Friday, October 26, 2007

Slogged Down By Pesky Talent

Nice, just when I thought Uticas had this area covered, we have a brand new entry into the "difficult music" island of disappointment.

A band named People, who are of course from NYC, have come out with a ridiculously inventive and generally insane album. Unfortunately, Aaron Leitko likes his albums smooth and simple. Let's ponder some of his ridiculous statements.

Dense, informed, and academic, Misbegotten Man, the sophomore record by Brooklyn's People, is sort of the indie-rock equivalent of a senior thesis paper.

Those first three descriptive words should tell you where we're headed: Death From Musical Exhaustion!!! Run for the hills, this music is too ferociously academic for your piddling ear drums!

Also, when summing up a band's sound, using "sort of" does not work. Find another phrase that "is" the sound instead of trying to be clever.

The carefully scripted chaos of guitarist/vocalist Mary Halverson and drummer Kevin Shea might be an excellent representation of accumulated knowledge, originality, and creative thinking, but listening to the album all the way through can be an exercise in patience more arduous than trying to read Jacques Derrida during an earthquake.

HA HA HA! YES! There it is, a blanket statement claiming that music of People is just TOO DARN HARD to listen to. Darn these forward thinking bands and their carefully crafted and challenging music!

As Uticas pointed out, this is just a simple case of a music critic not knowing his ABC's. It's not that the music is too challenging; moreso this review shows the writer's own shortcomings as a student of music. There is nothing wrong with complex music. Granted, not everyone wants to listen to Merzbow, but give the listener some credit. Let's continue.

Each shambling composition squats around the same tempo and follows a similar predictably unpredictable structure.

Translation: Can't they write a song in 3/4 that I can accurately review? Can't the drums sit back on the 2's and 4's?

This is ridiculous. Are you actually complaining about predicting "unpredictability?" So they play to their strength, is that such a bad thing? Sounds like they avoid complacency but stick to what they know. So what's there to complain about?

The lyrics are where People come off at their most textbook-driven and tedious.

Fun. This is the part of the review where one guy contradicts the general consensus. Now to think of all the bands Pitchfork have loved who have questionable lyrics. The Books have terrible preachy eco lyrics, Fiery Furnaces get away with a lot, hell, have you ever tried to decipher Neutral Milk Hotel's words? Sure you have, it's part of the fun! Not according to to this guy, of course.

Based on this review(small sample-size aside), Aaron Leitko believes there are two types of music:

a) simple, easy to consume rock/pop with digestible lyrical sentiments
b) overly complex math-diarrhea with over-the-top-bullshit-crossword-puzzle lyrics

The world is not black and white, Aaron. As crazy as this music is, I'm sure it's not half as fucked up as you have scribed. Oh yeah, and my favorite moment of the review comes up right now!

The critical about-face!!!

The duo's quirks give them a unique and mischievous identity that's more interesting than, say, your average group of eyeliner-sporting three-chord lookers.

Cool. Thanks for your opinion. I mean opinions. I mean, what the fuck are you talking about? You refuse to give props to the band's musicianship, recording technique, sound quality, sequencing, fuck, you reference 3 snippets of lyrics! And then, after bashing the group for their too dense, too complex, too non-sensical sound, you turn around and say, "Well, at least they're not like everyone else?" Follow through with your convictions, don't muddy the waters!

After a few listens you may even find yourself empathizing with People in their plight as intellectual musicians operating in a medium that usually thrives on, well, being kind of dumb.

Here's a thought: Some music critics are like the band People. They show their love of music in their craft.

And some critics are kind of dumb. Like you.

1 comment:

Uticas said...

my favorite part is the use of "academic" as an outright insult. they really ought to abandon pretense and just start calling such musicians "wieners" or alternately "smartypants".