18 August 2006

Bloggers and New Music

Bloggers have a reputation for being uncritical fankids; I suspect this comes from writing about only what you want to--none of us have editors breathing down our necks to get a column out or do a review of the new [insert name here] CD. We don't have to write about anything we don't like, so most of us don't. Reviewing the mediocre is particularly hard--if it's good or bad you can usually get to the meat of why, but if it's mediocre what is there to say--"It just isn't very good"? Not much of a satisfying review; so we all slant to the positive, and write about what we like.

This aggravates me. Uncritical anything is rarely good. So I've decided to review every damn mp3 that ends up in my box, good, bad, or indifferent. I can't possibly love all of it, so it'll involve learning how to figure out why music is not very good or bad.

The first victim of this decision is a couple of bands that Cloud Recordings sent out--Dark Meat and The New Sound of Numbers.

Dark Meat is one of the growing numbers of supergroups; their proper name including all of their members is Dark Meat/Vomit Lasers Family Band/Galaxy, which certainly makes my list of candidates for the Worst Band Name Evar Award. Aside from that, they're from Athens, Georgia, and they have a new CD coming out in late October called Universal Indians.

Honestly, I don't think they're very good; all of their songs sound like they got a little too excited about having so many members. Their voice parts are intermittently discordant but rarely interesting, and their instrumental sound is sprawling and shapeless without any redeeming grandeur. Angel of Meth is the best song I could find; it starts out a cool hybrid between vocal harmony and yelling, and judging by their other songs, holds together pretty well. Later in the song, though, the vocals take an unfortunate turn towards Robert Smith. No.

The second one is much better, or at least much more to my liking--The New Sound of Numbers' Frequency Transmission System, also from Athens; their new CD comes out in October too. It's called Liberty Seeds, and eventually you'll be able to order it from Cloud Recordings. A jerky, jointed beat reminds me of--Bonobo? Xploding Plastix?--and the vocals approach the artificiality of medieval chants or a skipping record at times. They're pretty kooky. I like 'em.

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jbreitling said...

I love the idea of actually being, you know, critical. I've given a couple bad reviews this year, plenty more when I was writing elsewhere, but you are right: when you have limited blogging time and you can just throw something in the Reject Pile and focus on something you like rather than dress down a band, it is just easier. I think it takes more skill to actually write a well-reasoned negative review than to sort of back-slap a decent release. Perhaps you'll inspire me to play tough with some of the less-than-good records that come through the door...

The Oafing Loaf said...

Hey well said you - you are so right that the critical radar of most blog reviewers is switched to off. It's made me think am I too uncritical or is it because I search out stuff I like and therefore my critical radar has already kicked in even before the band get on my blog screen? Take a look at my blogsite The Devil Has The Best Tuna at www.besttuna.blogspot.com

matt said...

You are so right about this on all counts. It's often bothered me that i tend to post impassioned cheerleader reviews of favorite artists and new musicians/releases that have blown me away -- while almost never posting about disappointing or simply bad albums. But it’s b/c i never have enough time to post all of what i'd like to cover, and thus focus my limited time on what i REALLY love. Plus, writing about what turns me on is what got me started audioblogging in the first place. And these days i get so much review material that commenting on a substantial portion, let alone all of it, is not an option.

That said, next time a favorite band puts out a disappointing album or does a lame show in Boston . . . watch out.