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Most Overrated/Underrated

December 17, 2009

I’ve read so much crap about the industry buzz bands that it’s practically coming out of my ears.

Of course, some of my favorite aspects of the music industry get no love at all. I’m going to rectify that, at least in my mind, with this list. But I couldn’t just limit myself to bands…some things just need a little more/less love.

Most Overrated

1. Animal Collective

I don’t get it. It’s a bunch of noise. Correct me if I’m wrong, because I might be expecting too much, but I don’t hear anything special. I was told that when I listen to try not to hear God speaking to me or anything, but even with lowered expectations I didn’t get any great vibes from Merriweather Post Pavillion.

Their album has already made most end of the year lists and topped many. However, it will not make any lists of mine except the best album art list. Perhaps if I took drugs I might be more in to it, but for now I just think it’s over-hyped hipster crap.

2. Dirty Projectors

If you read my review of their album Bitte Orca you understand my animosity toward this band. I listened to this album quite a bit over the summer, I really tried to like it because everyone was commenting on how good it was. For me, however, it never took. The whole thing just came off sounding intentionally difficult and pretentious.

The song “Stillness is the Move” grew on me a little bit, but I like Solange Knowles version much more because it was a legitimate R & B song. The whole Brooklyn art-rock thing is a bit overcooked and I hope 2010 brings something better.

3. Wavves

I wish the Black Lips would have really beaten up Nathan Williams in Atlanta. Wavves is a gimmick and Williams is a whiny punk with a really loud amp. I can hear a few of the notes he’s trying to play underneath all of his distortion, but, if you ask me, his voice just sounds like a mess.

Wavves released their album early in the year, and ever since the enfant terrible has been a critical success. If only his Barcelona breakdown would have ended the band then I would have nothing to bitch about anymore.

4. Noise in general

Wavves certainly fits in to this overrated ’90s revival genre that has been at the forefront of indie music this year along with Japandroids, No Age, etc. I don’t find the music these bands make to be especially good in terms of technical skill or aural quality. I’m not a loud person, I don’t know that I have ever been one, so this type of music really does nothing for me.

I suppose this is the rebellion that comes from the quiet music that dominated 2008, but I really hope that it doesn’t stick around into 2010.

5. Girls

Girls album, Album, (besides having the most pretentious title ever) is another one of these albums this year that has blown up as a result of the insistence of the hype machine. Big surprise, I don’t buy it.

Every music Web site, blog, what have you, have all raved about Album and “Lust for Life” in particular, but I haven’t been able to get past Christopher Owens voice. The New York Times compared the band to Elvis Costello, Buddy Holly and the Beach Boys but I think that is nearly criminal (and those musical heroes might seriously get offended should they watch the video for “Lust for Life”). There might be something to this band, but it wasn’t enough to make me really care, and I think they’ve gotten too much credit.

Most Underrated

1. Fanfarlo

If you read my Breakout artists you probably already understand that I really like these Brits. Unfortunately, not as many people share my passion as I would have thought. Their debut album is great, truly great, their talent is so magnificent, and so unreal for such a young band.

I won’t give anything away, but Reservoir is one of my favorite albums of the year. I still can’t get over how good it is and that I was able to purchase it for only a dollar. Anyone who missed out on that sale should feel real sorry for themselves right about now.

2. Justin Townes Earle

I already stated my desire to not give away tomorrow’s top albums list, but it’s getting harder not to do. Justin Townes Earle’s 2009 contribution, Midnight at the Movies, is one of the finest country albums I have ever heard.

Earle is the best thing to happen to country in a long time, because what he does is real. He is bold and unwavering in his take on country, and for that I am unapologetic for my adoration. I really think that more people should be listening to this man’s music, because it is that good. I look forward to seeing him play sometime in 2010.

3. Pygmalion Music Festival

Yesterday’s list, my favorite shows from the past year, was completely dominated by Pygmalion. Though it has gone on in my backyard the past four years, I had never been out to more than a few of the shows. This year I was able to attend the entire weekend and my god was it worth it.

Seeing so many incredibly talented bands in such a short period of time made my year complete. The bands that I listed did not even scratch the surface of all the great bands I saw: BLK JKS, Maserati, The Hood Internet…the list goes on and on. In short, this festival should blow up; Champaign can handle it.

4. The Hazards of Love

Oh man, I’m showing my hand a bit too much. Sure, this might be The Decemberists weakest studio album, but it is still an incredible piece of art. I think that everyone should have a vinyl copy of the record and just sit down and read the lyrics as the needle digs the story out of the grooves. It can be a bit confusing in segments or without context, and for that reason it has taken a bit of a bad rap.

You know, seeing it live doesn’t hurt either. It really puts the whole album on an entirely different level, it makes it so special. Give this album another spin, unadulterated, and just listen. I don’t think anyone would regret that decision.

5. Paste Magazine

Earlier this year we almost lost one of the best magazines around. Paste is one of the best sources to find great new music from a wide variety of genres, but even more than that they are able to pick out and pick apart the best in music, comedy and art in general.

Pitchfork claims to be home of the meticulously crafted album review, but in my opinion Paste, and the people who work there, really have the best musical tastes. I don’t mean that as an insult to anyone else, especially P4K, but Paste really deserves some credit. Maybe you deserve a subscription?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2009 1:40 pm

    Hooray for Hazards of Love and Earle. I saw Earle in Pittsburgh over the summer in this tiny little club and there were maybe 30 of us. It was so much fun! And I am absolutely not into the whole country thing. He’s just so good at what he does!

    • Chris Davies permalink*
      December 17, 2009 9:36 pm

      Thanks for reading and sharing your opinion!

  2. January 4, 2010 12:05 am

    I finally caught JT Earle live for the first time down in here in Australia in 2009 and he was a real trest. Was a line-ball second on my gigs of the year list:

  3. January 4, 2010 12:06 am

    oops, I meant “treat”

  4. January 10, 2010 2:06 am

    I completely feel you on the Animal Collective sentiment, and ditto concerning your comment on the Dirty Projectors: the studio album just seems like a waste after the fun and fantastic Knotty Pine.

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