It's modern mastering techniques, apparently. Overall loudness, via compression rules, clipping (distortion) is omnipresent, and music becomes tiring to listen to. This was why I had to stop listening to Springsteen's 'Magic', which has some great songs, but the worst overall sound of any Bruce album. And he has never been produced properly, in my humble opinion. It seems the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Californication' is even worse.
Excellent article here:
Funny, this is EXACTLY what Ivor Tiefenbrun and his cohorts at Linn were saying back in the early 1980s, in defence of vinyl.
Digital has a lot to answer for. I heard some stories the other day of some VERY unlikely people demanding the use of the Pro-Tools (sound recording and editing software) 'Autotune' plug-in for the correction of their woeful vocals on a supposedly 'documentary' live recording. No names, no roots Americana credibility gap...
Also, on the radio we're finding a lot of compilations coming in where remastering has rendered all light and shade into a morass of ferocious, blasting, one dimensional sludge. The engineers can see what was once a tune's peaks and troughs turned into a single 'square wave'. Step forward, you 'Definitive' Motown people...
Back to vinyl!