This is Audio Purgatory

21:10, Aug 24 2014

This washed-out sound, water-colours, soft swirls only, all a lazy blur, rolling, wafting, no sharp edges - nothing dramatic, no punch, no (real) definition - I think that's what saddens me most about listening to these "hyped" modern pop acts.

Sure, sure, this will probably just end up being another example of me yelling at the kids to get off my lawn - or you can post your clever comment along those lines anyway...but I'm just thinking aloud here (is thinking allowed here?) while listening - for the first time - to Evergreen, the debut album by Broods. It's almost irrelevant whether anything on the album sounds "good" - for it all sounds the same, and is buried in this soft fug, a veneer.

Of course I'll give the record a chance - wasn't allowed in to the album release this weekend, apparently the media list had been signed off for the Wellington show earlier in the week, we weren't quick enough - demand must have been huge! So no review here nor in the Dominion Post - but presumably you'll be inundated with reviews of the band's Wellington performance since there was a full media list. Demand was high! So many people interested in covering them. I wonder how many reviews of that show will appear given the list was full?  

We lament bands making their sound in the bedroom then having to learn to play live, we lament the fact that the music seems to be made not only for headphones, but for earbuds, for iPods, for computer speakers. Well, I say 'we', but maybe you don't lament that. I know I do.

While the world is busy praising Lorde as songwriter and her silent partner, Joel Little for his production and shaping I still hear a phoned-in murkiness, no real grit or soul and nothing dynamic - it all just flat-lines, it's all just flat lines. Hey, maybe there'll be big changes for album number two, sure. And maybe that doesn't even matter - but my main complaint there is that the songs have no real energy, no actual shape.

And first listen of the Broods album suggests something similar - so similar as to almost be a case of popping to the shop and ordering one with all the same - "I'll have what she's having..."

Am I way off for wanting to hear some excitement in the songs and some potency in the recordings? And if so I still think that says something far sadder about the state of music today than it does about me and my geriatric ideas. Take an album, like the new one from Spoon - okay, so they've been around 20 years and might very nearly be a dad-rock band now for all I know - but it sounds dynamic, it's full of punch. It moves. It has ideas. Plural. That's - you know - more than one...

Here's an interview with Quincy Jones lamenting the sound of music today. There's a link to a short documentary worth a watch - sure it's a bit of advertising, brand-building, but what isn't these days...I still found it interesting.

I'm curious to know what you think about these water-colour artists - I couldn't find a thing worth hearing in the Janine and The Mixtape EP that the hipster-blogs have been trumpeting. It just doesn't have spark or hooks. It's treacly.

In all that I'm describing here - chuck in The Naked and Famous too - it's the hollowness I don't like. I feel there's just no heart in any of this stuff.

I look forward to the sound of today disappearing by tomorrow.

How about you? Anyone else out there put off modern pop music due to its thinness - its water-colour swirls, its lack of grit, grunt and dynamic shape?

Postscript: I had two DJ gigs this weekend, on Friday night I played some tunes for the after-work crowd at San Fran for their 5 O'Clock Shakedown and on Saturday afternoon I was one of the guest DJs at A Vinyl Affair - vinyl fair. I had a blast both times. Click on those links if you want to see the tunes I played.

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