem: Not metal, but don’t you want to let everybody around you know that Daft Punk is playing at your house? The New Pornographers: Again, not metal, but this is some sweet Vancouver power-pop that doesn’t know how to quit. Amon Tobin: Not an obvious choice for blasting, but if you turn it up loud enough, maybe you can make light bulbs fall out of the ceiling like when he played in Rangos last year.