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31 December, 2003

Music of 2003: the bad

2003 has been a particularly good year for my musical taste.  I've really liked some albums released in 2003, plus older albums by bands new to me this year; I'll probably post reviews of them, eventually.  But it hasn't been uniformly wonderful: I've bought a few albums I haven't liked, and previous favourite bands have disappointed.

I've already mentioned The Flower Kings 'Unfold The Future' and Karmakanic 'Entering The Spectra' (both 2002, but new to me in 2003) and the various Tull/Anderson 2003 releases individually, but a couple of other less impressive (to me) releases are worth a brief mention:

Spock's Beard 'Feel Euphoria' (2003). I wanted SB to succeed following the departure of Neal Morse, but it seems he was the one who provided the elements I liked in their lyrics and music, and the new album does nothing for me. There's a tempting parallel with Genesis; once Peter Gabriel left in 1975, I found subsequent albums insipid, and it took a radical shift in direction for the band's career to recover (in a way I didn't like, but that's not the point).

Radiohead 'Hail To The Thief' (2003) - This left me utterly cold. No noteworthy highlights, no disastrously low points, just mediocre, even boring. They're far from being my favourite band anyway, but the first three albums had a sufficient proportion of excellent tracks to justify the cover prices and 'Kid A' had some indefinable quality I quite liked (though I rarely play it). I haven't heard 'Amnesiac', and I'm no longer sure if I'll bother.

The sort of music I like does develop an attraction after multiple plays, rather than necessarily grabbing me the very first time. I remember that when I first heard each Jethro Tull album, it wasn't until the third or fourth occasion that the music fell into place and I started to really like it. Similarly, it may be that with time and repeated attempts, some of the albums I've mentioned above will gradually make sense and my appreciation of them might increase. However, each of those albums which improved later still had something attractive from the very start, something that made me want to play the album again at all. If I have to force myself to listen to music I don't really like, because I 'should' appreciate it and on the off-chance that something will emerge on the fifteenth or fiftieth occasion, that rather means the album has failed.

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