Musical Wishlist for 2010…


What a decade, eh? I’m especially having fun looking back since 2000 was the year I graduated high school and entered college: a critical turning point in any music lover’s development, let alone in one’s socialization. I really laugh to remember how back when Y2K dropped, I still had yet to attend my first rock show, to own a single mp3, or to learn a simple G-chord on guitar.

All three milestones would of course be passed within that first year: The concert came on a trip to Target Center for a triple bill of 93X all-stars (Three Doors Down, Sevendust, and — I shit you not — Creed). The digital music cherry broke with my first high speed Internet connection in a Syracuse dorm and about nine months of unadulterated pillage on Napster before they shut it down. And the guitar? A beginner’s Yamaha from my parents as a graduation present. (I still play it!)

So how to sum up the decade in music? It’s quite hard for me to play the unbiased observer. Songs that used to blow me away aren’t even in my iTunes anymore, while Freshman Luke would’ve scratched his head at St. Vincent and Yeasayer.

In the spirit of Don Draper, then, perhaps it’s best to keep things looking forward. Here are a few stray wishes for the first year of a hopefully fruitful decade in music…

  • The demise of lo-fi. It’s getting harder and harder to sound like shit on purpose. Bands like Deerhunter, No Age, Girls, Vivian Girls, Women, Wavves, and Pains of Being Pure at Heart try their damnedest, but no one can quite crack that sweet Velvet Underground nut, can they? Jack White came closest by copping the chick drummer idea and recording with a plastic guitar he bought at a department store. (But even he sounds like he’s come out of the garage on Icky Thump.) To the rest of you… we can tell you’ve got Pro Tools and a basement full of cherry-red hollow-bodied Gibsons. Why bury the vocals in the mix? Is it because you have nothing to say??

  • The spontaneous combustion of M. Ward and Conor Oberst. Good lord doesn’t Jim James have any cooler friends? I can think of a dozen other singer-songwriters who would’ve made far more compelling Monsters of Folk than these two paper-throated shlubbs. How about Sam Beam? (He could use the side project.) Or Jose Gonzalez? Ben Gibbard? It hurts to see you slummin’ it like this, Jim.

  • New albums (please) by The White Stripes, Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and – at long last – Sufjan Stevens. These are all acts I have enormous respect for and can’t wait to hear what they come up with next. (No pressure!)

  • The ascension of Tame Impala. I’m calling this one. An Aussie band I caught on youtube a few months ago that has yet to release their full-length and tour the States. In a contrast to the bands I listed above, these guys get a pass on their lo-fi production because they’re actually writing songs. Stoner 70’s jams, actually, that are really catchy. Put them on the opening slot for MGMT’s next tour then book a couple months of solo shows in shitty clubs.

  • The success of the upcoming Crosby, Stills, and Nash Rick Rubin collaboration. It’s going to be all covers, ala Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series. These guys have a lot of fight left in ‘em, if not the songwriting chops. It would be great to hear them bear their hippie souls one last time (without Neil’s crotchedy politics hogging the spotlight).

  • The end of ‘indie’. The term is now meaningless, because the major labels don’t really hold the cards any more on what music people have access to  (begging the question, ‘So what are you independent from exactly?’).  In reality it’s being used as a genre classification more than anything else (e.g. “Regina Spektor’s got that indie-pop sound!”), and labels always ruin art. Let’sjust  kill the word.

  • A Radiohead show in Minneapolis. Ha! This one’s here as a joke. They haven’t played the Cities since OK Computer, and I don’t expect them to any time soon. I realize you want to watch your carbon footprint, Thom, but ’round these parts you’re really starting to burn through fans.



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