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 Everett True

Everett True reviews Brisbane, pt 1: Epithets, Ben Salter

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Thought I’d instigate a new series here, show my willingness to get involved with the Brisbane music community – the good, the bad and the grunge. Whatever. Bring it on. Each week, I’ll review whatever’s been bugging me the most in my inbox, and then I’ll review whichever resulting comments bug me the most.

THIS WEEK: we’re not off to a good start.

Epithets – Blacklisted
Post-rock is a horrible term. Meaningless. I didn’t like Tortoise when I first encountered them in Chicago around 1993. I liked Lift To Experience, under severe weather conditions, in Brighton – but can really do without the beards. Loved Lift To Experience for 10 seconds, actually. I keep quiet about Mogwai, because Stuart is a lovely fellow. I don’t like drums that think they’re more important than either the vocals or guitars. Equality for all, I say. Tagged as ‘minimalist’ but it really isn’t. I like a wash when I’m having one in the sink, but not otherwise. And I thought The Cure sucked after the first two singles.

There’s a free download at the linked site.

DISCLAIMER: I’m hoping Nick Smethurst, the man behind this, might write for Collapse Board one day soon.

Ben Salter – The Coward
I’m not sure what to say about this. Classic Australian soft rock … um … it’s not a genre I’m a fan of. At all. You could call it melancholy, the same way you could refer to the disused skate park in Red Hill as ‘defunct’. Don’t like what they’ve done to his voice. Drawn-out. Serious. Ponderous. Bearable because I know Ben. Unbearable if I didn’t (I’m projecting here). “It was originally called ‘Yellow’, “writes Ben, “but Coldplay then had a huge smash hit with a song called that, the bastards, so I have had to change it. It’s about girls, share housing and moclobemide.”

There’s a free download at the linked site.

DISCLAIMER: I’m hoping Ben Salter, the man behind this, might write for Collapse Board anonymously one day soon.

32 Responses to Everett True reviews Brisbane, pt 1: Epithets, Ben Salter

  1. Nick Smethurst June 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Says “post-punk”, ET. You read it wrong. Also, reviews based on Bandcamp tags are dross. Still going to write for you though.

  2. Everett True June 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    God damn it. I must have had my old NME music critic spectacles on, the ones that contain specific blind spots on the lenses. Sorry, Nick. As I’m sure you’ve already appreciated, the review’s far more about the critic than the artist anyway … as all the best reviews are.

  3. Lawson June 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I’m sorry but that’s an absolutely horrible principle for criticism, that it’s about the critic more than the artist or work. Mobilizing this can only result in the kind of subjective, foundationless dross that this post claims qualifies as ‘review’.

    Of course, the critic’s experience and opinion enter any review, but to say it should be more about this than the work itself precludes the possibility of dialogue with your audience, let alone meaningful illumination of the work. If that’s your program, you may as well scribble your thoughts into a diary.

    Of course Everett wouldn’t do this because he is a quintessential troll and probably relishes precisely this kind of reaction.

  4. Everett True June 2, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Says “post-punk”, ET. You read it wrong.

    Sorry, how gauche of me. Post-punk, clearly. That’ll be The Cure-style vocals.

  5. Everett True June 2, 2011 at 2:14 am

    I’m sorry but that’s an absolutely horrible principle for criticism, that it’s about the critic more than the artist or work. Mobilizing this can only result in the kind of subjective, foundationless dross that this post claims qualifies as ‘review’.

    Gotta love PhD students in their twenties. Think they know everything. Take all comments made at face value. Don’t allow the possibility of varied, knowing meanings because they assume everyone is as dull as themselves. Think there’s only one approach to everything, and if someone challenges their accepted world view then that person is ‘wrong’. Don’t allow for pluralities.

    Odd, isn’t it? The way it was explained to me, doing research is about opening up avenues for exploration, not shutting them down mindlessly. Think you’re at the wrong website, mate. We have female writers here, and pictorial reviews, and multiple reviews, and reviews that step outside the standard patriarchal form of music criticism, and reviews that aren’t even reviews, and reviews that help place music within a wider context, and everything. Apologies if it makes doing your research harder, the idea that other people might think differently to you. Bourgeois twat.

  6. Hilarious June 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    “Think you’re at the wrong website, mate. We have female writers here, and pictorial reviews, and multiple reviews, and reviews that step outside the standard patriarchal form of music criticism, and reviews that aren’t even reviews, and reviews that help place music within a wider context, and everything.”

    Plus we abuse you if you dare have a different opinion to us, but use condescending phrases like ‘bourgeois twat” to maintain our perceived moral superiority…

  7. Everett True June 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Plus we abuse you if you dare have a different opinion to us

    Dude shouldn’t take me on at my own game. I used the phrase ‘bourgeois twat’ because it seemed appropriate. Still, at least he commented from a real email address.

  8. Darragh June 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Is ‘dross’ the word of the day or something?

  9. Nick Smethurst June 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Singin’ like Fat Bob. This is better than that time I got compared to Morrissey.

  10. Lawson June 2, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I completely agree that criticism, just like research, should be about opening up possibilities – that’s precisely my point. Criticism that is entirely subjective cannot do this, it is non-dialogical, it is wrapped up in its own self-image. Your recent output is case in point.

  11. Everett True June 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I understood your point first time around, Lawson. You are saying that criticism HAS to be this, or that. No. It doesn’t. Same way art doesn’t. You are closing down possibilities. I’m sure you will be very successful in your research. You seem to know everything already.

  12. Everett True June 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Singin’ like Fat Bob. This is better than that time I got compared to Morrissey.

    Now this, children, is how to respond to a bad write-up. Damn the critic with faint indifference. Make it seem like it’s his or her fault that the music sounds a certain way. Bravo.

    P.S. I want that album review on my desk tomorrow morning 9am sharp, Nick!

  13. Mr. Joseph June 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    When graduate students attack….gotta love it! Try to speak in proper, common English…it will get you surprisingly far in college!

  14. Ben June 3, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Show me a review that’s more about the reviewed than the reviewer and I’ll show you a deluded person or a deliberate liar. I prefer awareness and honesty. Paradoxically it’s more humble (although the author’s fucking stretching that here).

    It also makes sense that if you’re gonna take on the task of reviewing Brisbane (or maybe any city), especially the parts of it that bug yr inbox the most, half the answers will be “I don’t give a shit about this shit”. Starting off this way sets a decent tone.

    That said, Everett, on the topic of classic Oz soft rock I thought you were one of those people who blags on about the Triffids?

  15. Everett True June 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

    On the topic of classic Oz soft rock I thought you were one of those people who blags on about the Triffids?

    Like ’em just fine. But they didn’t feature in that particular Top 10.

  16. Everett True June 3, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Show me a review that’s more about the reviewed than the reviewer and I’ll show you a deluded person or a deliberate liar.

    This is our new motto. Check the front page.

  17. Mr Joseph June 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Ben, you are a beautiful soul, and your clever insight has made me want to check out your music. I mean, someone who finally GETS IT (or has the balls to admit it) can’t be THAT bad, can they?

  18. Ben June 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Ha! Sweet (the motto). I should add, in case anyone is confused – I’m not Ben Salter! Soz.

  19. Matt June 3, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Hmmm. Smethurst makes me want to punch through walls on occasion but I thought that Epithets song was quite decent. Nice and precise. I’m too lazy to check out Ben Salter’s track (though, aside from here, I’ve heard nothing but favourable reviews).

    As to the ‘criticism is about the critic’ malarkey – I reluctantly agree. I wish it wasn’t but there’s no feasible way that it can’t be. One is a direct product of the other. They can’t be dissociated. As they say, you can take the girl out of the trailer park but you can’t take the trailer park out of the girl.

    My view on the matter, though, is that, while ultimately unattainable, some modicum of objectivity should nevertheless always be pursued. Consider as as broad a sample of views as you possibly can and then decide which one works for you.

  20. Mr Joseph June 3, 2011 at 11:27 am

    It’s all about trust, my friends. You have to a. set aside that it’s not about the music, it’s about the writer, b. understand that the person writing is a person, too, who is doing something he or she loves, c. accept that your opinion is irrelevant about what they write. take a guy like Jack Rabid. i trust his opinion. do i agree with him on everything he likes or dislikes? no. but i have, over time, realized that the man’s opinion is solid, and i trust his tastes.

    To write about music with passion is as equally a creative endeavor for the writer as it is for the music to be made. I take that back. 99.9% is shit. But when you find that .1% that’s trustworthy, you form a bond that you take with ya.

    But then again there’s a reason that “NME” is pronounced “enemy.”

  21. Rachel June 4, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Quick question: why would (should?) you write about music objectively?
    (I have no rebuttal, I’m just interested)

  22. Everett True June 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    why would (should?) you write about music objectively?

    This is our new slogan.

  23. Rachel June 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Everett, that did not answer my question.

  24. Everett True June 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I have no answer to your question, Rachel. I do not believe objectivity exists when it comes to writing about music. At best I think it is simple self-delusion. At worst I think it’s a downright lie. The most you can hope for is informed opinion. People who argue otherwise do so because either a) they are part of the establishment and don’t want to expose a lie that would destabilise their position within it, b) they don’t think through what they do deeply enough – and, some would argue, why would they? (a question to which I have no real comeback except that if you’re not thinking about what you’re doing as a critic what the fuck are you doing?), c) they want to become part of the establishment or d) they’re academics. And academia holds no truck with criticism.

    The one rock critic that everyone (the ones who believe in subjectivity and the ones who believe in ‘objectivity’ … I find it impossible to type the word without putting inverted commas around it) agrees is a ‘classic’ rock critic is Lester Bangs. And he was clearly deeply subjective, albeit with informed opinions. Not sure what the comeback for those who believe that ‘objectivity’ should be at the core of everything have to that.

    Of course, this is an entirely subjective opinion about the nature of criticism. Others might well argue otherwise … but why would I choose to argue from a viewpoint I don’t agree with? Unless it’s for entertainment value or for academic purposes, of course.

  25. Cam June 4, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    can someone point me to an objectively good melody? and objectively good rhythm? and objectively good guitar tone?

    i think that these are pretty good reviews*. i think it’s possible to write a negative review that will still make people who are open to that particular music interested. i think that people who would like epithets and salter could read these reviews and have their interest piqued.

    the negative undead apes review on CB was not like that at all. it didn’t really tell me anything, i found it pretty worthless. not because it was negative, it just told me nothing of interest about the band or the record. on the flipside, the no anchor review made some interesting points, even if there seemed to be a few (fairly minor but still) poorly thought out bits (or at least poorly articulated).

    *although, as with most ET reviews, i found some of the band comparisons kind of baffling. i have come to accept this in ETs reviews.

  26. Everett True June 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    i think it’s possible to write a negative review that will still make people who are open to that particular music interested.

    Thanks, Cam. Seriously? I often aim for this.

  27. Wallace Wylie June 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

    People want reviewers to review music objectively then they can’t read a review objectively. Case in point:

    “i think it’s possible to write a negative review that will still make people who are open to that particular music interested. i think that people who would like epithets and salter could read these reviews and have their interest piqued.

    the negative undead apes review on CB was not like that at all. it didn’t really tell me anything, i found it pretty worthless. not because it was negative, it just told me nothing of interest about the band or the record.”

    Now, I’m not bothered that Cam didn’t like my review. What’s funny, though, is that the review is criticised for saying nothing of interest about the band or record. Now seeing as the whole point of the review was to get across that there is nothing of interest about the band or record it seems a foolish thing to criticise it for. Sure, Cam can say “I also thought it was badly written” and that would be valid from Cam’s subjective view point, but that was not the angle of criticism. I didn’t want people to take any interest in the music. If Cam thinks that this is what reviews are supposed to do then that is a limited and very subjective idea of what reviews are supposed to do. My aim was to steer people away from Undead Apes because their music is commonplace and their lyrics trite…from my subjective viewpoint.

  28. Cam June 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    excellent point wallace, seeing as i definitely said that i wanted objective reviews.

    yep. i definitely said that.

    anyway, i didn’t like your review. i didn’t think it was ‘badly written’ per se, just inconsequential and ultimately superfluous.

  29. Wallace Wylie June 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I was more using your statement to illustrate that you were criticising my article for failing to do something that I never intended it to do.

  30. Cam June 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Then maybe you should have written that in the first place instead of lumping me in with an argument that I quite obviously was arguing against?

  31. Simon June 7, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I’m not sure that ET’s addressed the original point Smethurst made – which is that the review is pretty much word salad provoked by the tags on Epithets’ bandcamp, and has not a lot to do with the music. I can’t really make any sense of it.

  32. Everett True June 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I can’t really make any sense of it.

    My, everyone is in a confessional mood on Collapse Board this afternoon. First, folk admit to liking My Morning Jacket – and good on them, I say: nothing to be ashamed of – and now this. Did we change URLs with the Samaritans briefly, or something?

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