Archives For Album Reviews

Moments after sending in samples to be considered for a freelance reviewer for *1st kid on the block music blog* and hours after reading a New York Times article about the very same behemoth, I’m pondering music, blogs, music blogs, albums, reviews, and album reviews.  After going over many of the album evaluations that I’ve written for this very blog and also for I’m starting to think that they (album reviews) aren’t all that necessary anymore.  Hear me out.

I remember that as a college student I would devour  album reviews; reading every word David Fricke, Chuck Klosterman, Rob Sheffield, and countless others wrote about their favorite and least favorite recordings.  I remember wishing and hoping that someday I would have the same luxuries that they had/have.  But then everything exploded.  The internet made thousands of reviews by thousands of pretentious writers available at the click of a mouse and it all suddenly became very trite.  It seemed that these kids (me included) wanted to take all of the obscure words that they’d learned in lit classes along with synonyms for those same fuckin’ words and cram them all into some discussion about Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights or some regurgitated rehash of Guided By Voices Bee Thousand. And people read them (me included) and then purchased one of the best albums of the 00’s or pulled out Robert Pollard’s finest work and listened in seclusion until somebody broke the door down and told them about Beck’s Sea Change and the double disc reissue of Slanted and Enchanted that had cleaned up sound but was still the best album in anyone’s collection.

Point is, back then words were free and so it seemed was the time to read ALL of them.  Maybe it was because I was a jobless student on a major college campus that had all the time in the world to read and reread what was written about an album from a band that might not be that obscure after the review.  Or maybe it was because only really quality bands made it through the bullshit and had intelligent schoolboys comparing Animal Collective to Infinite fucking Jest. Thing is, it all made sense.

But now it’s different.  No matter how good or bad an album is, the words are wasted .   In the end I believe that it only comes down to a summarizing paragraph, a different colored text deeming value like “best new”, or a number.  That’s really all people have time for.  I mean, really, after you give album that isn’t MIA’s latest a 4.4,Travis Morrison’s a 0.0, or a 3.3 to the latest record from a previously heroic rock band does anybody really have the time to read about an album you compare to refuse, whining babies, or an American Idol reject?  On the other side, who has time to read your entire wet dream about  a record  that gets a 9.3 while you gush and gizz in glittering prose all over the first paragraph?

Tired eyes have also become a chronic problem due to the massive amount of fringe bands getting onto someone’s radar.  It seems that somebody is always waiting in the wings to become a tastemaker.  It doesn’t matter how good a band really is if there is some niche audience to stroke or some other way that the said band can create a buzz, they will get press.  In these cases, the proof is in the pudding.  MP3s or streams of tracks are as important or more important than the pithy words that got you to click on the track in the first place.   And when it comes to who gets priority it’s a race for the prize or more so a privilege for the proven.

Now I’m sure that thousands of people have griped the same gripe; I’m just venting  because I have a space to do so and also because I miss writing and reading music criticism in full.  Something has changed and it works with the rapid paced culture that we live in and some/most thrive on but it helps us settle for mediocrity and worse, sometimes not even know that what we are being told is good is mediocre. Is it hard to evaluate when you have SO many things to place value on?

I’d be really interested to see what anyone else has to say.  Weigh in if you have an opinion. By the time you read this I’ll already be on hypem….

Welcome to Blonde On Blog. Milwaukee, MFWI hosts this worded affair that will mix my love of pop culture, and especially le musique with friends and the unfamiliar alike. After I get the hang of this I will be sure to add media, photos, and such. But as of now I am just getting a handle on my tongue.

Let’s jump right in and ask, if you have yet to hear the new Animal Collective record (Merriweather Post Pavilion), what are you waiting for? Better yet, if you have yet to hear the last three Animal Collective records, you have some catching up to do.  Now there are sure to be many cliched answers.  “Well, I’ve always heard that they are way too eccentric and I don’t really want to challenge myself.  I’d rather listen to Paramore.” Bleh. Or, my favorite, “I used to like them but there is so much hype surrounding this record and I’m such a hip prick that I’m going to boycott it.”   In my opinion, neither one of these answers is valid enough to ignore such a sonic throw down.

The three gentleman that make up AC (Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist) create a paralyzing blend of rhythm, harmony, and blissful fuckery that escapes complete classification.  But in an effort to try and do just that, try and remember your most relaxed musical memory. It could have been on an LSD induced trail watching evening spent with Icelandic chillers Sigur Ros, a whiskey fueled “Faithfully”  sing-a-long, or a Tab quenched bubble soak with Sade pulsing through your intercom. Now mix that with the most intense and smile creating memory in your arsenal and you have the brilliance of Animal Collective.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is filled with spaceship smashed alarm clocks and colorfully well crafted derivations.  My favorite moment from it comes at about 2:30 of the first track, “In the Flowers”. The song starts out with layered futuristic sounds fitting for the score of a recut of The Abyss. It’s calming. It’s relaxing. For a moment you’re in the flowers with them. Floating. Resting. Breathing. Then. @2:30. Sprinting. Slamming. Screeching. Chaos ensues for a short few seconds. Beauty is bred. Beats rumble from the soil. Voices create harmony and amazing sonic joy. Shortly after a smile on the  face of the listener is completely inevitable and undeniable.  And that smile should remain, mixing with a multitude of other emotions, throughout the remainder of the record.  As a good friend of mine often says when referring to Exile on Main Street, I will temporarily steal for MPP.  “If you can’t get into this, you have a deficiency of the soul.”

For me, Merriweather Post Pavilion does exactly what I expected and hoped that it would do. It takes all of the blissful moments of all of Animal Collective’s records and Panda Bears solo efforts; the beautiful harmonies, powerful intensity, and fractured beats that lacked cohesion on other records and fuses them together to construct one solid album.  The hardworking listener before, an archeologist that was forced to search and sift through satisfying soot in order to get to his treasure, is now out of a job.  The treasure has risen to the surface and awaits its seeker.

Stay Tuned as I will next bring you news of my second favorite, or favorite (it fluctuates) record of 2009 (so far).