Thursday, March 27, 2008

Proof that Allmusic subcontracts to high school kids

I appreciate the difficulty faces in trying to compile reviews of everything ever, but are they really so desperate as to hire high school kids? Maybe. Let's see what L'il Alex Henderson has to say about the band Winters:

Some bands choose names that are quite misleading. That's fine if the band wants to be ironic (Barenaked Ladies, for example), but in some cases, bands come up with names based on what they think they sound like or wish they sounded like instead of what they actually sound like. Winters, however, is a band with a very appropriate name; Black Clouds in Twin Galaxies, their first full-length album, really does sound like a dark, cloudy, bleak winter day. This British outfit essentially falls into the doom metal category, and Black Clouds in Twin Galaxies maintains a dark, melancholy, pessimistic outlook. Of course, dark lyrics are to be expected in doom metal, which has been influenced by Black Sabbath more than any other band. Winters' sound owes a lot to Sabbath, but they have many other influences as well — and those influences range from British psychedelic bands of the '60s and '70s (Pink Floyd, Iron Butterfly, late-period Beatles) to Nirvana and the Melvins. Some have described this 41-minute CD (which is hard rocking but consistently melodic and never flat-out brutal) as stoner rock, which is slightly inaccurate. There is, to be sure, a very thin line between doom metal and stoner rock (both are totally obsessed with Sabbath), just as there can be a very thin line between soca and calypso, death metal and black metal, or zydeco and Cajun. Doom metal and stoner rock can easily overlap, but while doom wears its sadness like a badge of honor, stoner rock has more of a tripped-out, hippie-ish "let's party, dude" perspective — and Black Clouds in Twin Galaxies is much too sorrowful to be called party music. It is also a well-crafted and enjoyable outing from these British doom metallers.

Leaving aside for a moment the fact that he's definitely yet defiantly wrong about this being doom metal...doesn't AMG employ an editor? Didn't someone read this and say "Thanks for the 7th grade book report on the roots of Doom Metal, but your review sucks"?

Well, I just did.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Weirdest Admission Ever

Weird, straight from Pitchfork.

"Unclassifiable" is usually lazy shorthand for albums featuring both guitars and keyboards.


So, this is pretty ridiculous. In reviewing Alopecia's new record, the critic lays down that slam dunk on his contemporaries. See below for the illustration of said action.

Andrea Varejao(the critic) is demolishing Chris Bosh(the critic's contemporaries).

Is this a sign of things to come? Are people actually willing to write lucid, analytical pieces that honor and respect the music they are being paid to review? My mind is melting as I try to comprehend the gravity of such an occurence...

Friday, March 7, 2008


"Swell Maps' debut album was a scattershot affair, ranging from blistering three-chord punk to free-form noise experiments, that was intriguing, yet frequently incoherent."

One sentence. One fucking sentence. That's it. In terms of describing the record, no vague term is more efficient than "scattershot." Fucking thing could sound like anything. This is a joke.

Guess who?

Not Pitchfork.




How could you do this Stephen? How could you even call this a review? It's a mistake, a smudge, a fucking inkstain.


Be Ambitious, Just do it Slowly

This is the message that Dusted Magazine had to deliver to The Big Sleep in this wonderful review.

I get it, not everyone wants a band like At the Drive-In to morph overnight into Mars Volta. But still:

"The Big Sleep have also gotten better by huge leaps with each outing, delivering on the promise of their earlier songs without maturing too ambitiously."


Okay. Big breath.

Ambition is this amazing force that propels most creatures to do anything. Most associate ambition with human greed and a drive, a passionate motivation to strive for something better. Essentially, to be ambitious is to desire improvement.

In some cases, ambition can cause one to make terrible decisions. Take U2's existence. They wanted to save the world. And now they get to walk around saying they are doing it, they are IMPROVING THINGS. The only thing they are improving is the notion that it's okay to call someone the Edge who is so obviously behind the cutting edge of guitar technology that I can't even come up with a fucking joke about it. Oh, never mind, here:
Pictured: The Grammies, where mediocrity meets talent!

Let's get back to the review at hand. The reviewer essentially claims that the band played their ambition card perfectly. I think we all know what too ambitious is(listen to Imperial Bedroom). What is too ambitious to this errant scribe? Big Sleep were a band who emulated Sonic Youth and Trans Am, who buried most of their melodies in guitar noise(sounds familiar, huh?). Now their voices are louder in the mix, and, according to said scribe, "Less suspense, more drama; cleaner noise, bigger noise, better noise."

Less suspense? Seems like you spend a lot of the review talking about the tension the album creates(ie. "Morose breather “Little Sister” is unremarkable on its own, but its place at the apex of a five-song rise in tension illustrates the big-picture design the band works so convincingly."). So, what? How?

How? How is the noise cleaner? Less guitars, more synth feedback? Tape loops? Crazy percussion? Casio army? Please, tell me more about this band and the...Oh, never mind.

No one cares about the music. It's just words on paper. They don't have to mean anything.

On the Subject of Derek Bailey

After acquiring an album or two of avant-guitarist Bailey's finer offerings, I decided to peruse AMG for further recommendations. And then I found this.

"Throughout his career, Derek Bailey has primarily been involved with atonal sound exporations on his guitar. This solo session (available as an Italian LP) features Bailey on 14 sketches getting a wide variety of noises and sounds out of his instrument. All but the most open-eared listeners will probably think of these performances as random noise but there is a method to Derek Bailey's apparent madness."

This is an album (Diverso No. 2), not a career overview. But really, that's all it is. Every once in a while, allmusic thinks it can provide filler. Notice the first sentence, where an insanely general comment is provided for background. And the second sentence, which refers to the tracks as "sketches." I'm trying not to view this as a back-handed put down, but c'mon. Just because there isn't a verse/chorus structure doesn't mean they aren't songs. DO NOT TRY TO BECOME A GREAT AUTHORITY ON WHAT MAKES A SONG A SONG. DO NOT TRY TO COME UP WITH A NEW TERM TO DESCRIBE HIS TECHNIQUE.

The third sentence is what really steams me off. Derek Bailey plays improvisational music. When the author lays down the "method to madness" line, what he means is Bailey improvises skillfully. I don't why that's such a huge fucking egg to swallow.


more bullshit about difficult music

my brother from another mother j-temperence has done some superb work exposing the concept of "musical exhaustion" for the intellectually lazy bullshit that it is. i generally try not to cover the same ground that he has, but this column is too perfect.

it's one thing when someone complains about an album being too damn difficult to listen to ("sitting there doing nothing as music came from the speakers was just so TIRING"). it's entirely another when a critic pats himself on the back for mustering the strength to put up with it.

mark richardson talks about a lot in this article. he talks about hearing trout mask replica for the first time and not liking it (this is kind of a giveaway). he says, "at first, the music in my mind sounded so much better than the reality." wow --- the music in your mind, huh? better than trout mask replica, huh?

moving on...

"difficult records serve as barometers [a tool for measuring air pressure], showing the limits of your current taste and understanding: here's where music gets too noisy; here is where it gets too atonal; this is that place where i don't know what the hell is going on." first, i'd like to quickly note that music can't be atonal in degrees. either you have a tonal center, or you don't -- there is no space between those categories. this is something most critics don't know. second, i'd like to slowly note that the way he conceives of taste is revealing.

critics never complain about music being too easy. such a thought would force them to revisit almost every assumption they have about rock music. if someone were to point out that vampire weekend's new album is really really boring because the band doesn't take any chances, then you'd have to start asking yourself who else doesn't take any chances (interpol, lcd soundsystem, sufjan stevens, black kids, black kids, black kids). NOT experimenting never raises any of these intellectual concerns. the "boundaries" that come up are always defined by the things that are too "noisy", or too "atonal" (i.e. "too fucking hard!!!"). the fundamental assumption is: everyone likes a good pop song, but nobody likes a nerd.

moving on...

"when i was a teenager i read in some guide that john coltrane's a love supreme was one of the great jazz records. and when i first bought it, having been exposed only to coltrane's contributions to kind of blue and miles davis' records of prestige, a love supreme sounded atonal and nutty, like nothing i imagined music could be. this 'free jazz' is some bizarre shit, i thought to myself. which now sounds silly to those weaned on wolf eyes and deerhoof, and abrasive punk rock."

what. the. fuck. i'm having a hard time expressing my anger over this paragraph. a musician probably wouldn't make this mistake, would never think that wolf eyes makes coltrane's later works easier to listen to, by virtue of being more experimental. i'm of the opinion that many of the indie-tards who throng to noise shows in williamsburgh still wouldn't know how to handle ascension, out to lunch, or jazz advance. maybe the lack of digitized screeching would strike them as "boring" (nothing compared to wolf eyes). that's probably for the best. if they bothered to notice harmonies, the whole thing would become "too atonal".

and besides, ornette coleman was black which means he probably couldn't experiment as well as white people who've been to college and know how to make feedback.


that felt good.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Taste of Neal

The words that join with the music on this song by Rush are just...I don't know, let's just take a look...

"Digital Man" (1982)

He'd love to spend the night in Zion
He's been a long while in Babylon
He'd like a lover's wings to fly on
To a tropic isle of Avalon

His world is under anesthetic
Subdivided and synthetic
His reliance on the giants
In the science of the day

He picks up scraps of information
He's adept at adaptation
Because for strangers and arrangers
Constant change is here to stay

He's got a force field and a flexible plan
He's got a date with fate in a black sedan
He plays fast forward for as long as he can
But he won't need a bed
He's a digital man

This. Is. Awesome. First off, it's established that this Digital Man hangs out and records conversations. Many of have gone through that phase in 10th grade where you wander around with a Dictaphone recording snippets of dialogue, fully expecting to incorporate them into future avant-garde projects. And then you find the tape 10 years later and wonder why you were such a toolbag.

This Digital Man can get along with anyone, as he is "adept at adapting." He must have a full pantload of friends; I mean, he has a fucking force field. That would be enough, but a flexible plan? I'm assuming he's referring to either his previously trumpeted adaptability or his health care plan (he is Canadien). Good health care, a sweet force field, adaptable to any social scenario, what else can someone ask for in a digital friend?

Oh yeah, his hot date with fate. In the back of a black sedan, no less. Dude has style from his Digital shoes to his Digital follicles. There is a drawback here, as Digital Man prefers to use his music-listening bad habits as a metaphor for living. I understand, he's digital, but I don't want to listen to everything on fast forward. It makes me anxious, Digital Man, anxious! What could you do to possibly win back my favor?

How about never needing a bed? Sleepovers are no problem for Digital Man. You don't need to worry about Digital Man complaining about rent or needing a place to stay. Digital Man only needs a decent firewire connection and a room to power down in. No hassle, man.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


If I have to read ONE MORE fucking review that refers to the music sounding vaguely "Morricone-esque", I am going to rip out my brain and punch it in the throat!