Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Important Music?

Music criticism is a strange game. According to critics, there is a canon of albums out there that are widely considered to be "classic," though how this list was determined, I'm not sure. The impression I'm starting to get, however, is that if you don't like every single one of the albums on this list, then you are not allowed into the vaunted hall of music critics and therefore have no credibility when discussing music. Now I'm a music elitist, don't get me wrong, I will judge people based solely on their musical taste, but I am not about to tell someone that their opinion of the new Coldplay album doesn't mean anything because they don't think that The Beatles' Revolver is the greatest album of all time (which it quite possibly is). But this whole concept worries me because there are a number of bands and albums that are on this list that I don't like, and it's not for lack of effort, mind you, but I'm a little scared that my lack of interest in the following bands may keep me from ever being a viable rock critic.

The Rolling Stones - Okay, okay, let the boos come, I'll wait a second for them to stop. Alright, I don't dislike The Rolling Stones, and I'd even go as far as to say I really enjoy songs like "Painted Black" and "Ruby Tuesday," but for whatever reason, I can't sit down and listen to more than a couple Stones' songs at a time. My dad didn't listen to them much when I was growing up, so I don't have that association with childhood that I do with so many other musicians of that era (The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Simon and Garfunkel, The Doors, Bob Dylan, etc. . .), so I'm assuming that's part of it. But I think it all may have something to do with the fact that their songs are rooted in blues, which for whatever reason runs thin very quickly with me. I can listen to one blues song and love it, but the fifth one feels like is like that fifth slice of pizza, it doesn't go down as smoothly as the first four, and things go progressively downhill from there, and this also might have a hand in why I can't get into. . .

Led Zeppelin - Yes, IV is a great album, and I own it, but as I've been told by many a Zeppelin lover, there is a problem when your favorite Zep song is "D'yer Mak'er" as it is rooted in reggae when almost every other one of their songs is rooted in blues. The combination of the blues and crunchy, early heavy metal guitars just doesn't do it for me. I truly appreciate this band, but there's a difference between appreciation of a band and liking a band, namely that I don't ever want to listen to them, but I will discuss their originality and talent.

Can - Now, these guys aren't as widely hailed as Zeppelin or the Stones, and I won't get nearly as much shit for disliking them, but they are being praised all over the indie press these days for their unique sound. And I will admit, they are unique, but their songs remind of fingernails on a chalkboard and each one lasts about 10 minutes and makes me want to set off a firecracker inside my ear drum to make the noise stop. They've also been rather influential to a bunch of other bands that critics love and I don't, like Public Image Ltd. and The Fall. I've recently become convinced that Can knew exactly what they were doing and made strange, inaccessible music for critics to praise and no one else in their right minds to understand and now they just sit back and laugh at all the love they get from critics. I think this because they're German, and Germans are weird and would do something like that just for fun.

Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation is widely considered to be one of, if not THE, best albums of the last twenty years by the current group of 20 something rock critics. I think I'm missing something here. "Teen Age Riot" is a fantastic song, and a great way to start off an album, but, um, something is kinda missing on the rest of the album, one word, MELODY. I don't get it, they start off the album with a great pop song, and then dive into 65 minutes of abrasive guitars, long jams and very few choruses. I've tried many times to make it all the way through this album, and I think I have, though never in one sitting, and every time I half expect to come out of it thinking, "Hey, I got it this time, that album was awesome!" but instead I usually stop after a few songs and NEED to listen to The Smiths, and I mean need, like humans need water to live.

(This post was inspired by a section of Chuck Klosterman's book, Killing Yourself to Live, go buy it now, it is fantastic.)


At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Kristen said...

Yeah, just bought my boyfriend the new Klosterman book, which I will steal soon. Agreed on the Stones, man. Maybe it's because most people are Beatles people or Stones people? I didn't grow up with the Stones at all, and I always thought they were just overrated. I have to admit though, that I have learned to appreciate them a lot more as I got older, as I see more and more of their earthy blues influence... I think some of their songs, like 'Paint it Black', are great; but, as a whole? I'm kinda 'eh' on the Stones. I probably wouldn't go to a concert unless tix were under $15.


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