Thursday, October 19, 2006

Until I Know What I Think

Did y'all see the Dean's interview in Popmatters this week (via)? Everyone and their barista has been excerpting from this quote, but it's just so damn smart, I can't resist doing the same:

"I am a good critic in that I don’t write about things until I know what I think of them. For me, it’s the essential part of my writing....
My tastes don’t evolve; they broaden....
There’s a record on in my house 12 to 18 hours a day. It’s so I can process it. It’s about acclimating my body-mind continuum, which means that the acclimatization process will have occurred so when I concentrate later I have a better notion of what I think."

That just feels so sensible and so sane in the midst of all the rest of the...chatter.

Speaking of chatter, the less said about Pitchfork's review of the Cold War Kids album today, the better. Aside from the fact that the reviewer's ad hominem attack against bloggers seems really, really whiny and perhaps would have been more appropriate to a LiveJournal entry than a respectable record write-up in a respectable web mag, it's also just, huh? I dig the criticisms to a point, but monolithic melodies? What does that even mean? Cleaner and annoyingly louder, sure maybe, but preachy narratives? Preachy? Your guess is as good as mine. The invaluable Cindy Hotpoint has more to say, better than I can say it right now. And anyway, dudes sold out their gig at the Hideout this weekend, so I'd wager they're not really crying into their maracas all that hard. LK and I will be there, loving every sweat-filled minute of it.

Fo rizzle, why do the stingrays hate us and want us to die? (Write your own "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Stab Your Ass" joke.) OK humans, group huddle over here: best to not anger them any more than we apparently already have, so for the LOVE, please nobody put one on a treadmill or make fun of them on Ugly Overload. Agreed? Agreed.


Anonymous said...

the jist of the review is that the album sucks. and whether or not the reviewer is a good writer is at this point a moot point. the band blows. through and through. far right christian overtones are just the cherry on the shit cake.

MJ said...

Felus, I've been asking myself the same question about the stingrays' sudden hatred of us humans. I mean, I totally get the whole hating humans thing, but did this just happen? Or has this been going on for a while and we didn't know until our dear Croc Hunter got jabbed? Perhaps this happens all time and we've just been oblivious?

P.S. I wuv you!

Michael said...

I totally had to look up 'ad hominem' because that is like, a way big word - but isn't the following point totally valid? "[T]he sad reality is that the democratization of music-scouting too often results in listeners gravitating toward artists that sound like their favorite bands rather than unearthing new, brave, oft-ignored sounds."

I think that's really a quote about how cool he thinks his taste in music is*, but I'm interested by the question it raises:

Does the increasing availability of independent music through the internet encourage mediocrity?

I'm going to think about it and get back to you.

* side note: what are 'brave new sounds'? Walruses fucking? Smashing sandwiches against linen? Sorry the guitar doesn't work out for you, brah

Michael said...

Ok, just gotta share:

I sent that quote to a coworker, who replied: "fundamentally, true, but it's thesaurus porn."

H A .

allison said...

Encourage mediocrity? I don't think "encourage" is the word (more like "allow" or "provide a more easily accessible platform for"), but I see what you're getting at. Won't mediocrity always be with us, though? Whatever the available technology? I guess the mediocrity that concerns me more is not so much the kind that sounds indistinguishable from whatever the indie rock flavor of the moment happens to be; it's the mediocrity that comes disguised as "brave" and "new," when it's really just willfully odd for the sake of being different but without necessarily being, y'know, "good." Speaking for myself, I know I can often be seduced into thinking I've found some great new talent when I first hear a song that uses bizarre-o instrumentation or fucked up chainsaw samples or borderline tuneless, yelpy vocals; novelty does have a way of momentarily raising a given MP3 above the crowd. But, from where I'm standing, if anything, MP3 culture often (and probably unintentionally) privileges this novelty over genuine songcraft and musicianship because it feels cutting edge when it's often just sloppy and indulgent. I think some of the bloggers who treat "music-scouting" (to use the P'Fork reviewer's dubious phrase) as basically little more than glorified stamp-collecting are afraid people like M. Hogan will accuse them of simply toeing the hipster line if they're getting enthused about a guitar-driven four piece writing songs about girls. So they champion the musician who can't write a melody and has zero genuine emotional resonance because they want to see "challenging" where there's merely "impenetrable" and "unpleasant." It can get very emperor has no clothes. Sometimes novelty is really just novelty--and mediocre at that--and sometimes guitar-driven four pieces writing songs about girls, no matter how much they seem like some other popular band, can be really fucking good.

It's hard to judge the merits of the music (so much music!) being made available to us, and it's only getting harder as we're all blogging and forming opinions at the speed of light. 'Cause, I mean, after all, if a mediocre MP3 falls over in a forest and there's no one there to blog about it, does it make a sound?