I may just be going mad, but does anyone else think:
- The UK is increasingly punching below its weight, producing derivative shit and getting breathlessly hysterical about bands to avoid a) writing honest, intelligent and useful criticism, and b) facing up to how bad things are at the moment.
The UK music press, by which basically mean the NME (which i now think of as nothing more than a music tabloid), hypes bands up regularly, like clockwork. This disguises the fact that the UK indie rock scene once promised a lot (2003/4/5) and then failed to deliver. A few good first albums (Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand) were followed up by increasingly weak rubbish, and some first albums (Razorlight, Kaiser Chiefs, Maximo Park) weren't actually good, but were treated as such by a hysterical NME. We've not got anywhere near the same number of consistent, interesting acts that America has, and that's a serious problem.
Some of the few acclaimed acts we have (Boards of Canada, Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian spring to mind) have released one or two excellent albums, and then gradually dumbed themselves down over time and lost their radical edge. The only 2 bands i can think of who have kept up their standards and innovation are Portishead and Radiohead. Honestly.
We may be just a fifth of the size of the USA, but right now i can name more than 5 interesting American acts for every British one, and besides, we used to punch so much above our weight.
I think the answer lies largely in the state of British music criticism. Criticism is the most effective way of bringing good music to light and pouring cold water on the crap. The NME is shit, The Wire is too leftfield for the task of standardbearer for the indie mainstream (not that that's a problem, i like what it does), and DiS is good, but come on, it's no Pitchfork. It hasn't the critical clout, stemming from the fact that its reviews aren't that good, it doesn't do long, intelligent features (just short articles that stop before you get into them), it doesn't do the whole free MP3 thing that Pitchfork and Stereogum do, i could go on.
Basically, there needs to be a new publication (online or paper, whatever's viable) that can function as the tastemaker, the arbitrator and the good-from-the-crap-sorter. Not everyone would like it, but they wouldn't have to. It'd just need to be influential.