2011, oh my. And to think that a whole tumultuous decade and then some has passed since we were fretting over the Millennium Bug. It seems like only yesterday. Scary. (Can we all now agree, do you think, that when the need arises to say out loud the current year, it’s ‘twenty-eleven’ and not ‘two thousand and eleven’? I’m happy to take a blog vote on this should you care to cast yours…)
Anyway, as is the norm for the beginning of January if not the end of December, which seems a bit silly, I thought we could take a look back at the music of 2010. OK, so it will most likely be a fleeting glance for some, possibly with lips snarling because, stone me, I know that I can’t think of too many – beyond Postcards From a Young Man by Manic Street Preachers and Neil Young’s minimalist effort, Le Noise, that is – that interested me enough to park themselves somewhere near the front of my mind, and this offering from Rolling Stone doesn’t compel me in the least to go looking for much of what they regard the year’s finest (yet did bring The Dead Weather and their Sea of Cowards to my attention, for which I am grateful). But let’s have a look at their list of 30 picks from 2010 anyway, if only at the album covers which, pray tell, intrigue far more than the actual content? Notice how many carry Parental Advisory stickers. WTF?
I wonder if we’ll play any of them in a year’s time, let alone a decade’s. If we do remember the odd track, will we remember the name of those responsible for recording it, or will they go the way of so many a promising band that released a record or two and then, it seems, faded into obscurity? (I don’t know how many records these acts have put out, by the way, or if they’ve not already faded into obscurity. Forgive me, but I don’t care enough to find out and I find that quite sad. Although I’m not completely sure, I think that probably has a smidgen more to do with their apparent flatness than my not-at-all apparent apathy.)
I have to agree with the sentiments of Manic Street Preacher James Dean Bradfield, who grumbled to the Daily Record recently about the lack of guitars in the charts and how the current crop of young bands are merely ‘making gap year music’ rather than embarking on a rewarding career with all the peaks and troughs of progression that its fanbase can loyally follow with varying degrees of enjoyment.
“For a guitar band to be in the Top 40 now is a rare thing. It’s all pop music. It is really depressing.” — James Dean Bradfield, Manic Street Preachers
Your thoughts on this view and your listening recommendations from the past year’s releases, as ever, are keenly encouraged. Here are five that I liked in part, the tunes provided by MySpace. Let me know if you’d have picked out any of them.
Perhaps, like me, you try to keep abreast of modern music, but it’s not easy when the charts are so obviously over-run with beats and beeps you feel you have little choice but to give them a wide berth for the sake of your sanity, and radio stations saturated with annoying advertisements and sometimes even more annoying presenters, making the music often seem almost of secondary importance to the pandering to ego and capital. The general repetition, too, is tedious; promotional videos a mix of dehumanising and patronising, gratuitous and obnoxious. If the internet has done record companies no favours commercially (highly debatable still), then it does those of us who would not otherwise find music worth listening to in the more obvious and perhaps convenient places a great service, I feel.
The chatroom is closed today but will open tomorrow at the unusually early and excruciatingly, I confess, off-kilter time of 10.30am (UK). I hope you can pop in to share how many more of your resolutions you’ve broken than I have. (Three.)
Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s hope that 2011 will be a good one. The music it spawns is not all that important, really; we’ll always have the good stuff from decades long gone and I think we all agree that nothing can possibly better it.