Sunday, January 18, 2009
I haven't really absorbed that one yet: Why 2008 was the musical year of meh
The easy thing would be to blame the iPod because it is a defenseless object that can't fire back at me. Unless Steve Jobs knows something I don't.
Last year I bought 24 new release albums. Adding in singles, EPs, albums I didn't pay for and the now popular 'Exclusive Track Not On The Album' (for artists that no longer have singles to facilitate B-Sides) and I had somewhere in the vicinity of 400 new songs on my iPod for the year.
Considering I no longer work in music, that isn't too shabby an effort (a new album every fortnight on average). Keep in mind this doesn't count some excellent back catalogue pickups that I either bought (You don't own Van Morrison's double live set 'It's Too Late To Stop Now'? What are you doing here?) or were kindly loaned to me (Gracias to Senor Gillespie for Springsteen's Tracks).
My problem, as shallow as it is, was that I never gave myself the time to listen to it all and I fear that some great music was missed or at least not appreciated enough.
Due to the ease of switching to different tracks on the iPod, I often fell into periods of listening to old favourites that I had owned for years. As such, the new albums that I should have been thrashing were being neglected as I loaded up Whiskeytown's Pneumonia for like the millionth time.
I'll admit some purchases were duds (a solo Jakob Dylan album is as dull as you would imagine it to be) but on a whole I picked up albums that I knew I would like...eventually.
Here then are a few albums I really need to give a second chance:
Counting Crows - Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings:
I'm a Crows fan for life so my opinion will be subjective. I enjoyed the album but not to the scale of Hard Candy or Recovering The Satellites. Was it that the songs weren't as immediate? I remember my fading interest on side 2 of 1999s This Desert Life but that was pre-iPod so I would listen to the album from start to finish no matter what. Something I may need to do again with this album.
Bloc Party - Intimacy:
I have already spoken about this album elsewhere but now, post-purchase, I am at a loss to know what to make of it. It feels disjointed at times and brilliant at others ('Talons' is a great song). To me it feels like a reactionary move to criticism leveled at them after A Weekend In The City, an album I quite enjoyed. I think the band has immense talent but they need to go to ground for a while and think about what type of band they want to be. Not what everyone else wants them to be.
Michael Franti & Spearhead - All Rebel Rockers:
I am not a fan of reggae. This is something my friends are very much aware of and it is a subject I will explore much further at a later date. Franti's albums all have some level of reggae/dancehall in them but this one has by far the most. Yet that isn't what has stopped me from enjoying it. I think Franti is best enjoyed in warmer climates and this was his first album released since I moved to chilly Melbourne. Now it is summer I think it is time to give All Rebel Rockers its due.
Martha Wainwright - I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too:
This album suffered from the old chestnut 'great first single that artificially increases expectations' syndrome. 'Comin' Tonight' set the scene for a brilliant set of songs that delicately straddled critical and commercial success. Sadly that was not the case. Maybe in a renewed light I can appreciate the album without comparing it to its shining opening salvo. Does win the award for best album title though.