Monday, February 8, 2016

Sting, Where Is Thy Death?



There is a meme floating about social media that says, "The record companies have done a good job of fighting piracy by releasing music no one wants to steal." I like that, even if it does stir up the same old debate about the state of music. But in the wake of a few more deaths--Maurice White, Dan Hicks and Coldplay--I can't help but think that at some point, all of the artists that we have been taking for granted for years now, will stop making music, whether they want to or not.

Many of our heroes are getting up there in age and the reality of hearing new music from these great artists is dwindling. Then what? Am I supposed to get all sweaty with excitement when the news breaks that a new Dawes record is coming out? Or when a new one hits from Savages? (I don't quite get Dawes and I quite like the new Savages. Just making a point.) There must be a roster that can be put together of current artists to rival the masters. Right? I'm just not the one to do it.

The New York Yankees had amazing teams throughout their career, especially the years 1927, 1961 and 1998. How about the 1986 New York Mets? We don't need to be reminded of the rock and roll names that would be the equivalent of those teams. You know exactly who I am talking about. John, Paul, Bob, Mick, Keith, etc. It's 2016. Anyone care to put together a championship lineup of active players that you foresee carrying the legacy of the legends from the 60's and 70's? For the life of me, even in my most positive and most accepting frames of mind, I just cannot. I don't care how much I love the new J.D. McPherson record or how "cool" the Parquet Courts might be, or how "interesting" Father John Misty is.

How about Hinds? Would they be your first round draft pick?




40 comments:

William Repsher said...

The paradigm has shifted, and you can thank punk for that. Punk made it OK for "anyone" to pick up a guitar and play. Remember, that was portrayed as a deeply positive, empowering thing at the time. A few years ago, a friend forwarded me the 1-2-3-4 punk box set. Wow, I thought, finally, I get to hear all those cool British punk bands who never quite made it, but I've always seen referenced in articles.

By and large ... those songs and bands sucked! They were amateurish and usually their one signature song was forgettable. You could easily divine the standouts, your Clashes, or Jams. Because you could sense progression and change from one single to the next. Not this one-gear wall of noise and attitude with nothing else going for it.

Hip-hop accomplished a similar "everyman" set-up. Just get someone to supply the beats, a clever producer who knew what to sample, and rap over the top of it. It got tiresome. Fast.

Both genres provided a one-two punch for mediocrity to enter the culture, and it was considered obscene and "old" to criticize either, in hiphop's case, racist. And I guess some of those accusations might have been true for casual fans, but for people who listened, long before and after, finding much of this music mediocre was simple common listening sense. While both genres provided a nice jolt with the higher-end artists in each, both also provided that gateway for countless mediocre to awful artists to have sustainable careers.

And here we are, over 30 years down the road, and reaping the benefits! It's been a slow, ongoing devaluing of music, whether it be in terms of talent (it's, like, OK to have it, but not, like, you know, a requirement), monetarily (music became "free" in the early 00's, which I'm sure you could fill us in about with your store!) and simply in terms of overall culture (most major movies now are like video games, with the same jarring sound effects and boorish hero worship, based on teenage males dogging their x-boxes for a few decades now).

There's no way out. The good stuff, and we know there is, feels so devalued and buried in the overall culture that there's no chance those artists will ever have that sort of massive cultural impact artists of the 60s, 70s, even 80s, had.

That said ... I have a non-stop stream of music in life, never stops, there's always something to discover, in numerous genres I wasn't smart of engaged enough to have interest in when I was zoned in on the pop-rock of my youth. It's not a dead format, but as you've pointed out, it aint what it used to be. I wouldn't say it's time to move on so much as it's time to branch out.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I made an effort to put together a 2015 "best of" mix. I didn't get very far before realizing there wasn't a "best of" just "less mediocre". On "Long Long Day" there is at least one song per decade from the '50's to the present. That's the best I can do.

Ken D. said...

The youngin' who leaps to mind is Jake Bugg. His records hit me right out of the box.
Maybe Johnny Flynn. I loved his first album, the second not so much.

And though they aren't rockers, lack of advanced age doesn't seem to be a problem for Teddy Thompson, Laura Marling, or Kacey Musgraves. First-rounders all, in my draft.

Shriner said...

I think we are reentering the cycle of the one-hit wonders again (it's 1974 or post-birth-MTV-era 1983-1984 again). This is not a bad thing -- it's just how the pop charts go.


First round consensus (?) draft pick: Foo Fighters. I see consistency and long-term prospects for Dave Grohl and the boys. The singer has "rock star" written all over him with mass appeal and will be welcome among the soccer moms and the disaffected youth alike.


Post 60s-70s "old guard" but not the new guard: Paul Weller. Obviously more massive in the UK than the US. But incredibly active for his age.

And Prince. Can not forget the Purple One. Probably the most prolific and still influential artist out there who still feels relevant, mysterious and there is excitement whenever something drops from him.


Still to be determined of the new guard: Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Adele and -- yes, Taylor Swift. I have gut feelings at least 3 of these 4 will have long term careers.

(I will admit to blanking on anybody from the 90s that I'd consider in this case -- is there somebody that debuted in the 90s that is still relevant? Seriously, I'm blanking...)


There are other bands/artits who I am excited to get new music from every year (anxiously awaiting the new Nada Surf this year for example), but the above I mentioned transcend generations and radio formats.






Anonymous said...

About once a week a kinda brillag fella called John Laird has a spot on his blog called Quick Draw and I have been amazed--mostly in a good one; OK sometimes not--at what I have discovered there: http://sideonetrackone.com/ There's some good stuff out there. KUTX also does a pretty good job of repping real music that might really matter: http://kutx.org/category/song-of-the-day

I have no connection to either of these beyond keeping an eye on them for new music and being pleasantly surprised. That said, mediocrity seems the rule of the day in a lot of ways.

this place excepted.

mauijim said...

BBJ am shocked by your comment. In the past couple of years, I have divided end of the year comps into new and old guys, sticking JD on the new and guys like Gilmour and ELO onto the old. The problem as I see it is having to wait til fall for most of the new music, no matter by who. For half the year the only cd I could recommend was the Pop Staples release. Think this gonna be the new normal.

William Repsher said...

90s: Green Day.

But I know what Sal's doing here because I do the same routinely: asking a question he already knows the answer to (much like a seasoned attorney!). He's asking because he wants to be proven wrong ... but there is no closing argument in this case that will sway the jury!

Dr. Dog will not suffice!

Sal Nunziato said...

Okay first:

Shriner, even though I think every one of the Foo Fighters records are uneven, I agree with you 100%. Grohl is the real thing. I wish I loved more than half of all their albums, though. But as for Weller and Prince, they both started in the 70s, so I consider them part of the first round. I can't count them.

Ken D., I think Teddy Thompson is a real talent. But he's been making records a long time and nothing has really made an impact. And you know I love Laura Marling, but again, these artists are not on the same level as the masters. Who can we compare Teddy and Laura to, Dylan and Joni? Or maybe closer to home, his dad Richard? We all know what RT has contributed to music, but it took 4 Fairport records and a few solo records before anyone paid real attention and he needed Linda for that. I just can't see Teddy Thompson in that same way. Not as a songwriter and surely not as a guitar player.

Troy said...

I had high hopes a few short years ago for both Jesse Malin and The Hold Steady, but both seemed to have petered out somewhat already from their initial burst of energy and creativity. Maybe we'll see one of them come through in the future.

I tend to like Fitz & the Tantrums, but time will tell if they are a one-trick pony.

I think Trombone Shorty will continue to blend genres create exciting music. Hope he isn't too regional based in his appeal and that a larger audience can hear what he has to offer.

Otherwise, the one who I want to see where he goes is Jason Isbell. Hasn't had a lot of chart success yet, but I really like what I hear and if he could build up a bigger audience, then he seems like he could have some staying power.

kevin m said...

One of my favorite bands of the past decade is Tedeschi Trucks Band. Their new album is outstanding and their live shows are phenomenal. These guys are in for the long haul and it gives me a lot of hope.

M_Sharp said...

Great headline! I like the meme too, most of the albums I grab by new bands really aren't worth paying for, just a song or three.

I don't know about Hinds yet, I liked a song of theirs I heard this morning and the download I started just before I came here hasn't finished. I suspect they're not ready for the big show just yet. Whatever happened to Lucius and Haim?

Courtney Barnett looks like a keeper, JD McPherson and The London Souls could be, and The Yawpers and Promised Land Sound have potential. Otherwise, the rookies seem to be playing small ball. Steve Earle and Dave & Phil Alvin are still MVPs, and Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, and The Bottle Rockets play a solid game sticking to the fundamentals.

Shriner said...

So, Sal, what is the cut-off? Artists that debuted in the 90's? Later? I might give this some more thought depending on your start date criteria...

Sal Nunziato said...

I was trying to keep the rules to a bare minimum. But, I guess if the argument about thr 60s and 70s giving birth to the greatest music stands true, then I would have to allow bands from the late 70s to grow, which would also mean leaving out the 80s, as well. Once you get to the 90s it becomes difficult. The Seattle scene gave us some amazing music, but some of the major players are dead now. And then you have Ro9ght Said Fred. So how about starting from 2000? It's a good point, since that is about when CDs started to die and the crap started to show up in droves.

ge said...

Dittoes these whippersnappers suck basically
but for...any other Doug Tuttle fans ?
he has new one out soon
past band quite good too= MMOSS [bandcamp]

Father John Mixed-up Fanclub

Anonymous said...

W Repsher, as usual, has a coherent and thoughtful contribution here, but I fault the logic. While I agree that punk and rap democratized music, I fail to see how they would have stymied competent and ambitious music from continuing to emerge. Especially in the case of punk, which didn't dent the charts or radio to any extent until...what, the 1990s? Ditto, to a lesser extent, rap, which had been going for some years before it got real mainstream exposure. Record companies and radio still overwhelmingly chased mainstream-sounding artists, tho college radio and indie labels at least allowed these genres to survive and thrive. And for that, I'm grateful because not only do I love a lot of that off-the-mainstream-wall stuff (some for singles, some for albums, some for careers)that came with the wave of new artists associated with punk thing, but I love that it led indirectly to the indie movement that birthed countless college/indie bands I loved and love from the late 1970s on -- like the above-mentioned Los Lobos & Blasters (actually, just about anything Slash put out...). An implication of your assessment is that, with mediocrity entering the culture (see below for somewhat of a push-back on that), ambitious/talented souls had no chance. I dunno about that -- maybe some now had an outlet previously denied.
Furthermore, there's always been a bunch of junk available/on the charts that the best stuff rises above -- look at the charts through history. I'll happily grant you that there was a higher percentage of good'uns shining thru in the past, when the wheel was being invented (and therein is why I think today's stuff suffers in comparison), but trend-chasing crap has always been part of the rock/pop music industry (and sometimes that stuff was pretty dang good!).
Punk didn't diminish the Stones' talent, or keep McCartney from recapturing his Beatles magic, or send Dylan into a holding pattern for some of the 1980s; these were self-generated slides. If the point is, that even when slipping, these greats did better than what passes for greatness now, I can't go with that. Bad music is bad music (and of course "bad" is subjective...).
C in California

Anonymous said...

Remember when Magnetic Fields was going to be massive? Good times. Five years ago I would probably have said Jack White, Silversun Pickups, Patterson Hood, Broken Social Scene and Amy Winehouse, but of that group Hood is the only one I'm still eager to hear whatever the next release is, good or bad. I think I'm tending towards instrumentalists in the future - Jason Moran, Kaki King, Darcy James Argue - who consistently change instead of staying the same.

I listen to what my daughter plays - I still hold out hope that Kelly Clarkson has another Since U Been Gone in her, that Lady Gaga hasn't gone lounge and the Generationals haven't hung it up (they're in a current commercial!), but I pretty much agree with Shriner that one-hit-wonders will be it for awhile.

Sal Nunziato said...

"If the point is, that even when slipping, these greats did better than what passes for greatness now, I can't go with that."

I think the difference here, C in Cali, is that no one tries to pass off "Knocked Out Loaded" or "Press To Play" or "Dirty Work" as amazing records. The ability to spread the hype now versus then, is off the charts. Also, rock critics in some of the best rags of the time, Creem, Circus, etc., had no issue calling crap crap. So, no. I personally don't think "Knocked Out Loaded" is better than say Teddy Thompson's "Bella." But I don't think TT's "Bella" is as strong as the reviews say it is. (Using Thompson because Ken D. had mentioned him earlier.)

It's too simple to suggest that we are starved for greatness so we accept anything that isn't garbage. But I am suggesting it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Well, Sal, I won't argue with you that stuff is oversold these days -- I see the fawning reviews, too. I guess it doesn't bother me much, being more the subject of curious amusement than disgust. They don't make me choose to spend my money on their subjects rather than my (contemporary) choices, the reviews of which I don't even read because I expect a certain level of value in my favorites (until they prove otherwise; the Dandy Warhols after the first few albums, for instance). I, like probably everyone else here, have been around enough (my first 3 purchases, bought at the same time, were Paranoid, Zinc Alloy, and ELP's eponymous debut) to know what I like and not care much what others say, other than a conscious attempt to listen to a presumably-informed alternative theory (yes, I'm a scientist) to see if it'll add some perspective I may've not considered.
And, being a major fan of wordplay, I will probably steal your headline for today's post.
C in California

Phil Oates said...

Sting, where is thy death?

Right here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk1gbEDsDs

from the mighty Jackie Leven

Allan Rosenberg said...

Are The Hinds deliberately as bad as possible or is this the best they are capable of? They're barely better then The Shags.

Ezra Furman, Sara Borges & Lydia Loveless might be the real things. All others need not apply.

Capt. Al

Anonymous said...

Hey, I like Hinds! They might not be the next Beatles but they could be the next, I dunno, 13th Floor Elevators. That's okay.

Kurt Vile, Tame Impala, Julia Holter. D'Angelo, Miguel. Charli XCX. Ty Segall, Villagers, Laura Veirs. Those are all current groups/artists with at least two albums out whose work I've listened to a lot and enjoyed and will eagerly pick up whatever's next from. I also like the new Libertines album so I guess they're current again. Like others who posted, I'm also always eager to hear what Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Adele are up to. I thought Lady Gaga killed (in the good sense) the Star Spangled Banner last night.

I'm a huge Shakira fan, seriously. Where's she been lately?

But yeah, I also agree that there was an amazing flowering of talent in American and British pop rock and soul from the early 60s thru, say, 1981. (The year I graduated college--coincidence?) Maybe it was just one of those amazing outliers that happens, like painting in Paris in the late 19th century or in New York mid-century? I think that's undeniable.

But the fact that we no longer listen to music the collective way we used to I think is part of the reason we (me too) diminish acts from the last two decades. If Tame Impala was blasting from every deli and passing car, we'd think a lot more of them. And the fact that they're not isn't only because they're not the Stones or Stevie Wonder.

Also, one last thought, it matters that we're all getting older. If Elvis Costello had never existed and showed up now with This Year's Model, the album wouldn't rearrange my DNA the way it did when I first heard it in the summer of 1978 when I was 17. I'd probably like it the way I like Ty Segall. There's some indie band I can't remember the name of my 20-year-old daughter has seen 3 times in the last year and a half.

Bruce H.

Sal Nunziato said...

"Kurt Vile, Tame Impala, Julia Holter. D'Angelo, Miguel. Charli XCX. Ty Segall, Villagers, Laura Veirs. Those are all current groups/artists with at least two albums out whose work I've listened to a lot and enjoyed and will eagerly pick up whatever's next from."

I think "listened to a lot and enjoyed and will eagerly pick up whatever's next from" is a whole lot different than what I am talking about.

Laura Veirs? Her first record was 17 years ago. She's the next who? Carolyn Mas?

There is something to be said, for sure, about how we listen these days, as well as our age. But I think this little community can be very proud of the fact that we listen to as much as we do, and in most cases (NOT ALL) but most cases, we don't let our age get in the way. I know I'm not rocking away on the front porch poo-pooing the new Savages or Ty Segall record because those "whippersnappers are too loud."

Anonymous said...

By bringing up age I didn't mean to ghettoize us as fogeys. I just mean music speaks to us, or at least me, in a different way than it did when we were in our teens and 20s. (For me that's true of movies, books, etc too.) There's a visceralness, immediacy to the experience of music I don't often have anymore. Maybe I'm less open? Maybe I'm more discriminating? Maybe musicians in their 20s speak more directly to listeners in their 20s? Whatever the reasons, I just can't give myself over to it the way I used to. But I like the perspective and broader taste that comes with being in my 50s. Which also has the benefit of opening me up to older stuff I couldn't stand back in the day, like Fleetwood Mac, ELO, the Carpenters, America, Sinatra--I probably spend more time listening to old music I used to hate than new music I like.... Which of course is telling too.

Sal, I'm agreeing with you that the current scene doesn't compare to the canon, or what have you! "Pop's Greatest Generation?" I think that's fair. I bet a lot of kids would agree, too. But I guess the way I would parse it personally is that it's maybe 60 percent the artists, 25 percent the way listening has changed, and 15 percent us.

Bruce H

Sal Nunziato said...

Bruce, my sarcasm regarding age wasn't a direct hit at anything you said, though I see how it may have been taken that way. Apologies. Age, and how we listen, is brought up constantly, so I am always cocked and loaded regarding it. I won't dismiss it completely, but I'm also not so accepting of it.

I think I need to be convinced. And too many of the suggestions, on this post and past posts, are unconvincing, at least in the context of how I presented in the original post.

"I probably spend more time listening to old music I used to hate than new music I like.... Which of course is telling too."

Telling, indeed. Brings us back to C IN California's comment:
"If the point is, that even when slipping, these greats did better than what passes for greatness now, I can't go with that."

I know I'd love to grasp onto something new that moves me as much as something old. It rarely happens. Hasn't happened in years. It's why I find rediscovering great back catalogue more exciting. It's less work, easier. I don't have to pretend, or put on that "frozen smile" on my face when agreeing with how "wonderful Dawes is," while desperately searching for a hook or melody to save their face and mine.

Anonymous said...

No apologies necessary! I was worried I had come across as dismissive. Anyways, this context seems like the perfect context in which to ask...

After a couple more weeks, how is Black Star sitting with you?

PS: Per my above comment about loving what I used to hate, I am at this exact moment listening to Marianne Faithful sing the them from Umbrellas of Cherbourg....

Bruce H

Michael Giltz said...

My head is spinning. What exactly are you asking us to do? Look at the brand new kids and predict which ones are keepers? Or name the already major artists who have flourished from the 90s on (who are still alive and recording so no Nirvana)? So no NIrvana or Amy Winehouse (one act that did have impact and one that might have) or Oasis or Blur or others that have already done their important work, I guess or kd lang or Los Lobos or Steve Earle or Blue Nile/Paul Buchanan. Of course NONE of these are Dylan/Beatles/Presley.


THE ALL-STARS From the 1990s on (roughly) who are still active:

RADIOHEAD
BECK
EMINEM
CASSANDRA WILSON
THE WHITE STRIPES and JACK WHITE
DAMON ALBARN (in all his guises)
GREEN DAY
NAS
THE MAVERICKS (ok, more live, but still)
RON SEXSMITH
RYAN ADAMS (from Whiskeytown on; he's a mess but it's a hell of an interesting career and I still get hopeful)
MAXWELL



THE YOUNG-UNS I'D LAY BETS ON (careers I'm excited by)

SUFJAN STEVENS
SHARON JONES
THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH
JANELLE MONAE
JILL SCOTT
ARCTIC MONKEYS
CONOR OBERST (in all his guises)
JOHN MAYER (I'm crazy about his last two Laurel Canyon albums and now the Dead? Increasingly interesting)
M WARD (in all his guises)
FLEET FOXES
PANIC AT THE DISCO aka BRENDAN URIE
BRUNO MARS
TEDDY THOMPSON
CORINNE BAILEY RAE (if she ever recovers from personal tragedy)
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT (he'd come cheap; it would be a smart draft)
KAISER CHIEFS
KENDRICK LAMAR
JAMES HUNTER
GERARD WAY aka MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
NELLIE MCKAY (though she's more likely to write a great musical than a great album)
THE FEELING
JASON ISBELL
RUMER
FRANK OCEAN
AVETT BROTHERS (losing steam, but still)
LORDE
STURGILL SIMPSON
BONES
J COLE

So there!







Sal Nunziato said...

Bruce, I've listened to "Black Star" a half dozen times in the last month and it feels stronger than ever.

Sal Nunziato said...

Michael Giltz, surely your head isn't spinning because of my post.

I wasn't out to confound or annoy. It's pretty basic. There are few artists in the last 20 years (maybe 30) who I believe have the catalogue, consistency and impact to leave a legacy like so many from 60's and 70's. This isn't really about who we love to listen to. I love James Hunter, who you mention, but I can't see an artist who has basically had a career copying Georgie Fame & Sam Cooke and who has released 5 identically sounding records, being referred to as "one of the greats" 40 years from now. I can offer similar feelings for many of the artists you mentioned. I mean, how do you not love Sharon Jones? But again, it's a revival and the records, while all solid, are interchangeable.

I won't deny that my post (and previous posts about the state of music) come off as sarcastic,frustrated and cranky. But that shouldn't overshadow the fact that I listen constantly, and always with an open mind. I'm just not that impressed.

I was listening to "Tons Of Sobs," the 1969 debut from Free. I can't say what the reaction might have been back then. It's British hard rock, blues and R&B, certainly nothing so incredibly different from anything else of the time. Yet, as I listened almost 50 years later, it felt fresh. It was exciting. Deep! This isn't even a band that would fall in the Top 40 of all time, yet almost all of their recorded output feels unique, compared to say...who, that is currently making that sort of music? Is anyone making that sort of music?

This is one example and really, only written because it's on my mind and admittedly, not so much to make any point. I want to find music that will do that to me today. I felt that about Radiohead, until they got lost up their own asses. I still feel that about Wilco. I thought Rufus Wainwright might transcend many with his first 3-4 records and his Freddie Mercury/Elton John/Brian Wilson/Judy Garland/Leonard Cohen hybrid, but then he seemed to get lost, as well. I had a blast, like everyone else, listening to the first two Oasis records. But important?

Anyway, it's a great discussion, even if it occasionally beats the horse deader.

William Repsher said...

The listing of one's favorite recording artists from the past decade or two is telling (and what I was getting at). Most are indie-leaning pop/rock/R&B artists who've received critical acclaim, have a reasonable fan base, have, are or will be putting out good music, and I'm glad they're doing this.

That's the influence of punk. These are not mainstream artists by any stretch. Nearly all came up on smaller indie labels, and most have stayed with them. This is a lot of the stuff I listen to ... it's an ongoing stream of artists that I find myself adding and subtracting to over time. (I just stumbled over John Grant and his earlier band The Czars ... great stuff!)

But none of these artists are pushing the river, in and of themselves, or collectively. What Sal seems to be getting that is that if all these artists routinely had Top 10 albums, you mention their name, everyone knows who you're talking about, regardless of whether or not you like them, their music sells millions of albums, crosses generations ... THAT level of cultural power and influence tied in with the talent is what's gone missing, and why the passing of Bowie was such an ordeal for so many people. (And why it won't be when Jeff Tweedy dies ... and I've been a huge Wilco fan for years.)

Imagine an alternate universe where The Velvet Underground was just as big as The Beatles. You might say, well, that's this universe, it's happened, over the course of decades and the VU's lasting influence. But it just isn't true. Most people still have little or no clue who The Velvet Underground or Lou Reed were. Sure, millions of rock fans know exactly who they are and can point out the dozens of bands they've influenced.

I like that concept of the alternate universe, wish it was true, but it just isn't. The Beatles, or Dylan, or the Stones, or any number of 60s and 70s artists had that level of reach across cultures and generations. Bowie surely had it. Glenn Frey had it with The Eagles although, again, perfect example, people felt free to dump on his legacy because it was "cool" to disparage The Eagles ... based on this counter-culture value system that disdains anything that large and universally accepted.

I guess what I'm trying to say is the true talent of any age has been marginalized for reasons I don't quite understand, but I could see it happening, starting in the 80's, and surely through the 90's and onwards. Punk, at its best, was marginalized talent. So was early rap/hiphop, although the second wind it caught in the early 90's blew it into an entirely different, mostly bad direction. Once you get over the hurt of your favorite artists or genres not being universally accepted, you realize it's impossible in the paradigms that have been created with the onset of punk and hiphop ... that the "really good stuff" will be harder to find, and preferable to what passes for the most popular. This wasn't always true, and the confusion over that paradigm shift is why Bowie got sent off like a saint, and Glenn Frey got thrown out of this world like a belligerent bum in a bar!

Anonymous said...

"The excitement, the sense of being caught up in something much bigger than one’s own private taste, had disappeared from rock years before. There was still good stuff on the radio... [but] rock and roll—the radio—felt dull and stupid, a dead end."

That was Greil Marcus, writing about the music scene in 1963. And it definitely applies today. There's a difference between great music and great music that has an impact on pop culture as a whole. I remember when Nirvana's Nevermind came out, and it felt like the whole world had changed in a couple of months. I dig Adele, not necessarily for her music (though it's not bad), but because absolutely everyone in the universe, readers of this blog excepted, went bonkers over her new album. There were little cardboard racks with the CD for sale at the counter in my local Duane Reade, for Pete's sake. And that's pretty cool, no matter what you think of "Hello." It's also a very rare thing now, thanks to the way we digest music and the sheer amount of it out there, in addition to music just not mattering as much to as many people any more. It's sad, but a fact of life.

I think that's what you were getting at, Sal. Am I right?

- Pete (occasional NYCD customer, sometime reader, first time commenter)

buzzbabyjesus said...

BTW The Hinds are pretty Shags.

Shriner said...

Thinking a bit more on this, I would add to my draft list a few additional artists that are post 90s (or close to it) that appear to have growth, longevity and (somewhat) influence as well as multiple levels of popularity -- thankfully reminded to me above by Michael Glitz

Beck
Jack White (in all his bands/solo projects)
Eminem


Lorde has to release another album -- or two -- before I'd remotely consider her. One album does not make a career (though I'm sure somebody will toss up an exception like Meat Loaf....

Kelly Clarkson *may* remain a pop star for years to come. That's the only other one I might go out on a limb about.

And I thought about Sufjan -- because I think he work is beyond awesome -- but his brilliance has not transcended to the next level of mainstream acceptance (and likely never will) -- he is the classic definition of an "indie" artist who's work you either "get" or you don't. He's one of the few I'm anxiously awaiting new material from all the time. The masses? "Who is that?"

Rumer -- the voice of Karen Carpenter for this generation -- just doesn't have the body of work (or the excitement) that somebody like Adele does. It's a shame. She's got mad talent, but needs a Richard Carpenter directing her career.

Rap artists -- Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, etc -- I admit to woeful ignorance about and would not presume to predict a genre the does not appeal to me.


I think there *are* a number of current artists/bands mentioned above (not just ones I've picked for my draft) that we will still be talking about 10 years from now (well, maybe not Eminem -- the accepted cut-off-by-age-date of popular rappers remains to be seen.)

See you all in 2026! Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!

Signtopia said...

Hmmmmm..........I suppose I am so out of the loop (that's what my kids and grandkids say). For me, I love all kinds of music but I cannot think of anything that has caught my attention in recent years other than some artists from Poland. Once upon a time I worked in a record shop in Baltimore and there were always piles of "promotional" albums where the hope of the record company was that we would play them in store. My boss and a few of the "snobs" that worked there had an outer fringe taste in music from all genres. I spotted the first Kate Bush album and when I had the opportunity to give it a listen I put it on the turntable in the store. All I heard from the staff was "she sucks"......"just eye candy"......but I was immediately struck by what I heard on that record. Those guys were so wrong. What Kate Bush did was set a standard by which many others would hope and try to follow. She was definately influential. We are hard pressed to find artists or performers to fit that mold in recent years.......especially the last ten years. So just where are those artists that sets any standard today?.........maybe all of the standards have been set.

Sal Nunziato said...

Pete, I think William Repsher got a bit closer to what I am trying to say than you did, but you hit a small part of it.

The ridiculous amount of music out there is a huge part of it, but we've already had that discussion here. Quantity over quality is definitely not better, though everyone with a Kickstarter campaign would disagree.

I am talking more about something that lasts. It's a very basic concept and I will use the Kaiser Chiefs as an example since they've been mentioned and they are still active. You want to talk about bonkers, when the debut was released, the single "I Predict A Riot" had everyone nuts. That song was on repeat for weeks in NYCD. And then the next single "Oh My God." And the next, "Everyday I Love You Less & Less." Could not keep the CD in stock. The band was on fire! What a thrill! How many more records did they make? Three? Four? Five? Is there any one song as good as the three on the debut? I guess the answer to that is subjective, but I'm saying no. Those follow up records might be fine to Kaiser Chief fans, but no one else cares.

Hey, you all know I love Todd Rundgren, but I am the first one to point out his mistakes and his career self-sabotage. There are a lot reasons he is a Hall Of Fame artist, but it's not because of his string of great records.

Every record back then seemed to have multiple hits. Careers were made and these artists, dinosaurs they may be, still fill up arenas or at least theatres, with offering little effort in creating a 90 minute set of hits. From the obvious big names, right down to Heart, Cheap Trick and Joan Jett who are touring together.

Artic Monkeys? 5 records in 11 years.
Fleet Foxes? 2 records in 8 years.
Conor Oberst? Guy has been 200 records. Does anyone recall his biggest hit?

Shriner said...

Kaiser Chiefs -- "Ruby" -- the single from the 2nd album is dynamite. I had high hopes they would follow that. To me, they are like the new Knack: An almost flawless debut with a solid -- but unspectacular -- remaining catalog. I briefly toyed with adding them to my list, but for you reasons I did not.

But nothing has reached the pinnacle of that first album (which I still spin often and will do so right now...)

Ken D. said...

True, there simply don't seem to be any more "giants" on the scene or on the horizon. And not to deny any of what's been said here, but do you think that the serious music fan of say, the mid-50s, who probably loved Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Muddy Waters was very impressed with Bobby Zimmerman's folk ditties? Or the Stones strutting and pouting? Or Beatlemania? I can imagine a discussion much like this one about how the whole situation is hopeless...

Michael Giltz said...

Sal, I absolutely wasn't annoyed/.offended/irked by your post. Maybe I had some subconscious feeling of "damnit, I should be paying the rent but now Sal has raised a discussion I HAVE to join" but that was it.

Lots of different arguments floating around.

Does pop music have the same impact it did in the 1960s and 1970s/ Absolutely not. These things come in waves. Broadway dominated in the 1940s and 1950s. Movies dominated in the 1920s through 1940s and again in the 1970s. If you were cool in the 1970s, you wanted to make movies or be in a punk band. TV has been where great art is dominating the culture from the 1990s through today. It wipes the floor with movies. Music has faded. Toss in the heyday for painting and books and anything else that interests you. (I've said this before. Apologies for repeating myself.)

But in all these areas, great art is still created. You can't dominate the world forever. So your question proves impossible: who dominates our culture today musically the way the Beatles and Dylan did? Well, no one. And maybe no one ever will until some new heyday comes along.

But if your question is, Who is having a great substantial career, I point to the folks I listed from the 1990s. They belong in the Hall of Fame. My Hall of Fame.

If your question is who MIGHT have a great substantial career, I point to my draft picks. Everyone on my draft picks has turned out some brilliant work and might again. Of course Lorde has just one album, Rufus has gone off the rails etc. They're draft picks, not my nominees for the Hall of Fame. I think the new album by Kaiser Chiefs Education Education Education...War is sensational. They had a classic debut but unlike say the Strokes they've followed it up with ups and downs and now an up success again. And they're great live.

What can I say about the young 'uns? They're predictions, people whose new albums I eagerly anticipate, but not there yet. What can I say about Sharon Jones? One of the great live acts I've EVER seen. A string of great albums, rarely less than good, usually great and sometimes classic. (The Christmas album? Not so much.) But hell, if cancer doesn't screw her over and she keeps turning out GREAT music like she is, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't consider her an artist worth cherishing. Does it rewrite the rules of soul music? No, that's something for an act like Janelle Monae. Hey, I can make caveats for all the draft picks too. Some are closer to greatness than others. Some will never get there, like the pleasant James Hunter. But when their new album comes out, I have to hear it. That's saying something.

I can tell you the Dardenne brothers have delivered a string of movies that make them one of the greats in cinema. I can name authors putting out brilliant books. They will never have the impact of Truffaut or Dickens. Their works won't dominate the culture the way Fellini or Bergman did for movies or Updike and Mailer did for books back in the day. Doesn't mean it's not great.

The acts I list have created albums that will stand the test of time, I believe.

The ones I named from the 1990s I believe have careers that will stand the test of time. No, their names won't fall trippingly off the tongues of the average person. But they never knew who Mississippi John Hurt or Velvet Underground or Richard Thompson or Big Star were in the first place. Hell, they've heard of Hank Williams, but they've never owned an album of his. Now let me get back to that new James Hunter.

hpunch said...

I saw someone suggest Sufjan Stevens, and I'm not surprised. I have a few friends, whose musical taste I fully respect, who keep telling me he is a genius.
And I agree, he is definitely a genius; not a musical genius, a marketing genius.
He did anyone buy into his "50 states project"? 50 albums based on each state.
He got some outstanding press with that nonsense.
50 albums???? Not even a Neil Young and Guided By Voices collaboration could pull that off.

Of course it's already forgotten, but it served its purpose.

I prefer Connie Stevens.

peabody nobis said...

Sal, can't help but notice you overlooked one of the artists that Ken D. mentioned: Jake Bugg.
I noticed, because I mentioned him here a couple years ago and got no response.
Epilogue: You hate Jake Bugg. Jake Bugg should DIAF. Signed, Sal Nunziato.
You're Welcome.

Sal Nunziato said...

Peabody...
http://burnwoodtonite.blogspot.com/2013/04/jake-bugg.html