Glasser at CMJ by Will Deitz

Glasser at CMJ 2010 by Will Deitz

Dave Rawkblog’s 2010 Bands You Can Ignore list is a fine example of blog aggravation. Containing a list of 2010 bands you don’t need to hear before making a year-end list, it was bound to stir up some strong opinion. There are certainly a few bands on that list that personally I’d never tell you to ignore. Foals? Glasser? Both have made brilliant albums this year. LCD Soundsystem? Tanlines? Please. Their Settings EP is one of the best short-form releases I’ve heard in the last 10 or so months.

Dave’s choices are his personal opinion and as much as the internet tells you otherwise, you have to respect that. There is an explanation. What concerns me though, is the Rawkblog criteria for the list. These artists are not bad just not worth your time or as he put it not special. Are we demanding brilliance and uniqueness from the start now? Is there no room for musical growth anymore? Or is instant dismissal a better option?

Let’s take a sample of acts on that list : Zola Jesus, How to Dress Well, Sun Airway, Active Child, Dom, CEO, Teengirl Fantasy and The Golden Filter. Most of these bands are very early in their potential careers. Zola Jesus may have been making music since she was 16 but she’s really only starting to come into her own now. Sun Airway are about to release their debut album Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier in the States. They’ve already produced one of my favourite songs of 2010 – ‘Waiting on You’. Active Child’s music so far has been intriguing, maybe hard to love but there’s something there. The Golden Filter too have had much to recommend them despite an occasionally lacklustre debut album. How To Dress Well is still one to keep an eye on. I’ve only heard one Dom song. Each of the bands on the Rawkblog list are doing something right.

Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter who appears on the list. It suggests we ignore these artists as they haven’t made anything truly great or contributed anything special to music yet. That worries me. The hyper-acceleration of music culture and consumption worries me. The churnover (hat tip – Sean Adams for the phrase) of new bands worries me and I’m a music blogger. Recently, I’ve consciously attempted to stem the flow of new music coming my way: the constant barrage of links and songs to check out. The pressure to do so. Lately, I have found a balance between listening to lots of new music and appreciating stuff I already like. I can’t live my life devouring buzz bands, shitting them out the other side and moving on. That’s just candy. Something of no value which fills up the time and space. There’s no nutrition. You only appreciate the short sugar rush. I want to be sure I’m able to listen to that music in six months, a year, five years.

That’s what Dave’s list attempts to do to a certain degree but that is why that list of bands to ignore rankles with me. Part of the fun of music discovery is seeing a band’s creativity skyrocket to the point where they become special. Sometimes, there is only one or two good songs at the start. Sometimes, you just have a feeling about a band that makes you want to stick around. Sure, more often that not, the initial excitement fades and you move on to something else. That’s OK. But at the very least, it’s something you should experience yourself. I’d hate to think that someone who reads that list is skipping on Glasser if my enjoyment of her album is anything to go by. Who knows what these artists will do in the near future? Isn’t that a part of the FUN? You certainly shouldn’t dismiss a band completely if they operate in your sphere of taste as clearly Dave’s list does with him. Except Free Energy – I’m sure we can all agree they totally suck…

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12 Responses to ““The 2010 Bands You Can Ignore list””

  1. Conor

    Really interesting point about demanding brilliance and uniqueness from the start.. Everything just seems so disposable if it doesn’t instantly grab and intrigue. Which may be a good thing as it will act as a filter but it really does stunt growth.

  2. Harmless Noise

    Well said!
    “I can’t live my life devouring buzz bands, shitting them out the other side and moving on. That’s just candy. Something of no value which fills up the time and space. There’s no nutrition. You only appreciate the short sugar rush. I want to be sure I’m able to listen to that music in six months, a year, five years.”

    This is something I’ve come to feel myself, lately…looking back at the rake of bands that have been featured online I find that when you expend all your effort fulfilling your end of the hype deal that brings traffic, you also lose out on being able to commit to the music that really means something to you. I’m trying to be a bit more selective but at the same time, there is a lot of fun in going with something new and tracking its progress over time. To be honest, the Rawkblog list smacks of sensationalism, as if they were just trying to elicit a reaction. It’s probably going to work in the opposite fashion as people aren’t quite that easy to spoonfeed and anyone with a grain of sense who hasn’t already heard stuff by Glasser, Tanlines and Zola Jesus will go and check it out now.

  3. Jim

    I wholeheartedly agree, this list is a bit worrying. It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw that said, “I like bands that don’t exist yet.” Although this is the flipside of that attitude. This hipster blogger wants to be the first to be part of the backlash as opposed to being the first to hear about them. He’s just as bad if not worse than the eNMEy. The end of October is way too eawrly for end of year lists anyway.

  4. Anonymous

    I’ve just read his explanation, and if anything it makes it worse. It was one thing when it read like a flippant, snarky list, but it’s slightly depressing that he’s actually put proper thought into it.

    Your point about giving bands time/space to develop is one that’s been made a lot in the last couple of years, particularly in reference to Pitchfork’s build-up/crushing of Black Kids and others, and it’s a very valid point. Even Pitchfork has taken the criticism on board, but blogs have carried on regardless.

    The guy mentions that he considers himself a critic (I think that’s quite a generous title for the publisher of a personal blog to give himself, but that’s another conversation) however the most important part of criticism is that you have the balls to qualify it – his list is an attempt at criticising without the actual criticism.

    Publishing a list of “bands you can safely ignore” (or however he phrased it) isn’t useful criticism. It doesn’t help anybody and it add anything to conversations about music, but it is a handy way for a blogger who feels his “work” is being underappreciated to assert his authority without actually justifying the title he’s given himself.

  5. Eoghan O Sullivan

    Actually, I listened to Mount Kimbie’s album purely because you kept talking about them Niall. haven’t seen anything about them anywhere else. And I am glad I did give a listen. Brilliant stuff. Every single blog and ‘buzz band’ is subjective. Each to his own. Some will love one band, while noone else will even bother reading their name.

  6. Adam W

    Nice post. As a person in a band who have yet to release anything (but are currently working on it!) the header on this post made my stomach do a massive and unpleasant flip. Nice surprise upon actually reading it though!

    Especially agree with your point about giving bands time to develop. When faced with a slightly dodgy debut album, we should be ever mindful of what I like to call ‘the Radiohead effect’. Good on you Niall.

  7. Karl

    Probably worth noting that a blog’s not the same as a magazine or something like Pitchfork. It’s a personal list on a personal blog, and even though it’s maybe framed in a more snarky way than usual, it’s no more offensive than an end of year list, really, and it’s probably for a similar purpose – waking up the comment trolls and getting them to go ‘WHAT?! You’re an IDIOT!’

    Seems like it’s coming from a sound headspace, in that the splintering of music media means that you’re getting 500 bands a year held up as ‘amazing’ by some blogger or other. That’s my mild defence of Dave, whose blog I’ve never read before.

    With that out of the way:

  8. awl-ova-yr-faceboing

    He’s right about the lack of negativity in music blogs though. Sure, the comments sections of music blogs are full of vitriol and hate and all shades of awfulness but it’s rare to see a music blog post that just calls a selection of bands a load of shit for not much reason other than thinking they’re meh. Of course, not that many would go and read a blog that concentrates solely on the barrels of shit out there in musicland you should ignore but I can see his point and, to be fair, he’s hardly the first blogger to be a snarky, self-righteous douchecanoe (via niamh). He wants ‘hits’ – doesn’t everyone? He wants a reaction – he gets one. He hates a lot of buzz bands – if we all sat in the pub together there are a lot of bands we’d all admit to hating on first listen and not really bothering with much afterwards. More power to him. Being instantly dismissive without elaboration, rhyme or reason is the prerogative of the internet generation.

  9. Liam

    I guess if you listen to music so you have something to talk about on message boards this list is very useful. Think I continue ignoring that blog.

  10. Ian

    It’s all subjective. When I listen to a new album for the first time I don’t have a check list of criteria which it must satisfy or be discarded, it either works for me or it doesn’t and if it doesn’t I’ll give it a few more listens before I turn my back on it. People label bands as “buzz artists” which immediately makes certain people love them and others hat them regardless of the actual music.
    We all read end of year lists and find ourselves strongly agreeing or disagreeing with the selections made. The difference with this list is that there’s something holier than thou about listing the bands to ignore, while a ‘Best Of’ list takes the role of recommending albums readers may have missed out on, this list acts as a dig at readers who enjoyed the releases he disapproves of.
    The reason blogs arn’t so negative is because there is so much good music out there to fill the posts. Also I’d contend that renowned artists do come in for criticism, for example the latest Interpol album has taken a bit of a bashing.

    How to Dress Well, Tanlines, Zola Jesus, LCD Soundsystem…sounds like my list of 2010 successes!


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