In 2012 I was not impressed with these ten things.
10. Beach House: I’m going to blame myself on this one. It took me a long time to get into Beach House’s last album, Teen Dream. A really long time. So when Bloom hit my ears and it sounded like rejected B-sides from their last recording, I was crushed. A lot of my friends like the album, and that’s fine. I just let my expectations get the best of me.
9. Boy bands: It seems like every few years we get a new rash of boy bands to take over pop radio and get the tween girls hearts pounding. 2012 leaned a little heavy toward the Brits, with a Take That reunion and the unstoppable force that is One Direction. I think the biggest disappointment for me is fun. Mostly because Nate Reuss made some good records with The Format and I think his talents are wasted on this disposable music. (Admittedly a lot of people don’t think of fun. as a boy band, but I don’t see any way around it).
8. Band Of Horses: Earlier this year I posted something I wrote a couple years ago about the decline in the quality of Band Of Horses music. After a horrible live show at Riviera I had all but written them off. For some reason I decided it would be fun to go see them play a show with Michael Kiwanuka at Metro, and to my surprise it was great! I was so excited. Then a couple weeks later I heard Mirage Rock. I was crestfallen. It might be the worst album I’ve heard all year, with no small portion of the blame going to producer Glynn Johns who watered down all the things Band Of Horses do well.
7. Grimes/Kreayshawn: File this one in the Murtaugh file, because I really don’t get this garbage. Visions came out way back in January, so I’ve had some time to get over the ridiculous hype surrounding Grimes. Kreayshawn’s album came out in September and I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard people talking about how good she is. Honestly, she sounds like MC Chris minus the intelligence and fun.
6. Rolling Stones continue: Hey, it’s their 50th anniversary. And the 30th anniversary of their last decent record (Tattoo You). At a certain point you would think Mick would get tired of unwrapping himself and leaving the sarcophagus to play gigs with a band I don’t think he’s felt he needed since the late 70’s. It’s a money-making scheme that I’ve tired of. Just retire and go live off the billions you’ve made.
5. the xx: the xx’s debut album is SO good. It was in my top 20 of the last decade, so my hopes were high for Coexist. Unfortunately even the lowest of expectations were too lofty for this record. jamie xx has been busy working with every musical artist on the planet over the past couple years, and I feel like they couldn’t devote the kind of time needed to really follow that auspicious first release. This is a place-holding album at best.
4. Chris Brown: Here’s a guy who beats women (one of America’s most loved pop stars, Rihanna), dresses up as the Taliban for Halloween, and gets in a barfight with Drake. And we, as a society, allowed his album Fortune to debut at number one on the Billboard charts. How do we sleep at night knowing that we’ve rewarded this selfish, moronic, violent person with means and reach? Maybe all those copies were bought to be burned in some kind of anti-violence bonfire, but I doubt it.
3. Karmin: As much as I loathe a lot of the current artist’s making pop music, at least they got popular singing songs written for them. Karmin rode their coattails, gaining fame by doing unbelievably bad covers on YouTube. They were the first band to ever play SNL without having a record out-and their performance displayed why-it was abhorrent. I’m not completely sure that people aren’t listening to this as a joke, but if so we need to stop before they become too big to fail.
2. No NMH reunion: I got to see Jeff Mangum play two solo live shows this year. It’s something I’ll never forget-such magical nights filled with love and reverence. When he was in Chicago the opening band features Scott Spillane and two other members of the Elephant 6 collective. Other shows were opened by Memory Tapes,Julian Koster’s group. Would it have been that hard to get the three of these guys together at the same time? I doubt it. I’ve come to terms now with the fact that Neutral Milk Hotel will never play a show together again. I think the three of them were onstage together once a few years ago, but they were joined by a bunch of other people singing Circulatory System’s “Forever.”
1. The Emily White controversy: So an intern at NPR wrote a piece called “I Never Owned Any Music To Begin With.” In it she talks about how her musical library was 11,000 songs and growing, though she’s only purchased 15 CD’s in her life. The point of the article was that physical media was dead and labels and artists need to look at different ways to make their money. Well, it caused a bit of a stir. There were tons of articles written in retort-musicians, industry insiders, bloggers-everyone wanted to have their say. This went on for a few weeks with artists talking about how little they get paid per listen on free services like Spotify and Pandora. In the end, we’re still here having the same discussion. My disappointment is that outside of people who spend all their time listening to and reading about music, no one noticed. For the record, I agree with White for the most part. I buy music on vinyl if I really want to have something to hold in my hands.