18 May 2009

Mr. Pitchfork's Final Response

If you've just joined the blog, you have caught myself and a Mr. Aaron Thomas Smith in a somewhat spirited discussion on the role of the critic in society, with specific regards to record reviews. To recap, Mr. Smith took umbrage with my review of one of his favorite bands' (Kinetic Stereokids) latest release, Kid Moves. After posting a comment on my blog and the webzine I write for, Stereo Subversion, I responded in the post previous to this one. He has since "retaliated" with the following response:

"Mr. Pitchfork,

my comment was removed from my own blog to spotlight a mini-tour put together last minute. It's now back-up, it had nothing to do with anything else!

While trying to stay awake throughout your elaborate assessment of my comments, I found amusement in your presented inquiry to defend the album in words, to your readers I state 'listen to it'. My favorite quote in music is by Trent Reznor (of all people)
"the goal was to create a record that, ultimately, you'll like - but probably not the first time you hear it"

Let people judge for themselves, (especially in today's myspace world) unless you choose to promote something. In doing listening sessions (in which the Kinetic Stereokids floored me past 1,000 other applicants) for the Pop Montreal festival, I've realized it gets tiring to stroke ones own ego downplaying others music, rather spotlight what merits in your mind. See KSK live, than let's talk!

I love your patting me on the head, like a God appointed journalist telling me how it is!
"I do not take the power of the written word lightly as it is very prone to upset the balances of human nature from time to time". Wow, good thing we are in this solely for music!!!

I give you a 4.3/10. Leave it to pitchfork already!!"

What follows is my response to his response to my response to his response of my original record review:

Mr. Smith,

First, thanks for responding to my comment. I must tell you I have very much enjoyed our little back-and-forth on the role of the record reviewer in our "MySpace world [capitalization mine]." And, I have to tell you, I'm flattered that you would place me in the same league as Pitchfork Media, although I assure you I am nowhere near as large or opinionated as they. But I did have a good laugh when you graded my reponse using their 10-point scale!

I know you struggled to make it through my last lengthy response, so I'll cut right to the heart. I have two main points:

1) I assume you read, Mr. Smith. You seem to be somewhat literate and so I would have to guess that at some point in your brief tenure on this planet, you have picked up a magazine dedicated to music, musicians, art, record labels, film, books, etc. If this assumption is correct, then you have taken part in the media/marketing machine that helps comprise popular music post-1950. Therefore, I feel it is safe to suggest that at some point in your life you have read a record review--actually, you must have read one because you decided that you did not care for them (per your original comment). And, truly, how can you care for something that you have never read? That would be ignorant.

So, unless you learn of all the bands you listen to from word-of-mouth, live shows with no prior exposure, or random selection at a record store, then, I'm afraid you have to acknowledge that critics have played a major role in the dissemination of such fledgling artists as Kinetic Stereokids into the "mainstream" (whatever that is now). For more on this topic, please see the brief history of bands with the names Vampire Weekend, The Black Kids, Hootie and the Blowfish, or Green Day.

Good, bad, or indifferent, you are a part of the publicity machine. Welcome! And I find it highly ironic (and a little comical) that you would deem my opinions impertinent or somehow irrelevant just because I call myself a record reviewer and you disagree with what I say.

Which brings me to my next point...

2) Hypothetically, ask yourself (and be honest, Mr. Smith), what would you have done if I had given the Kinetic Stereokids' album a glowing review? Say I gave the album a 9.5/10. Would you have linked to my review on your blog? Would you have left a pleasant, agreeable comment on my blog or at Stereo Subversion, patting me on the back for agreeing with your opinion? Would you have ignored it completely, happy to know that others think just like you? Or would you have done exactly what you did--leave a comment disparaging me for being a critic with a narrow assessment of the world? Hmmm...puzzling isn't it? What would you have done?

Well, I've already gone on too long as it is. So, in closing, I would like to say that I am through. I doubt you will respond to me again and, if you do, I (most likely) will have moved on to destroy the next fledgling, hopeful band with my Pitchfork-wielding words.

But, honestly, I'm glad you enjoy the music that you enjoy. We certainly need individuals who are willing to get behind a band that they support; we just shouldn't be surprised when others are not as quick to support our views.

Mr. Pitchfork

PS--I gave your reponse a 2.2/10. Very little substance for me to work with!!! And why so many exclamation marks!?!? Do you get paid everytime you use one?!?!!!

11 May 2009

In Response To...

What follows is a response to Mr. Liam Smith's comment regarding my review of the Kinetic Stereokids' LP Kid Moves. If you wish to completely skip and ignore this petty internet squabble, please do so and feel free to visit this site.

If you're still here, you can read Mr. Smith's comment here in the "Comments" section at the end of the review. His blog is Quietly Loud. The very same "comment" he left was published a blog posting on his blog, but it has since been removed.

Mr. Smith:

First, thanks for reading my review of Kinetic Stereokids' LP Kid Moves. I hope you found it interesting or that it at least presented a different viewpoint from your own. Judging by the post you left on your own blog and the subsequent cut and paste in the "Comments" sections of my blog and the "Comments" section of Stereo Subversion, I gathered (from intuition) that you clearly wanted me, and possibly others, to be aware of how you felt. Mission accomplished, and congratulations! You now know what it feels like to be a critic!

I suspect that when it comes down to brass tax, you and I are not that different. We both maintain a blog, we both clearly love music, and we are passionate defenders of the things we appreciate and enjoy. I deduced by reading over your blog that you enjoy the music of Kinetic Stereokids. Fantastic! I enjoyed some of their songs, too. The album as a whole, though? Not so much. But you knew that. And instead of choosing to offer an opinion or reason for why you enjoyed the music of the Kinetic Stereokids, you simply choose to deride the role of the record reviewer and, seemingly, all reviewers' inability to "assess the world" accurately.

Well. Guilty as charged.

I am quite unable to assess the world accurately because I have no frame of reference for the world we inhabit--besides my own frame of reference, of course. As you say, once you grew up and "realized...[you] knew nothing," you found yourself incapable of speaking to the state of the world at large. Realizing that there is more out there than you first imagined is a daunting realization. I daresay that's why there are millions of bands who believe they have something special and something worthwhile that other folks beyond themselves and their garage walls should hear. The problem is (and here's where it all ties together)...not everyone wants to hear your opinion--or your "music," per se. (Yes, I'm using 'music' as a metaphor for 'criticism'--ironic, isn't it?)

Now, I respect and admire that you do not want to hear my opinion. But then you must assume that others may not want to hear yours, either. Correct? Or did you assume that we were only interested in your opinion? Now that would be ironic! But, let me see if I can address you argument a bit and, hopefully, illuminate the essence of the diagreement.

The metaphors in your posting/comment are a little exaggerated if I may suggest so. You assume that no critic or record reviewer has ever played an instrument "in a legitimate band"--by the way, how do you define legitimacy? By lack of recorded material? Or by the minuscule realm of your own scope of listening?--and you also assume that we learn nothing from the "small town" of our youth. But is not the "small town" of our youth the basis for our continuing frame of reference? Or does all memory and "legitimacy" disappear once we realize something bigger is out there for us to explore? Also, your example of a five-year-old describing "Paris" is just dumb. I don't think you thought that idea through very well.

But let's not digress.

I am at fault for being long-winded (probably due to my small town frame of reference). Maybe that's because I spend what I consider to be an ample and sometimes superfluous amount of time thinking about what goes into my reviews--you know the ones that "remind [you] of [your] youth"? I do not take the power of the written word lightly as it is very prone to upset the balances of human nature from time to time. And, as for frame of reference, I like to think I have a pretty good one, though I'm not sure it would be worthwhile to convince you of that. Your world view is obviously much greater than mine, since you have obviously been privy to some type of Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus conversion (i.e., "Than [sic] I grew up and realized…all that time I knew nothing").

Anyway, I'm glad we had this chat. And I'm glad you like the Kinetic Stereokids as much as you do. I'm tempted to break out their CD once again to see if it strikes a different chord in me this time. But that's pretty narrow minded of me to say and I wouldn't want you to think that my word "holds supreme." Because it doesn't. Not at all. But thanks for saying so.

Scott E

PS--I wasn't really planning on responding to you, but when you left the same post twice, once on my blog and once on the site I write for, Stereo Subversion, I figured you really wanted me to know what your opinion was. And I certainly wouldn't want it to go unnoticed.

05 May 2009

Robert Wyatt, on Amie Street

Right now, right this very second one of the most brilliant artists of the 20th Century is available for a FREE download on Amie St. It will probably go up in price by the end of the day, but not by much. You'll probably end up paying less than $2 for an album with 17 songs.

Click on the image below to download Robert Wyatt's insane masterpiece, Comicopera. RIYL :: Scott Walker, Soft Machine, Brian Eno
Album: Comicopera by Robert Wyatt
Robert Wyatt, Comicopera
(Domino Recording Co., 2007)

Curious about Wyatt? Read the Wikipedia entry here. I also recommend his 1998 album, Shleep. You can thank me for introducing you later.

If you are not a member of Amie Street, why the hell not? Between it and eMusic, that's where I get the majority of my music. And their customer service is outstanding.

03 May 2009

Album Review :: Kinetic Stereokids, "Kid Moves"

A newish album review was up last week at Stereo Subversion. This one is for Kinetic Stereokids, Kid Moves. Eh. Good ideas, poor follow-through. It holds the title of "the only album I've ever listened to that gave me a headache whenever I listened to it from start to finish." Curious?

Click on the image below to read the review.

Kinetic Stereokids, Kid Moves
(Overdraft Recordings, 2009)