New year brings positives, negatives in the fickle world of music

The music industry by nature is a fickle beast. Every trend, every style, every artist is subject to the ebb and flow of the times. These signs of life and signs of sorrow come and go as the days go by and are a process that is just as natural as breathing. These are some signs of life and sorrow that have been present within the music industry during the first two months of 2005.

Sign of Life: Punk had enjoyed a nice revival through the 1990s with an effort spearheaded by such bands as Green Day and Bad Religion, among others. However, the storm clouds of the genre began to gather in the mid to late part of the decade, forecasting the demise of the genre as we know it. Without a doubt, the biggest culprit in this movement would have to be Blink-182, known just as much for their offstage/music video antics as they were for their subpar musical compositions. Recently though, the band announced that they were going on an “indefinite hiatus.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with music industry lingo, “indefinite hiatus” more often than not means that they will no longer be performing or recording as a collective group, at least not for several years. This is a moment that many people have been awaiting for for many years. The prayers of millions have finally been answered.

Sign of Sorrow: One of the best country-rock bands out there, the Jayhawks, officially announced their split after 20 years together. Granted, they had not released an album since 2003 and have not been touring as of late, but it’s still disheartening. They, for the most part, redefined an entire genre of music. If you’re interested, I refer you to their albums “Hollywood Town Hall” and “Rainy Day Music.”

Sign of Life: This year has already become almost better than the last in the way of album releases. Overall, 2004 was a subpar year for new music, though it did produce several high quality debuts and comebacks. So far this year, the ratio of high quality releases has been much higher through the months of January and February. The Doves (from Manchester, UK) released a beautiful new follow-up, “Some Cities,” to their 2002 album “The Last Broadcast” this past month. For you Fountains of Wayne fans, member Adam Schlesinger and his other band, Ivy, have put out their first album of original material, “In The Clear,” since 2001. Also, new albums from Clem Snide, Ed Harcourt, Robbers on High Street, Chemical Brothers, Graham Coxon (formerly of Blur), Stars, Ben Lee, Golden Republic and Josh Rouse have made for a good start to the year.

Sign of Sorrow: On Feb. 24, 100.3 FM, WPLY Y100, was taken off the air. Its parent company, Radio One, decided to pull the plug on the well-known alternative rock station. The reason? To move one of its rap stations, 103.9 The Beat, to 100.3 and establish a new gospel station on 103.9. The result of this is that there are now no alternative rock stations in Philadelphia, making it the largest city in the country without a station of that genre. And on its final Arbitron ratings report, Y100 finished seventh in the city in ratings, while 103.9 The Beat finished eighth. Rest in peace Y100, you will be missed.

When all is said and done, 2005 has had quite a promising start from the perspective of the music industry. It will be interesting to see what events will follow during the remaining 10 months of the year.