We’re a few weeks past the halfway point of the year, which is normally the point at which I’d start thinking about putting the pieces together for whatever crazy year-in-review scheme I come up for McNutt Against the Music. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for you), I’ve got bigger fish to fry: an entire decade to put in perspective.
Anyways, all in good time. My point in talking about this now is that I’m starting to wrap my head around my favourite albums list and becoming increasingly disturbed by how records from the decade’s first half are overwhelming those from the second half. As it stands now, were I to complete this list today, my top three albums would all have been released prior to 2005.
If I could say with certainty that the first half of this decade was BETTER musically than the second half, this wouldn’t bother me. But I don’t think it was. And although I haven’t even come close to fleshing out the entire list, I’d bet money that when all is said and done that the records overall will span the decade pretty evenly.
This gets at something I hinted at on Monday: that the downside of the digital age is that the value of music is actually decreasing. I touched on a bunch of little ideas as to why I think it’s the case, but here’s another in more detail: there’s too much of it and it’s too easy to acquire.
Okay, the first part of that statement isn’t entirely accurate. There’s probably no more or less music than there ever was, but it sure FEELS like there’s more of it. Every day it seems as if a new buzz band is making its way around the blogosphere, or getting a great review at Pitchfork, or bumping their way up the Hype Machine hierarchy. Music has always been a more social experience that we give it credit for; the sound that blasts through our headphones may have intrinsic meaning to us, but its value is amplified with every conversation we have about it (on- or offline).
However, as music becomes easier to acquire – legally and illegally – it seems like the conversation has begun dictating the speed at which we adopt quality music as opposed to the other way around. For those of us with an interest in staying part of the dialogue, every new discovery is replaced by another one before it really has a chance to lodge itself in our hearts and minds. Not to mention the “backlog” – that awful phenomenon where one has several albums purchased or downloaded and really hasn’t spent time with any of them.
I’ve got some records this year bumming around my computer that I *think* are pretty solid – Metric’s Fantasies, the Manic Street Preachers’ Journal for Plague Lovers, Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest – but that I honestly haven’t spent that much time with. It almost seems as if they’ve gotten lost in the shuffle as newer, equally-buzzed records have come into my purview. And while there’s been a couple of records that I’ve genuinely loved, do I love them as much as I loved some earlier albums this decade? Can I see them living in my stereo for months on end? Can they become an entire soundtrack and not just a passing sound cue?
I don’t think so. As the amount music at our fingertips grows exponentially, the time we seem to spend with each note seems to shrink at the same pace. I’m bouncing from one song to another, but do any of them really mean that much to me anymore?