Saturday, August 15, 2009

Choosing To Remain Uncool

I've decided to come to terms with the fact that what I do will almost never be considered cool, and what is considered cool is far too methodically contrived for me to ever aspire to.

I'm reading a record review, published yesterday, that makes me sick to my stomach over both the album reviewed and the reviewer's so-called "style". I'm sure the album would be acceptable on its own merits, "acceptable" being key here, but I'll be damned if I just get angry when I re-read the article.

The record in question is one that I will not name, but I will say that it's by an artist that in certain limited circles, is critically lauded, and put out one so-called landmark album at the turn of the decade. The new record apparently shows his newfound love of black metal (no it's not Sonic Youth, they've been teasing us with that one for decades), and as this artist is neither a black metal artist, or, for that matter, very prolific, it's being taken as a big deal.

Big fucking deal, guys. For all the claims that this new album shows the influence of Xasthur and Leviathan, it doesn't really sound like it, and while every review I've read in advance of this album mentions that fact, it's completely out of the way by the third or fourth paragraph. Maybe due to the fact that despite the artist saying that, there is NO INDICATION WHATSOEVER on the record of any black metal influence. If a few moments of moody, runbling, dark sound is black metal, I've heard somebody fart a Burzum album on the subway.

The rest of the review spends time talking saying things like the following:
The story, then, emerges from the way these songs alternatingly devour or are born from the smoldering ashes of one another, clear skies giving way to ferocious muddle, which in turn begets light and insight anew. The lyrics, appropriately, deal in fundamental dualities. "My Heart Is Not at Peace" and "Summons" each posit wind as both "destroyer" and "revealer," "Ancient Questions" pits doubt against a sense of purpose, and closer "Stone's Ode" is divided into two distinct movements, one assured and awash in the clarity of day, one less so and detailing the onset (literal and metaphorical, one assumes) of night.
Which states, in a very elaborate fashion, nothing at all. Or at least that the author finally got his degree in comparative literature. What I glean from that Faulkner-esque bluster is that there are two different kinds of songs and sounds on the record, which are different. Maybe all the flailing adjectives were being used to cover up the fact that there's not much to the record?

I've heard the record. It's alright. It's not offensively irritating, like some other rather well-hyped records this year. But it's BORING. Painfully so, in my opinion. Hey, this artist is selling more records than I ever will, and his fanbase adores him, I've talked to him on the phone and he's totally a nice guy, and if this is what he loves doing, more power to him and him alone. But if this is part of what defines "cool", count me the fuck out. Not all music has to be rock and roll, but does everything "cool" these days have to be creaking wooden guitars and theremins? Can we please have some rock back now? That Dead Weather album was pretty good, but a man cannot live on it alone.

So that's my new location. Me, standing over here, not sulking in the center, angry at why people think certain things are "cool", but giving the finger to them while I crank up my Wire records* in my headphones. It's all a self-feeding cycle of bullshit music and hipper-than-thou hyping, so can't we please put them all on an island, let them have the big indie rock orgy, and then cut the radio lines to the island, letting it go on and on forever?

*[Although I haven't always liked Wire, their critical cache has remained constant over the years, so naturally, I only listen to them because it's hip. No wait, that's all those other fuckers that do that. I like Wire 'cause they're good.]

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