Funny how stuff happens.
Yesterday, I stumbled across a piece of pseudo-academic excrescence masquerading as music writing around a new album by one Julia Holter. So I ran a small article about it on Collapse Board, wittily entitled Why Academics Shouldn’t Write Music Reviews, commenting towards the end that:
I’ve never heard of Julia Holter before this and now I have absolutely no desire to hear of her again.
Cue outraged and concerned friends on Facebook:
Lloyd Barrett: yr missing out… she’s pretty cool. You’d probably like her live on KDVS. She gets compared to Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush all the time… like most female artists, but she’s more like Scraps with a Music Technology degree.
Wallace Wylie: I like everything I’ve heard by Julia Holter. Her and Grimes, however, seem to have become a blank canvas for the most disgusting music writing imaginable. Next person who uses the term post-internet should disappear forever.
Howard Monk: Holter is actually pretty good. But you wouldn’t be able to tell from this pretentious guff.
Sean Adams: Ha. You’d probably quite like the record. It’s a bit Carpenters in places.
Cindy Stern: I love Julia Holter but then again i have been listening to her since 2008,first heard her on the “4 Women No Cry” Volume 3 all women compilation that Gudrun Gut put out,and don,t get me started on Gudrun Gut!!Neubauten,Mania D,Malaria (me to Ian Svenonius at the height of riot grrrl have you heard Malaria,reply “never heard of them!”) ,Matador blah blah barely gets a mention anywhere (apart from a WIRE front cover,yes the WIRE!) So Julia has become flavour of the month the backlash begins (sort of)!and her new album is wonderful as was Tragedy before it,and i can,t even be bothered to read that review!
(There were several more, but this is a relevant sampling.)
Now, you have to understand, most of these are people I trust – part of my network of informants I look to help shape and lead my taste. So I decided to have myself a listen.
And yes … sure. Julia Holter does sound softened, magical, intimate. Beauty is saddened. There’s no pulse, not really … only a trickling of looped and coaxed sound that gently build up tentative soundscapes. It reminds me of Tenniscoats, experiencing Galaxie 500 on rather too much acid (before it all turned bad and we got stuck in a backwards time loop) where time got slowed down to the lengthiest of micro-seconds before we realised we were actually listening to the click-track at the end of the CD. It reminds me of Room 40. Sure. But that probably just goes to show my lack of knowledge in this area of bedroom electronica, portable pop.
I sure as Bangs don’t hear the Kate Bush comparison – yes, I’ll admit both of them are female. But perhaps a little Laurie Anderson. It reminds me more of a very, very saddened David Thomas Broughton. That could be my memory playing tricks, though.
So, fuck. Yeah. Some more great music. Shame about the assholes that write about it.
P.S. I love Gudrun Gut. And Malaria!
P.P.S. I’ll take odds of more than a 100 to one that more people read the previous post than this one. Folk like to read the negative.