Monday, January 28, 2008

It pains me to admit this, but I've become jaded, musically speaking. This chap, who once pored over release schedules and went to the record shop most Mondays to pick up something farm-fresh, hasn't bought anything new for ages. Don't get me wrong. I still love a nice tune, but there's just nothing being made today that makes me go 'bloody hell, who's that?'. The next CD I buy (do you want woofers and tweeters with it, grandad?) will be something from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band catalogue, to follow up on my recent purchase of a 'best of' compilation (although how it can claim to be a 'best of' without including 'Boston Tea Party' is beyond my comprehension), but I'm currently undecided which one to go for.

The first problem is that when I hear something 'new', I can usually pick it apart and identify all of the influences. In particular, it rankles that so many bands have done well by sounding like a pale imitation of XTC or Squeeze, while either band has yet to receive even 1/10 of the kudos and royalties they deserve. I admit that it's always been the case. My mum would come into my bedroom (never bloody well knocking, until a traumatic incident made her very punctilious in this regard) asking "Is this Three Dog Night?" when I was listening to something I thought was wonderfully original. I've just crossed over to the other side of the fence.

Secondly, there seem to be a lot of artists who have become successful not by exciting anyone's passions, but by being acceptable to a large enough number. I'm sure it's always been the case, but it just seems more obvious now. Even the wock and woll webels are crushingly ordinary. The Kaiser Chiefs seem to be about the best we can manage, but the strongest reaction they provoke in me is 'meh'. Does anyone really get passionate about them, or have they become big because nobody really minds them? Meanwhile, who let that mumbling bore Jack Johnson - for people who find John Mayer a bit too edgy - become famous?

I'm not asking for uneasy listening. As I get older, I find myself unapologetically reaching for my Dean Friedman (Maturity = realising what a bloody clever song 'Lucky Stars' truly is, wisdom = realising that he did loads of other songs that were even better on that album alone, including 'The Deli Song (Corned Beef on Wry)' and 'Rocking Chair'), Andrew Gold ('Hope You Feel Good' from 'What's Wrong With This Picture?' being a real stand-out) and Rupert Holmes (I'll see your 'Pina Colada Song' and raise you the sublime, cynical 'Him' - complete with 'my Mini-Moog's broken' comb and paper solo) records. Even Peter Skellern. Stuff like 'You're a Lady', 'Hold On To Love' and 'Our Jackie's Getting Married' is quirky pop of the highest order. I can take or leave the faux-1930s stuff he did later - it's nice, but it comes across as a good musician relieved to find a lucrative niche after years of struggling with his own original material. I just find their modern equivalents paralysingly dull.

Or maybe it's just me.

6 comments:

bertieronbob said...

Wot no female artists? Try the mellifluous tones of someone like Cat Power, Regina Spektor or Martha Wainwright, or the oddball sounds of Joanna Newsom.

I can also recommend both of Richard Hawley's most recent albums (Lady's Bridge and Coles Corner), the Decemberists are decidedly different to most artists (Picaresque or The Crane Wife), or what about a bit of Midlake (Trials of Occupanther)?

I do sympathise with finding new music, though. After a while, nothing seems that original, does it?

LF Barfe said...

I'm so pleased you didn't mention Kate Nash. I'm sure she's very nice and sends her mum flowers and stuff, but her voice boils my piss. I'll confess to liking pretty much everything I've heard of Richard Hawley's, but it's more of the same, albeit very nicely done, isn't it? As for the female recommendations, I'll investigate and report back, but, historically, pretty much all of my musical heroes have owned cocks at one time or another.

LF Barfe said...

Thankfully, there are records I've owned for years, which I haven't yet listened to properly. There's a Joe Morello LP I've had since I was in the sixth form, but only today have I properly listened to the version of 'Just in Time' on it, with Phil Woods on alto sax and a 17 year old Gary Burton on vibes. Maybe there are enough records, enough books, enough films and enough television already made for us still to have plenty to chew on, even if the whole of artistic endeavour finished suddenly, just after GMTV tomorrow.

Clair said...

We do love our Andrew Gold you and me, don't we? I was actually listening to You're Free as I read your blog. 'And I bet it's not just me that finds You're A Lady strangely moving, especially that choral interlude at the end. Anyhoo, I've been enjoying the latest King Creosote album, Bombshell; still loving the poppy Feeling (they've got it all for me, and have learned from my faves) and The Hoosiers, who do a mighty cover of Lonely Boy. Matthew Sweet? Ron Sexsmith? And for some old-fashioned romantic grandeur, Stephen Lindsay, as fine a barely-known Scots genius as you'll find.

Mind you, for Christmas I got Peter Fenn Plays Songs Of The Century; yes, the man behind the organ on Sale Of The Century. T'riffic!

Matthew Rudd said...

Find a 5 For Fighting album and lose yourself.

Five-Centres said...

I don't like anything new.