John wrote:I'm trying to decide if I just hate the music trends right now or if I'm losing touch. I really hope I'm not losing touch with music, I swore that would never happen, and usually that only happens if you stop paying attention. But, this year is a big pile of garbage. Just awful, like 100X worse than any other year that exists.
I agree with this! I honestly wished that we had out right bad music coming out, but it's even worse: it's boring music. Everything sounds so uninspiring. I'm 19 and starting to think that perhaps i'm a getting out of touch too. If anything this year is helping me to get closer to music from previous decades that I often overlooked.
It's been also boring when it comes to movies - though, I believe that on TV it's a little more exciting because of HBO's Girls.
And I don't think critics are going easy for the well-established neither: Bloom has received a reception that i thought it would have been way warmer back when i listened to the leak. They've been labeling as Teen Dream II, when i actually think it's a different take on that sound: it's another kind of sonic execution. Still, it blows out every single album I've heard this year by a far margin. Best Coast - a band that once sounded exciting, summery and young - now aimed for a more mature sound that just ruined their thing. Bethanny's honesty shined on Crazy for You and its atmosphere/mid fi production was a large part of it.
To prove my point that boring music is worse than bad music, i'm even starting to place Lana Del Rey's Born to Die under new light because at least that album made me feel something - while the others put me to sleep.
The new artists are so uninspiring, the trend they're following has been done so many times that i stop an album halfway through because of such unworthiness.
I really liked Chromatics - perhaps a little too long for its own sake - Julia Holter (showed some ambition and clever execution), Grimes (even if it lacks some consistency) and Sharon Van Etten (It sounds traditional confessional stuff, but yet the material is so strong, consistent and delivered freshly.)
I changed my mind about Perfume Genius, on the other hand. I guess I fell into the "he's gay, I'm gay, I'm identifying with his music" hype. His songs are really short and the Twin Peaks/I Am a Bird Now atmosphere he aims for lacks the power and punch of both references. For every great song, there's another nice one that just blends altogether and is perfectly unremarkable.
That's a point I'm trying to place here: Antony, these days - far from the golden I Am a Bird Now age - sounds much more interesting in later material than many of those hyped artists. I guess that established acts are putting the new ones to shame since last year. I don't know if this is a trend of late, because since I started dig music for real back in 2007, I always had the feeling that fresher music acts would fare way better than those that were starting to be dismissed by critics for the crime of having a consistent discography.
I'm listening to the The Walkmen's Heaven now and I'm amazed to be able to follow them and see their sound mature in time. It's the best music I've heard from this year since Beach House's Bloom leaked. I guess is a calling for stop caring about every single hyped, blog reviewed new artist to come around. I don't think these well established acts will get the same raves they received back in the day, but still, they're head and shoulders above what the new ones are delivering. It's not inexperience as much as it feels like boring, trend-follower stuff. Pitchfork - and other websites and magazines - are desperately throwing Best New Music tags or Eight out of Ten reviews.
If anything, I guess that 2012 is here to make me admire even further albums from singer/songwriters such as Joanna Newsom's Have One on Me or Sufjan's The Age of Adz, or PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, or Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow and Tom Waits's Bad as Me. And I don't think it's a coincidence that all of them are well-established acts.
I guess I'm throwing the towel and only checking records by artists I dig or have read enough stuff to check - some websites I trust and over here, especially here. I've read about new records from Cat Power, Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, The xx and others that actually makes me feel excited to listen to, even excited to get disappointed – just don't be boring!
And I guess the track I've played the most this year is further evidence of all that: Every Single Night by Fiona Apple. By far the most expected record of the year to me. Guess that in such a weak year she'll finally get what is due. But even if she doesn't, I won't care. I'm not caring at all as long as it isn't boring.
EDIT: I put emphasis on newer acts because back in the day they were the ones that excited the most, but I feel that these days anyone can get blog press with little musical baggage and inconsistent material. Everything I said also refers to the majority of non-debutant acts that actually got their peak of press hype this year and failed to live up to.
“Art is the giving by each man of his evidence to the world. Those who wish to give, love to give, discover the pleasure of giving. Those who give are tremendously strong.”
― Robert Henri, The Art Spirit