Posts Tagged ‘PopMatters’

Pitchfork & PopMatters on the new Decemberists

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Pitchfork reviews The Hazards of Love and gives it a lowly 5.7. In the summary blurb, the phrases “stoner metal sludge” and “prog-folk” are invoked. On the other hand, while PopMatters’ review starts with the ominous phrase “There have been signs that this was coming” and compares the album to GenesisLamb (usually a kiss of death in a mainstream publication these days), the review ends up being very positive indeed. All this makes me feel cautiously optimistic about how I might like this one. I haven’t bothered listening to the low-bitrate version that leaked a couple weeks ago, so I’m looking forward to hearing the release with fresh ears.

Also reviewed today at Pitchfork: Kylesa’s new one, Static Tensions. Kylesa are a hip sludgy metal group with at times very distinct Pink Floyd influences, two drummers, and a rotating cast of vocalists (though the chief screamer is guitarist Laura Pleasants, who rocks). Pitchfork gave it a good review, and I agree: this is a good ‘un.

Befuddled

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Wow, absolutely classic mismatch of reviewer and reviewed: PopMatters’ Filmore Mescalito Holmes, who normally seems to review electronica, drum ‘n’ bass and the like, tackles Ocrilim’s new one, Annwn. Not surprisingly, he can’t make heads or tails of this stuff, and the result is an amusingly clueless couple of paragraphs that say little more than “this guy’s just wanking, you might as well listen to a jackhammer.” (To which I say: don’t ever hand this guy an Einstürzende Neubauten album.)

In all honesty, this is the kind of review that makes me more interested to hear this than I would have been otherwise (I like Ocrilim’s first, Anoint, but not enough to make me go get this one sight unseen).

On guilty pleasures

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Two things today. One, another review of interest at PopMatters, in which Will Layman takes a sledgehammer to prog rock indulgence and bashes ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery. While normally I’m in support of anyone ridiculing this ridiculous band, Layman’s review, which comes on the occasion of the latest reissue of this “classic” album, isn’t exactly praiseworthy. He basically admits to liking this in his youth, still kind of liking it now, but he’s completely caught up in the “guilty pleasure” concept and his tone is all, “I can’t believe I actually enjoy this crap — it might be fun, but it’s still crap.” And then he gives it a rating of 3 out of 10.

Who the fuck cares how silly or stupid something is if you enjoy it? I mean, I understand the whole “guilty pleasure” thing. But I’ve been trying to actively rid myself of the notion (this is still very much a work in progress). That’s why I give positive reviews to cheesy symphonic power metal bands like Within Temptation, and it’s why I write about seeing Christina Aguilera and Nelly Furtado on this blog. If you enjoy something, it deserves a positive review, regardless of whether or not you’re ashamed of your feelings.

That said, I think Brain Salad Surgery is about as appealing as a steaming dog turd. So I could have written a much better 3-stars-out-of-ten review than Layman.

Item #2: OffOnOff, a new trio of Paal Nilssen-Love, Terrie Ex, and Massimo Pupillo (of Zu). With that lineup you know there are going to be fireworks. There’s an eight-minute song on their Myspace page that reminds me of Scorch Trio with a much heavier bass presence, which makes sense — Pupillo’s fuzzed-out bass playing is way more aggressive than Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten’s style, while there are similarities between Terrie Ex and Raoul Bjorkenheim’s post-Sharrock guitar pyrotechnics. I cannot wait to get my hands on this stuff.

Things to read

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Not that this is particularly useful since I don’t do it regularly, but a few links of interest today…

PopMatters has a couple reviews of interest — namely a glowingly positive writeup of AhleuchatistasEven In the Midst… and a nearly as good one of Uz Jsme Doma’s Cod-Liver Oil. I have both of these and neither has really sunk in with me yet despite a few listens to each.

And on an end-of-year list note, check out Adrien Begrand’s site (it’s sort of a blog but not really) for his ongoing best of 2007 project, in which he will apparently be adding stuff for the next several days. He lost a little credibility with me when he named Mastodon’s atrocious Blood Mountain his favorite of 2006, but I still enjoy his writing and respect his opinions. So far he’s done a best-of of compilations and live albums and an “honorable mentions” list. On the latter are two albums that, if I did my top 10 of 2007 now, would make it onto the list: Om’s Pilgrimage and Dälek’s Abandoned Language.

Also, I’m pulling some chains over at ProgressiveEars by coming to the defense of Justin Timberlake. This could be a fun show.

What are some intelligent metal review sites?

Friday, October 5th, 2007

A very thoughtful review of Nightwish’s new album, Dark Passion Play, got posted today at PopMatters. I’ve given this one a few listens, enough to form a brief opinion about it, but I’ll save most of my thoughts for a proper review. In short, I pretty much agree with the PopMatters review. What this all brings to mind is something of a tangent: why are there so few metal review sites that are worth a damn? Anytime I read a review at Metal Observer, Metal Storm, or any of those sites, I never feel like I’ve come away feeling like I know whether or not the given album is any good. Part of that is uneven or downright bad writing; part of it is that all of these sites seem to give positive reviews to practically everything.

For the record, there are a few metal sites that I find quite valuable, but few of these really keep up with new releases on a regular basis: Satan Stole My Teddybear and The Dark Legions Archive both boast good writing, intelligent musical commentary, and useful critical viewpoints, and Encyclopedia Metallum has a ton of user-written reviews that are actually of generally good quality. The upstart avantgarde-metal.com looks interesting, but so far the quality of writing is very uneven. Outside of those, I haven’t found too much, especially in terms of sites that are willing to review the more extreme forms of metal (very few of them, even those that write about death and black metal, seem to do much in the way of grindcore and the various death/grind hybrids out there). Any suggestions?

PopMatters on Isis

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

PopMatters redeems itself with this, the best one-sentence summary of what’s going on with Isis that I’ve yet read: “Even though Isis’s musical progression is cautious at best, the band is still miles ahead of its peers.”

That about sums it up, I think. I found In the Absence of Truth a bit disappointing and “more of the same,” but it’s still a pretty excellent work in its own right, and this is a band that has never really let me down.

PopMatters gets all confused and shit

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

There’s a very strange review posted today at PopMatters, of The Jeff Gauthier Goatette’s One and the Same, in which the reviewer basically pans the album because he doesn’t know how to categorize it. At least, that’s the way it comes off. I suppose his message is kind of that his review, in its utter incoherency, is analogous to how he perceives the album — which on the one hand is a neat trick but on the other hand is a total cop-out and a convenient way to avoid having to actually think and write a real review that’s useful to anyone.

I suspect Cryptogramophone recordings often get this treatment from listeners — their stuff is generally not easily pigeonholed as jazz, nor is it rock, nor is it classical; so it seems likely that people will be befuddled by it and, if forced to write about it, will find it easiest to disparage the music instead of anything else. I don’t want to make the infamous “if you don’t like it you must not understand it” argument (because that pisses me off as much as it does the next guy), but really, this seems like journalistic laziness to me. Shame on PopMatters, which usually avoids this kind of thing.

On an Island: “resounding bore”?

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

PopMatters’ review of David Gilmour’s new On an Island is probably the best thing I’ve read there for a while, in that I agree with it pretty much 100%.

On an Island sounds exactly like an album by a 60-year-old, semi-retried [sic], Upper Class British multimillionaire guitar legend, recorded with his famous friends—and the wife—on his floating houseboat studio anchored on the River Thames. It’s laid back beyond measure, sparse, leisurely, unforced—that last trait arguably missing from the pair of Gilmour-led Floyd albums. Whether all this results in Gilmour’s most personal, genuine musical statement or a resounding bore is a matter of perspective and personal taste.

Yup. I’m closer to the “resounding bore” side of things, but I do like the album and feel like it might appeal to me more as time goes on. Most of all, though, I echo this reviewer’s sentiment that, though we can criticize the album for being too laid-back, “thank Heaven Gilmour didn’t decide to ‘rawk’”. No shit.

Elton Dean passed; metal at PopMatters

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

RIP Elton Dean.

I was rather surprised to see The Gathering’s Mandylion garner a review at PopMatters today — not only does prog-metal seem outside the realm of that site, but they also only review new releases, and Mandylion is over a decade old. Well, turns out there’s a 10th anniversary special edition release. Cover art looks really nice and the second disc of bonus material sounds interesting (along that vein, I still have to get the recent 2CD release Accessories: Rarities B-Sides). Good review, too, worth a read.

People saying dumb shit

Saturday, January 11th, 2003

Eh:

European music tradition is the only important one, really. Sure, the Asian one, maybe, too, but that one has developed in other directions, and people from Western cultures (which also includes Americans, even African Americans) should stick to the European musical traditions.

That’s from rmp, in a thread full of drivel entitled “Progressive/Art Rock” (that was crossposted to a bunch of other groups, making it pretty interesting actually). There’s also a lot of the usual stuff about all rap being “c”rap (hahaha, how clever) in that thread. I love Usenet.

PopMatters has an interview with Neal Morse. It contains the sentence “Snow is not only one of the finest concept records ever recorded, but also ranks as one of the most compelling albums ever committed to disc.” Shit, and I like that site :)