scholarly music reviews
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.”
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.