The Next Big ThingPosted: October 14, 2006
Rather than talk about a single song, this week’s format is more of a general rant on my take on new music.
Critics always battle over what’s going to be the next big thing. Ninety percent of the time, they’re wrong. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but the more hype I hear, typically the more jaded I become.Here’s my thoughts on all the bands of the past couple years that have been at some point treated as the next big thing.
–The Arctic Monkeys (Hyped by: England)
One day, I woke up and the Arctic Monkeys were the greatest thing since sliced bread. I had no idea who they were, but all of a sudden they had a best selling record. I figured I must be missing out on something, so I downloaded a couple songs to see what the big deal was. Listening to the song, I have no idea. It’s not that their music is bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. But there’s nothing here that you can’t find in a million other pre-existing bands. As far as I can tell, it seems England was wishing they had come up with the Strokes, and briefly pretended that they did. As quickly as they appeared on top, everyone stopped talking about them.
(Recommended tracks: “A Certain Romance” sounds like a cheap, cockney Strokes track, but I mean that in a good way.)
–Franz Ferdinand (Hyped by: People looking for a danceable alternative to garage rock.)
“Take Me Out” was a huge single, but that’s probably the best FF’s got in them. Their second album was rushed and offered nothing new, even if a couple of the songs were pretty good. You could feel the band losing its momentum already. I still enjoy their music, but ultimately, they’ve had their 15 minutes.
(Recommended tracks: They never topped the catchy beat of “Take Me Out,” but “This Boy” and “40′” come close.)
–Modest Mouse (Hyped by: Everyone who wanted a quirky alternative to garage rock.)
“Take Me Out” and “Float On” came out at the exact time, and both had very distinct beats. For awhile I couldn’t tell one from the other. But as time slowly filtered the songs apart, I noticed that “Take Me Out” played with conflicting beats deliberately. The only thing “Float On” did deliberately was try to be weird. I’ve heard a few more songs, and I have yet to see them do anything but be a poor man’s Flaming Lips.
(Recommended tracks: I don’t really recommend them at all. Sorry.)
–Interpol (Hyped by: People who wished Joy Division was still around)
Interpol is an perfect example of a group overwriting their songs. They put together such tightly wound overlaid rhythms of guitar that there’s seemingly no room to breathe. Sure, their songs are well-written, but there’s no soul. This could all be saved by an expressive voice, but unfortunately they’ve opted for a vocalist with a mechanical drone. The songs feel so overprocessed, they just aren’t any fun to listen to.
(Recommended tracks: They really aren’t my type of music, but if it’s the kind of stuff you like, listen to “Slow Hands.” That one has the most potential.)
–The Killers (Hyped by: Themselves)
According to the Killers, their newest album is the best piece of music in years. However, the music they’re talking about includes that piece of crap you’ve been hearing on the radio, “He doesn’t look a thing like Jeeeeeesus…” Now, the Killers could’ve been pretty good, if they took things slow. However, their success has already gone to their heads, and I say they’ll be as pretentious and inconsistent as Oasis from now on.
(Recommended tracks: The only worthwhile Killers’ song is “All These Things That I’ve Done.”)
–Bloc Party (Hyped by: Me… or in general, most Cure fans)
I was skeptical about Bloc Party for awhile, but the more I heard, the more I liked. Hearing “Helicopter” sealed the deal for me. The conflicting guitar licks, the viscious drum rolls, and the catchy as hell wailing chorus of “Are you hoping for a miracle?” It was all I needed to listen to everything by them I could find. The Cure influence is blatant, (especially in “This Modern Love” and “Compliments”) but that’s not a bad thing. It’s influence, it never becomes imitation. You can call them new wave revival if you like, but whatever it is they’re doing, it is in fact new, not just reminiscing about the 80s. Bottom line is, if anyone is going to be the next big thing, Bloc Party gets my vote.
(Recommended tracks: Oh geez… everything. “Helicopter,” “Pioneers,” “This Modern Love,” “She’s Hearing Voices…” just go out and buy “Silent Alarm.”)