Archive for April, 2003

rmp slowly descending into suckitude

Tuesday, April 29th, 2003

For a number of reasons, I’ve been pretty erratic in keeping up with rec.music.progressive in the past few months. The signal-to-noise ratio seems to be getting constantly worse, and whenever I scan the threads I usually only find a few things of interest. The forum I read most often these days is ProgressiveEars, which in the past couple years has exploded in membership and activity. The forum there has a lot of good discussion about actual music, threads about specific bands, and so on; stuff that rmp hasn’t had in volume for a while, it seems.

That said, I’m finding this current thread about Pink Floyd absolutely hilarious.

More thread summarizing

Tuesday, April 29th, 2003

And while I’m thread-summarizing, here’s some interesting stuff culled from ProgressiveEars. First, the news that Avant Garden is apparently disbanding, after only one official release and a high-profile gig in their ProgDay appearance. Too bad, these guys were pretty darn good.

There’s an interesting thread about music people can’t stand that’s given me some good laughs. I most agree with someone choosing Lou Bega’s “Mambo No.5″ as the most annoying song ever. That song puts my teeth on edge instantly. What I find really interesting, though, is that a ton of people tend to pick out specific groups or songs in rock, pop, and so on, but then they go and decide that an entire genre is also worthless and annoying - namely, rap. I find it so weird that people can just write off entire genres like that, especially given that such a opinion is probably formed based on hearing just a few songs on the radio. Too bad.

And finally, there’s a recurring debate that’s started up again recently about the usefulness of negative reviews. Apparently some people think that negative reviews are inherently less useful than positive ones, or something like that. I’m not following very closely because frankly I find the whole discussion absurd. Anyway, the “Straw Man Argument of the Year” award goes to none other than L Perez:

As a reviewer, when I get an album by a band that is playing in a style I dont really care for, I will compare them to other artists in that style. I dont trash them ad hoc but find things about the album that fans of that style of music might like and expound on those. I usually end such a review with; ‘it’s not my cuppa but if you like and then this disc is for you’I find this style of criticism to be much better recieved than the ‘they suck shit through a straw as does all music in this style and here’s why’ kind of review, YMMV

Well, no shit. Thanks man.

I suppose it’s sort of dumb to post these responses here, where no one can respond in kind. I do this quite a bit - I guess whenever I feel like I have something to say, but I don’t actually want to get involved in a discussion. For instance, I have absolutely no desire to get embroiled in this argument… I just thought the above quote was really funny.

Avril Lavigne: annoying, but not that annoying

Tuesday, April 29th, 2003

AND, one more thing: a couple people named Avril Lavigne as their most annoying music ever, specifically “Sk8er Boi”. Greg Northrup points out that Avril’s image is entirely fake and manufactured and deceptive (as opposed to other teen-poppers, whose images are fake and manufactured, but don’t pretend not to be). This is true, and extremely disingenuous, not to mention incredibly crass given the way she’s been marketed. The music industry at its worst.

All that said, and it pains me to say this, I actually like her album, Let Go. Yeah, “Sk8er Boi” is an absolute travesty and any radio station that continues to play it should be shut down by the FCC. But some of the other songs I actually enjoy. They’re fairly well-constructed and catchy (well, of course they’re catchy), yet have some bite to them. And Lavigne’s voice has this innocent quality sometimes that’s kind of endearing. Sure, the lyrics are pretty embarrassing in places. I wonder who wrote them: if not written by Avril herself, did some schmuck try to write crappy lyrics on purpose so that they would look like the work of a 17-year-old? Hehe… a good question.

Wilco @ Yale’s Spring Fling

Monday, April 28th, 2003

Is it just me, or does releasing a double live CD/DVD combo after only one studio album seem a bit… excessive? (I’m referring, of course, to the new live release from Star One, Arjen Lucassen’s latest project.)

I recently got back from a live show by Wilco, who played at Yale’s annual (and usually really lame) Spring Fling. They were pretty freakin great. I only have two of their albums, Being There and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (well, and the new EP that they released on their website). I got the former many years ago and hated it, and haven’t listened to it since; but the latter was last year’s indie-critic darling, and with good reason. Wilco’s music is often termed “alt-country”, which I understand (possibly incorrectly) to mean that they have some roots in country music, but have extended their style to include rock and other elements. On Yankee Hotel Foxtrot their melancholy yet catchy tunes are offset by a fair amount of experimentation and even outright noise, so I was curious to see how the Yale crowd would react.

Well, there are a lot of indie-rockers at Yale (and all of them work at the radio station). So there was a sizable and fairly enthusiastic crowd. And even after some of the lengthier instrumental freakouts - some of which I thought were awesome, especially one particularly out-there guitar solo - there was a good amount of applause. I was moderately surprised, and glad that people seemed to be enjoying the show as much as I was. I liked the set a lot - they played for quite a while, almost two hours, and did most of the songs off of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, a few from the new EP, and some older stuff that I didn’t recognize (except for the one song I seem to remember not disliking from Being There, “Misunderstood”). Good stuff.

A friend of mine here is a huge Wilco fan. She sent out some lyrics through e-mail before the show, and I’m glad she did. I’d never really heard them before, despite liking the song, which is a shame, because they’re beautiful -

don’t cry
you can rely on me honey
you can come by any time you want
i’ll be around
you were right about the stars
each one is a setting sun

tall buildings shake
voices escape singing sad sad songs
tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Wilco, “Jesus, etc.”

I don’t have much to say about them, I just agree that they’re worth sharing…

I’d have dinner with John Coltrane

Saturday, April 26th, 2003

The site’s been a little spotty in terms of updates lately, because I’ve been absurdly busy with the end of my senior year. Last week I turned in my senior thesis, so I’ve got a bit more time now, but things are still pretty damn crazy.

So since my last power I’ve basically been listening exclusively to fusion, free jazz, and still more metal. In terms of jazz, I’ve been spinning lots more Miles, some late Coltrane (Live in Seattle is pure genius - crazy, wild, intense, bracing, astounding), Satoko Fujii, the Vandermark 5 (Steve from Cuneiform has always raved about these guys, but with their recent release Airports for Light he’s been hyping them up even more recently). As for metal, I just got in a big order from The End, a great retailer with really low prices, that included stuff like Green Carnation, Dan Swanö, Opeth, Morbid Angel, etc. Good stuff, all of it.

You know that stupid interview question, if you could have dinner with any one person, living or dead, who would it be? I always hated that question, and never had a good answer. There’s no one person in history or in my life that stands out so much from everyone else that he or she would be an obvious choice. So whenever I’m asked that question I’ve always just sort of picked a random historical figure that I think is interesting, but I’ve never been very invested in my answer. I think I have an answer now that I can give consistently: John Coltrane. What a fascinating, amazing, tragic figure. I don’t even know much about him - tops on my summer reading list is a biography such as Ascension - but what little I do know just enhances his mystique for me. Plus, he’s from North Carolina. :)

Fusion is a bad place to look for good lyrics

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2003

No, I haven’t forgotten about my lyrics project. It’s just that I’ve been listening almost exclusively to fusion for the past week or so, and there aren’t any lyrics to listen to. I was reminded of the lyrics thing because I just lent my copy of Beck’s Sea Change to a friend - there’s some great wordsmithing on that album. It’s a gorgeous work, sad and melancholy in a beautiful way. It’s also hard to find comparisons; at least, I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Actually, I have a hard time describing it in general - “sparsely orchestrated vocal pop/rock” is accurate but makes it sound like a really cheesy adult contemporary album. Which it’s decidedly not.

Pure genius

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2003

Oh, this is incredible: Dictionaraoke. Pop and rock hits remixed with all the vocals replaced by audio clips from online dictionary sites. Definitely check out the “Elephant Talk” reworking - as you might expect, it’s funny as hell but also actually sort of works. If you’re feeling patient, “4:33″ is pretty funny too :)