I wanted to write a "Best of 2010" list because I needed something to do over vacation. When I first started to do this draft, I started to notice that almost every indie/alternative music blog has one of these "best of 2010" lists. I honestly got tired of thinking about all of the good and outstanding things that I've seen in the music world this year, so I then thought of the 10 most annoying music trends of 2010. I thought about all of the things I've seen in Denver and in general in the music world.
1. "Artistic" Album covers
2010 has given us one of the worst things that I could have imagined, the rise of "semi-artistic" album covers. I don't think that I really need to explain this, but I think that I can agree with pitchfork for once. I know that the "Worst album cover list" has been around for ages, I think 2010 takes the cake for the worst album covers.
2. "Artistic" Music Videos
Don't get me wrong, 2010 has had some great music videos, but I'm not talking about the "best of 2010" because I didn't want to do a best of list this time around. Just like album covers, 2010 has given us some of the worst music videos that I have seen. When I'm watching a music video, I want to see something interesting, not an acid trip.
3. The "Loudness War"
Lets face it, music got louder over the past decade. It's annoying, it is loud, and I must keep my computer speaker volume at a constant 12 so I won't blow my ears out listening to a new album. I always thought that this "loudness" issue was bad, but when I started to think about it, I realized that it is getting worse in this years music.
I'd thought it would be pretty cool if I previewed an album before I bought it at my favorite local record store. Little did I know, I voluntarily gave myself a migraine while listening to not even 2 tracks on this album. As you might have guessed, I didn't buy that album, but the one that I did buy was so loud that I had to turn down the volume as low as I could without turning the volume down completely.
You can find examples of the loudness war in almost every "great" album of this year. Rock, Punk, Indie, and even rap show how how loud things are getting. No, not every album from this year is loud beyond belief, but it sure is nice to see some quiet, but noisy albums.
If you want to learn more about the "Loudness War" check out this Youtube video and this NPR music article.
4. The use of Distortion
If the loudness didn't get to you, then the distortion will. Now, I love distortion, I use it when I play guitar, my band mates use it often, it is a good deal with me. Distortion though, can kill a very promising album. This could be due to the "loudness war", or it could just be due to the people who can't tell a good amount of distortion from too much distortion. I seen a band live this year and I remember thinking that "This band really had it together! I'm going to pick up an album". When I did, I was very upset to find that the whole album was distorted. I was afraid for a while. I honestly thought that the whole album would sink into itself and fold over! Hopefully, we can lay off the distortion next year.
5. Crazy Music Genres
I've noticed a trend here in Denver. Most bands that I've seen in a basement/park/friends house are "art thrash", "post industrial noise rock", "no-noise post wave" or "artistic jazz metal" (alright, I made up the last two, but I'm pretty sure that we can find these two genera soon). If you want to label your genre of music, by all means, do so, just try to go easy on the labeling though. Its ok if you really do play no-noise post wave, but try to use that sparingly.
6. New Wave of Art Rock
This year, I have seen more and more artists who are labeling their music "art rock" because they have a pretty "artistic" light show, or they "just graduated from art school". FYI, just because you think it is art, doesn't mean that it is art. Art rock is when an artist is doing something artistic; taking a stand from the regular waves of music. Art rock isn't when you play the same music as the people on the radio and play your music "kind of loud".
7. Digital Only Releases
As you might (or might not know) I collect albums, listen to them and blog about them. Most of the time, if I dont' have the money for a vinyl album, I have to settle for the CD version which isn't' too bad. I really don't like it when bands that I like, or want to know more about, do the Digital only release. That isn't really fair when you are super stoked to listen to an album and it only is released to Itunes or whatever the case may be. Sometimes I really want to feel the album, look at the lyrics and artwork inside, even smell the album. You just can't do that stuff with a digital release.
8. The 3 city "Tour"
If having digital only releases wasn't' bad enough, then the 3 city tour would be the nail in your coffin. Again, I'm seeing a general increase of the 3 city tour in 2010. This usually goes on when a really important string of summer concerts is going on. Let me illustrate. I live in Denver. Denver isn't too far from Austin Texas. Bands go strait to Austin usually 10 days before South-By-Southwest even starts! Why can't they visit other places in that 10 day time frame? They don't. It's always the festival scene, playing in front of crowds that don't care.
9. The hour or less show.
If you are lucky, to see one of those bands that is on an "extremely tight schedule" then its certain that they will play for an hour or less. Fine I get it, I realize that these bands have a lot of places to go, but they need to focus on playing a decent amount of songs, not 6 and leaving for the next town.
10. "Lets Skip over Denver!"
I saved the best for last. I think the most disheartening thing that I've seen this year is too many great bands skipping over Denver like its a puddle on a rainy street. I'm doing what I can, and my friends are doing what they can do help make Denver a better place musically, but someone has to play in Denver to show other bands/artists that Denver can be the best hub for new music. Me and and my other fellow music lovers in Denver are waiting for 2011 to bring something better than 2010.