I like music very much, so don't be put off by my last blog. There's always going to have to be an equalizer of sorts, and by knocking bands for what they just did against what they've done or could've done is such a muddled, grey area. Music criticism isn't a science, hell; it's not even an art. It's just one person's interpretation of what they're hearing.
As far as music goes, I like things like melody (absolutely essential), chord structures, and basic pop sensibilities. Songs that have a discernable beginning and end, built around the verse-chorus-verse framework, and the actual anatomy of a song should contain some or all of these elements.
I was going to call this "Don't Believe The Hype (5 Albums That Everyone Else Loved But I Didn't)", but maybe you didn't like these either.
The first two albums on this list were near unlistenable, but I think that was their point.
Panda Bear's Person Pitch and Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam
I've read so many interviews with these guys and as people, I really like them. They seem like right-on guys. But I can't stand their music at all. Believe me, I really tried because their name comes up so much, it's like you get a hipster merit badge if you mention either of these records when out in public. But I'm not going to compromise myself and say some shit like, "oooh, that last Panda Bear album was trenchant, really groundbreaking stuff..." because after a couple listens I realized all they were doing was basically recording noises and looping or running them through a delay/flange/reverb/roto-leslie processor, which is what I used to do circa 2002 in my basement with Elliott at 927 County Line Road in Bryn Mawr. On acid!
Liars - Liars
There were a few tracks on here that were actually songs with rhythmic drum patterns and actual riffs, but for the most part, it was drony and annoying, weird for the sake of weird. But they're not pretentious about their music, on their MySpace page under "sounds like" they posted "something you could do." I like that.
Blonde Redhead - 23
First off, let me re-iterate that I don't "hate" any of these records on this list, I just think most critics over-rated them. If I had the time to do an actual Top 100 list this year, this record would've probably been somewhere in the low 60s. But it popped up in so many Top 10 lists that I had to almost double-take when it was rated as consistently high as it was. It has all the elements of good music, the songs are structured around melodies and nice instrumentation, and Kazu Makino has a fine singing voice, I just had to say that this was extremely over-rated. I'll probably like this album by June, however, and if that's the case I'll issue a public apology.
Battles - Mirrored
Again, I didn't hate this record. I quite like the prog-rock-meets-dance-punk thing they got going on, but I can't wrap my head around the fact that most critics fawned all over this album. Another record that I listened to a whole lot and would've been somewhere towards the bottom of a Top 100 list, it's just not something I'm going to rate highly based on what other critics have said about it. I really like their EPs, they have a focus and immediacy to them unlike a full-length, which on this record seemed to just drag on at points.
So in effect, this blog served mainly as a counterpoint to other critics' reviews of said albums, but also as an exercise in hype-bashing. The "big" indie music websites seem to get behind a lot of artists and drive their sales up by giving good reviews, and to a degree that's a good thing.
On the flip side of that coin, the sheep who hang on every word and every review may have been duped into buying these, and with no oppositional viewpoints, who's going to help the poor saps figure out if it's really a good purchase? I must admit, I fell into the hype and got these albums based on what was being written about them but thank god I have my own brain to be able to say, "I don't get it" or "No, this isn't for me" and not just mindlessly follow the flock.
I hope I helped you make some informed decisions this past year. Keep reading, I'm assembling a staff to help me out on here so there'll be more and more content. I hope to post something everyday from now on.
Next up: New reviews! New records! New artists! Most importantly - new writers!!!