So, as this year has progressed, it has become increasingly more interesting; between juggling purchasing my first home, new girlfriend, and job, I’ve had little time to update this space, which has been disheartening. BUT, my excitement for spreading the good word on music, film, and TV is still strong, so here we go!
Simon Reynolds, a writer for the The Guardian, wrote a very perceptive article on the ever-changing status of our music-scape, and why our decade best-of lists may seem a bit fragmented…
“The fragmentation of rock/pop has been going on as long as I can remember, but it seemed to cross a threshold this decade. There was just so much music to be into and check out. No genres faded away, they all just carried on, pumping out product, proliferating offshoot sounds. Nor did musicians, seemingly, cease and desist as they grew older; those that didn’t die kept churning stuff out, jostling alongside younger artists thrusting forward to the light. It’s tempting to compare noughties music to a garden choked with weeds. Except it’s more like a flower bed choked with too many flowers, because so much of the output was good. The problem wasn’t just quantity, it was quantity x quality. Then there was the past too, available like never before, competing for our attention and affection. The cheapness of home studio and digital audio workstation recording, combined with the wealth of history that musicians can draw on and recombine, fuelled a mushrooming of quality music-making. But the result of all this overproduction was that “we” were spread thin across a vast terrain of sound. That’s why, if you look at the end-of-year or end-of-decade polls across the gamut of music magazines, there’s so little overlap. If even a relatively non-diffuse community like Pitchfork could only find its centre around records that came out in the early years of the noughties, it suggests that the culture-wide slide into entropy is speeding up.”
In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Fleet Foxes singer/guitarist/awesome beard haver, Robin Pecknold, talked about his “boring” new album due in 2010, writers block, and writing film scores. As one of my favorite albums of 2008, I loved this candid response about the recording process:
“…I want the recording to be like two weeks. I want it to be really fast. I want to do all the vocal takes in one go, so even if there are fuck-ups, I want them to be on there. I want there to be guitar mistakes. I want there to be not totally flawless vocals. I want to record it and have that kind of cohesive sound.”
Great news for people that were fans of the cohesive sound of early rock records from the 60’s & 70’s. More recently, The Black Crowes experimented with recording live with their new double-album, performing for a small audience in a barn in upstate New York. It adds an incredible aesthetic to the recording, leaving the listener with a more personal, human experience that resonates with each repeat listen.
The much maligned Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins recently released a new track from his lofty upcoming 44-track, 11 EP effort Teargarden By Kaleidyscope. The buzz surrounding the new track, “A Song For A Son“, has been quite favorable, considering the Corgan-bashing that has dominated music blogs as of late. The track finds a downtrodden Corgan speak-singing to the listener, then unfolding from the simple piano/acoustic/voice formula comes a wicked guitar solo reminiscent of the Pumpkins’ early ’90s Gish days. If the lush sound of this track is any indication of the EP’s direction, it could mean a resurgence for the lone-remaining original Pumpkins’ member.
Icelandic Sigur Rós frontman, Jónsi Birgisson, is preparing to release his first solo album, Go, on March 23rd. He just released the first track from the album, “Boy Lilikoi“. Being an avid Sigur Rós fan, it feels a bit odd to being hearing Jónsi sing in English. In recent interviews, he has said the new album will be more quiet/simplistic arrangements, but the first track seems quite layered and incorporating a bevy of instruments. First reactions?
Check back for my year-end lists, which will include my top 10 albums, runners-up, and my biggest disappointments of the year. As always, comments are appreciated!