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This One’s Optimistic

January 24, 2010

I first got into music aged about 15 or 16. For a couple of years, almost everything new sounded really good and exciting. This was about the time that bands like Franz Ferdinand, The Rakes, Bloc Party and The Futureheads burst onto the scene with fantastic debut albums, hot on the heels of The Libertines a few years before. History has not judged all of the bands from this period as kindly as my fresh-faced self did at the time, but I still feel the debut albums from those bands I’ve mentioned are very good indeed.

Since then, I don’t know whether the standard of music dipped slightly, or whether I just grew a bit cynical and less willing to seek out new music with much enthusiasm, but it hasn’t felt like there has been as much quality music floating around, particularly in terms of popular ‘indie’ (whatever that means anymore) music. Of course, there have still been many excellent albums released, but they have often seemed like anomalies, and I just haven’t been as excited about the general state of music as I was when I was 16 and everything was new.

However in the past year or so, I feel like there has been an upsurge in the amount of quality music released, like we are in the midst of some sort sort of cultural ‘peak’. Last year America really came to the fore, with bands like Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors all releasing masterpieces. Meanwhile in Britain, bands like Wild Beasts and The XX produced albums that were progressive and full of fantastic ideas, whilst also being accessible and fairly popular.

And this year, despite being not even a month old, has already produced a host of good (or better) albums. Obviously some are not out yet, but in this technological age we live in, it often feels like release dates don’t matter. The newness of them means I haven’t been able to give them all the time they deserve, but based on a few listens, they certainly seem very good indeed.

Some of the exciting new releases/leaks already out there to be listened to in the internetosphere include:

Odd Blood – Yeasayer
Heartland – Owen Pallett
One Life Stand – Hot Chip
Contra – Vampire Weekend
Hidden – These New Puritans
There Is Love In You – Four Tet
Romance Is Boring – Los Campesinos

I’ll review some of these in due course.

And the year also should see new releases from Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, The National, and Joanna Newsom. Things seem pretty exciting.

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