I know we’ve still got several weeks to go, but soon everyone else is going to start putting out their best-of lists so, in the interest of being a competitive bitch and trying to get ahead of trends (as in, Easter eggs the week after Christmas, July sales in June, and so on), here’s my take on music releases from some of my favourite artists in 2011, and whether they delivered the goods.
Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Beirut, Ryan Adams (ugh!), Wilco (still love youse, but) and Gillian Welch all managed to disappoint in one way or another, some more so than others. They’ve done better’s all I’m saying.
Joan as Policewoman and Bonnie “Prince” Billy (what diction!), you most certainly did not. That is to say, didn’t disappoint, and I couldn’t say they’ve done better either. This is some damn fine stuff right here.
KDL: Well, I think with a title like Smoking in Heaven it’s safe to say the little tykes have probably discovered marijuana, which might go some way to explaining the ten-minute jam songs during which absolutely fuck-all interesting happens. There are some really catchy bits on the album, though. It’s kind of like op-shopping – you have to wade through a bunch of crap until you find some absolute gems. (An appropriate metaphor for their retro fetishism.)
AND THIS IS WHAT WE MEAN BY RETRO:
Beirut: Actually, it’s probably not fair to say The Rip Tide is a disappointing album. It’s only that I noticed the searing melancholy so pertinent to their sound seems to have softened a little, and I guess I like a sad-faced crooner. Dammit, how dare these artistic fuck-ups get their shit together!
Ryan: This should have been no surprise – ever since he’s been a happily married invalid he writes sentimental pap. Oh wait, he’s always done that … but now it just doesn’t sound as good. Perhaps the tinnitus problem is interfering.*
Wilco: I swear, stable marriage is the great destroyer of all good art. I didn’t fancy the last album either, and yet still I donate to the ongoing cause that is Wilco. I guess a part of me wishes Jeff Tweedy were my Dad. Hats off to them also for disowning a big record company and going their own way. They trust in their fans to trust in them. The album is called The Whole Love. Still feelin’ the love, even if I only listened to it twice.
Gillian: I know many people disagree with me on this one. And maybe The Harrow and the Harvest really is a terrific album – I just can’t tell anymore. I think what happened is it was such a long wait between albums that when I finally got it I overplayed it just a tad (read: ten times a day for ten days straight), went through some incredibly mind-blowing existential transformation, thought that I might need to either commit suicide or take up a heroin habit, started to hate my obviously unhealthy dependency on the album – kind of like when a relationship turns sour – and now I can’t bear to be anywhere near its beautiful face. But I guess that’s the way the corn bread crumbles, that’s the way the whole thing ends.
Joan: Really, this woman is off the planet. Each album sounds completely alien and weird and, upon first listen, tends to make me think the previous one was better. Until of course I listen to it a bit more, and a bit more again, and then see this:
The best music is always the kind that grows on you.
The B-Boy: Even though he looks like a balding garden gnome who’s been stung by a jellyfish in the face, I would still marry this man. Fuck birds in the bushes, let’s take ‘em in hand.
A disclaimer: I’m terribly sorry Mr William Callahan, but I didn’t get around to listening to your latest. Is that wrong? Perhaps you should also count your blessings and be glad I didn’t download it illegally, robbing you of your hard-earned lunch money. Baked beans on toast, I imagine.
Another disclaimer: I’m sorry about all the swearing. Really. It’s poor form. I heard somewhere that controversial blogs get more hits. But if you think about it, swearing’s not really very controversial. Nor does this theory have anything to do with how rich my swear jar is. Spending too much time around my family is a much more likely theory. (Oh gosh, now I need to add yet another disclaimer, or apologia, or … how about you just watch that KDL clip again?)
*Dear Mr Adams. I have crossed over. I have become an arsehole who thinks it’s fine to write horrible things about celebrities, as if they are not real people, and will never read any of the things other people write about them, even though they surely browse the interwebs as much as everyone else. In fact, Mr YouTube whore, I think you do so more than some. Is my nasty detachment due in some part to me falling out of fandom with you? Perhaps. But you should count your blessings and be glad that this once wasn’t true. (Oh and by the way, I’m really sorry for being pissed off after watching you at The Palais a few years ago because it was really dark on stage and you were hiding behind your hair and I couldn’t see anything and I thought it was a bad concert and wrote you off as an Emo twat. It turns out you were probably really sick. You did make some pretty funny jokes about prescription drugs, though.)