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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Birth of American Hay

In the years since the brutal kidnap and murder of American rock radio, we critics of music have remained perched, phoned heads titled at our computers, digitally fledgling for the next nice sound.

As a review writer and fan of review writing, the exploration of music criticism sites remains a pastime of mine, when I'm not searching Burlington's Craigslist to spruce up my home, that is.

Obviously, there are just too many music review sites to list. (Some Solid State readers might be pleased to know my work has been rejected by quite a few of them.) However, a recent review at CMJ — the esteemed College Music Journal - caught my attention.

The band, Other Lives, is critiqued as having "interwoven an avant-garde edge into their indie-rock on their self-titled debut, a record that is sonically diverse though often quietly contained."

Nevermind that any CCTA bus, the Burlington lakefront and Church Street's bicycle drunks are all sonically diverse, though often quietly contained. Or that the music of Other Lives is actually very good.

Days after reading this review I've yet to determine what's "indie" about Other Lives. And I seriously think I've busted CMJ asleep at the wheel. Is it the expert production? The crisp instrumentation? The highly discernible, somber lyricism? The delicately infused piano?

One of my favorite bands of all time is Archers of Loaf, oft heralded as one of the godfathers of indie rock. They screeched noise guitars over throaty screams about cheese and dripping faucets back in 1993. That was indie rock — the kind of rock few, if any, were making at that time. Compared to the Archers, Other Lives are the Eagles.

Consider CMJ bagged for slapping their generic "indie_rock_review.doc" on Other Lives, out of either pure laziness or simple lack of invention.US_HAY

I hereby designate the music of Other Lives — and like bands so often plopped into indie rock's distended league — as American Hay. Or American Hay Rock. Or maybe just plain Hay Rock.

It's catchy — like "hey!" And like hay itself, there's tons of it around and needles like Other Lives are increasingly hard to find in it.



Can you please review any Grizzly Bear record. Or the new one. My friends are not drinking but bathing in that Kool Aid. To me they sound like if Barry Gibb and the Beach Boys were asked to write bad music.

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