Monday, June 04, 2012

Spiritualized win again?!?

My favourite album of the year so far, easily, is Spiritualized's "Sweet Heart Sweet Light".

I used to struggle with this a number of years ago.  You're running down your choices for the year's best music, and the winners are the same bands you chose in a bunch of other years.  Keeping up with new music is a type of competition, where a sea of bands all compete for your praise and attention.  Competitions are boring if you know who's going to win ahead of time.  I would also get the sinking feeling that I was missing out on a bunch of good or possibly even better music, i.e. I didn't give a chance to a bunch of albums because I was being narrow minded and obsessing over the same bands I always obsess over.  I struggled with this more in the 90's than I do now, when it was more difficult to hear and hear about bands than it is today.  Back then, I think you had more of an excuse for always falling back on your inner circle of favourite bands.

On the other hand, what's wrong with repping for your favourite bands?  I don't see Radiohead and Kanye West fans (to name two acts who have earned nearly automatic critical praise for their every move) apologizing for consistently (some might say reflexively) pushing their albums to the top of many readers and critics polls.  Or think of it this way: twenty years ago, Spiritualized were nobody's idea of a leading, semi-mainstream rock act, the kind that would have their concerts and albums streamed online by NPR or have glowing reviews of their concerts written up in the New York Times with comparisons to the Rolling Stones and the finest gospel music.  The band and their fans were a group of droning space rock weirdos in an age where grunge was king. The level of critical acclaim they enjoy today was nowhere to be seen, although the NME's early and consisten praise was something of an exception.  In North America they were off the radar completely.  So what happened?  Part of it was due to us -- the people who believed in Spiritualized and kept telling people how great they were until a broader audience started believing us.  In that case, you could say that it's our duty to keep up the narrative that they are among the very best, for example, just like Bob Dylan and Neil Young fans and critics did in past generations (also in this generation, Dylan finished first in the Pazz and Jop albums poll as recently as 2006).  They didn't push those acts down our throats because they didn't truly believe they were among the best in the world.  There isn't a single Neil Young fan who ever stanned for Helmet because they wanted to prove they could give newer acts a fair shake.

It's still a struggle, but like I said, a change in a thought process can be slow to evolve, whether it be a band's general reputation or your own personal opinions.

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