I'm enjoying listening to America's Sweetheart so much that I actually feel like apologizing to Courtney Love for not digging it back when it came out. I've been reading reviews of the album and I have to assume that a lot of people who hated it were simply unable to get past their lack of sympathy for this noxious, obnoxious, child-endangering, face-mutilating cultural presence. Noticing, let alone acknowledging, the power behind her marriage of commercial thrust and wounded, megapunk passion would be asking for more awkward, self-adoring interviews and skank-out pics. Better to mourn a riot grrrl inspiration than champion a painfully honest freak product of celebrity culture and rock-as-rebellion mythology.
I've found that albums that inspire indignant, negative reviews are just as likely to be powerful experiences as five-star polltoppers. It takes energy to inspire outrage and offense, to earn a "fuck you" from cultural watchdogs - "this is not what music is supposed to be like." It's not enough to be mediocre, you have to STAND OUT to get an D+ or one star. The most flagrant example of a trend someone despises (especially if that person's tastes don't really match yours anyhow) is probably the one you should check out. The new Dandy Warhols album is getting that kind of disdain, and while the songs aren't particularly memorable, its cool to hear them respond to the success of Dig! by dropping a big pile of trippy, tossed-off mush that is still more on-key and energized than anything I've heard by the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Plus that 'new wave' album sucked.
Another album from 2004 I didn't get into until now is Life Is Killing My Rock'n'Roll by Singapore Sling. Shameless JAMC rip that oh so slightly ups the tempo without losing the lo-fi scrape of Psychocandy. I'll never understand people who get angry about the successfully derivative - you mean you don't want MORE? The lyrics are dopey, but so were the originals and these guys require you to focus even harder to notice it.