The last 3 good albums

I’m haunted by three albums released from the late 1990s to mid-2010s.

Partly because they are ethereal and strange, partly because they seem to be the last good albums ever recorded.

I might be wrong about this. Perhaps I’m just a grumpy old man and you can draw my attention to more recent good albums.

On the other hand, maybe downloading killed music as we once knew it, leaving us with nothing listenable except for free, bland focus music.

Edit: here’s another view of what’s wrong with modern pop. It’s not the only one:

One must remember that songs from our youth will always be imprinted most deeply upon our hearts and that we will be biased against whatever the Young People listen to once we’re over thirty. I recently read a Boomer post dissing all the dreadful albums released in 1993 that neglected to mention Siamese Dream, Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We?, and Debut . Come on, man.

I don’t want to fall into that trap.

However, I discovered the following three albums well after my teens, in my thirties.

I think I heard songs from these albums around the time they were released but didn’t really take much notice until later, perhaps because by then there was nothing worth discovering except old stuff I’d missed.

  1. Moon Safari by Air, 1998

There’s something magical about this album. Air later did the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides but never came close to repeating this effort.

I don’t know how to do music criticism any more than I can play the bassoon. All you can do is listen and either like it or not. If our tastes differ, so be it. I doubt one can convince another person to like a type of music except through peer pressure and I don’t have the social dominance for that.

People I respect extoll music I dislike, for example Didact and his love of hair metal. I found the link to his blog just now by searching ‘didacts reach megedeth’. I can listen for a while and appreciate that it’s fairly complex and might be hard to play, but in the end I choose to listen to something else.

Also not a fan of his Friday T&A silicone and Photoshop fest but now we’re way off track.

The next good album:

2. Seventh Tree by Goldfrapp, 2008

Goldfrapp have done various things over the years, from uber-alternative to garish pop. This album has an odd, carnival sound to it. I haven’t heard anything this interesting released since.

The lyrics are weak but, as with Air, English is not their first language and I don’t think they care. Nor do I. There’s a time and a place for fancy wordsmithery. I like how the songs build up then explode. I find them so unpredictable that even though I’ve listened to the album a million times, I still forget where the songs go and am surprised each time.

One more:

3. Saudade by Thievery Corporation, 2014

This one is not like the others. Quiet, almost ambient, it’s a stepping-stone between what our music used to be and what it has become.

Thievery Corporation previously recorded completely different music – electronic trip hop etc. – but suddenly they came out with this French bossa nova, for want of a better categorization.

I’ve often wondered why this album is not better known. In another dimension it’s played endlessly in every cafe until it drives people nuts. A good album to drink coffee by. To focus. There are no dramatic refrains to distract the listener. We’ve almost arrived at lofi.

That the last good album was released in 2014 should not surprise us. Our cultural decline accelerated dramatically right around that time.

It’s funny: the Weimar days were not so barren. There’s plenty of good music and cinema from that era, though many of my readers will disagree.

Like I’ve said before, our decline is different from earlier ones. It’s cringe-worthy. We can’t even collapse our civilization in a spectacular implosion that will terrify the ages anymore. People will look back at our time and think, those guys were lame.

So far, I can’t imagine anything from the 2020s being nostalgic in the future. Not our music, not anything. Except perhaps to those bug-souls who take delight in hermitting in their rooms all the time, which these days is a lot of people. I reckon they have plenty more of that to look forward to.

As I said, I might be wrong and I hope I’m wrong. Hit me with any albums from this fake and gay decade you deem worthy of a listen.

19 comments

  1. Pickle Rick · 13 Days Ago

    Rammstein pulled off a great album recently.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. luisman · 13 Days Ago

    It’s not a collapse of civilization, it is just petering out, like the last song.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dots and Loops · 13 Days Ago

    Saudade is a the name of a great track from Tones On Tail, a 1980’s band from the Bauhaus/Love and Rockets family tree.
    Good music is always ongoing and not on corporate cookie cutter labels where PR departments are looking for copycats.
    Check out early Boards Of Canada-Music Has the Right to Children (1998) if you haven’t already, it is labeled IDM for those who love to label.
    Good albums will keep you going as the Terminal Madness intensifies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kentucky Headhunter · 13 Days Ago

    Music is so personal and subjective I don’t recommend things, but I’ll just say I liked this or that. I did like the Air and Thievery tracks listed above.
    My go-to album I can listen through over and over again? Gin Blossoms New Miserable Experience. Shocking, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dickycone · 12 Days Ago

    From this decade as in released after 1/1/2020? That’s tough, but mostly because I don’t actively try to find new music anymore. I like shoegaze, and the most recent music I can remember being blown away by is this track from American Football:

    I bought the album figuring that if the rest of the tracks were even half as good it would probably put the album in my top ten favorites and, sure enough, they were not. Not even close. Only a few were even listenable. This song is great though, if this sound is your kind of thing.

    There’s also Autumn’s Grey Solace, another shoegaze/dream-pop group that’s been putting out good to great albums for almost 20 years now. This is their latest I’ve listened to, from 2019, but it looks like they actually came out with another this year that I haven’t listened to yet:

    https://autumnsgreysolace.bandcamp.com/album/englel-cra

    As someone said above, I think there is still plenty of great music being released, just not on the big labels.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. TechieDude · 12 Days Ago

    It wasn’t all bad;
    https://youtu.be/kXYiU_JCYtU – I’m not getting video though. That’s a guys lament, not womans.
    https://youtu.be/ba3NKV395i0

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tim914 · 12 Days Ago

    I think modern youth are often afraid to think independently, where in the past it was encouraged. The 90’s was the last decade of decent music.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Maniac · 12 Days Ago

    I’ve come to appreciate progressive rock in recent years. Here’s a favorite track from one of the best:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kuUV_R93Gv4

    Liked by 1 person

  9. PrinzEugen · 12 Days Ago

    Personally I find that places that are less connected to the Western hive-mind produce quality music. Japan comes to mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK3NMZAUKGw
    Even Europe has its holdouts from the grand Eurotrance/Eurodance movements of the 90’s, like the Russian band Serebro. Putinist Russia has, unsurprisingly, not lost its ability to create good music. The singers are more or less whores or acting like they are, but unlike their counterparts in Western Europe they are easy on the eyes and their songs are catchy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ouf151l7mSs

    Liked by 1 person

    • dickycone · 12 Days Ago

      Where’s a good place to start with Serebro? When I lived over there I thought most Russian pop music was unlistenable, but the few artists who were good were very, very good.

      Dolphin is one favorite of mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Kentucky Gent · 12 Days Ago

    I prefer Gregorian chant over secular music.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · 12 Days Ago

      Are they putting out any new chants this century? Serious question.

      Like

      • Kentucky Gent · 11 Days Ago

        Honestly, I don’t know. Probably could find out by checking release dates of the chants on youtube, but personally I’ve never done that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ray · 11 Days Ago

        No. Greg died.

        Like

  11. Eduard Hiti · 12 Days Ago

    I would like to mention the first two New Young Pony Club albums. The third and last one turned out to be rather bland…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. pukeko60 · 12 Days Ago

    Leningrad Cowboys.
    Nic Cave
    The Mutronbirds
    The Waifs
    The Petersens.
    And this…
    https://youtu.be/FQMbXvn2RNI

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jason · 12 Days Ago

    Since you like Moon Safari, you should check out Zero 7, a band with a similar vibe (gorgeous electronics plus honey-toned guest vocalists) but more consistency over several albums. Start with their album “Simple Things”, and if you like that masterpiece, check out “The Garden” and “When It Falls” as well. The music you posted also reminds me of Phantogram; start with their album “Eyelid Moves”.

    I’ve been finding great rock albums from the 2000s and 2010s, but not nearly as many as in the 80’s and 90’s, and there’s usually a five-to-ten-year delay between when a great album comes out and when I learn of it. I haven’t found any great albums that came out in the current decade yet, but by 2030 I should be able to name a few I’ve already missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Klaus · 11 Days Ago

    Thanks Nick, for adding that “Why is modern music so awful?” YouTube. I’ve thought for ages that the “hook” in pop songs was repeated much now than in earlier times. Nice to find out I was right.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. ray · 11 Days Ago

    Feminist societies don’t produce great art. Or good art. They produce cant and pablum, like (c)rap ‘music’ and MOR non-innovative stuff that belongs on elevator tracks.

    Not much worthwhile after rock faded in the seventies. Some good tunes from the neo and punks, then (c)rap and women took over after that. A few things probly snuck through the cracks, they always do. Even in cheyne-stokes cultures.

    Like

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