Steve asks me when I'm gonna write the book and a saxophone roars like a guitar and we can no longer hear each other.
My throat goes soar shouting over the organs pressed down, the players hands forceful like he's slamming shut a window hard enough to shatter it. And rattled up between it all are meandering melodies, fleeting and flitting along for only 16 measures at a time. The drums make it punk, maybe a bit jazzy too, the sax makes it post-bop, the synthesizers make it nightmarish, oh so sweetly nightmarish, with their wheeze like some spooky, post-apocalyptic circus tent and the lyrics, hitting sharp, flat or just sometimes raw, are playfully cadenced and sluiced with surrealism.
Nothing's coming today. Only those sweet, weird, wild sounds. Sounds of the Beekeepers.
No words. No need for them much more it seems, these days. This post is going to be 200-times larger than your typical status update and 194, roughly, times-larer than your last tweet...so give up now if you're already distracted or, just settle down if you're already too eager for the next sentence, it's coming any-word-now.
The Review, as a practice employed by ostensibly professional critics, those with educated opinions, died somewhere in, oh, let's say, 1998... Maybe '95. It'd be old news if I sat here and lamented the uselessness of them, the begrudged uselessness of actually sitting down to listen to Santigold or Gotye and contributing descriptive words for you so that you can decide whether or not you should actually...check...it...out.
You've already decided.
The subtext here is that blogging has inflicted a crack upon my brain, a potentially mortal blow upon the recreational-listening nodule...and neon-pink ooze spills out every time I endure another spin of the sellable fluff... Some music is so trite and insultingly formulaic that it can be a vacuum upon intellectual rumination - the beat and the synth and the auto-tune... Fuck it. Put it on the radio non-stop, give it that big-label-push, pedal it on the defenseless ears of those not yet as cynical as I - and you'll have yourself the #1 Feel Good Hit OF THE Summer...
You're just a song that I used to know...
Blogging is so of the moment that I didn't even realize I'd suffered that hemorrhage on my MusicBrain - hustle through the latest hot and hip and happening and you won't even realize that you came dangerously close to listening to music for the wrong reasons...that's what that pink ooze on your collar is... You should get that looked at, son.
The blogging has caused me to either leap back or fast forwrad...
The hour-glass view... No time for the past below you and unable to consider the expanse of the future above - only squished down to the narrow, bottle-neck-of NOW-ness.
I could stop and go back, just go way back, man, to a dusty antiquarianism - forsake tweets and tumblrs and wallow happily in Luddite lake - I'd dive back to the old records, and properly educate myself on the Blues and folk, like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, or Odetta, or the first Muddy Water cuts in the early 40's, educate myself on 70's noise and avant-garde electronica -dig back into Throbbing Gristle, or thoes Kraftwerk albums I forgot to pick up like Radioactivity or what about Merzbow, educate...educate myself properly on the left-field hip hop movement, Yesterday's New Quintet, dig back into all the J Dilla works and find a bridge to Four Tet...
And not get so anxious over falling-behind... behind the trends... Losing One's Edge. Who's defining your edge, its sharpness? The modern critics? They're just going to tell you to listen to Santigold or Gotye and you don't really need to be doing that right now. Relax, they'll tell you that you should, nay, need-to be listening to some other SomethingOrOther-OF-THE-summer in a few months.
Either I wanna leap back and swear off trends --Or, or just get it all over with already and be there, out, ahead, forward, at the edge of time, under purple-polluted skies of scarce stars and barren fields besotted with broken down Jet-cars, the victory-buzz of those few surviving cockroaches drowned out by the thrum of flame-spewing cell phone towers and lightning-storm-gathering industrial-strength wi-fi adapter stations. Desktops and conscious living practices and democratic discourse and plants and animals all gone... If we're going there, that digi-dream-future, then let's get there already. Blogging's become too much of a diary on-our-way-To...whatever kind of doom we're fossil-fueling-our-way-towards - as if the next MP3 single is really what you need today.
But then - BUT THEN dear reader... I would never dare to suggest that music is useless, though obviously the fluff glossed upon most magazine covers, inevitably, will prove to be... And I'm not saying we're doomed, either - I'm an incorrigible optimist, especially when I've had enough coffee. I'm just saying that - The Review is dead...and so is blogging.
Waiting for the great leap forward, as Billy Bragg sang. And yes, that song and so many have stuck with me over the years. The writing, my writing, this sop of words will evolve into something else... How has it continued to always be about music? I don't know. Too much in a hurry to consider it thoroughly - too much in that mindset of being ready for the next post.
Here's the sticking point. Reviews can and do matter - when they're able to communicate significance, rather than spin insipid snark or halfhearted witticisms implying that you should just listen to this...
Where was I?
There are really four kinds of reviews in my foggy eyes: The first is hard to classify - that being the negative / tear-down review - only because it can sometimes serve some good (depending upon if the artist or work is swathed in the Emperor's New Clothes) or serve bad (if its a blog that's brought out the thesaurus-bolstered long-swords to cut down a range of artists/works -maybe some being flashes-in-veritable-pans or maybe someone's just that much ready to say that a certain artist has finally dropped a dud after years of success. Hah, take that!)
The second: Soulless dribble: those that imply that you should like this - (i.e., sell you something so that you can be ready to gobble up that next single). The third: Crusading dissertations: those that are spurred by the fiery inspiration the writer has found in a work by a band, typically one barely known, if at all, across the mainstream, it depends upon endearment and that hard-to-resist urge to show somebody what you think deserves to be the next big thing.
And that would bring in Jack White and his new album, Blunderbuss.
This week could prove to be a rewarding study in how reviews can prove their worth. Mr. White has scored his first #1 Billboard 200 spot with this new album - a notable accomplishment, especially for a solo artist, but perhaps not so surprising considering how long he's been working, how many albums he's contributed to, how long we've all been listening... Rooting?
The thing: Everyone is going to want to listen to this album -whether a reviewer praises it to the mountains or lampoons it into swiss cheese -and it's all going to spin the same, re-worded story about what White's place is in musical history...
What is going to give it it's staying power... What gives it it's worth?
This week, there's a review on every blog or music zine you'll likely link-to, concerning Blunderbuss. This is where the worth of music criticism can survive -whether or not they can prove the worth of a work that transcends fleeting, feel-good-single-of-the-summer - something that equally sways the squares as much as the indie-hipsters - something that can be rocked in a hole in the wall bar or bastardized inside a commercial or flash action/comedy blockbuster.
Blunderbuss. Put it in. Track one. Press Play.
What am I listening to? Tell me.
So, since blogging has kind of driven me crazy - I've decided to consider this my 4th-to-last-blog post upon this web site... Ever. (Does "ever" mean anything anymore in Internet-time standards)?
4th and counting...
Start the countdown...