On March 26, The Mars Volta released their fifth album, “Noctourniquet.” For any who aren’t familiar, the album title should provide a clear indicator that their music isn’t exactly main-stream. The Texas-formed outfit definitely isn’t for everyone; calling them esoteric would be charitable. But they’re also one of the most accomplished rock acts of the past 10 years, and they’re almost single-handedly keeping progressive rock alive for whoever wants to listen. And when I say progressive, I do mean progressive.

The indie hipster in me (disclaimer: I am not an indie hipster) was very excited last Thursday for Globemed’s Battle of the Bands, a fundraiser that raised money to benefit communities in El Salvador. Four bands performed for the supposedly-coveted prize of being named winner. Each ticket to vote cost $1, solicited as you walked through the doors and later on throughout the show. Mr. Gad’s hosted and Route 9 performed the after-show, rounding off an excellent show.

On Feb. 29, Davy Jones of the Monkees passed away due to a heart attack. While not many people will know the Monkees by name — though most probably know their biggest hit “I’m a Believer” — their influence can still be felt. Their brand of supremely lighthearted (and light-weight), ridiculously optimistic (to some, cringe-inducing) and exceptionally catchy music struck a sound somewhat between the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and by ultimately dropping any pretense of being a “serious” musical act, they went the route of being as purely pop as possible.

Despite my appreciation of music and almost-unhealthy habit of listening to it while doing just about anything, I am often accused of not appreciating newer music enough. However, my complaint is not with new music in general; I just wish that the most popular artists were also the best. Unlike in the 1960s and early 1970s, when the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath were among the biggest artists in the world as well as the best, nowadays it seems that one has to cut through much more in order to find the diamonds in the rough.

On February 7, Van Halen will release their first album since 1984’s appropriately titled “1984” with original lead singer David Lee Roth, entitled “A Different Kind of Truth.” Considering that the band is often given the title of America’s best hard rock band, this is no small news. While I would rank a handful of American hard rock bands higher, the title isn’t unwarranted.

In turning my attention to writing about music, something I must confess I am new to, I was unsure of what to write about at first. I thought to myself: there must have been something released in the past year that means something to me. Something new that I would want to talk about. Something new that I feel an uncontrollable desire to tell everyone I meet to go out and listen to. Something relevant to a modern audience. After pondering this option, I thought, why bother?

The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of “Don Giovanni,” Mozart’s second collaboration with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, was broadcast on Sat., Oct. 29 at the Cinemark in Hampshire Mall through the opera house’s Grammy-Award winning MetOpera Live in HD series. Under the baton of Fabio Luisi, both the singers and orchestral instrumentalists were competent at presenting a high-quality performance of Mozart’s ingenious opera.