Thursday, February 12, 2009

now i wanna mouth off about it

back at the coffee shop. we are housesitting again- this time until sunday afternoon. we started watching 'it's always sunny in philadelphia' and naturally we've been loving it. not much of a surprise there.
work to do? nonexistent. just strings shit, as always. getting people to respond to my messages has become colossally difficult. i haven't heard back from any of the places that i emailed about the show in april- elastic, av-aerie, the whistler. kind of irritating. it's all kind of tying in with the whole cumulative effect of being almost wilfully ignored. it's almost like they can smell the un-coolness on me. i always figured it would get easier to book shows as time went on, but that hasn't really proven true. as usual i can't get anyone from schuba's to email me back even just to tell me whether or not they've heard my cd. as always, sitting on a mountain of gold and unable to get anyone to stop and notice. i'm even ignored on message boards for the most part. it's similar to how it goes in conversation- for whatever reason someone will ask me something, i will give them a correct answer, they won't believe me, someone else will tell them the exact same thing in the exact same words and they will for some reason believe this second opinion and will pretty much act as though that one was the first one and that my opinion doesn't mean diddly-squat. this is a problem that has plagued me my entire life- no one seems to value my opinion at all even when they ask for it. i don't really understand why. i used to think it was because i wasn't a very confident person, but nowadays i am much more confident when i give my opinion and i'm authoritative about any facts that i give out because i generally don't speak up about anything unless i know what i'm talking about. it's all just beginning to become apparent to me that knowing what you're talking about doesn't matter to 99% of people you will meet in life. they don't care about that- people just like to hear things that sound good from people who sound like they know what they're talking about. the truth doesn't really exist anymore and even if it did no one would be interested in it at all.
i still try to cling to that whole 'my music will be recognised once i am dead and long gone' but i'm even beginning to think that something like that has been rendered impossible in this day and age. i guess i could tie this in with my annoyance about animal collective and the critical mass hysteria that is now attached to them. indulge me-
i don't really mind animal collective's music. it's not bad. it doesn't knock my socks off, but i like to hear it occasionally. occasionally. with the release of this newest album of theirs though i can't even bear to hear their names because the heaps and heaps of praise that people bestow upon them just makes me physically ill. i really don't understand why they, out of everyone making 'challenging' music these days have been chosen as the golden indie avatars of artistic adventurousness. it's similar to the praise that radiohead get no matter what they do and how for some reason people who hold them up as loving them because they're 'experimental' but who can't stand to listen to anything else that's moderately mid-tempo or morose because they can't 'handle it' and yet they can listen to an album like 'ok computer' over and over again at any time of day. to me it's just indicative of a complete sheep mentality. plus it's an affirmation that in order to be successful while making adventurous music one has to make it palatable enough to mass tastes in order for it to reach a larger group of people and have them be receptive to it. how, exactly, this works remains a mystery to me. when i'm listening to animal collective i actually don't necessarily see how they've made their music more acceptable to more bone-headed people. i hear a few hooks, but no more than i'd hear in my own music really. i guess it all comes down to envy- and there is some truth to that. when i first heard them i felt like we were working in a very similar area. i think mike went to see them a long time ago, possibly when we lived in portland, and he said that he didn't understand why people were so over-the-moon for them and that they were similar to what we were doing, but we were doing a better job of it. i could be rewriting history there, but that is effectively the kind of feeling i'm trying to get across here. now this ridiculous hype has reached critical mass and to me it's always been the biggest litmus test of that ridiculous pitchfork effect that i'm always talking about. pitchfork has pretty much ruined independent music by making it so accessible to such a large group of people and have been around long enough to develop their own sheep-like herd of followers. this is what i get so incensed about when we go to pitchfork fest and why we never go to the saturday show of the weekend because that is invariably when the pitchfork pets play and the pitchfork pets can all go fuck themselves. would i like to be able to have that many people love our music and come to our shows? absolutely. would i want that just to be betstowed upon me by those smarmy, know-it-all, arrogant, snot-nosed nerds who write for pitchfork- no, i'd fucking rather die because i don't want a sheep-like herd of zombies following me around- that's not what i make music for. music is art, it's not some stupid fashion-victim parade and one-upping environment. all of that's bullshit and none of it matters at all. as if that weren't upsetting enough i've sent a couple of cds to pitchfork. none of them have been reviewed of course because they're too busy picking up the bands that balance their pop hooks with experimentalism to the exact ratios suggested by the pitchfork writers. it's almost to the point where the bands that they are breaking have merely figured out the formula that they're looking for while other bands that deserve the attention way more (i.e. a band like sian alice group- who deserve the kind of critical mass hype of some bullshit like animal collective or serena maneesh but who will labor on in complete obscurity). the only band that i continue to like who's success was 'made' by pitchfork is deerhunter because i think they are perfectly worthy of the praise that they receive.
i don't know- i really shouldn't be concerned with this so much. in the long run i think we will probably come out better than i expect. a lot of people whose opinions i really respect have told me this. i guess i should just try and slog on and be content. it's just that it's really beginning to wear me down and i'm only one person who's only capable of doing so much and it'd be nice if getting the opportunity to play live shows wouldn't be such a hard-won aspect. i only have so much tenacity and even i have a limit to my stubbornness.
a lot of this was brought on by a blog post that psychic ills did on myspace in response to this. this review angered me not just because it gives a good album such a low-rating, mainly just because of the carelessness with which this particular journalist threw it together and most of all the implication that it makes that a band isn't worth hearing unless they are willing to submit to 'toning down oddball inclinations in favor of pop structures and greater accessibility.' basically what this reviewer is saying is that if something strays too far from their way of thinking that it isn't worth hearing and any band/artist who isn't willing to dumb down their art so that everyone can understand isn't worth hearing or paying attention to. it's basically the pitchfork philosophy right there in ink (there's even a reference to animal collective in there). i've seen psychic ills play twice- once was absolutely astounding and the second time they pretty much fell on their faces- it was clear they were having an off night. the first time i saw them was as a result of being bamboozled by pitchfork into going to see serena maneesh play at the empty bottle. psychic ills played right before them and they played an amazing set that really sucked me in- the effect was very strong and i really enjoyed myself. what's more their set was strung together through improvised songs. they built songs from absolutely nothing and managed to make it sound about as pre-determined as something they had spent ages honing. they mixed in a handful of songs from 'dins' and some other stuff i'd never heard, but it worked incredibly well and was an admirable and remarkable feat for a band to pull off live- definitely not an easy thing to pull off without sounding ridiculously pretentious and indulgent. the second time they played at schuba's, were short a person from last time and everything they kind of came up with on the spot kind of fell flat- they were even having problems with the songs from 'dins' that they played. i would chalk it up to the fact that the sound that night was really bad (worst sound i've ever heard at schuba's) and they were just having an off night. that's going to happen when you're doing something that bold and risky- occasionally you're going to fall on your face. i was hoping this newest psychic ills album would be a good one and i was kind of nervous about hearing it but i have to say that i really like it- it's completely different from everything else they've done. it does have a loose, improvised feel but at the same time it's only 8 songs long and probably hovers somewhere around the 40-minute mark as a whole. i'd think if you were throwing an entire album together from improvised canoodling it probably wouldn't be that reined-in and condensed- it'd probably meander much more. i also think that it's wrong to just call it something that they threw together without any thought at all- there is a bit too much in the way of design and structure (however loose) to have been completely slap-dash. there are things there structurally- you just have to listen. whatever my opinion is it's clear to me that this journalist probably put this album on while he was doing the dishes one day and then wrote his review. lazy journalism. this is a shame since he writes for such a make-or-break website that people follow like sheep- he has a responsibility to listen critically and well and be fully informed and try to come from as unbiased a place as possible before writing a review. i've written bad reviews of cds that i've regretted writing because in some cases i really wasn't fair or unbiased. that's of the reasons why i quit writing cd reviews. this is something that was made clear to me when the tables were turned on me when i was supposed to interview deerhoof. it's also one of the reasons i can't listen to deerhoof anymore- i have a problem giving anyone my money who is willing to be that mean to me. it's not like anyone gave me any money for writing cd reviews and it's also not like i was writing for a website with much clout. i also still turned it in and published it even though they made me look like a complete moron.

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