Other Ten Percent 12/9/11

Dec 09 2011

So today I don’t even have a link to connect my bullshit theorizing to the internet. Let’s see how that plays out in practice.

So as we get to the end of the year I look back trying to find the things that really engaged me this year musically and I come up with…not a whole hell of a lot. There was the fantastic new M83 album, Watch the Throne, and the criminally under-appreciated YACHT album. That pretty much covers the albums I think I’ll be listening to regularly 3 years from now. That’s not to say those were the only good albums released this year but after 2010 which was a pretty amazing year in music albums that are just okay like, say, this year’s Go Team album, read as much more disappointing. What’s interesting about this year though isn’t the wide array of mediocre releases (although Hoooooo boy there were a lot of those) it was the huge number of actually kinda bad albums that nevertheless resulted in me liking the band that made it better.

Much like 2 Broke Girls and every TV critic in America I’ve apparently developed this thing where I get really excited about the potential an album shows for some theoretical fantastic album that will come out in a year or two. Even when that album is objectively not any good. Examples of this abound from a Deerhoof record that remembers how to use their charmingly batshit lead singer but forgets how to wail on guitars to all those parts of the Weeknd mixtapes we just don’t talk about because they weren’t awesome. Donald Glover’s debut as Childish Gambino occasionally steered into some pretty interesting new takes on race and class in rap before inevitably returning to just talking about fuckin’ bitches. Given that I’m a huge Kanye fan I can’t really take a firm moral stance against that subject matter but MAN Donald Glover certainly isn’t putting a new spin on that topic. Even Lady Gaga veered into some pretty interesting areas on her new album (She seemed to be aiming for a kind of “religion as conspicuous consumption” thing in places that I would have been totally on board for) before backing away and hoping that nobody notices she just kinda wrote Fame Monster over again.

Hell I don’t even think it’s just me. You kinda don’t get a group that’s as clearly in need of more time to develop as Odd Future to become a minor cultural phenomenon unless we’re just admitting collectively that we’re trying to nurture potential instead of reward total success.

The poster child for this has to be the second Justice album though. An album that seems frustratingly close to being some kind of breakthrough rock record produced in an alternate universe where punk never happened. Audio, Video, Disco is one or two solid tracks away from actually articulating a new way of combining classic rock, metal, and techno but instead it just sorta sounds like “How does prog work? Is it…oh wait shit that was awesome…okay bored now.”

I went through distinct phases of initial disappointment followed by a fierce need to defend it for its occasional moments of brilliance to a quiet acceptance that when I’m not trying to intellectually justify why it’s better than you think I have no desire to actually listen to it again and that’s probably, you know, a bad sign. So basically 2011 is one of those years of music I didn’t really enjoy living through all that much but I guess I am looking forward to five years from now where people point to all the shit that came out this year and say “that was the real breakthrough album man, not that crossover bullshit that got big in 2013.”

I kinda need some actual music next year though. The next Kanye album damn well better show up before Ragnarok.

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