I’ve seen the future of rock, but I just don’t understand it
“The trio give birth to an amalgamation of vintage keyboards”
Dear Music Critic,
I have a problem with your review. You see the thing is… I don’t actually know what you’re talking about. To me, the above quote makes me conjure up a mental image of three people give birth to old rusty keyboards. Ouch. I can see you’ve given the album four stars… but the seven paragraphs between the photo of the album cover and the four stars reads to me like a mountain of musical gibberish.
Attempting to do some research for an upcoming interview with a little-known band with an official release still weeks away, I dug up a recent review to help me with some background. Instead I developed a headache.
It wasn’t that there was a lack of information out there about the band, rather a lack of anything that made sense.
There’s been a digital music revolution. You can now get your hands on a new recording minutes after it’s leaked online. Music blogging has exploded, and every man and his dog can be a music critic. Only problem is, it’s difficult to wade through the wank and actually get to the guts of the record.
“The augmented, serrated guitar chords and disco-punk beats point to their dalliance with a sound the band described as “monolithic tech-pop”, but what was actually closer to post-hardcore than anything else”
Huh? Oh. It appears you know genres, Mr Music Reviewer. And sub-genres. And sub-sub genres.
Now while I love music, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the difference between monolithic tech-pop and post hardcore. And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t care less.
Just tell me if the bloody record is worth listening to.
“Dropping the transparently hayseed act, the band could have turned an artistic corner; yet the first single from Only By the Night is called “Sex on Fire”, so if there was any debate about whether Kings of Leon are in on their own joke, I think it can be put to rest. If we’re misreading them, we’re missing out on one corker of a comedy album based on an “SNL”-level premise: What if Bono got lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains and was replaced by a local yokel?”
While many consider Pitchforkmedia to be the cool kids’ music bible, they’re the king of taking their reviews into new heights of wankery. Last year they slapped Kings of Leon’s 3rd album into oblivion with their long-winded review, however history will show that the punters loved it.
You should see what their reviewers write when they actually like a recording:
“The face I make when I listen to Crystal Castles is the total peace-face Jared Leto makes when he shoots up in the cab after visiting his mother in Requiem for a Dream.”
Hmmmm. I guess it can get lost in translation.
I could fill up an entire column taking ridiculous quotes from ludicrous reviews, but thankfully there’s plenty of other ways savvy types are now getting their musical opinions across.
Take Breakfast at Sulimay’s. A weekly web series that gets a bunch of oldies together in a diner in sleepy Fishtown, Philadelphia. Ann, Joe and Bill run through the latest hip hop and indie releases and film their responses.
I’ve got to tell you, there’s something captivating about watching an eighty year old woman head bouncing to Young Jeezy’s Black Knight.
Another decent self-appointed critic Anthony Fantano is a radio producer and self confessed music nerd who posts his thoughts on new releases on a daily basis on YouTube. He doesn’t use big words. He just stands in front of the camera and talks. And occasionally dances. And thousands of people watch.
Sometimes they don’t even need to words to get hungry music fans to listen.
One of my favourite music blog sites is Fluokids. It’s French and I don’t have the faintest idea what their reviews actually say but I know the songs they post I tend to like.
“Il se passe quelque chose entre grooves fragmentés et house aquarelle.”
Anyone who speaks French, feel free to translate it for me…. All I know is nine times out of ten, I like their songs. So I’ll keep coming back. Je ne sais pas comprehende?
In the age where a lot of bands choose to stream entire albums well before they release date, the music fan can already try before they buy on countless websites. They can make up their own mind. They don’t need to read paragraphs of waffle to decide whether or not to purchase an album.
But in the meantime, dear music reviewer, while editors of newspapers and magazines are still paying you for inches of filler, I dare you to take some inspiration from @1000timesyes @BBCMusic itweettunes who all manage to cut their reviews down to 140 characters.
Here’s my favourite so far:
“This band might be big now, but I am pretty sure if you bought this album you might be wiping your arse with it in the future.” (Itweettunes on Short Stack’s ‘Stack is the new black’)
Now THAT’S what I call a review.
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