Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bands that lost it

Here's a top five list. You know how you once had this favorite band that seemed to sing right from their (and your) heart, creating one or more timeless and truly wonderfil albums. Then others felt the same about this band, and they became really successful and the next record they did – it just didn't feel quite the same. Be it due to sudden success or constant lack thereof - many bands just get distracted at some point and lose their urgency, drive or whatever you may want to call it. And then they seem like different people, like now they could never write songs as noble as they did before.

So here is my top five of bands that have "lost it":

1 The Strokes. Fresh, energetic, the coolest early twentysomethings since what, the Ramones? Probably not, but Is This It? took everyone by surprise and created part of a new consensus that opened mainstream audiences to "Indie" bands. Every song on that album is played straight to the point without anything unnecessary. Every tone on this record is just in the right place.
Anyway, everyone knows that record in and out. The Strokes became stars and then lost their inspiration, released Room On Fire and two more records that essentially all are shit compared to the debut. Should have split up long ago.

2 Weezer. First two albums great. Heartfelt and honest. Then the bass player left the band and apparently along with him went the spirit. Then they just imitated themselves on The Green Album and got worse with every album from then on forth. Painful.

3 ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. After Worlds Apart. That is THE modern rock record that shows everyone how to play drums on unusual time signatures without sounding too math-y or constructed. A record with so many hits that I am still in awe when I listen to it today. The record flopped - which is a mystery to me - and in consequence the band tried other paths, unsuccessfully, and boringly, and went back to mixing all the styles they had ever tried, adding boring classic rock elements to create their new album, which, frankly, sucks. They just tried too hard.

4 The Mars Volta. After (or during?) Frances the Mute, their second album. De-Loused is a milestone and should actually function as a blueprint for jammy prog bands on how to play weird and progressive music without getting lost, all the while rocking so hard that all those rocky hardcore wannabes can go home to their mommies. After Frances their wonderful drummer, Jon Theodore, who I, if I am allowed to display a little rhyming skill here, truly adore, left, and the new one tries too hard (and fails) to imitate Theodore's style instead of having the confidence of developing his own style. They still have okay songs, but as in all the aforementioned bands, compared to their hit record, the new stuff doesn't even come close. Period.

5 The Smashing Pumpkins. Well, they were always a band of halves. Half great, whenever they went melodic, and half awful, whenever they tried to be "heavy as fuck dude!" The high quality of the melodic work made the heavy songs bearable through to their milestone Mellon Collie record. After that, they lost the inspiration and couldn't produce any melodic songs of similar quality as before and went downhill fast. I read a couple of times that Billy Corgan was upset because his band was never as popular as Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Well Billy, should have just kept the heavy half to yourself and devoted yourself to writing great melodic tunes.