Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blog-Royale January 14

Yo man. Happy new year. Thanks for checking in.
What's up? What's happening? How's 2KX treating you? Mine is a-okay.

Tonight I watched 'The Road' - wow. Although I always feel a bit lame watching films of great books I haven't's almost like going to see Dwayne Johnson's 'Doom' without having ever played the game, or Vin Diesel's 'Quake'. If that doesn't exist, I imagine it's only a matter of time. Pete Postlethwaite's 'Grand Theft Auto IV'? Bob Hoskins' 'Super Mario Bros'? Oh wait...

I'm also currently listening to: Paul McCartney - McCartney II

Reaction: :-o :-o :-o

"some friendly polar bear might want to take you home"

But first, an apology:

I managed to catch an airing of MTV2's 'review of 2009' over the Christmas period, on which I featured, loosely, in what appeared to be a muddied state of fatigue and bewilderment. I wish I had a cool excuse, like mixing alcohol and antibiotics or something...or whatever it is that real indie legends mix. Indie and rave I guess.

Maybe I was thrown by the fact that Noel Fielding is actually funnier than a whole series of Maid Marian and her Merry Men, or maybe I'd just listened to a copy of Paul McCartney's McCartney II on the way to the filming.

"without bogey music, life is incomplete"

Or maybe attempting to dissect a year in music by talking about 'Bonkers' being a good video is pointless. Regardless, I think I came across as the annoying guy on the panel who over thinks everything and uses too many words to conclude nothing. So I'm sorry.

Now the last paragraph should do one of two things.
A: You'll believe that it was just the way I 'came across', and you'll keep imagining me to be as cool as Sean Bean or Basshunter.
B: You won't take any of my shoddy excuses, you'll find me very annoying and you'll either stop reading this now or you'll have never started in the first place.

Whatever. Blogs without pictures aren't cool or fun here's some shit I've taken on my phone over the last year or so.

The Camina Burana Camera Phone Collection Part 1.


'Don't Shoot the Messenger'

'Catchy Name'


'The Gentleman's Choice'





And if you want my actual thoughts on 2009 re: music, here they are. Stop me when I start over-thinking things:

British indie music's in a difficult place. Because where once indie meant a lot of guitars and very low production values, it now means far fewer guitars (if any), and very high production values. So at the top of indie's food chain we have artists working with multiple producers, co-writing, and getting top ten hits. Which usually equals

Pop music. And I believe that pop music (or at least a healthy portion of it), is getting better all the time, the world over. My theory is two fold. Part one is that a lot of great songs are being written, or maybe just a lot of songs, meaning the best stuff rises to the surface. When Leona Lewish won X Factor back in 07, I never dreamed she'd end up coming out with anything half as good as 'Bleeding Love' or 'Happy'. Part two of this is that production is now at such a high technical standard across the board, the most effective way of improving it is by making it more interesting. We have a lot of people to thank for this, from Kanye to Damon Albarn to the Neptunes to Paul McCartney (c.1980). Of course the list goes on. And I've realised that I'm slightly happier inhabiting a world where M.I.A and Lady Gaga top the Billboard chart, rather than Britney and Christina, or Kylie and Madonna, or Daphne and Celeste.

But feel free to disagree.

The only sad thing about all of the above, is that the amount of time, money and talent put into pop, means that a lot of 'alternative' or 'independent' artists end up appearing to have far fewer musical ideas than their mainstream counterparts. A real shame.

Luckily though, we still have the Animal Collectives, the Mastodons and the XXs of the world, to keep up their sides of the bargain. I pick these artists as I feel 2009 witnessed them all making brilliant records in their own way and on their own terms.

And let's not forget rap music, one of Britain's largest musical imports, yet tiniest exports. I'm always surprised by the slow rate at which British rap seems to evolve. In the years it's taken Dizzee, Tinchy, Chipmunk et al to trade in grime for 'catchy' RnB esque vocal hooks' (hey, let's call this pop music too), a whole generation of indie has come and gone, Dubstep's risen from the undergrowth and hasn't stopped mutating since, and of course 'bassline' and 'funky' have more than earned their chapters in a future Simon Reynolds book. I reckon the last five to ten years of British dance/electronic music have cultivated some of the most exciting and original young producers of our time. And no, I'm not talking about Fazer from N-Dubz.

So that sort of takes us up to speed with the last few years. But where does it leave the casual music fan? It seems that almost everyone agrees that almost everything is cool, bar potentially Athlete and Paul McCartney (c. 1981 to playing bass on the guy from Travis' solo album, aka now).

2009 saw British top three albums by Take That, The Prodigy, Dizzee Rascal, Muse, White Lies, Kasabian, Tinchy Stryder, Alexandra Berk, JLS. Shall I go on?

Now I could take a risk here, and claim that music has never been more homogenised and cross-pollinated, but why bother? We now have diversity both in and out the charts. Underground and overground.

Hip hip...


Now I haven't got around to writing most of what I wanted to, but I'm tired, so I'll conclude by asking "what does this all mean for a new artist?"

It means you're lucky, because you can do whatever you want, however you want...without worrying about any of history's genre-centric stigma. It's easier to record and share music than ever before, but that doesn't make it any easier to write a good song, or a have a new idea. You'll just have to be ready to wade through a lot of dirty bath water to get to the plug hole that'll drain it. You'll also make less money than ever before, but if that worries you, you're probably in the wrong game. Don't forget though, we're all in this together, and at the end of the day, there are more important things than CD's.

They're called DVD's.

Much love. x x

1 comment:

Maxwell said...

Nice and optimistic.

Good hustle calling out Dizzee, N-Dubz et al for not being as ground breaking as everyone is claiming.

Eschewing the harsh and low-budget sounds of grime for the well produced and catchy sounds of commercial dance and R&B might get you 3 number 1's but it won't put you up there with the likes of Phil 'the killa' Spector and Damon 'Bowie-beater' Albarn... at least not in my mind.