MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015
WEEK 48: THE CORE CURRICULUM 2005 – 2009
James Murphy may have been ‘losing his edge’ on LCD Soundsystems classic debut but by the time I got to the second half of the noughties I’d already lost mine. Overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of new music, as someone who had always balanced his own admittedly self-perceived notion of cool with the anxiety of growing older, not only did his story of an ageing hipster pushed aside by a new generation of kids make me laugh out loud, it also made me realise just how much I’d lost touch.
Following its initial surge, by the mid noughties the internet’s ability to connect groups with their audience had finally begun to mature. The matrix of connections built through social networking reached critical mass, the flier pasted to a phone box becoming the blog read by thousands. With eager young fans keeping up with more music so easily, tastes broadened and specialisation followed meaning artists could get as weird and out there as they liked without any fear of rejection.
As technology helped these strange little groups become modestly successful, the internet opened up the blogosphere to every type of musician and non-musician looking for their own post box to the world. In this new climate of cultural diversity all borders and barriers were removed both musically and physically, and it became perfectly possible for previously unfashionable countries like France to become a new centre for grinding dance music and Sweden to become a new home for clattering neo, post punk pop.
The downside to all this was that whereas I’d once invested so completely in an artist’s records, art and theories on life, suddenly those things didn’t seem to matter anymore. On occasion I would find myself listening to something and have no idea who or why it was. As modern culture became more and more fragmented and transient, the meaning behind music and the reasons for making it changed completely. Music lost so much of its cultural power it became impossible to create a big movement in a way that had been possible even in the nineties. Everything became so post-modern and broken down that in the west, any thought that music could still be a vehicle for a cultural revolution was considered laughable.
Of course, in the cracks between the generations, hidden deep within the class system, racism, the haves and the have not’s, there was still the odd voice of dissent but they were almost completely overwhelmed by a deluge of greed and intolerance. And I have to admit that often, even the small amount of politically engaged, meaningful art that could be found tended to sound horribly irrelevant and indulgent, lost and lonely in the vast retail parks of consumerism. Obviously it was still vital for my own personal hope and sanity but I couldn’t help wondering if I was just deluding myself, particularly as no matter where I thought I stood on all the weighty cultural and political issues the value of a killer tune seemed to matter more than anything.
I guess I’d spent so many years trying to keep my arms around the madly spinning globe of music culture past, present and near future that I was no longer able to keep up. Needing something small yet meaningful to regain my perspective I hatched a crazy, Bill Drummond type plan to listen to just one current album per month and nothing else. I lasted less than a week. In the end, even after my near forty years of listening, I found it impossible to resist the anticipation of hearing something that might make me forget about the tedium and bullshit of everyday life, even if it was only for a few glorious moments.
01 LCD SOUNDSYSTEM ‘Losing My Edge’ (LCD Soundsystem LP January 2005)
02 BECK ‘Scarecrow’ (Guero LP March 2005)
03 SIGUR ROS ‘Hoppipolla’ (Takk LP September 2005)
04 ARCTIC MONKEYS ‘Mardy Bum’ (Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not LP February 2006)
05 LIARS ‘The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack’ (A Side February 2006)
06 THE KNIFE ‘We Share Our Mothers Health’ (Silent Shout LP March 2006)
07 HOT CHIP ‘Over And Over’ (The Warning LP May 2006)
08 JARVIS COCKER ‘Running The World’ (A Side July 2006)
09 BEIRUT ‘Postcards From Italy’ (The Gulag Orkestar LP November 2006)
10 NAS ‘Hip Hop Is Dead’ (Hip Hop Is Dead LP December 2006)
11 ARCADE FIRE ‘Intervention’ (Neon Bible LP March 2007)
12 MIA ‘Paper Planes’ (Kala LP August 2007)
13 BURIAL ‘Archangel’ (Untrue LP November 2007)
14 MGMT ‘Time To Pretend’ (Oracular Spectacular LP December 2007)
15 HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR ‘Blind’ (A Side March 2008)
16 FLEET FOXES ‘White Winter Hymnal’ (Fleet Foxes LP June 2008)
17 MOON WIRING CLUB ‘Ten Years Or Twenty’ (Shoes Off And Chairs Away LP September 2008)
18 EMPIRE OF THE SUN ‘We Are The People’ (A Side September 2008)
19 ANIMAL COLLECTIVE ‘My Girls’ (Merriweather Post Pavilion LP January 2009)
20 LILY ALLEN ‘The Fear’ (It’s Not Me, It’s You LP February 2009)