The Three Lingering Duds of the Year (So Far)

23:16, Feb 15 2016

It's been a good start to the year really - not too many shows, but a few good ones already - Kate Tempest was amazing, and there's more to come - slight let-downs from both Kurt Vile and Thundercat (in that I was expecting those shows to be great, but felt - well - nothing really...) but there's plenty of good shows to come including, if it pans out as planned for now, three away shows for me next week, all of which should be terrific.

I'm also playing some records up in Auckland next Friday at the Golden Dawn, a great place to play records, it was one of my highlights of last year. So fingers crossed for another good run there...

In January I got through a few albums, as well as reviewing a lot of books, movies, DVDs and continuing on with the podcast. Actually January's album reviews were very pleasing, a good range of things, some classical and jazz, some soundtracks, some really strong music.

February has served up a few stinkers already though.

I'm not sure what it is about these stinkers - but they hang around, they stick with you even when you're trying to shake them.

I'm trying - this year - to focus more on reviewing good stuff, but I won't ever lie - I can't. I'm not going to try to find nice things to say about albums (or films or books) that I do not like. And sometimes it's cathartic, some sort of exorcism, writing away the bad stuff. Knocking it down, casting it off. But still it can be like a s**t on your clings as you try to fling it free...

That's how I feel about this ridiculous Charlie Puth album.

Good lord it's bad. I shouldn't care - and I guess I don't really (beyond writing this). But it's baffling when you see something embraced by others. This guy is rubbish. It's like people all flocking to that movie, Deadpool when the trailer alone should have warned you the hell away from it. Bad things don't bug you until you hear and read people - including people you usually agree with - telling you something awful is somehow amazing.

Sometimes it isn't that the artist is talentless, it's that they don't know how to use that talent. That's the case with the latest album by Sonny Landreth. It would be disingenuous (absurd in fact) to say that this guy cannot play. He's a virtuoso slide player. But his version of the blues is what keeps wineries in concerts, keeps baby-boomers packed to the rafters and promptly swinging between tables (and bedrooms?) from them.

It's insulting to hear him stumble-croon through blues staples.

Another example of a lingering frustration is the soundtrack to the brand new TV show, VINYL. I haven't watched the show - I guess I'll get to it, have a go at a binge-watch when a few more episodes have been trotted out - but as a compilation album this record reeks of safe and cynical; of appealing to first-time listeners suddenly empowered with a phoney hipness.

I loathe that.

I'll give the show a chance one day - though I hold no high hopes for it. But there's something sad aboutthe way the soundtrack album has been turned into some ultimate product, arriving in weekly EP instalments as if that's value-adding, it's just product placing.

It's been a good year so far - I've seen a great play, I've already heard a bunch of great music, I've read one amazing book and a handful of really great books already. I've mostly avoided really bad albums, or avoided slamming them...but the Charlie Puth, Sonny Landreth and now the VINYL soundtrack (Vol. 1) have been the things that have really bugged me. They're lingering. For now at least.

Now where's that next great album? It's gotta be here somewhere...

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