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I agree with Steve's point that the album format is still a relevant, and most useful, standard for the music industry. But I also see Jeff's point that an album *release* is no biggie, even among music fans. There's no threat it will sellout at the record store, you can hear it/buy it whenever, so time or inaccessibility is not a critical factor building anticipation.
Three paths: cultural capitalist, hacker, or parasite.
Also, "top-shelf entertainment brands"? WTF?! Bullshit marketing speak will slay us all.
I don't think aloof is the right term here; they're not being cold and distant, they just seem to want to involve as little artifice as possible in how the outside world evaluates their album. And if you come to the conclusion on your own that the album is full of "so-so, belabored songs" and not via the influence of outside factors, then that was the point. The Strokes are many things but "naive to the point of cluelessness" is not one of 'em. At least, not at this stage of the game.
(Btw, for the record: not a fan of the band, can't even believe I'm defending 'em.)
Listen, it's silly to state the obvious, but all music should be judged on its own merits. However, that seems to be a passé concept these days. Furthermore, I routinely find that an artist's current critical standing determines the nature of a review more than the music itself. In other words, short of delivering a musical abomination, a critical darling might as well be made of teflon. But if an artist has fallen out of favor not even a masterpiece can guarantee them more than a passing acknowledgement. Sure, I might be exaggerating but not by much.
I at least meant to broadcast conflictedness about it all. I Just feel like that sort of aloof move is over. And that the Strokes are being naive to the point of cluelessness. Like they are way worse at modernity than Kevin Shields or David Bowie, which is damning. And maybe it'd be noble if their album wasn't no fun, with or without savviness. Maybe it's the so-so, belabored songs, maybe it's the out-of-touchness. I dunno. But if you are you are going to be that noble and remote, your art's gotta be better.
Wasn't the point of this article that the album is dead? It's literally in the title. Steve says it's not and proceeds to explain why. So, how is it missing your point?
So, Jeff Klingman, The Strokes have made a concerted effort to have their new album be strictly judged on its own merits, one of the more artistically pure acts an established artist can muster in this day and age, but you'd prefer to be marketed/pandered to?
Huge fan of The Strokes' new stuff. Especially after listening to the album stream http://smarturl.it/StrokesCMStream too awesome. They definitely win this battle!
I appreciate the thoughtful response, but wonder if it's missing my point slightly? I'm wondering more about how albums seem to have less impact in the wider culture, even as we have all these opportunities to listen to them for free? And as I say here, I think it's because the Internet, for all sorts of reasons, is pretty bad at talking about them unless we're using them to talk about a bigger narrative or cultural trend?
Are you sure that people aren't streaming whole albums? Because while the internet has facilitated a change in the way we listen to and discover music, it would be interesting to see when people pay for a streaming service if they stream more albums than songs. Don't be fooled by the business model either. The payment schemes on most digital content is almost as derisory as that applied to physical CD's, so I can't see this model lasting, especially if it becomes the norm.
Even back in the days of non-web based music consumption, we still had mix tapes and compilations, and the humble skip button which was there for a reason. The format of the communication has changed but there's a difference between music fans. Casual fans would often purchase only singles and they stream and download tracks, "real" fans got the albums. People are still doing this, but in different ways.
On the flipside to your example here, Ash who decided to ditch albums entirely and release the A-Z series (26 individual songs) have found their popularity has plummeted in the UK. From headlining large venues up and down the country they are now on the fringes of where their popularity once lay. You could argue the lack of focus musically has transferred to the campaign, and the fans seem disinterested in that idea of a bunch of random tracks. However when they came out a year or so ago to play an album in full, they returned to bigger venues. To my mind at least this is a small amount of evidence to suggest that the album is alive and kicking among those who value it. The friction between discovery of songs and albums is no longer there due to streaming.
The album for better or worse is still the frame that all these ideas hang around. Releasing individual tracks online can kill a bands prominence, and the fact that we listen to them individually seems no different to the guys in their rooms in the 60's playing vinyls.
I like both debut albums, but Welcome Oblivion is a cut above for me. Thom is great because he gets all the sounds that we like and puts them together and makes us listen to them for minutes at a time. Trent...the guy can make the most ugly melodies turn into beautiful, seductive, energetic worms that wig all your other thoughts out. And Trent consistently, for the majority of his career, has been able do this. I'm never disappointed with a Radiohead/Atoms for Peace/Thom Yorke song, but again, Thome only makes music that sounds great. Trent turns songs you wouldn't listen to into songs you do listen to. Both great artists/both great bands/both great debuts, but I give an edge to How to Destroy Angels' Welcome Oblivion.
This is one of the best articles I've read on the topic. Many people ask the question "Is the album dead?" But this is one of the few that dares to answer "Yes," and also dares to put "the album" in the context of history and say, "It might not have been much of a thing in the first place."
With much less success, but more jokes, I attempted to answer the same question in this post from a few years ago:
Marnie Stern lives in Manhattan, last I checked. I don't think she's ever been associated with Brooklyn??
I prefer to go nowhere with Thom Yorke, listening to his non-sense lyrics anytime. The title song on Amok, alone, trumps everything in Welcome Oblivion and a bit more.
Not one question about Naziism? Don't mention the war...
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