I feel like I’m in a music rut. And I’ve felt like that for a while. Six months at least. I troll Spotify, Reddit, hell the depths of the internet for my next fix like a junkie looking for his next hit of smack. Every Friday morning, I look at the newly released albums on the streaming services, Spotify in particular. But its algorithms now fill me with a false feeling of satisfaction. Instead of showing me all the new albums added to the service, it shows me the albums it thinks I might like. A piece of software shows me what to listen to based off my recent listening binge. One month I might have a taste for pop, so the latest pop albums feature in my new albums list. And in doing so I might miss some of the lesser known releases I could be very much interested in like the latest Bill Callahan or the Slauson Malone release. The service thinks it’s smart, but it can only cater so much for those who desire everything. I’m drip fed my fix of new music like an addict is drip fed their drug of choice. And nothing helps.
So, I turn to the wider internet in my search for the newer releases that might tickle my aggressive itch. I watch various YouTube videos on the latest albums, I search for columns on once great music publications but instead I get articles on ‘Billy Eilish’s Top Ten Sad Songs’ and ‘How Will Lil Nas X Back Up After Old Town Road’. I troll the various music subreddits and read the illustrious comments of the internet’s finest keyboard warriors. But I still can’t get my fix. I want the next great album. I want something to rock my world.
Last year I wasn’t drip fed greatness, it was shooting into my veins as if I was plugged straight into the source. This time last year we were coming to the end of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music Summer after the release of arguably the best hip-hop projects of the year. We had Pusha T, Kanye’s eighth album Ye and Kids See Ghosts, only one of which I truly appreciated at the time. Parquet Courts had slapped me across the face with their reinvention of contemporary rock, blending elements of punk, funk, Americana and indie. DJ Koze mesmerised me with his experimental and sample heavy house mix. And The Brian Jonestown Massacre made me question what I had been doing with my life thus far with Something Else. And that was just in the first half of the year.
I’ve had to truly search for greatness in 2019. Orville Peck’s Pony released through Sub Pop earlier in the year and it was a fluke I stumbled across that album. An independent publication that run their blog via Instagram reviewed the album, and it was only because of the gimp masked album cover that I stopped to read. Solange did surprise me earlier in March with the release of When I Get Home. I called it the first essential album of 2019, and I still stand by that. But it’s an album for a particular mood, and as I’ve been told by those who I’ve recommended it to, the psychedelic R&B/jazz is not for everyone. The standout release of 2019 has been Tyler, The Creator’s IGOR, the only album of 2019 that I can press play at any moment of the day and still be entertained. And that’s what annoys me. I’m not saying there hasn’t been solid releases this year, there has been. There’s been slowthai, King Gizzard, Denzel Curry, Flume. But nothing earthshattering, nothing that has rocked me to my core like the albums I mentioned earlier. At the end of last year I struggled to figure out my top ten albums. Not out of lack of albums, but because of the sheer number of greatness. Hell, I made a video this time last year titled ‘The Best Albums of 2018 So Far’ and that was a breeze. This year is a different story. I’m not getting my fix. It’s not just because of the Spotify algorithm that I haven’t been getting the greatness my ears deserve. I can easily list twenty to thirty great singles that have come out in the first half of this year. Just not albums. And I don’t think my standards are too high, Lil Yachty had a spot in my top ten last year. But the quality is certainly lacking compared to years gone by. I don’t want to beg for good music, just fucking give it to me.
In saying that, I’ve just discovered black midi upon writing this article. There may be hope yet.