Caleb says I haven’t blogged music lately

I agree with the Simon Reynolds thesis of aesthetic musical stagnation, nonetheless I’ve been listening to: Abigail Washburn, City of Refuge, Cecil Taylor Feel Trio, 2 T’s for a Lovely T (lots of discs, all wonderful, lasts for years), Rose of Sharon (American vocal music),  Scarlatti vol. I by Carlo Granta (my favorite of any Scarlatti recording), anything by Isabelle Faust, Diabelli Variations by Paul Lewis, Ravinahitsy, by Damily (acoustic guitar music from Madagascar, an underrated category), Juju in Trance, and Khyam Allami’s Resonance/Dissonance.

The new releases by Malkmus/Beck and Kanye/Jay-Z haven’t stuck with me.


Tyler, try listening to this.

Musical stagnation? Poppycock! Jack White has collaborated with the Insane Clown Posse in a cover of Mozart. What could be more innovative?

Sometimes I wish Harold Camping was right and the world did end in May of 2011.

If anyone's wanting to sample Abigail Washburn :

I got introduced into a love of music by following the latest innovative western pop releases (radiohead, my bloody valentine etc.) and I have to at least partly agree that musical innovation seems lower than it used to be.

I still feel that most "innovation" is simply recombination. However, there isn't much high-profile recombination going on, at least relative to the size of the music industry.

There is never an end to innovation (think hiromi uehara, or prefuse 73) but when the innovators stop being very popular (think free jazz or... well, prefuse 73), perhaps that is a sign that the "low hanging fruit" has been plucked.

My perception (based on having a teenage daughter) is that popular music still narrates the lives of teens and twenty-somethings as well as it ever did. "Aesthetic stagnation" is not something I would know how to measure.

In contrast, I note that the canon of poetry closed with the death of Robert Frost. By this I mean, rather precisely, that there is no poem written since the death of Robert Frost that would be recognized if you quoted it at a faculty cocktail party (other than a party of English professors) or at a Park Avenue cocktail party.

Interesting. I think media generally has been immune from TGS -- movies especially keep getting more entertaining.

Lately I can barely stand to hear any music not involving Trent Reznor (NIN or How To Destroy Angels), (with the exception of some Crystal Method and Tiesto techno music) which I attribute to his ingenious creativity and the density, dissonance, and darkness of his work. YMMV, of course.

"(acoustic guitar music from Madagascar, an underrated category)"

LOL. See, not only does Mr. Cowen listen to guitar music from Madagascar, he's listened to enough such music to have formed a general opinion on it, and he's he's also read the critical reviews of Madagascar guitar music, sufficiently to opine that it is "underrated", at least compared to the guitar music from other African countries formerly under French rule. I'm eagerly awaiting his views on Malagasy trombone music, or the best Sri Lankan sitar albums.

This is the best running practical joke on the internet.

Yes - let's cite music from two decades ago as evidence of stagnation.

Since Tyler's responding to a complaint that he hasn't blogged enough on a certain topic, I'll point out that he never followed up on July 25's
"I’ve also relented and finally tried Game of Thrones. I’m just at the beginning; we’ll see whether it ends up owned or liberated." ?

If there's no follow up, should one assume "liberated"?

I strongly disagree with the notion that music has been stagnating - the 00's have easily been the decade with the most new forms of music being created. Of course, most people never even hear about new most music. You also don't get particular bands/artists becoming huge, because there's just too many different artists and styles of music, in contrast with the 60's when everyone listened to the same thing.

Reynolds's argument regarding musical innovation is analogous to Cowen's regarding technological innovation. It's not that it no longer happens at all, it just doesn't happen at a rate anywhere comparable to the promise and potential inferred by past eras of explosive growth. For what it is, the iPad looks way more impressive than the flush toilet, but it's not the game changer that the toilet was. Similarly, eclectic mash-ups and Vampire Weekend levels of curator knowledge sound more impressive than anything Chuck Berry ever put out, but again, it's Berry who was the real game changer.

This is why I read through the comments on this blog.

The new releases by Malkmus/Beck and Kanye/Jay-Z haven’t stuck with me.

Well then, what about the old releases by Kanye/Jay-Z? Stuck much?

movies especially keep getting more entertaining
Not in my universe. Herzog is the only director remaining that could be considered 'great'. I would assume Aronofsky and Wes Anderson would be picked out as a counterexamples.

I really can't see how anyone could find Aronofsky movies to be anything but mediocre at best and personally, I find them to be insufferably bad. Like, if the point of these things is to be entertained, entertained I'm not.

And Anderson showed himself to be too formulaic.

I'm more of a fan of the Michael Bays, Wachowskis, Pixars, etc. Like all utility, entertainment is in the eye of the beholder, of course. So what we would really want to ask is one of two questions:

1) has utility been increased by my personal definition? (I think you would say no, I would say yes)

2) has overall utility been increased (that is, across society)? I think one can argue that it has.

Consider the quality of animation, dialogue, plot, etc in children's cartoons. I don't think anyone can argue today's are at all comparable to the 1980s. Now, movies haven't seen quite as much improvement, but production values have definitely increased across the board.

Movies have gotten markedly inferior. The endless remakes, sequels, and copycat films demonstrates that the Great Stagnation has hit Hollywood as well. How many more Spiderman, Superman, and Transformers movies will they make?

The music video to go with the guitar music would be nice... stagnation is not everywhere, sorry. one of many examples (from irreverent female artists):

Ask and ye shall receive:

Thank you! I love the little boy playing 'air guitar.' I wish work were as responsive as blogs, but I will take whatever happy I can get.

Went to the Gillian Welch concert at the Strathmore-- and it was just great. More broadly, the good stuff is out there, you just have to put some effort into looking for it.

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