Posts from February 2001
There’s nothing good I can say about him other than that he made a really cool font once and that thing with Roni Size was intermittently enjoyable.
I’ve got my qualms about lists and charts and polls myself. They can be fun and provocative, but as practiced by the likes of Rolling Stone or Mojo, they’re an especially lazy form of rock journalism. But I think Doughty mischaracterizes the purpose of Pazz & Jop; I think what the poll tries to quantify is not the quality of records so much as their critical esteem. You might think he’d nail the incestuous self-regard this might imply — that this is a poll by critics about critical trends for critics and their followers – but alas, he doesn’t.
I think general complaints about the very act of rock criticism are in fact a hidden urge to absolve music from any kind of criticism at all, to preserve its airy, childlike “specialness” against those who wish to make it relate to the rest of the world, to give it responsibility. Scratch a boho and you’ll find a Romantic underneath. And if you scratch a Romantic, you’ll find a neo-Platonist, as his mush-mouth about “real stuff” makes hideously apparent.
Other points: Doughty comes out as yet another anti-Napsterite musician who’s never produced anyhing worth downloading, and his snippy rejoinder to Jane Dark is maybe a mere two notches away from a spelling flame on the petty-o-meter. Baby.
My celeb-in-pub sighting, documented on the Pumpkin Pubs site you will find linked on the left, is of course my double-barrelled Chris Evans encounter. To briefly summarise: i) encountered in The Crown in Soho, offered seat next to him to Fran, who would now have a free Ferrari if she had taken it, the fool. Mind you, though, Chris Evans. ii) encountered in Bar Metro, with the bloke who played the bloke who got framed on EastEnders by the bloke from Spandau Ballet, and someone called Mel who was apparently also famous. You can see why I don’t spot celebrities more often, I think.
Also Herring out of Lee and Herring, chatting up a crusty girl in the Prince Albert, Notting Hill.
Ask Dr Pop: Dr.Pop this week tackles two problems of concern to us all – to wit, the Middle East situation, and Toploader.
Artists Don’t Like Critics, what a surprise. M.Doughty of Soul Coughing goes off on one about the Pazz And Jopp poll, in an entertaining but ultimately silly rant. His comments aren’t quite on the David Eggers rabid anti-criticism tip (Critics should i) know their place, ii) never say anything bad about anyone ever ever) but centre on a passionate exhortation that critics should write about real life, man.
This is kind of odd, because it suggests that music and appreciating it is somehow off to the side of real life. It’s that old romantic idea that worships creating art but then belittles the people who experience the art and try to articulate what it means to them. I might write about meeting a person on a bus: I might write about listening to a record. Both are experiences, both are me responding to stimuli – why might one be more ‘real’ than the other?
Or to put it another way, I would rather write or read one excellent piece of music criticism than a hundred shit short stories.
Or to put it yet another way: music criticism – good music criticism – is about life and people and meaning. It just happens to be about music too.
On a more specific level, Doughty’s comments assume that everyone who writes about music is getting it for free. This is not true. I’ve received about four records free in the mail in my life, and only written about one of them. A lot of people who write about music do it for love, just like a lot of people who make music do it for love.
Unpop is a newish indie-rock zine. There’s no mission statement or manifesto in sight, of course, since like most indie-rock zines the critical primacy of the music is taken for granted. But there are reviews and a few features: if you like this kind of thing it will seem cosily familiar, and cosy familiarity is what it’s all about, right?
Thousand is still going, it may astonish readers to know.
HANNAH MARCUS – Black Hole Sun
I was attracted to this album by a clever letter that Ms. Marcus wrote to Pitchfork, in response to a reviewer who was clearly trying to emulate Richard Meltzer and review albums only by their covers — except that this was hardly a “fuck you” to the major labels, as he was doing it with good product from small, quality, indie labels. Anyway, I knew that I was dealing with a smart and self-aware character, which meant that the album would be interesting if nothing else. But what Black Hole Heaven did was remind me of a genre of music I had given up on, and lend it a new lease on life.
Fred insisted I link to this, his essay on his list of favourite ever songs. But put that out of your mind and read on as it’s got some nice thoughts on radio and self-conscious listmaking. Not thoughts I much agree with but then I’m not Fred. The list itself is interestingly skewed towards one aspect of his tastes, the aspect that was very manifest when I first knew him actually. Whether that represents an actual ‘core’ of taste or is a reflection of a current emotional state, I’m not sure.
Dancing About Architecture: has a Greil Marcus endorsement now, something FT is unlikely to win no matter how many negative Ja Rule reviews we run. All the rock critics love us anyway, yeah, they’re just too cool to say so. Or we are. Or something. Anyway, issue 41 of DAA has a piece on Cocksucker Blues and a review of those controversial Le Tigre people.