Sucky Moments in Music | Bryan J. Sutter

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etc-beck.jpg1. Beck not being Beck

1. Beck not being Beck | There once was a time when Beck was heralded as one of the last shining stars in modern music. His B-sides and rarities, at times, rivaled his mainstream work. After the seminal album Sea Change, Beck seemingly cemented himself as one of the greats of his generation. Since then, Beck has been working around the clock to lower himself to an Axl Rose level of questionable relevancy, churning out albums that make you wonder what the dudes from Good Charlotte are up to and if it's more interesting. Honestly, watching something drown in a shallow pond is more interesting and meaningful than sitting through The Information. Just try it, you'll be begging for an Outkast album. The cover of Modern Guilt looks like a previously unlicensed picture taken by some Bob Dylan hanger-on photog in the '60s, and it fits the album to a fault, it itself playing like a warped tape of Syd Barret describing a handshake to a cardboard cutout of Noam Chomsky while a Zombies cover band stumbles through their first set. Even his live band seems embarrassed.

2. Irony as a creative crutch | You know who you are. Thanks for nothing. Again.

3. Billy Corgan opens his mouth | In late 2008, Corgan said in an interview with The Chicago Tribune that the Smashing Pumpkins would no longer do albums, stating that iPod listening habits have outdated the album format. While not the most humorous thing from that interview it does take a very special set of blinders. Coming from anyone else, this would be something you would politely nod your head at and maybe think about on your own time. Coming from  Billy Corgan, a man whose career has been a handful of decent singles and a few above-average albums (to say nothing of his solo work), is like a minimalist writer complaining about there not being enough sheets of paper in the world. Which makes sense as Corgan, with his man dresses and progeric appearance, seems more and more like a character from a mall goth production of a Samuel Beckett play. To put salt in the wound, Fender recently issued a Billy Corgan Signature Stratocaster (joining the likes of John Mayer and Eric Clapton) in hopes of cornering some demographic that does not yet exist. The word on the street is instead of dipping the high output pickups in wax to prevent unwanted feedback, the Dimarzio pick ups in the Billy Corgan Strat will be dipped in mud for that authentic Smashing Pumpkins tone.

4. Danger Mouse missing the mark | Danger Mouse is the guy that the dude from Girl Talk wishes he could be. He likens himself to a film director, which is a reasonable distinction to make, but he is more M. Night Shyamalan than Wes Anderson. A decent musician, hardly a low-watt bulb, but his brick wall style of production leaves little soul and while that is fine for Ricky Martin it doesn't necessarily work for the talent he runs with, let alone Gnarls Barkley. Shortwave Set's Replica Sun Machine showed promise in that 2008 might be the year Danger Mouse makes good, but inevitably his work with The Black Keys and Beck produced two of the most ho-hum releases of the year. If Danger Mouse is going to keep working with artists on their creative downstroke, then homeboy better get in touch with Marilyn Manson before Rick Rubin does.

5. Ska | Somewhere in America there are ska bands living past the genre's freshness date, which expired somewhere around the time your sister got a sun tattooed around her navel. Ska punk, non-secular and third wave still roam the streets like diseased dogs, trying to convince our youth to buy checkered belts and Less Than Jake CDs from Hot Topic. We've turned a blind eye on the thousands of children who go to sleep hungry every night; we cannot turn our back on this. We lose this battle, we lose our humanity.

6. Weezer beating multiple dead horses at once | It's gotten to the point where the nicest thing you can say about Rivers Cuomo is that he's a lot like R. Kelly. In mid-2008, Weezer stopped looking at their own reflections and released The Red Album, and to the surprise of everyone the lead single "Pork and Beans" was somehow worse than that Beverly Hills song. The music video for "Pork and Beans," a collection of stale internet memes and fads, cheapens the human experience to the extent that you wonder "wants the point of doing anything?", even if that "anything" is slitting your wrists and listening to Bauhaus. Oh, and the rest of the album isn't very good, either.

7. Jack White not doing anything crazy | Crazy might be a stretch, but Jack White is known for a few things, and one of those is being eccentric. From his obsession with the number 3, to his "Zorro on donuts" phase, to awkwardly covering ODB live, Jackie White is hardly a boring fellow. You'd think with the stealth released Consolers of the Lonely, we'd get something to let us know he's alright. Instead, Jack White didn't sound like a studio musician. But wait! How could one forget his duet with Alica Keys? Maybe there was something to effects guru Analog Mike chroming out his pedalboard after all.

8. Chinese Democracy released | At least we still have ska to make fun of.

9. New Madvillain not what you think | Anyone with good taste in music has been waiting for the follow up to 2004's Madvillainy. Madlib and MF Doom gave hip-hop a much-needed shot in the arm, and for some time folks have been hyped up for the next offering. When Madvillainy 2 hit the streets, people felt a bit disappointed. Madvillainy 2, created by Madlib before a flight to Tokyo, ended up being a complete remix of the beloved original. The re-imagination (and slick boxset) worked but still made us wish Doom came back to the vocal booth to amaze us once more.

10. Vampire Weekend | All of a sudden those dudes in Hot Chip seem really cool. Not only do Vampire Weekend sound like some Turd Ferguson at Guitar Center playing the Arctic Monkeys on the clean channel, they're completely alienating to anyone who has ever played an instrument. One of the strongest affronts against culture since the exile of the Dali Lama. | Bryan J. Sutter

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