Tuesday, February 28, 2006

scholarly music reviews

You ever wonder what music reviewers are thinking when they are reviewing bands? All too often it seems to be their own egos. Or their MA theses. Or some alien record mysteriously given the same title as a record you know you heard that didn’t sound like that.

Here are five sentences from some reviews we love to make fun of. Let’s take a look.

1. “Edgy dissonance plays hopscotch with fluid concordance in ‘Tubby,’ as Hammond whammy sounds skip and trot along with Oteil’s signature bass lines.”

--by Sarah Moore

Hopscotch? Does that mean Edgy Dissonance was thrown into Fluid Concordance, only to be retrieved by (someone??) and taken away from Fluid Concordance? It sounds like Edgy Dissonance is somebody’s rebellious teenager who keeps sneaking out of the house to meet up with big, bad Fluid Concordance. And that almost sounds dirty. It makes me feel dirty.

2. “Joyce once wrote to his wife ‘the two parts of your body which do dirty things are the loveliest to me.’ Likewise, it’s an ugly, scatological desire that is captured musically on Akron/Family, with time and pitch-correction stripped away, drums bleeding into the red, old-timey holler-aping four-part choruses in outer-space, 90’s-era string emulators, acoustic guitars, and mandolins plaintively hymno-tizing flatulent trumpets and damaged Casiotone arpeggiation, wooing them into the center of songs that never congeal…songs that blow kisses to dead lovers followed by fart sounds.”

--by William S. Fields

An ugly, Joycean scatological desire is wooing ambiguous pronoun “them” into the center of songs. Now that’s just bad writing disguised with intimidating (and stupid) words and references.

3. “Woman King will provide eager Iron & Wine fans a welcome holdover between proper albums, but the EP also serves a larger developmental purpose, marking one more evolutionary hop for Sam Beam, and christening a new genre-- post-basement.”

--by Amanda Petrusich

...and now we’re making up words, Ms. Petrusich. Is “basement” a clearly defined modifier for a musical genre? Is it enough of a term to add a “post” onto the front of it? No ma’am.

4. “Consider [Jenny] Lewis the Emmylou Harris of the Silverlake set.”

--Entertainment Weekly

That’s just plain dishonest. I mean, have our standards fallen that far in the 35-40 years or so since Miss Emmylou ruled the folk music roost?

5. “These efforts have gone far beyond R.E.M. and Elephant Six’s Faulkner-ized mysticism, focusing less on the Dixie’s arcane, gothic romance and more on the enduring sonic memories the region birthed through the first half of the 20th century.”

--by Andrew Gaerig

What enduring sonic memories the region birthed through the first half of the 20th century? Does anyone have a clue what this writer is talking about? The Dixie? Note to author: One must not substitute “The Dixie” with “The South” unless one has the excuse of being an ESL student unused to writing articles.

How would you guys rank these in terms of badness? Is incomprehensibility worse than dishonesty? Does reading a review with 70+ words per sentence make you a “smarter” music fan?

We call shenanigans.


Anonymous avery-co said...

i'm gonna ramble. 'cause lawd i was born a... ok whatever.

that sarah girl is just gay. and the second dude... i'm tracking him down right now. i think i might be able to use my legal influence to get his power turned off.

the dumbest of the bunch... was the dixie reference. i wonder if they confused the term much like the way the terms asian and oriental are misused? i really hate it when people say - "that oriental guy." its asian you bastards! so maybe that's what was goin' on there.

like everything "produced" in east asia is oriental, perhaps everything "produced" in the south, be it music or culture now is to be called "dixie?"

what a loser.

PS: there's nothing gothic about the south anymore. new orleans is gone and the south (dixie) has been replaced by gas stations, video stores and wal-marts.

PSS: how do you kids find the time to not only write reviews... but to read enough reviews by other people to actually compile a sucky reviews list?

9:34 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

time management--learned it in grad school. or maybe we are neglecting other duties. who knows? :)

re:the dixie thing--it's kinda sad, isn't it? I guess that if people are still romanticizing the South, they are romanticizing something long gone.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Nacho Khakipants said...

How many of these were from Pitchfork Media? Most of the reviews I read from that site seem like intentional efforts to make me go ".. the fuck?" Of course, it's also my life-long goal to verbacize nouns and nounerize adjectives and adverbs and ... well, you get the idea. In the words of Marcel Marceau " ." I guess that's all I have to say about that...

And how can one 'romanticize' the South in the early twentieth century? I can only assume that's in strict reference to Southern literature and has NOTHING to do with the general social situation that would eventually erupt in the twilight at that blessed hemi-century (that's right... I can bastardize words too!) There really is nothing sexier than oppression. But then again, I can't speak on behalf of all the Southern states... I mean, I'm just from the Heart of Dixie!

10:22 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

one pitchfork, two from stylus mag, who has gotten even worse than the fork.

i think mr. schreiber has toned his writers down a bit. if you've noticed, the review length has gotten shorter and the writing has gotten less verbose. this is a good thing.

9:37 PM  

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