Sunday, September 23, 2007

making sense is way difficult

"when a song has two chords, it's about asking a question in one line and then seeing if it can be answered in the next."
that's a line from mark richardson's most recent pitchfork column. for some reason, there's a series called "resonant frequency". what the title means, or what a column needs to be about in order to be a part of the "resonant frequency" club, is anybody's guess.
but i want to talk about the line above, inasmuch as it's possible to analyze anything so careless.
mark thinks that two-chord songs are cool. he thinks it's fun to have two things, one following another. this structure reminds him of a question being followed by an answer. he then writes that two-chord songs are "about" this structure. specifically, he seems to feel most excited by waiting to see if the question "can be answered".
clearly, it's going to be very difficult to understand what the hell he means by any of this, so let's skip that step. let's ponder these questions instead: 1) is this really what he likes about two-chord songs? 2) even in metaphors, how can he claim to know what a song's structure is "about"? 3) does it make any sense to say that a structure is "about" anything? 4) why would you even subject your readers to such banal and narcissistic musical analysis (the song reminds mark of "x", so "x" is what the song is about)?
for the record, i've been known to like some two-chord songs. like any other kind of song, some are good while others are bad. if you try to say anything general about them beyond "they all have two chords," you're probably going to stumble over your english degree and make an ass out of yourself.
ultimately, this is the type of thing an editor would send back with a big red box around it and a few question marks in the margins. the reason the editor didn't do this is because he doesn't exist, and spell-check is not really an adequate substitute.
i guess it's not really that important, because i did look at two (2) separate american apparel ads while reading the column. SUCCESS!!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let the Professionals Fail

Once again Metacritic shows us why it's better to let the critics fuck things up. This is the only User comment on the Oakley Hall's I'll Follow You, so it's kind of hard to miss. And then you really take a look at it...

Kenny M
gave it a
i haven't listened to this album yet...

This is a great way to start any critique. Presenting your lack of knowledge on the subject really creates a positive critical foundation. Please continue.

...but I saw oakley hall open from bright eyes at the first show of the cassdaga tour...and they were flawless, with a booming sound and energy that rivaled bright eyes.

So this review is based on the ONE time you saw the band live having never seen them, probably drunk on 3 Brooklyn Lagers and waiting for the super-mopey whine-machine Bright Eyes to come out? When in Rome, I guess. Well, it sounds like their live show was perfect, so if you gave this album a 10 out of 10 the album should sound like the live show in your head, right?

i expect this album will be great, but nothing like their live performance.

HAhahaha HAAhahahah. You gave them the 10 because of their live show, and then call out the fact that most albums sound nothing like the band live. Great. Thanks for your completely ridiculous and pervertedly tragic piece of mind.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Serious Musicians

Nothing like an awesome google search to brighten our day. The title is the search. I think this will singlehandedly kill the idea of a "serious musician" forever. Believe it!!!

Like we all need more reasons to kill ourselves. John Mayer. Serious musician. He's the kind of guy who would want to promulgate that phrase. What a tasteless asshole. Meanwhile, the kid on my right proves my point quite well. He is in a stupor of sorts, at least that's what his eyes say. Some kind of parent figure probably pushed him in front of the horn and instructed him to thusly blow. He's learning, isn't he? Making even a farting sound on a cornet would qualify as a learning experience. You're taking it seriously, trying to coax anything forth. Therefore you're a serious musician. Anyways...

"Touch me, my saxophone demands it be so."

Even Elvis loves the Writemare. Who knew?

Wait a minute, this guy is supposed to be a serious musician? Look at that wonderful smile! How could this guy be a serious musician? He's a nice musician maybe, but not serious. That Cosby sweater, those fashionable glasses, this guy is just not cut out to be serious. Have fun being nice, though!

This guy is just a fucking failure. Look at that knowing smirk. Nothing says "not a serious musician" like a brown suit. And what the fuck is he raising his eyebrows at? If only I knew...

Whoa, what the hell, this guy on the bottom is supposed to be serious as well? It looks like the dude on the right walked into Men's Warehouse, aged 30 years and came back to take another picture. Personally, a tiny mustache denotes a "more serious" musician in my mind. That big old mustache makes me think of a sketchy middle school band director.

Ah, this guy. I'm...not even sure what to say. Why so elfish?


Because when you or I think about serious musicians, we're really thinking about the flag of our great country. And little military hats, those too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Big Things Cresting

Fun is fun, as they say. Do you know what else is fun? Terrible puns on album titles! Also, really vague language that uses adjectives to prevent any actual analyis! Thankfully, NME supplies us with a wondrous dearth of material to devaluate.

Hot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd

In 2002, Hot Hot Hot Heat's 'Make Up The Breakdown' bounded into the world's lap like a giddy terrier, but 2005's 'Elevator' stalled.

Woo hoo hoo! Read it again and feel a little more stupid. It's fun, kind of like killing some brain cells when huffing a whippet.

On their fifth album, partly produced by Green Day and MCR Midas-toucher Rob Cavallo, the message is clear: pop is back. Big hooks and cresting balladry are shamelessly in-season ('Outta Heart') and call-and-response choruses are bigger than ever ('Give Up?').

There is a reason this review is short. So far the album is full of cresting balladry, with big call-and-response choruses. Good.

The trademark tempo jiggery remains and it's all threaded together with airy production that underlines rather than overwhelms.

Know what I'm a big fan of? Production that sounds like the air. And we all know that air sounds of sweet cresting balladry, right?

Also, I love to get jiggery. I get jiggery all the time. Me and this guy(you know, the guy on the right), together the jiggery we share.

And while there's nothing here as incendiary as 'Bandages', there remains a sense of flow that previous albums have lacked.

A lot of "critic language" is being flung around today. Airy production, Midas-toucher, and now a "sense of flow."

Awesome, I'm now getting a clearer picture of what this sounds like. A golden Will Smith singing call and response ballads, cresting all the while.

Hot Hot Heat are not the freewheeling scamps they once were.

Chances that members of any band from the dawn of time never experience a life change, ever: Zero.

Thankfully, rather than mature into 'serious' musicians, they've rejuvenated themselves with the elixir of a purer pop.

A quick list of a serious musician's traits:

a) skilled at their chosen profession
b) lacks a sense of humor
c) must write songs concerning only death, life, and the immediate variations on those themes
d) must listen to exhausting music and die from the intense experience

Serious musicians can be interested in pure pop (Bob Mould, Frank Black, David Bowie, Frank Zappa) and are pretty brilliant in their execution of said pop. What the fuck is wrong with someone being 'serious?' Why am I continuing to put that word in quotations?

Anyone in a band is a serious musician. Anyone playing or learning an instrument is a serious musician. Think I'm being a little general in my description? That's because the true technical idea of musicality is no longer discussed in popular music's criticism. Just because a bassist can't play "Donna Lee" straight-up, no swing doesn't mean he's not serious.

The concern, as Uticas pointed out, is not in the words, but how they're arranged. The vague adjectives titillate the mind, and you think, 'Maybe I'll enjoy the Midas-touched sounds.'

Rating from NME: 7 out of 10. Bizarre.

Friday, September 14, 2007

media done me wrong

jonathan schwartz, one of the more astute political bloggers one can hope to find, recently summarized the state of american news media, specifically the role that readers have been assigned to play in contemporary corporate newspapers. it's commonly understood that since i buy the newspaper, i am the customer. this is wrong. 75% of a newspaper's revenue comes from advertising -- as readers, our monetary contribution is basically negligible.

it's more important for us to LOOK AT the newspaper than it is for us to buy it.
once this is understood, it becomes clear that ADVERTISERS are media's customers; readers are the product, bought and paid for by companies who, in the end, just want a moment of our time. most people, including everyone from media critics to media whores, refuse to address this business model. more than anything else, though, it sculpts what we read and what, for some reason, we continue to call "journalism".
the above paragraphs could describe the new york times, cnn, and almost any other disgraceful news outlet you might name. but they could just as easily describe the business model of every music publication, from rolling stone to mtv to pitchfork. when hipsters bemoan the power of "the hype machine", this is what they'd be trying to talk about if they weren't already on their fourth pabst of the afternoon.
take mr. p. fork, our favorite whipping boy here at the writemare. they get zero money from their readers. they get ALL of their money from advertisers. the whole operation is maintained by a small number of companies -- mostly record labels and american apparel -- who know exactly how to reach white kids that consider themselves culturally literate. put yourself in pitchfork's shoes. on the one hand, you've got hordes of desperate-to-be-hip college students; on the other, you've got the companies that keep you in business. where would your loyalties lie? who's your daddy?
this can manifest itself in a number of different ways. an ordinary album might get a better reception by being on sub-pop than it would if the same songs were put out by a smaller label. a decent small release might get a nice review, but no post-release blowjobs in the "news" section. a column might be devoted to a group of young men who take the opportunity to prominently display their complete lack of both talent and wit. most noticeably though, every few months a mediocre band releases a mediocre album, and we are inexplicably told that it's the best shit ever, a watershed moment in the development (read: decomposition) of "indie rock". self-proclaimed "discerning" listeners will always buy these records because they think they're taking part in cultural expression.
all in all, record labels will continue to push marketable bands (as they always have), and critics will continue to like marketable music (because that's their job).
there isn't really hope that any of this might change in the near future. media conglomeration is a powerful beast, and it's development is rapidly outpacing whatever independent competition might arise. the critics themselves aren't particularly important -- one positive review is just as effective as another (what percentage of readers even bother to look past an album's "score"?). all that matters is that record labels continue to reach their targets -- young people with salaried parents.
through it all, musicians will keep writing, recording, and touring, a small handful of them getting lucky enough to stay broke for a few years. until fans realize that they don't need critics or labels to help them like music, this won't change.
in the mean time, you might consider visiting the nearest club and watching whatever bands they put in front of you, and remember that criticism only exists because creativity allows it to.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Critics are Critics, Fans are Deranged

Paste Magazine put it best when describing Weezer's Make Believe.

"Neither the best nor the worst album this band has recorded."

Nothing worse than being stuck in musical taste purgatory. Don't worry Weezer, you're ridiculous pre-pubescent fanzies are coming to the rescue.

Matt M gave it a9:
Come on, this album is sick. What is the point of comparing it to the past. Take it for what it is: fun and well written. haven't we learned by now that we'll look back at weezer albums later and realize the genius was there all along, we just failed to see it.

Matt, do you know what a question mark is? Use it. Usually I condemn a review that ignores the past...and nothing's changed. Fine, I'll take this album as it is: sad and underwritten. After telling us to ignore the past, Matt tells us that IN THE FUTURE we will look back (presumably into the currently ignored past) and recognize the hidden genius. What a fucked up time traveling sadist you are, Matt.

Fcuker gave it an8:
Wow! After seeing the Beverly Hills video on MTV i was hooked. Having never heard of Weezer before I immediately went out and purchased the album. Some albums drag on and on when listening to them but the 45 minutes this album generates absolutely flew by, A SUPERB album

Wow! First of all, great name. Really original. Secondly, that Beverly Hills video was terrible, especially by Weezer's standards. "Sweater Song" and "Buddy Holly" were brilliant. Your glowing review cites how the albums great because it "flies by." That tells me two things:

a. You have no attention span.
b. Superb = disposable

So, next time you want to jam out to some sweet hitz, just turn on a window fan and knock your head against the wall to keep the beat, hassole!

Andrew L gave it a10:
Brilliant album. Do not listen to the detracters.

You spelled detractors wrong. Also, way to back up your claims...with nothing. Horrible.

nate b gave it a10:
Give it a second and third run people. This album deserves repeated listens. Yea, the lyrics have been simplified, it is called Rivers maturing. He knows how to express what he feels now, and what he feels does not need to be woven in an intricate web of lyrics which you have to look up on the internet to decipher their meanings. This album captures all the emotions that either have (or haven't) been captured in the previous albums. Oh, and then there's that little part about the music. This album finds the band experimenting with a wider variety of sounds, and it works great. I seriously wonder sometimes, if the reason the reviews are so low, is because fans keep setting themselves up for dissapointment. Seriously, there will NEVER, ever be another Pinkerton (you know, the one you all HATED at first?) Rivers is not like that anymore. He is trying to find peace, and happiness. The music reflects that. Enjoy it for what it is, and allow yourself to relate to it. It really is possible to do so, if you quit letting expectations or your disgust for the band's newest wave of success cloud your perception.

Great review Nate...or should I say Rivers Cuomo!!! How dare you give your own record a favorable review!!! Rivers, go sit in the corner and drop out of Harvard again! Now!

Lauren F gave it a10:
Critics are stupid, thats why no one listens to them and they dont make any money. Rivers Cuomo on the other hand makes lots of money because he is a genius and speaks from the heart and thats why people listen to him instead. Every great band changes with every cd, If you like the blue album go buy that one instead.

Nice, take that critics! Fuck you! Unfortunately Lauren, you shoot yourself in the foot. The only evidence you provide for the albums 10 out of 10 rating is that Rivers is a genius, which in turn makes him lots of money. Weak.

This has been fun. See you next time!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Confused By The Dirty Projectors

"Hi, my name is Mike Powell. I listened to the new Dirty Projectors album, and it was so crazy that it made me look like this:

Yeah, I look like a confused child. I like music, I really do, I just don't know how to express it. You know what, I like this Dirty Projectors album, but the dubious hipster in me tells me not to trust these feelings. Now I'll let J. Temp rip my completely ambiguous review."

Thanks Mike, don't mind if I do.

Hearing the band rip through material from last year's New Attitude EP on a recent Daytrotter session was like watching the glass slipper slide on.

Mike likes the Dirty Projectors. Their recent performance leads him to believe that they have hit their stride.

While Longstreth's initial albums were mostly string-backed folk, he's now given himself up to rhythm-- in his words, his compositions have become more "horizontal" than "vertical." The horizontal's great for dancing-- an opportunity that arises a few times here-- but verticality is still the source of the songs' tensions.

Translated to layman's terms: The music is sometimes more dancey thanks to an emphasis on rhythm. This section of the paragraph is tragically busy. Also, lost in the vernacular is a decent knowledge of music and the way it is shaped. Too bad.

Coffman and Waiche's coos stack harmonies with Longstreth's bleat like little car wrecks, and even though the guitars move like a West African dance band or math rock, the songs seem propelled by the constant resolutions of notes rather than the beats themselves.

When describing group vocals, this is perhaps at the bottom of the totem pole. Little car wrecks. How three people singing sounds like Micro Machine fender-benders is beyond me. Does it sound accidentally good? Is it good at all? The confusion is palpable.
Weaving guitar lines = West African Dance Band OR math rock? Are you saying that the guitar lines are influenced by those two elements, or are we supposed to pick one?
I'm not really sure I can translate this section into something tangible. It's a twisted mess of simile and half-finished thoughts.

Some of this record sounds like Phish and some of it sounds like the Police.

Translation: The album sound neither here nor there. To say that the record sounds like these bands without any sonic context is preposterous. The Police and Phish don't have a single compositional path, both veer off the beaten path quite often. Therefore this sound-a-like comparison has zero weight. Writing a sentence like that is the equivalent to driving an airplane across the country without taking off.

There's a verse in Esperanto.

He must have meant to edit this out. I hope.

When Longstreth strides into the singer-songwriter spotlight, he's so determined to express himself he forgets the idea is to share, instead employing melisma that's so brutal it's almost embarrassing.

Nope. Nope nope nope. Your idea of expressing yourself is to share. Perhaps that's not part of Longstreth's idea of expression. You can't penalize a guy because he doesn't fit into your specific definition of a form of creative expression. And maybe he can't sing very well, but all you have to do is say so. Instead, you used music nerd language to express your feelings. For those of you who don't know (and I guarantee you there is more than a handful):

Melisma \Me*lis"ma\, n.; pl. Melismata. [NL., fr. Gr. me`lisma
     a song.] (Mus.)
(a) A piece of melody; a song or tune, -- as opposed to
recitative or musical declamation.
(b) A grace or embellishment.
[1913 Webster]

And he sounds like he's having fun! And that's scary.

So you like the album, or you don't? All of this review has been perfectly vague.

But newfound focus from the band brings newfound exhaustion for listeners.

I've always really enjoyed the argument that listening to music can be "exhausting". As if you can break a fucking sweat listening to prog rock. Has anyone actually died from listening to music that is just too busy, too challenging for our feeble ears and minds?

Nope. Never happened. That's why that expression is bullcrap.

For all his supposed messiness, Longstreth is actually really brittle and anal-retentive.

Let me fix this sentence for Mike: For all of his supposed messiness (a myth promulgated by Pitchfork and other uber-indie sitez), Longstreth is actually really brittle and anal-retentive (according to me, Mike, who interviewed the guy once, so I guess I'm just basing this on pure conjecture, seeing as how you can't judge a book by its cover).

That the album has a concept-- a song-by-song "reimagining" of Black Flag's Damaged-- scarcely matters to the listener, although it seems good for Longstreth: It gives the illusion of an anchor.

The illusion of an anchor? Really? I'd say it is a compositional anchor. It's as a real as a theoretical anchor could be and to mention it as an afterthought is laughable.

He recently told me that it was his attempt at making a "New York album: angular, austere, obsessed with authenticity, like New York bands supposedly are." The assumptions seem off, but he probably hit the mark. They're consumed with cultural appropriation and aesthetic polyamory-- a post-pop-art idea of authenticity.

This is just weird. He disagrees with Longstreth's point about New York music, and then provides a clear argument against his disagreement. Why?

Rise Above will drop plenty of jaws, and, like Deerhoof, Dirty Projectors are restructuring rock on a compositional level rather than a sonic one. To murder a cliché, whatever unfurls from Longstreth's brain next isn't anyone's guess-- Rise Above, for all its fastidiousness and minor drawbacks, finally displays the perfect counterargument to the portrait of him as another nutso college dropout: It displays a pattern.

If anyone can tell me what the pattern is, I'll give you a pot of gold. I really don't understand this paragraph. It's completely convoluted, and it ends with that ridiculous pattern statement. He could've just stopped at the first sentence.

The strange thing is, he gives it an 8.1 after all this rambling. For the entire review he seemed to be sitting on the fence, willing to appreciate the Projector's vision and new-found compositional prowess but unwilling to admit that Longstreth and company know what they're doing. I would expect a rating of 5.6 or 6.8 at the most. You can't sow that much doubt without owning up to it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

An Indie-ocracy of Dunces

so far, i've really enjoyed watching interpol's tumble from grace. from their stupid haircuts to their stupid suits to their stupid songs, i couldn't imagine a band that deserves it more. just five years ago, their debut LP (which, at best, showed some promise) was widely hailed as the best record of 2002, topping such brilliant efforts as max tundra's "mastered by guy at the exchange", deerhoof's "reveille", and the books' first masterpiece "thought for food". what was so freaking great about interpol circa "turn on the bright lights"? according to chris ott of pitchfork fame: "these kids are lording over cool with a laundry list of influences so artfully incorporated as to dislodge any memory of their comparatively slight precursor." as everyone knows, cool influences result only in good music and bands that survive the test of time. (also, after several months of liking their first album, mr. ott was ready to declare them better than joy division -- more on that later.)
then came "antics", one of the more oppressively mediocre albums in recent memory. tepid, forgetful and almost completely lacking any characteristics that might distinguish it from its predecessor (let alone from thousands of other indie records), "antics" epitomized the sophomore slump.
this summer saw the release of "our love to admire", interpol's first "major label" effort (for some reason matador still qualifies as "independent"). the critical response was predictably negative, mostly emphasizing how un-hip the album's more complicated arrangements and longer songs are. all of a sudden, stylus was describing their music as "rumbling minor chord meaninglessness." pitchfork was telling me that "the group indulges, and the songs often suffer."
how on earth did this happen? how did the band that had made new york city cool for a whole new generation of suburbanites suddenly become so bad, so self-indulgent? emerging conventional wisdom seems to be that signing to capitol records totally ruined their hipness, which sapped away their mad creativity skilz.
what's inadequate about this explanation is that it lacks perspective, choosing to focus on the band's current follies rather than examining their previous shortcomings. cool influences are not a substitute for ingenuity. in order to outlive your hype, it's not enough to be hip; you have to actually be talented.
this is why the glowing pitchfork quote above (where interpol were praised for their "laundry list" of "artfully incorporated" influences) actually predicts the band's downfall without knowing it. as a fashion statement, "turn on the bright lights" was right for its time; as a record, it was more or less completely devoid of originality (even those who loved the album conceded this point, opting to praise it as successfully derivative). that this band's music would become stale was entirely predictable; the speed at which it did reflects only how disinterested our indie press is in sticking by their favorite bands ever.
bertrand russell once wrote (long before the internet): "the belief that fashion alone should dominate opinion has great advantages. it makes thought unnecessary and puts the highest intelligence within the reach of everyone." thus, a group of musically illiterate twenty-somethings decreed an album that sounds exactly like joy division (which just happened to be the music they liked in high school) to be the greatest shit ever. hordes of indie kids bought it because they had just invented dancing, and needed something to go with their new idea (that liars album was already getting a bit old). college radio dj's pumped it until MTV got the message, at which point they had already moved on to the next big thing (clap your hands say yeah, the rapture, dfa 1979, etc., etc., etc.). it's almost as if a money-fueled hype machine were unilaterally deciding what college-aged white kids would like. the only thing more absurd is that said white kids continue to consider themselves the sole arbiters of good taste.
oh well. add interpol to the indie scrap-heap. i wonder what i should listen to this month.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Britney Spears' Vagina

please excuse the title. just trying to get some google hits.

when music critics describe something as "catchy", do they mean the same thing that film critics do when they say "edge of your seat"?
think about it: a song is catchy when a few seconds lodge themselves in your brain. forgetting the bulk of the song is not coincidental; it's part of the formula (see the shockingly mediocre verses of "cry me a river" or "what if god was one of us").
similarly, "edge of your seat" means the chases, explosions, and last twenty minutes of the film are very exciting. again, if most of the movie is forgettable, that means the action sequences are MORE memorable, MORE edge-of-your-seat.

epilogue: has anyone ever sat on the edge of their seat in a movie theater?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Great Gang Up

I admit it. I like Robert Wyatt. He ain't perfect, nor does he claim to be. Do you know who hates Robert Wyatt?

The hipsters at Samir Khan had handled ALL of the reviews so far, creating in my mind the idea that Pitchfork is just another bullshit hype machine. The hype machine sat down one day and said, "Hey, why does everyone like Robert Wyatt? He's overrated. He's outdated and he never played in a post-punk group. Let's lambast him, that way no one will ever want to listen to his music, ever!"

And now Michael Sandlin decides to jump on the bandwagon.

Well, I've managed to stay awake through another Robert Wyatt reissue, his latest sleepy affair being 1991's Dondestan. All these heaps of critical praise, and I'm still puzzled. Why all the fuss?

Oh, poor Michael, too hip to stay awake during a Robert Wyatt record. Do you know why you're puzzled, Michael? Because people like this album, and you don't. This puzzles you because:

a) You believe yours and Pitchfork's opinion of music is the only thing that matters.
b) You are actively taking part in a Robert Wyatt smear campaign

His previous releases, especially the likes of Old Rottenhat and Rock Bottom, are embarrassingly feeble and amorphous, not to mention notoriously overrated.

Based on whose opinion, Pitchfork's? Notoriously overrated? YOU are feeble, Michael. Do you understand music, at all? So far the music is sleepy, and he basically compares it to embarrassingly feeble and amorphous. So this guy hates unstructured meandering things. So, without further ado...

Michael's Day

I wake up and make the bed. I brush my teeth. I eat my breakfast. I go to Pitchfork's office. I drink coffee. We choose what is hip and what is not. I eat lunch. I make phone calls. I do some writing. I go home. I eat dinner. I take out the garbage. I repeat this every day, because every day should be rigorously structured. I am Michael.

I would hate Michael if I met him. He writes this review about hating meandering, amorphous music, but I guarantee if you threw on Sun Ra, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music or Deerhunter he would bust a gasket trying to tell his friends how great this music is. Only because this music is hip. Robert Wyatt is square and overrated. I hate this man.

As far as I'm concerned, when considering the solo work of former drummers in influential bands, even Ringo Starr made better solo albums than this revered Soft Machine drummer- turned- muzak- making- man- of- the- people.

Ah, nothing like evidence to back up my point. Michael makes a sophomoric jab at Wyatt using...Ringo. Terrible drummer joke. Awful. Also, I wonder who wrote all of Ringo's tunes on his solo records? Oh yeah, some shmoes named Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison.

Are you kidding me? Is it that ridiculous of an idea that the drummer from one of the greatest bands of all time, with all three songwriters from said band contributing material, creates one of the great former drummer records? It's not. Most people know that this is a great record, you're just stating the obvious to create more anti-Wyatt sentiment.

Other examples of this outrageous claim, just to add some levity to this bilious entry:

As far as I'm concerned, when considering the work of guitarist in The Yardbirds, even Eric Clapton made better albums than Jeff Beck, that I-wish-I-was-Jimmy-Page-wanna-be.

As far as I'm concerned, when considering the work of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, even Neil Young made better records than David Crosby, that fat coke-snorting harmony-singing fuck.

As far as I'm concerned, when considering the work of solo Wu-Tang releases, even Raekwon made better records than Cappadonna, that taxi-driving-Ghostface-guesting bastard.

See, it's easy. Anyone can do it. It all depends on how much you want to look like an asshole.

His solo work is child- like and primitive compared to the complex modal noodlings of the Soft Machine.

GAHHH!!! There it is, my favorite rendering of the musical term "improvisation", noodling. This is fucking ridiculous. Here we go, maybe a dictionary definition will clear things up:

The act or art of composing and rendering music, poetry,
and the like, extemporaneously; as, improvisation on the
A thin strip of dough, made with eggs, rolled up, cut into
small pieces, and used in soup.
informal terms for a human head

Hmm, the only difference between the two terms is that one is a clinical description, while "noodling" doesn't exist in the dictionary. That's because it's derogatory slang. I could only find "noodle". STOP USING THE TERM NOODLING. If you care not for improvisation, say so. If not, consider yourself gutless.

I had a dream about this recently. I saunter over to the Pitchfork office and sit everyone down. First I slap all of them in the face. I ask if anyone has any formal music education. Almost half the staff is dismissed when their hands are not raised in response. Secondly, I tell them to do research. Actual honest to god research, so they don't end up sounding like morons. Because that would prevent things like this from happening:

Wyatt's songwriting collaborator on Dondestan, Alfredo Benge, actually handles much of the wordsmithing here. Benge seems less overt in his politics, yet likes to clump words and images together in ways only a stoned Allen Ginsburg could have appreciated...

Sounds coherent enough. Until you realize that Alfredo Benge is Robert Wyatt's WIFE, Alfreda Benge. Un-fucking-believable. How much does Michael care about this review? Not at all. If he cared, he would have realized his error.

Or his editors would have recognized the error. Oh, that's right, I forgot, this is the Great Gang Up against Robert Wyatt. No one gives a shit, as long as the albums receive low marks. This is really the height of responsible music criticism. If their purpose was to drive me to self-flagellate, the mission is fucking accomplished. Oh yeah, why not throw some salt in the wound?

And what's with that voice? It's like some sick permutation of Benny Hill and Neil Young!

A sick permutation? Robert Wyatt sounds like Benny Hill how? Because he's British?!? How fucking childish can you get?

Let me also state that Pitchfork LOVES bands with terrible lead singers. The Flaming Lips. Mercury Rev, Pavement (S.M. isn't that bad, but he ain't perfect), The Fall, The Swell Maps, Liars, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, the list goes on and on and on...

Nothing like blatant hypocrisy to spice your day up, huh Michael?

So, when does this sort of lazy repetition wear out the tag of high- concept "English eccentricity" and become simply monotonous sloppily- conceived hippie crap? I mean, whether we're talking about a clumsy offhand phrase or mind- numbing instrumental passage, Wyatt plunks it all down on tape while adoring critics fondle their Thesauruses in anticipation. And what for? Why? Eh, I'll just shut up and go back to bed.

I'll now answer his questions in this final, horrible, hipster hipster hipster paragraph.

1. This sort of lazy repetition will never wear out it's tag. Never. Everything ages Michael, even you. Soon you will 50 years old, bald, fat, still trying to convince people that hippies are idiots.

2. Hippie crap? You couldn't possibly sound more cynical/full of downs syndrome. The anti-hippie movement ended maybe 15 years ago, fuckface.

3. People are allowed to like this album. So are critics. I'm sure you fondle your Thesaurus when Yeah Yeah Yeah's release their all-yellow vinyl single. Don't act like you're above other critics. Michael, you are part of the problem. You don't do any research and you don't even care.

4. Yes, just shut up and go to bed. Dick.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

World, Meet Ron Frazier

Look at this guy. Now close your eyes and open them again. Notice the determined look on his face, the passion of his ruffled purple shirt, the tenacity of his mullet, all these things are signs of one man and one man alone:

Ron Frazier.

Ron loves his drums so much he paid to have a semi-professional photo taken with them. The drop cloths really create a dramatic environment, kind of a come-hither look.

By the way, Ron has some news for you:
  1. I shit you not, I seriously have been playing drums since I was 3 years old.
  2. No, I really am serious about #1.
  3. Yes I actually use all of the drums in my kit, and I don't mean once in a while, I mean all of the time.
  4. Yes, the noise drives my neighbors nuts. Once upon a time, they even used to call over and complain, until we told them off. Now they don't bug us anymore. I'm sure they still hate it, they just don't tell me about it.
  5. Yes, of course my favorite band is Rush. Any drummer who doesn't think so is on drugs.
  6. Yes, I think Nirvana's drummer (or just the whole band in general) SUCKS! And again, anyone who doesn't think so is on drugs.
  7. And, yes! I absolutely, positively, honestly, swear to god on my life, have been playing drums since I was 3 years old, so don't ask me again!
This guy is my fucking hero. Anyone who doesn't agree with him is obviously on drugs. Nirvana sucks, Rush rules. He uses all the drums in his kit, goddamn it. Also, he's anti-neighbor, what's not to like here?

And of course he's obsessed with Neil Peart. Remember him?

Did you hear that metallic clink?

Yeah, that was your drum boner knocking into your drum belt buckle. Deal with it!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Those Lyrics Are Bad...Or Are They Good?

I love it when pretentious english major wanna-be's are allowed to write words. I especially love it when allows these hacks to review albums. This guys name is Tom Breihan.

In reference to the lyrics in the chorus of the Swizz Beatz joint "It's Me Bitches":

On that track, he huffs and puffs, grunting a lot and saying absolutely nothing, repeating the same verses twice, attempting to make a hook out of "chillin' in my Beamer, listening to 'Ether'" despite the fact that "Beamer" doesn't even come close to rhyming with "Ether."

Actually, yes it does. It definitely comes close. They end with "-mer" and "-ther", and they both have the long E vowel sound. As you can tell, am I not a professor of grammar. I'm pretty good at spelling, and I love "the hip hop music", as crotchety old farts would refer to it.

But it doesn't take a fucking genius to realize that "ether" and "beamer" come close to rhyming. It's almost the definition of coming close. This guy is all about perpetuating the myth that producers can't rhyme (see KRS-One, Ced Gee, Madlib, Kanye). Well, stop it.

After decrying the shortcomings of "It's Me Bitches", this gem follows:

And yet "It's Me, Bitches" is one of the best rap singles of the year.

Wha-wha-what?! Since when? I thought you said that the lyrics ruined the song? Wait, let's go over what you just said:

"It's Me, Bitches" is a forceful and mindless dumb-out classic, and it feels like a glorious fluke, the sort of success that could not possibly repeat itself.

What?! Just because the lyrics aren't on par with "Microphone Fiend" or "Unbelievable"? What about 50 Cent, he who can't rap for shit? Are we going to hold him up to the same standards? No? Cool, I was just making sure your argument is as bullshit as it sounds.

Also, this classic by Swizz Beatz is a fluke? He's been producing records since he was 16 and the motherfucker avoids samples like they were shit on a stick. He produced beats for T.I., Jay Z, even my man R Kelly knows Swizz's shit. Doesn't sound like a fluke to me. Sounds like he knows what he's doing.

He delivers all his lyrics in a breathless bark and repeats himself constantly: one song after "chillin' in my Beamer, listening to 'Ether,'" he's "cruisin' in that Lambo, lookin' like Rambo." He sounds utterly elated to be rapping, blissfully unaware that virtually every line is a certifiable clunker.

This drives me batshit insane. How can Pitchfork be so hard on rhyming producers, but they let 50 Cent slide. 50 Cent, the guy who directly rips off Schooly D and sounds like a fucking dweeb while doing it.

Pitchfork gave The Massacre 7 out of 10!!! And they freely admit that the lyrics were weak as fuck!! I demand a little fucking consistency here!

Tom Breihan then makes a fatal error:

Confusingly, the track is billed as featuring Chris Martin, but that guest-appearance turns out to just be a sample from "X&Y", which isn't even a good Coldplay song.

Awful. Not just the fact that Coldplay is on this record, but look at that last fragment: "...which isn't even a good Coldplay song." Tom believes there is a "good" Coldplay song. This guy lives a lie. He operates under the belief that Coldplay COULD be good. What a sad sad man.

Quite frankly, Tom is wrong, very wrong. He may even be superdrunk. He essentially negates his entire argument with the final sentence.

Meanwhile, Swizz is a whole lot better off yelling over sirens and talking about his money.


You spend the entire article deriding him for stupid lyrics...

And then you tell him he's better off, "Yelling over sirens and talking about his money."

I won't often say this as clearly, but you're a fucking idiot.

Monday, September 3, 2007

And to our left is Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. This must have been a ridiculously great time, even with the rumors of a prison-like experience while rehearsing for Trout Mask Replica. Whatevs, the dude on the right with the 'fro is the shit.

You'll then notice John French, the man under the bridge at the bottom of the photo.

The man knows how to play the drums, but my true turning point was a cut from the Mirrorman Sessions. "Kandy Korn" is an epic ride, guided by the thumping and cracking drums, jangly guitar patterns and strange, brief group vocals.

John French drums like a man possessed, and indeed, he probably was. Eventually, because of Christ's calling/being broke, French left the Magic Band and disappeared into relative anonymity.

He stormed back for the brilliant Doc at the Radar Station. Becoming disenchanted once more, Beefheart's chief musical lieutenant pulled out, never to play with him again.

Only the drum set-up remains...

Alright, I couldn't find one of those dorky diagrams, but whatevs, the dude fucking rules, even as an old man.

This post is quickly dissolving into nothing.

Quick, look at this!