It's been quite a year for alternative music, at least if you look at the charts. Huge album debuts from Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire, the White Stripes, Wilco
, etc. The up-side of internet
music sharing? Are people now less likely to actually buy those crappy pop albums, allowing the better rock offerings to climb higher (if not sell more)? Not my expertise. But it certainly seems related.
Luckily, there's actually been some good music this year too. The aforementioned Stripes and Wilco
both put out good records. Pitchfork
beautifully subdued Sky Blue Sky
"dad rock." Fine by me. My ears for the loud stuff ain't what they used to be. In that same vein, I've much enjoyed Patty Griffin's Children Running Through
and Ron Sexsmith's Time Being
, both of which flatter my desire for smart, tasteful rock & roll that doesn't pitch to the teenybops
. (I've also been a little disappointed by Lucinda Williams's West
, which drags after the affecting opener/single "Are You All Right?") Is it still "rock & roll" if it is smart and tasteful? The question makes my head hurt. But not as much as rap music does. Damned kids.
The best record I've heard so far this year? No question. Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
. Even if you don't know Spoon by name, you've still probably heard them. They appear in lots of commercials and provided pretty much all the music for Stranger Than Fiction
(with Will Farrell and Emma Thompson). Requisite rock equation: Cracker + Joe Jackson + Stewart Copeland's drumming ca. 1979. The last three Spoon CDs
have all been pretty much perfect. Kill the Moonlight
(2003) made them a top line alt rock band and got mammoth reviews, but for my money Gimme Fiction
(2005) was even better: precise, staccato
, new wave ecstasy. How could something so manicured be so visceral? (Oh, yeah, I'm old. Nearly forgot.) And now Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
, which is brainy pop candy. Among other standouts, it includes "The Underdog" (Spoon's best single) and ends with "Black Like Me," maybe their prettiest and vulnerable song. Unfortunately, Mrs. TMcD's
mom ears are aging faster than my dad ears, so she finds Spoon too intense, meaning that the Boo and I have to wait until she runs errands to rock out.
What am I missing? Have you guys heard anything good? (I'm still mentally processing the new Josh Rouse and New Porns