Dawning of a new era

We’re living in an interesting time, music-wise…more and more bands are sprouting up, and it seems that each of them puts out a debut album that’s packed with hit after hit…the joke always was that you spent your whole life crafting your debut, were pressured to release your follow-up (which ultimately flopped), then took time off to really work hard and make a comeback with your third album…because of this, many bands’ third albums are considered their best (The Clash, The Pixies, The Replacements), and many second albums, well, aren’t (The Pretenders, Marshall Crenshaw, The Stone Roses)…

What’s happening these days, though, is far more complicated than the proverbial “sophomore slump”…band’s debut albums are so good and so memorable that there is no way that their second album, no matter how good it is, can possibly follow it up properly…several groups that released their debuts (or breakout releases) just last year are already putting out their next albums before we can make room in our heads for a new batch of songs…because of this, albums from Albert Hammond Jr. and Fujiya & Miyagi, who both released some of my favorite albums of last year, are falling not on deaf ears, but on full memories…

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to the forthcoming release from The Bird And The Bee, another band whose debut has gotten many ‘spins’ on my iPod…while I’m enjoying the new set (and will likely enjoy it more as I listen to it more), it’s just not sticking in my mind as much as their debut did back in 2007…

The only explanation I have is this: I’ve spent most of my music-listening life listening to bands that have either disbanded or have already released several albums before I get into them…I don’t have to bother with waiting for a new record from Queen or Pink Floyd, and Elvis Costello released his second (and third and fourth) album years before I was born…if a band has got their whole catalogue out there already, the pressure associated with the each of their releases is off…in fact, some albums once considered ‘sophomore slumps’ (like the aforementioned Stone RosesSecond Coming) have eventually been appreciated years after their met-with-disappointment releases…

I’m currently pressured to come up with a list of my favorite albums of 2008…however, I’m so hung up on the albums I listened to in the first half of the year that I think my list could have just as easily been compiled in August…Like last year, though, I’m sure that there have not only been some albums that I have missed completely, but albums that I listened through once or twice without realizing their brilliance…

I do my best to give albums the attention they deserve…whenever I look through a bin of free CD’s, I always think of the bands that have worked so hard to produce their albums, only to have them tossed aside…in our click-and-download society, a world where digital singles beat out album sales hand over fist, the least you can do is actually listen to the music you already have…keep that in mind when Vampire Weekend and MGMT put out their next albums, and judge slowly…

E.

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~ by E. on November 29, 2008.

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