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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Post-Industrial Doodlings


I ran across an interesting link the other day that will make some of you laugh, and some of you cry — especially if you review music.

Check it out here.

The ‘article’ was actually written back in 2001. I can’t find any information about the site it’s on, but the fact that someone took the time to compile a list of phrases that could easily be lifted and placed in any review of technical music is totally depressing. And also amusing. My personal favorite is “they are shooting for ‘ambient techno’ and the result is ‘post-industrial doodlings’.” God, that’s good.

I once tried my hand at reviewing music, but even a list like this one could not have masked my failure.

I like music for two reasons. Either I identify with the lyrics, or it makes me dance. If I don't like music it's usually because it makes me cringe. And there's no thesaurus extensive enough to turn either of those statements into a full-out CD review.

I've always loved researching bands and writing about what in their lives inspired certain songs. I think the highlight of all the interviews I've ever done had to be when I finally asked Dave from Saves the Day who Anna was, a name that reoccurred in several of their early recordings. And right after Dave told me it was his sister, Anna called his cell phone. But anecdotes like that aren't enough to convince someone whether or not to buy an album. At some point, facts have to take a backseat to the reviewer's opinion.

And the sad fact is, when it comes down to it, many of those working to review music can't deliver much more than... well... 'post-industrial doodlings'.

Which is why I so admire those who do it well. Those that can listen to a CD and write a synopsis that is not just the same old regurgitation of the same old phrases.

Because I have to admit, it's gotten to the point where I go into reading any review with some amount of skepticism that it will tell me anything at all.



There's a HUGE difference between profile journalism and criticism.

Criticism is very serious business, and should not be attempted by those without a stomach of steel and a heart of chrome.

Or something.


PS: What can you do? There are only so many adjectives in the English language.

Might as well piss on all Western music for its limited, twelve-tone scale.

PPS: I agree that a lot of criticism is bunk. But then again, so is a lot of music.


Well put, Casey.

That's exactly why I leave the criticism to you. My heart is all gushy and un-chrome-like.


Criticism is more difficult than most people realize. I know it's tougher than I thought it would be.

It isn't enough to have an opinion. As the saying goes, "Opinions are like music critics." Or something like that.

The real challenge is to be able to express your thoughts cohesively and with no small amount of diplomacy and objectivity. It's not enough to merely say that something sucks. Or, for that matter, that something rocks. You have to be able to tell the average reader why a particular work is good and/or bad in a way that can be universally understood.

One of my big rock journalism pet peeves is the "(insert band name) sounds like a mix of (insert better known band name) and (insert even better known band name) with a touch of (under-appreciated and usually dead artist)" phenomenon. Or, perhaps, Drake-ian criticism. Drakecism?

However, as much as I generally loathe the tactic and typically equate it to laziness, I've certainly employed it on numerous occasions. Sometimes it really is the most effective way to get your point across in a manner that the general public will understand. And, now that I think about it, I've had many a conversation about a new band boil down to the following question: "So, like, who do they sound like?" Give the people what they want, right?

As per the adjectives point, it is true that only so many exist. That said, I'd submit that the term "lush" be forever stricken from the rock lexicon. Unless you're talking about an alcoholic, of course.

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