There's no future

I just did a whle lot of dishes.

To revisit some of the past few posts:

Small Black's EP came out less than a year ago, so waiting until later this year to release the follow-up LP makes perfect sense. But the only thing more striking than that the LP was already completed was that my immediate response was to wonder why they would wait so long to release it. Technology has had such an impact on the immediacy of music that sitting on a completed album seems foolish (though it probably happens all the time without our knowing). Bands get shuffled through like cards, and the longer one stays out of the blogosphere the less willing most of us are to remember they exist.

Japandroids have a different story, though. Months before Post-Nothing hit the shelves, it hit their Facebook page for free. It was hard to find a leak of the album because it was so easy to make one for yourself, and with the band's permission no less. And now, less than 13 months after Post-Nothing was actually released, they're sending out a series of b-sides while they tour, as if they owe us more constant output. The press release was almost apologetic that they weren't going to be able to record another album until they were done touring.

But it's near impossible for a band (especially one so young and without a built-in audience) to make a living in the recording studio anymore, and nobody (to my knowledge) has embraced that fact more openly. The pay-what-you-want scheme made waves in that it erased the middle man and offered an alternative to listeners unwilling to pay inflated CD prices but were still supportive of the music. But pay-what-you-want quickly becomes pay-nothing when you stockpile albums the way most of us do, and here JPNDRDS seem to have hit upon a business model that would not only promote band profit, but perpetuate that profit by staying relevant. Additionally this model could, ironically, save the album as an artform.

Instead of waiting for a 10-year-anniversary deluxe reissue series, release the non-album tracks now. More often than not, songs miss the cut because they don't fit in the album's flow, not because they're any less accomplished or noteworthy (as seems to be the case with "Art Czars"). And where the Internet and MTV have tag-teamed music to a world dominated by videos and singles, these non-album tracks fit right in.

Not everyone will pay for the 7" (I did, at least this time), but just about everyone will listen. So while bands are making money on the road, they stay fresh and relevant in our ears until they're ready to sit down and record a proper full-length. Girls have done a lot of this since their Album dropped last summer, and people are still talking about them. Each new quality track keeps the album from going stale while they bide their time for another release, oftentimes making the money to make said release possible.

Very few bands are willing to "settle for our utter disdain," and likewise very few are willing to record the kind of monstrous wonder Titus Andronicus did on The Monitor. But if bands consistently release a bunch of miscellaneous songs while on the road, they'll naturally attempt to set their full-length apart, by making it an album, even if not a 2xLP concept album about the Civil War.

But this still requires bands to make their money on the road, and in this way it separates the chuck from the steak. The common denominator is performance, and bands will have to be both consistent and talented for this model to work. But in an ideal world, that's how it's always been. And for what it's worth, I wouldn't be writing about JPNDRDS or Small Black if I didn't think they qualified.

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