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"a succession of recent failures retroactively ruins anything good a band may have once done..."
Are there any current bands/artists that you once enjoyed/admired/idolized, but due to too many artistic missteps, you can no longer cut them any slack? (Or worse, their catalog is unlistenable?)
I have three:
1) Weezer. I essentially learned how to play guitar to the Blue Album; Pinkerton is bordering on classic status; the Green album is a terrific half-hour of power-pop. Everything since has been garbage. In fact, they are so far gone that now, all I can wonder is: what happened? RIP Weezer 1994-2001.
2) Matthew Good. I'm not sure how popular he is in the States (my guess, not very; and even less around the world), but up here in Canada around '99, this guy was like god. He split from his band sometime in 2002 and has subsequently released four solo albums. His most recent effort, "Vancouver", finds him spewing vitriol about his hometown (and site of the upcoming 2010 Olympics). He's a man with a lot to say, but musically, you can't help but think you've heard it all before. His solo album batting average is .500; not bad, but up against his band's catalog, it just doesn't measure up.
3) U2. If you ask me, U2 ceased being relevant over a decade ago. Their last two albums have been virtual xerox's of "All That You Can't Leave Behind" (which wasn't that great, in my opinion). And you have to question the motive behind the Blackberry sponsorship of their recent tour -- did they really need the cash? To me, that was sort of the final straw.
(PS. On a positive note, I suppose the YYYs are an established act that I'm now on board with. Newton's third law.)
Oasis. Their first two albums "Definitely Maybe" (1994) and "What's the Story Morning Glory?" (1995) are among my top 50 albums of all time, and "What's the Story Morning Glory" is without a doubt a top ten album of mine. After that album they put out "Be Here Now" (1997) which is a really good album, but not as strong as their first two by any means. Still it is really good. Then they put out "Standing on the Shoulder of Giants" (2000) which sucked pretty hard. After that was "Heathen Chemistry" (2002) which was a step up from their last album, but wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination. After that was "Don't Believe the Truth" (2005) which was actually really good, although not even close to their first two albums. Their latest (and probably last) album was "Dig Out Your Soul" (2008) which was decent. Still, while they did make some pretty good stuff after 1997, they never made anything close to their stuff before then.
Smashing Pumpkins, definitely. You have two of the greatest albums of all time, then a medicore electronic-style album that I kinda like, and then the next decade of crap.
Tori Amos. She is one of my favorite artists of all time. Little Earthquakes has been climbing AM top 3000 albums for a long time, and that always brought me joy. All her 90's albums are essential for me. But the 2000's were a mess. Scarlet's Walk is the only exception. The covers album "Strange Little Girls" started that "concept album" trend that Tori has been doing the whole decade. Her post-2005 albums were all messy.
The Beekeeper and 2007's American Doll Posse together they don't hold a candle to any of her albums released until 2002 . In 2007 She started to wear wings, create characters because of the concept, nothing against that since many artists do that but American Doll had 23 tracks, and more than half is pure filler or just bad. Bad concept and bad concept album. It's true, the album had its small moments, but they all got lost inside the mess. 2009's Abnormally Attracted To Sin is her worst to date! At least Beekeeper and American Doll were experiments for Tori, and although i didn't like them, i had to congratulate her for refuse to do the same thing all over again, but this new album was actually a Tori copycat, Tori being a Tori-wannabe. She wrote about the same subjects she talked about in the 90's: sin, God, Sex. But there was no magic, no emotion, no soulful piano playing, the production was terrible, her voice was terrible. The album had only 2 tracks worthy. I tried, but it didn't grow on me.
Later this year I bought her box set and i listened to b-sides from her 90's day and some of them like: Upside Down, Take To The Sky & Flying Dutchman are better than anything she has been releasing the past 5 years. She's not the same anymore, and that disappoints me. I guess that even Liz Phair going pop back in 2003 was less disappointing than this. She was pure gold, even when she didn't play the piano. But now, she's a mess with or without it. Her voice is just awful these days, sounds like she's dying or something like that, she pronounces the worlds different now. I know she lives on England, but it isn't an accent. It's weird, and some fans think that her england studio makes her voice sounds like that, since the tracks that wasn't recorded over there, don't have that annoying accent. Shit, even Kate Bush's accent sounds more american than Tori's these days, and she's british! Tori loves to tour and her voice live is different, so i guess people are right it's the studio who changes her voice. She is the producer, so she is the one changing her voice. She loves touring, and she still makes a hell of a show, but her albums are not the same anymore. It's just sad, seeing her contemporaries that i also love like: Bjork, PJ Harvey & Fiona Apple, and others still delivering. I don't need to see Tori inside every EOY list or EOD, i just wanted a solid effort.
It's just sad to watch Tori's situation, such a train-wreck, i hope the next decade to be better. I would love to be a fan, who loves everything she has ever done, who believes she's yet to have a misstep, but that's not me and that's not her. That's Polly Jean Harvey. Every artist has the right to do something wrong, but when i see so many consecutive mistakes it's just sad and i know i'm not the only one, other fans fell like that. I just hope one day she gets it right, she's not obligated to do an album that I love, but it would be pretty cool if i could love one of them again.
sonofsamiam once mentioned Grandaddy and the conclusion that The Sophtware Slump's brilliance is regrettably disregarded due to the group's rather mediocre, repetitive successors. so i think i just throw that name in on his behalf..
U2 stopped being relevant 2 decades ago...
as huge of an R.E.M. fan as I am (they're in my top 5 bands ever) I have to believe their last 15 years of work has ruined them for future generations a bit.