Saturday, 17 December 2011

Music In General: Has 2011 Been Better Than 2010?


I'm asking you a question, you can answer it in detail.. or by simply saying Yes or No. In my opinion, I've heard enough material to fairly judge 2011, compared to the material I've heard from 2010. That's not to say I've heard every release in the past two years! ...Not to mention trends, new artists, disbanded artists, festivals, reunions and awards.

Let's begin with 2010 (obviously). We saw some exciting changes in music, with artists like Best Coast, Sleigh Bells and Wavves being hyped by the Indie generation. These artists all released albums in 2010, however not to my excitement. I thought Best Coast was too similar and basic, Sleigh Bells had a decent sounding album, but the lack of skill, time and production value just left the album in a mess. I haven't reviewed Wavves - King of The Beach yet, but I've heard it and my opinion is generally negative. We also witnessed the reformation and a new album by Swans, with Guided By Voices also reforming only to tour. The exciting return of Pulp left many fans shivering in their boots. Many bands put their musical output on hiatus, these being positives in my opinion. With the Pussycat Dolls, The Killers, Doves, Slipknot, Breaking Benjamin and TATU all put on hold.

The festival season saw Glastonbury make mistakes once again by allowing Muse, Gorillaz and Stevie Wonder take the headlining slots. Whilst the better artists of LCD Soundsystem (one of the albums of the year), The Flaming Lips and The National (also had one of the best albums of 2010)... We're forced to perform on the smaller Other Stage. The XX won the Mercury Prize award, even though the album was released in 2009 after the 2009 award was given. I disagreed with this because The XX laugh in our faces by producing 'minimal Indie Rock'.. Where in fact it's just a commercialized project by Jamie XX.

I listened to some great albums and some shocking albums. My favourites can be seen on the right hand side of the blog, all of which received many hours of listening. Some from this list were missed by the actual critical websites such as Pitchfork, NME and MOJO. They missed the smashing Folk album released by Anaïs Mitchell, with guest vocals provided by Bon Iver. Beach House - Teen Dream is my favourite album from 2010 followed closely by Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest. On the other hand, I was disappointed by MGMT - Congratulations. I was hoping for an improved album, but instead I was given a lazy follow up to 2008's catchy Oracular Spectacular. Take a look at the many end of year lists to remember those 2010 albums, one which captured my attention was Foals - Total Life Forever. I fell in love with the first half, but the second half was very poor.

Without going writing 10,000 words, 2010 was a good year for music. We saw some new artists give decent debut albums and we saw some exciting hype for Gorillaz - Plastic Beach and Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Albums were separated by season, with summer albums becoming a big trend with Best Coast and The Drums. 

Before 2011 began, I was excited for many early 2011 releases. The Go! Team released their third album Rolling Blackout, which was very compact and filled with soul samples and guest vocalists. British Sea Power also released an album which was met positively, an album which I have heard many times over the year. I have also seen British Sea Power twice this year, rivalling my two Foals concerts. Everything was set for an exciting year for music. I'm only going to touch upon the endless Pop releases from 2011. Katie Perry had a great year.. So did the Internet 'sensation' Rebbecca Black. Ke$ha released more singles whilst Lady Gaga released her second album, this time around people were not overly excited about her release. I will mention that her album cover is fucking awful and among the worst album covers of all time.

We lost some great artists in LCD Soundsystem and The White Stripes, with R.E.M finally throwing in the white towel. On a brighter note (to some), The Stone Roses reformed and signed a new record contract, meaning we have to hear four middle aged men rant about the past 20 years.. How exciting. Burial came out with a new EP entitled Street Halo, which excited many Dubstep fans. James Blake gave us his self titled album, which received a mix bag of reviews and opinions. I personally hated it at first, but grew to like it after watching him perform it live in July and then again in November. Adele and LMFAO spent the most weeks at number 1 in the British charts, not like it actually matters.. But it's interesting to note Adele's sudden success with her well received album 21. Again, you can see our favourite albums from 2011 on the right. My favourite would probably have to be PJ Harvey - Let England Shake and Braids - Native Speaker. 

This year has really been a year for the females. PJ Harvey, St. Vincent, Bjork, Kate Bush and Feist have all released albums this year to positive reviews and critical acclaim. Although I'm not a fan of the latest Bjork

I was let down by Radiohead this year (no pun intended). The King of Limbs was released one week after it was announced, excitement brewed for the fans and the music industry. I felt cheated after hearing it for the first time. Even now, months down the line I feel disgusted by the lack of material. The Horrors gave us their third studio album, which I didn't like but many others do. Faris also released Cat's Eyes, another one of my favourites from this year. Low came back with another album, so did Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. All of which well received by myself. Girls released another album which again... I didn't fancy. The Antlers returned with a polished second album which I enjoyed and so did the majority of Antlers fans, but opinions were thrown around because it didn't surpass 2009's emotional rollercoaster.. Hospice.

We lost some musical talents this year. First we lost Gerard Smith of TV On The Radio, then Gil Scott Heron.. Amy Whinehouse and finally Burt Jansch, one of my favourite Folk artists. It's been a mixed bag. Glastonbury had surprise performances by both Radiohead and Pulp, but they choose Beyonce to close the festival. The music world didn't drastically change, albums were still being released every week as new artists relished, such as Anna Calvi. 2011 has been good musically in my opinion.

How can you compare two separate years?? It's like comparing a Metallica album to a Lou Reed album. It's stupid to even ask this question!! If you say 2011 has been better musically than 2011, Why? What are you comparing, you're not comparing an artists back catalogue of music. You're comparing a whole years worth of events, albums and deaths. So Anthony Fantano.. You answer. Whats better, 2010 or 2011.....

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