By Connor Moore (@OddRonald)
It seems great at first – you’ve got into a band, you love their sound and they’re constantly releasing music. In a world where many music fans are left waiting years for a track that may or may not be dire, you’ve got a band that’ll keep you more than satisfied quantity wise. They make headlines with new music regularly and stand out as eccentric for it. It makes the urge to see them live too much to bare so you grab a ticket to their next show in DefaultVenue and…they play nothing from that one album you love. Bitter and disappointed, you’re left asking yourself one question: am I getting too much of a good thing?
Before we dive in, we need a notable example and who better than the most well known culprit for their regular output King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard. The Australian Psych rockers are renown for crazy antics both in the studio and live, often releasing an album almost two albums a year since 2012. They’ve said this year that five albums will come out, a statement that was picked up by almost all major music press and has certainly given them publicity and a wider fan-base. In 2013 they released Eyes Like The Sky and Float Along- Fill Your Lungs, both of which are interesting psychedelic albums on their own but feel similar together and this reoccurs with many of their same year releases.
Stu and the boys have tried to tackle this with taking each album as a project; especially this year with Flying Microtonal Banana. Focusing on eastern influence and micro-toning, it was an interesting and fantastic project and felt different to their other work. The second album Murder Of The Universe sounds completely different looking at prog rock and almost feeling slightly metal in comparison. News of the third album of the year Sketches Of Brunswick East (due out on August 25th) tells us it’ll be prominently jazz based; yet another different venture. The thing is their most celebrated and widely acclaimed album, Nonagon Infinity came out in 2016 by itself, which for me says a lot. It suggests that albums standalone better, they’re talked about for longer and get more listens over time. It feels as if sometimes a band is forcing new work down your throat before you’ve even properly heard their last project. Only time will tell if this ambitious feat will play into the band’s favour.
Car Seat Headrest is another fantastic example of albums properly released in orthodox time proving to be superior. Will Toledo was and still is a Band-camp favourite after released 12 albums on there, yet his big break and most successful work came when he was picked up by Matador Records and spent a good amount of time creating 2016’s Teens Of Denial, the sequel to 2015’s Teens Of Style. Featuring new material that felt tweaked to near perfection and not in the slightest bit rushed, it’s easy to see why many regard it as his strongest work yet – Rome wasn’t built in a day and this album stands as an example of patience working in an artist’s favour.
Much like this piece has foreshadowed so far, there are problems other than quality that regular releases can cause. Ty Segall is a talented American artist who is in numerous bands, such as Fuzz and Broken Bat, and is well known for his output of an album or EP a year since 2008. I got into the album Melted in 2013, three years after it came out, and since then it’s remained my favourite. I’ve enjoyed albums since, such as 2014’s Manipulator, as well as albums before Melted.
A friend and I planned to see Ty Segall in London last year on his tour, yet sadly after seeing the setlist we saw that he hardly played any of the songs that we’d grown to love and got us into him. Instead, he had stuck to more recent releases, especially concentrating on Emotional Mugger. This year he plays End Of The Road Festival and I shan’t be seeing him due to his set clashing with Father John Misty, yet I don’t mind because I know he will play even more new tracks – especially considering this year he’s released a self-titled album and the Fried Shallots EP. This is great for fans who love every venture of an artist but for those like myself who have a connection with a certain album, it can make going to see an artist a gamble that is far too risky.
Obviously this criticism can be made for any band when they don’t play many songs from your favourite album, yet with most bands their releases aren’t so often that an album that came out just a year or so ago are considered “old”. Radiohead don’t play anything from their 1993 debut Pablo Honey apart from “Creep” but that isn’t because it was ages ago or that they’ve released twenty odd albums since, more so that they’ve moved on to something different and undoubtedly better. Despite this, even Thom Yorke and co. can fall victim to this much like they did with Amnesiac which dropped a year after 2000’s Kid A – while it got flack for being “rushed”, it’s still regarded as a great album and does support the argument that it’s not impossible to create regular music without sacrificing quality.
I still find it odd that an artist can be praised for focusing on getting as many albums as possible out rather than working on the one record at a time. At the end of the day, if you like an artist and they release music often, you’ll be happy, but there’s a chance the quality might have fallen due to it being rushed or the setlist when you finally get the chance to see them may fall short for you; clogged with new songs you’ve barely had a chance to listen to. I love all three of the prolific examples I’ve mentioned, the only difference being I got into Car Seat Headrest with his latest release and the other acts with their earliest ones – the main point to take away is that you can still spoil your fans without overwhelming them with constant releases.