Sunday, October 5, 2008

Expectations for veteran artists: MUSIC

I posted this on a journal on another site back in August..and it's been bugging me to expand upon it for quite awhile now.

I'm not sure if I should be sad...or moved. I put on TREOS's BETWEEN THE HEART AND THE SYNAPSE today and it occurred to me how I should really write-up some kind of extensive appreciation for that album. How it may have been lightning-in-a-bottle..their peak and a debut as well.

So then it donned on me how a lot of my favorite albums, bands, even tv shows and directors have a *Peak* or a short window of their top stuff and the rest of their careers they fail to recapture that level. In some rare cases they do or top it..or even come close, but in a good majority they never do. It may not just be 1, but 2 or 3 works. Rush maybe being a big exception.

But many of them had short stints..short catalogs of work.

and to MY TASTE of course.

So it occurred to me what makes a lot of sense is always consider if not assume this to be the case with ANYTHING..any kind of art or entertainment. And then the whole depression that happens about a band splitting up, or a tv show ending/getting canceled that was great is more acceptable, almost better in a way. Even when a celeb dies..they gave us their best..their peak..enjoy the peak.

more to add about this..


MUSIC:

So, okay, that is the deal I guess. Mindset, etc. When I discover a band from now on, get into their back catalog too, the biggest thing to try and remember is to not expect them to move me with their future work as they did with the work that I fell in love with initially. Could this be due to it being *new* to me? Perhaps. Could it also have to do with the common situation of a band/artist trying (or needing) to prove themselves? Maybe as well. Or is it partly due to wanting nostalgia?

I just notice over the last few years especially, my most addictive new albums are from bands that I am new to.

Some examples:

2008: Apes and Androids. Totally out-of-nowhere. Their style is like nothing I really had heard before. So in a way it's like discovering liking a new food.
2006-07: Pure Reason Revolution, Mew, Oceansize, Kaddisfly, The Dear Hunter, Fair to Midland, Kiss Kiss, House of Fools, The Receiving End of Sirens, Between the Buried and Me. All of them were new to me. Styles, and the albums they put out seemed to be cases of them trying to make their mark.

On the flipside, it seems there a lot of cases of bands who put out new records the last couple of years that were disappointing and don't seem to have what I loved about some of their previous work.

2008: Mt.Helium (The Apex Theory), Klimt 1918, and perhaps now Janus whose album leaked last week and I had been anticipating for a couple of years.
2007: Coheed and Cambria, Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation, Marillion, Dream Theater, and even Rush.

Then there are the bands whose follow-ups of late are good, but not quite the classic hoped for, or of the past.

2008: Ours, King's X, Woven, Demians..some others..Marillion, Margot and the Nuclear So and So's?
2007: Blackfield, Oceansize, Three

So the latest that I'm unclear where it'll go is the new Margot releases. HYPE HYPE HYPE..really since the middle, or late last year. And now having heard both albums, I'm still a little worried it won't be as big a deal as I hoped/thought. I've heard it enough times to know I like a lot of it; and it's a step up from RETREAT overall. But as just a comparison: the new Burst album I love right now and it's jumped all the way up to #3 on my list..but it was right from the 1st time hearing it, impressive. I was wondering if finally with all of the work on both NOT ANIMAL and ANIMAL!, a band could put some pressure on BLOOD MOON, but I'm becoming skeptical now. It really reminds me more of the situation with the new Marillion album. A LOT of material there, and none of it really bad, but as a moving, coherent, cohesive, body of work on 1 release, both of them don't seem to have the desire for repeated play and repeated discovery.

SET SAIL THE PRAIRIE demanded that (repeated play, and repeated discovery) because it had so many styles and flowed so well from beginning to end. And BLOOD MOON does too. It's also just 1 of those things, an album that you put on and your energy instantly is raised. It brings a smile to your face. It goes beyond hearing sounds through headphones. When something moves you, or is effective therapy enough where when you need a boost or something to help you forget something bad, you turn to it and it bails you out. That, to me, is what separates a classic or just addictive album, from just a really good collection of songs. And as much as I'm someone who finds still has boundaries with the avant-garde, Rock Operas, or just some highly conceptual work; for some reason most of my favorite albums of all-time seem to be the ones that have a great cohesiveness to them. Their story, mystery, etc is what drives me to enjoy them over and over. Maybe it's my love for imagination, I'm not sure.

So that all being said, what I thought I also could do is sort of give a list of upcoming veteran bands who have albums expected in the near future and how I'm going to try to keep the *peak* theory in mind.

2009 Anticipation List

Kevin Gilbert: In this situation, it's pretty much gravy due to the fact the stuff that's going to come out soon is material he made many years ago. But instead of expecting another SHAMING or even THUD, I want to hope these will be good enough to demand some repeated play. At least to the amount of THUD which I probably only play maybe a couple of times a year.

Mew: In their case, I still don't think they've made a classic record yet. But given some other bands like Klimt 1918 for example, I want to avoid hoping they'll top FRENGERS or KITES even. If they do, cool, but if not, at least those 2 records will seem all the more better.

The Dear Hunter:
This one is a bit tough since both ACTS are great and seemingly Casey Crescenzo can do no wrong right now. But given that in 2007 this groups sort of came out of nowhere and them/Casey have fastly become my favorite current songwriter today, I am gonna have to really work to avoid expecting another 4.5 star record here. He's just so good and has an awesome knack for songwriting and telling a story, this one may be one of if not the most difficult ones to avoid being disappointed if I don't love it. But then again, Rush, The Beatles, etc..they did it for many records in a row. However, if another Apes and Androids comes along next year, it still may hurt the amount of time it gets. Hopefully not.

Imogen Heap Her last record has a lot of goosebump-worthy songs on it and no songs I ever skip. Something magical about "Speak For Yourself." She's great, but I guess I don't want to expect her to have that same impact again on me; because if I do, I will be sad and perhaps even not regard her as my favorite female artist today, which she is. So I suppose expecting the new album to have a handful of songs that good might be best..if there's more, well then it's just cherries on the sundae.

dredg: Considering the level of expectations for CWA I guess after EL CIELO put them on the map, their new album I want to just consider mild expectations with. Look at Coheed last year. I still really love those middle 2 albums, but they were coming off my favorite record of theirs. The next dredg album I don't want to expect EL CIELO part 2, but I somehow question how much like CATCH WITHOUT ARMS it'll be. Actually, in a way, CWA was more addictive due to the energy and pop-like element to it. I suppose this next album's fate will be partly due to how good the energy is. If the quality is of CWA's I don't think it'll fall into the disappointment category. But, the fact is, this is the 1st album by them I do expect something since back in 2005 I had not heard much dredg at all.

Mute Math: Based on the samples on the videos, this new album from them sounds like it could be really good. And to add to that, I don't consider their debut LP to be that amazing over time. They became a superior band live. So if we get much of the same, well their status as a studio band goes nowhere. I like their chances of not disappointing me.

OSI: FREE was a good example of this problem. The S/T debut was a very good record, and FREE just lacked so much of what I loved about the debut. I suppose I could see this a bit like Mars Volta; the bar has been lowered to the point where it's very likely the only place they go is up. Besides, Jim Matheos hasn't done much since FREE as from what I've read. Hopefully he's come up with some new guitar riffs and tones, as well as Kevin Moore. Maybe having Gavin Harrison won't hurt either, but also expectations won't be too high since this is the 1st time he'll have worked with either of them I guess.

The Appleseed Cast:
I liked PEREGRINE a lot, but not to the point of addiction. So I guess I'm not likely to expect anything better than that. I read something about their being a very small percentage of vocals on their upcoming record titled "Sagarmantha."

Kaddisfly:
Similar to The Dear Hunter. Their last work was just so damn good, and addictive, I may struggle with not wanting another 5-star work. I have felt for a long time now, there's no way they'll be able to shock me like they did again; but at least I can't get past wanting a lot of the inspiration that PRAIRIE gave me. This one will be hard, but maybe the best thing is just to believe their peak was so high it won't matter.

Pure Reason Revolution:Actually I have some optimism here just based on the samples and new work, and how much less demand THE DARK THIRD has had over time. Topping TDT I'm not wanting to expect, but at least going back to their new record as much I don't think is outlandish. The trip-hop and electro style I've only grown to like MORE, so there new album may be pretty safe not to worry.

Pain of Salvation: SCARSICK lowered their bar. If they make another album like that though, they probably will be into Dream Theater's expectation area then. The issues could be the new bass player and drummer, and what Daniel Gildenlow really hopes to accomplish with their next work. I guess unless they go off the deep-end entirely into avant-garde styles, I don't really foresee why their next album may disappoint me. At the same time, I don't expect another record of the level of REMEDY LANE or THE PERFECT ELEMENT PART 1. Or even their 1st 2 records. I'd love a solid 4-star record honestly. If they go higher, well maybe it'll be considered a comeback.

Karnivool: THEMATA became an addictive album the last 12 months for me. Although, a bit like Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, it's not a perfect record or anything. But an impressive debut for sure. I suppose like Margot, if there's a lot of hype, the danger of high expectations might happen. But outside of Australia, this band is not well-known enough for that amount of hype. At least from what I've seen. So I guess at this point, an album that is at least of THEMATA's quality is all I will regard as an expectation. If it does not go that high, I suppose my feeling on them may be more of like Apex Theory or Brazil. One nice record, but that may be it. Hopefully not as they seem to standout among all those other alt-prog bands from down under. Dead Letter Circus might be the only one that could be in their league at some point.

tbc...

1 comment :

Lou said...

Just wanted to let you know I enjoy your writing and music reviews and I have tried to introduce myself on Twitter (I'm lou1492). I'm also a Progressive Ears member.

Cheers,
Lou