As a person who write about music, I always felt like it was as hard (if not harder) to sum up an entire album, possibly even an entire band, in a single statement or word, especially in comparison to rambling on about them for pages and pages worth of words. However, recent events have got me rethinking my stance on short reviews, so much so that I plan on no longer doing the “short reviews”.
There exists an album I will not name, but it came up for me again on Band Camp the other day and kind of got under my skin again. It annoys me because it just in no way can be taken seriously. I’m not saying that I want to be completely taken seriously, but… What bugs me is just: Why make an album and post it to Band Camp, then have it be complete crap and you’re going to sell it for a price that no person in their own right mind would pay?
I guess I’ve been thinking about the effort and energy that goes into that and how it could’ve been better spent either a) Making a real musical effort or b) If music isn’t your thing, then producing something that is your field. I’ve always been about appreciating the good in life and not focusing on the bad. To me, hate is just the opposite of love. If you really hated something, you wouldn’t spend so much time dedicated to that thing you hate, right? It’s like if you hate Michael Jackson (and please don’t) you’re not going to get a tattoo of Michael Jackson on your body somewhere that says “I hate Michael Jackson”, because at the end of the day, you still have a Michael Jackson tattoo on yourself. You’d be better off putting a tattoo of Janet Jackson on your body to promote her, if that’s your favorite Jackson child.
In that same vein, I do see people wearing shirts or having stickers for bands that I like, and I am more likely to say something complimentary to them then go up to a Jimmy Buffet fan and get into an argument about how the guy only had one “hit” and even that song sucks.
So I’ve narrowed music down into three categories, which you can find detailed below, and hopefully this will help you to better understand my new music reviewing strategy.
1) This is the music that I like. This is the music that I can write anywhere from 300 to 3000 words about. These are the reviews you will be reading, although if I can write a lengthy (and somewhat intelligent) review of something negative, I might. But this site is more of me saying, “Hey, you should listen to this band because…” rather than giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down. I like to think of myself as being a resource and old friend to you, the reader, more so than a critic.
2) These are the albums that simply defy long reviews. I may not like them or I may like them and simply not be able to expand upon why I like them. A good example of this is the new Nick Cave album. I mean, it’s Nick Cave; do I really need to tell you what I like about him? Yet, when making other reviews, you could see me say something like “I like this because it reminds me of Nick Cave’s new album”, which is kind of a way of showing you that I like his new album without having to write a short review about it directly.
3) These are what I like to call the “repeat offenders”, although some of them do not offend. Bands I tend not to like the first time I hear them never seem to get better with time. The Strokes and Phoenix both fall into this category. I typically give them the benefit of the doubt, but all that has thus far got me was a bunch of lousy Strokes songs. So when The Strokes come out with a new album, just assume I’m not a fan of it because all I’ve ever written about them is negative.
On the same side of the coin, you can have a band like Flaming Lips, who in my opinion consistently put out good music. But by this point in their career as a band, it is coming just as difficult for me to say, “How can I make fun of The Strokes differently this year than I did last year” as “How do I explain why I like the Flaming Lips without sounding like I’m repeating myself”.
So, mainly, if you don’t hear otherwise from me, just assume that new releases by existing bands are good. If they are bad, I will tell you. A good example of this is the new Muse album from last year. I was such a Muse fan until I heard that. So obviously I’m going to tell you if it disappointed me. But had it been a killer album and I didn’t have a way to convey that in three paragraphs or more, you probably wouldn’t get a review for it.
The bottom line in all of this is that there is just too much music out now. I have close to 200 releases just from the first half of 2013 alone that I’m either going to review or not depending upon how they play out when I listen to them all. But just expect more positivity, more words per review and a lot of reading between the lines to get little hints as to what else I do (or don’t like) without their being specific reviews for the albums. I mean, I listen to and love The Doors but I’ll probably never write a review of their music especially because it would simply say “They sound like The Doors”.
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