Experimental Music Love

January 8, 2008

Why Hip Hop Sucks in 2006

Filed under: Features — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 8:09 pm

…and most other genres of music.

 

So another musical year has passed on, but has it been a vintage one? Well the short answer is “no”. The long answer is “no, I hate Johnny Borrell and everything he stands for. Vectra for sell.”

After the magnificence in all things audio that was 2005, where The National produced one of the all time great albums in Alligator; Conor Oberst matured into this generation’s spokesman; internet pioneers Arctic Monkeys emerged as an exciting and revolutionary voice of Britain; Arcade Fire took over the world with dazzling live shows and Razorlight didn’t release an album, these end of year ponderings do not speak much of great joys, discoveries or comebacks.

 

The biggest woe of the year is of course the rise in ‘schmindie’. Token two bit indie bands that everyone in the world, apart from NME, is still desperately trying to find a use for. The likes of The Kooks dominated the popular charts with medirockrity; Razorlight returned with Johnny Borrell’s self stylised “we’re crap but if I act like I’m in the greatest band in the world then people might think I am” attitude; moronic variations of The Automatic’s drunken anthem Monster filled many a student’s summer night (the only one that I found worth in being the ‘Michael Chopra’ variation, mainly because I bought Michael Chopra for Hearts on Championship Manager once and he was aces) and Boy Kill Boy continued to exist.

 

Pseudoelectronica also prevailed, with Hot Chip managing to bore the airwaves. How adding a keyboard to 4 skinny indie kids with guitars suddenly became hip and original is still perplexing this cynical head.

 

Panic! At the Disco hit some distress involving the leaving of the bass player. A pity they did not hit a truck instead. And those other kings of emo, My Chemical Romance, returned with their ‘career defining album’, with songs, you know, about love and loss and how shit it is and that. Oh, and the ‘controversial’ Cancer. Oh dear.

 

Some company was found for James Blunt in the incessantly dull singer songwriter camp, as Jose Gonzalez, Paulo Nutini and James Morrison rose to prominence in the hearts of mums everywhere. I’m sure there’s an equation somewhere that shows the correlation between how dull something is and how popular it is amongst the middle aged middle class.

 

Promising come backs proved disappointing, with the likes of DJ Shadow, Beck and even Morrissey floundering in their attempts to move forward, either rehashing old work to tedious effect, or getting lost in vain efforts to evolve and remain relevant. Oh for the days of Endtroducing, Odelay and Vauxhall and I when these artists could actually record something that mattered for more than a few minutes.

 

Bob Dylan also returned, but I haven’t heard Modern Times yet so can’t really judge his music this year. However, his bizarre ramblings about all music of the last 20 years being worthless and his refusal to own up to those lyric stealing accusations lets him down. Bad show Bob, bad show.

 

2004’s most boring band, Snow Patrol, decided to grace the music world with their mediocre presence again. Insomnia rates at new low. Coincidence?

 

This year also saw the split of one of the ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />UK’s most dynamic and ambitious bands in Hope of the States. A genuinely sad loss for music, as not only did they produce the most majestic aggression on record, but their live shows were an awesome spectacle to behold.

 

And of course, no efforts from The Shins, Modest Mouse and Radiohead, all of which I was very much looking forward to. Oh well.

 

Sounds bleak doesn’t it? Don’t worry; this year did have its great moments.

 

2004’s other most boring band Keane actually came up with something that you could tell apart from every single other song they do with the rather brilliant Is It Any Wonder?, which was one of the singles of the year.

 

The Mercury Music Prize finally got over itself and wasn’t afraid to give the award to the most deserving act, even if they were the biggest band in the country. For Arctic Monkeys did finally get round to recording proper studio cuts of those classic demos and came out with an album with intelligence and integrity that perfectly summed up modern British life and was certainly worthy of all that hype that fell its way.

 

There were some surprisingly welcome returns from such previous disappointments as Muse. Previously too tortuous and over the top to warrant anything more than ‘yeah, they’re alright, but, you know…’ Super Massive Blackhole was daringly fresh and inventive and showed a band striving to be SOMETHING, which I like.

 

Pet Shop Boys, Scissor Sisters and Luke Haines also returned with dizzyingly delightful electro pop that kept those dance floors full. Mika also cropped up to join the camp electrodisco party sounding like Rufus Wainright deciding to just let it all go.

 

Pop came to the fore again as number one airwave act of the year The Feeling, dominated every radio station in the land. And very welcome they were too, with that sense of joy surely warming everyone’s heart. Expect similar piano poppers Air Traffic to have a similar grip on those playlists next year.

 

Female voices found their way into the music lover’s conscious this year, as new albums from the beautiful pixie that is Joanna Newsom and gruff, alcoholic, suicidal wench Cat Power impressed those who could be arsed switching off MTV for a few minutes and going out and finding something worthwhile. Magic.

 

And not forgetting Amanda Palmer of course, as Dresden Dolls not only managed to create another splendid offering in Yes, Virginia but also managed to instil that beautiful burlesque passion and fashion in every one of their fans.

 

Alt-pop Americana brilliance showed its quality again this year with the superbly fun Little Ones showing up pretty much everyone one if their contemporaries even though they only released six song this year. Sufjan Stevens also got around to previewing some VERY promising new material. Here’s hoping he doesn’t faff it all up again.

 

New evolutions from former shoegazers turned pop joys Mojave 3 and the respectable side of emo Pretty Girls Make Graves alos turned in impressive new LPs that showed a promising new direction.

Though many maligned the awesomely spectacular Guillemots for being that bit too schmaltzy and cheesey, they’re album packed a wonderfully over the top punch that should have seen it sail to the top of the charts.

 

One band immune from critics this year were Australia’s Sleepy Jackson. Personality proved to be one of the most consistent and addictive records this year and saw Luke Steele verging on Brian Wilson levels of insane genius. Sadly, the record buying public were not as convinced as the critics so this modern classic was doomed to the lower echelons of the charts.

 

As too was The Decemberists’ latest offering in The Crane Wife. Colin Meloy’s witty, articulate tales were matched in their intelligence by fantastic vaudevillian songwriting.

 

So, it’s not been too bad really. I may have been a tad over the top with my dire proclamations at the start of this article, but, heck, when you care about something so much you get a little narked when it don’t come good. I can still only see one album released this year having the critical and commercial acclaim, and general all round fantasticness, that merits it being played in 20 years time however. We shall see.

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