Song of the day – 367: Naked (free download + essay on music criticism)
Mother fuck. I was all settling in for a cosy listening session with the PJ Harvey album – comfort music, discomfort lyrics – when I realised I was behind on this series. I’d promised myself I was going to cut back on it a little: no one needs to constantly be reminded of what I love – and surely it’s far more interesting to know that the True Clan’s preferred meal-time listening music usually falls into the genre of fado, disco or Kate Bush, or that Art Brut is superb work-out music. But there is so much great stuff out there! And so (comparatively) few music commentators actually documenting it, the idiots, almost all preferring to take whatever the chosen line is right now (sometimes good, sometimes not so good). So we’ll leave Polly momentarily with a fond au revoir, make a mental document to listen to that triple-album of Kate Bush rarities later, take another bite of the apple (that’s not a metaphor) and – shuffling our feet awkwardly because we’ve already outplayed our welcome – move straight along to Tasmania (Hobart)’s Naked.
Here’s the message line that pulled me in.
Simple, huh? If you know that the person you’re sending your music to knows some of yr mates/shares some common ground, mention it. Don’t be shy. Don’t over-elaborate, but don’t be shy. Now here’s the rub. The Internet makes you flaccid, like anything else that expediates communication. The gospel according to 2011 regarding online music criticism is this: you’d have to be crazy not to acknowledge the fact your audience has the same access to information that you do. So link link link. Admit it, move on and talk about something else. Don’t describe. Never describe. Don’t contextualise. Well, OK. Contextualise a little but maybe just link. In fact, don’t do bloody anything except drop teasers into your copy sometimes about how you lost your virginity to a french horn muffler, or how you liked to interview famous pop stars when they were wearing your dressing gown, nothing else.
Folk hate that sort of stuff here in Australia. Mostly. Folk in Australia (mostly) think music reviewing is all about maths equations, accountancy. Describing something that doesn’t need describing. So what happens … wait, the reason I hate most music criticism here isn’t because it follows a particular form or style. It’s because it’s done atrociously, put together by a bunch of sofa-chewing misanthropes who don’t have any idea of the endless possibilities inherent on the art form. It’s what happens when you let crowd-sourcing rule the roost. Crowd-souring whose idea of a good music writer is the previous music writer’s idea of a good music writer (whose own idea was the previous music writer’s idea of a good music writer, and so on). Presumably, the idea is to make yourself so boring when writing about music that your reader is forced to go and listen to the music in question as relief therapy. And you can only give positive reviews not negative because positive reviews are ‘objective’ whereas negative reviews are ‘subjective’.
Sorry. Here’s my point. The Internet makes us flabby. My query for the day is this: what happens when you CAN’T link to the music in question … do you link to similar music in question or try to be creative again? Naked. Fucking Naked from Hobart, the city everyone in Australia forgets exists. Try doing a search on their name. At work. No videos, no links, no … wait, of course there are links. Here’s one. It’s to the free download of their album at Bandcamp. OK. No videos.
My job then … what? What is my job? To convince you to listen to this music? To describe it? To contextualise it? To give it the ET Stamp of Approval so the band can then go tell the 10 people who care that a once-working music critic enjoys them?
Description: clattering, anti-melodic, tuneful, male but not irritating, spasmodic, smart, busy but not full, mistakes left in but they’re not mistakes anyway, lovely
Hard sell: Wonderful, wonderful music. Music to woo the cherry-pickers down from their trees to.
So that’s it. I’m so immured in the ways of web 2.0 I reduce music commentary to tags and a rambling essay on why that’s bad.
P.S. Oh wait. I’m always forgetting. I could always just ask people if they have videos. For example: