Tom Randall

The Jezabels – The Brink (Independent)

The Jezabels – The Brink (Independent)
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About a year ago, at a drinks function at my workplace, a young buck who styled himself as an urbane inner city ladies man was steadily plying himself with complimentary refreshments and gilding his self-impression as master of the domain. I let my guard down and wound up in a circle with the young master, but studiously avoided interaction. He drained his beer with an overstated gesture and as he said goodnight, in a moment worthy of the Great Detective, I wished him a goodnight by saying “Have fun at the Jezabels tonight,” who I knew were playing on Oxford Street.

He blinked effortfully, steadied his footing as best he could, and said “How did you know I was going to the Jezabels tonight?”

The Jezabels share much with the majority of domestic brands (sorry, “bands”) regularly featured by the Australian national youth broadcaster (the Rubens, for example). They cater to the reigning social barons, the blanched, bearded and bespeckled, who make thousands of cost-benefit decisions every day about clothes, appearances at social events, and other consumption opportunities. Bands function as social signifiers, and so the Jezabels are anodyne to the fretting of the young socialite. Alignment with them is a no-brainer: it contributes to their cachet, and is pleasant to the ear (it’s assumed – I don’t think its possible for their fans listen with their full attention).

The Jezabels’ stylings are big, sweeping, uncomplicated, and didactic, which makes sense because the Jezabels are a logo. There’s no doubt about the response the Jezabels want to strangle out of you. You are a vessel brimming with attention and adoration; each song exists solely to ratchet your already swelling appreciation into a raging eruption that covers them in glory.

Take the first and title track of The Brink. Perfectly quantised drums and guitar repeat an identical rhythm lock-step while forgettable sections plod past with no connection to the last or contribution to any discernible gestalt. I pine for a lyric sheet, which shows how desperate I am to understand why this song exists1. As nihilist conceptual art, a happening that is meaningful only for its illumination of the absurd pointlessness of human endeavour, it’s brilliant.

This tactic of straining for profundity (of the slow-motion-footage-of-a-plastic-bag-blowing-in-the-wind kind), as if it were a recalcitrant turd that won’t come loose, continues with “Time to Dance”. An asinine piano power-whatsit, it also lacks any apparent raison d’être. I’m still having trouble grasping what the fuck they’re saying, but this time I’m more comfortable concluding that even if I could I still wouldn’t warm to it.

And so the vapidity goes on for 8 more predictably similar songs. “No Country”, impossibly, sounds even more exactly like U2 than the rest of their wretched discography. In fact, it sounds especially like almost every song you’ll hear if you turn on our national broadcaster’s weekend video music program.

Apparently this is a band who explained an earlier song,  “Mace Spray”, with “It’s hilarious that someone would carry mace spray … but it’s also very sad”2. How serious do they want to be taken? Serious enough to describe their genre as “Intensindie” on Facebook. Maybe that’s satire, in which case I’d be stoked, because I’d be grateful if I could hear their catalogue of overblown attempts at seriousness as some sort of long experiment in irony.

Here’s irony: this music is so gleaming with an eagerness to be popular but is missing everything that’s good about pop. Pop music is supposed to amplify the feeling of living. It has to be possessed by it, whether as joyous unbridled energy, sombre reflection or excoriating catharsis. The Brink is a nothing. It’s not even empty calories – there’s no thrill on the tongue, just a feeling of bafflement and the kernel of a thesis that culture is ultimately irreconcilable with capitalism.

Analysis has clearly preceded output at every turn in the making of this album. Every gesture is reaction-bait, chosen with cynical precision and semiotic canny. It’s an exercise in trend-spotting. And it’s not even clever about how calculated it is; in fact, it’s offensive how low they’ve aimed in making a batch of recordings that are so patently engineered to get a bunch of A&R guys’ perineums tingling. If your only aspiration for your music was market dominance, would it hurt you to try and lead it a little, even if you’re just leveraging your audience’s lust for hipness?

I’m told the band’s name is a direct reference to the Jezebel of lore. The affected spelling represents the problem here. They’d be a hell of a lot more interesting if they had even even a skerrick of the non-conformity and danger of their namesake. The Brink is what happens when people only have ideas about production and none about songs. It’s not the first like that, and its scarifying effect will be limited when its minor horrors are rinsed from memory. What really sucks is that someone thought it was a good idea to release The Brink. At the risk of repeating myself (and something I adapted  from elsewhere3), to anyone for whom the Jezabels is your first favourite band, I’m sorry, but your taste in music has violently miscarried, and your opinions are an incurable parasite on the collective unconscious. For proof, look no further than the “did you even listen to the album?” objections this review will elicit.

1I’m a fairly illiterate music fan. I tend to only expect lyrics to have meaning if nothing else is working for me, but have admitted this shortcoming in the hope I will learn to correct it.


3 the now defunct pop-culture blog www.grammarporn.com

47 Responses to The Jezabels – The Brink (Independent)

  1. Tim Clarke January 29, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Right on, Tom. There’s so much of this shite around at the moment, especially in Australia, where bands are so transparently desperate to “make it” that their music becomes an afterthought to timely social media posts, glitzy photoshoots and expensive videos.

  2. DA Carter / Spex (@daspex) January 29, 2014 at 9:16 am

    This eloquent evisceration has given me a tingly perineum.

  3. andy January 29, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Brilliant vitriolic chunder…it is almost deserving of an oi.. oi ..oi ..lucky its not cancerous( i hope) or you would be on a drip…a few issues though..1..for a start half the jezabels have degrees in their chosen field ergo this album is by design ..not misfortune. 2.the song No country is nothing like u2 ..nothing..3.Psychotherapy will gain them lots of momentum.in western and eastern europe. where music is appreciated….Yes in the larger world artists are still respected even if they dont use distortion pedals and vomit into microphones then OD in dressing rooms to keep your idea of rock alive …remember the days of your youth before you inserted the oversized vibrator …Yes I think you can…this review whilst well written is written about you and your take on any band that has sold their souls for the cash cow in the sky….the ones you cant get to because you dont have the critique….the jezabels havent done that.. they have always been pop and still are.. still independent which is more than can be said for your profession of murdoch testicular licking enclave 4 .your ideas of A+R sliding pawns around whilst belting back martinis is moot..isnt feasible doesnt cut it they are independent ..your words are more clever than most but most definitely those of an unrequited queen.. this band do what they want not what you and rubber rupert wants they probably are insular to a point some artists are..deal with it…I dont know how aware you are of music but there are so many successful and diverse bands coming out of australia bands you couldnt of heard of, that live OS because of the petty tall poppy syndrome that eats the heart out of any art that attempts to flourish within this penal colony.. i personally like your turn of phrase you should move overseas before the liver damage kicks in.. the biliousness of your review points to a medical condition…….you are by no means illiterate as you claim..but music fan…. i dont think so…..perhaps a failed musician maybe the bitterness points that way but music fan never..you are just another catcher in the rye..its a sure sign of success in aus when the tall poppy janitors come out to play..keep it up @

  4. ed January 29, 2014 at 8:27 pm


    1. Design is too kind a word, it’s cookie cutter rock and roll, they’ve got a defined template and they stick to it. The template includes Hayley Mary going up an octave in the chorus of every song. It doesn’t vary much from their first album, they haven’t progressed anywhere. It might not be “by misfortune” but it’s soulless and forgettable.

    2. In no way does “No Country” sound like Beautiful Day at 3/4 speed and in no way do those chiming guitars sound like U2.

    3. Yes, because only Europe appreciates good music. Yes, every writer on the planet dreams of writing for a Rupert Murdoch publication. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    4. We are based in Brisbane, the reviewer lives in Sydney. We are aware of Australian bands. Most Australian acts move overseas for opportunity and to be closer to the rest of the planet. Tall poppy syndrome has nothing to do with it.

    Good for them being independent. Terrible album though.

  5. Andy January 30, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I wasnt impressed by the prisoner album for the first 10 listens either now i like it neural pathways covering familiar themes but that has become one of landmarks in indy oz music.. i dont know who said it but indy is NOT a genre its a path choice most ppl expect indy bands to stick to loser brand formulas to keep them riveted in paradigms of never getting airplay and dying in the gutters they allegedly represent… being from brisbane is no excuse for the unleashing of one sided critique if you dont like it or even hate it thats fine i hated peter garret and to this day thought he fucked up a fine band without knowing what an octave was .. But to unleish one sided attacks on a moderate to good album just to be anti hype is purile journalism …coming from sydney is even less of an excuse a city that at least had Some sort of sophistication at one point… Imo This is an over zealous generational attack nothing to do with music…. If bands sound like cold play or u2 its due to production instrumentation of processors by the click of one switch on the pedal they could be seatttle grunge ..wowi..the voice of revolution..ts that easy…the jezabels have chosen not to rebel in the auditorial sense ..its only music after all if the writer wants cultural revolution he better strap on a strat and get his wah wah out of storage ..because for him and many like him the only way is back.. But i do think he writes well its just what hes saying i disagree with.

  6. dzzzzzzzzzz January 30, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Are you fucking demented Andy?

  7. Andy January 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

    @dzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I think you may have to discuss or qualify with a few more grunts..

  8. LA Homebody January 30, 2014 at 10:15 am

    This review is just as pretentious as it made “hipsters” (for that’s what the type of listener he’s trying to describe) out to be. There was nothing remotely intelligent or analytical about this review. Is it an Australian “thing” to criticize in this way? Because in America, reputable writers actually have something real to say. Even the opening on this “review” left a sour taste in my mouth. Way to be a sanctimonious prick who’s crime is not being sanctimonious or a prick but not offering any real insight into the album.

  9. ed January 30, 2014 at 10:55 am

    What sort of analysis and insight are you after LA Homebody? The review provides backstory/context, it includes assessment of particular songs on the album and an overview to the weaknesses of the album and the band. The writer has something real to say, your issue is that you don’t like what he’s saying rather than what or how he’s saying it.

    Sadly there was no lyric sheet with the promo copy but maybe someone should comment on those, so here’s the lyrics for ‘The End’ (via http://www.lyricsontop.com/the-jezabels-songs/the-end-lyrics.html), including such gems as “Go pray for something more – Like an angel would pay to paint the floor” and “It’s just one thing that I am certain on, the highway I belong – Open ended as a wizard to the sun”

    Mad in love for levitation
    Heartbreak coming down
    And it’s lucky for me I don’t mind
    Waiting patient
    Growing the flower from the ground
    There’s just one thing that I’ve been dreaming of
    The way we did before
    Holding hands like could say this was the end

    IS THIS THE END of life worth living
    IS THIS THE END of heart won’t give in
    I wanna know, I wanna love
    I want a new beginning

    Back in the day when I was so helpless
    You gave me your hand, I gave you dirt
    And if you give me a chance, I want a life
    I want to thank you for pulling me back from the brink
    Oh, come on lover, don’t say it’s done
    Go pray for something more
    Like an angel would pay to paint the floor

    IS THIS THE END of life worth living
    IS THIS THE END of heart won’t give in
    I wanna know, I wanna love
    I want a new beginning

    ‘Cause I spent my life just fending off something I said or done
    Encircles in a moment, been and gone
    It’s just one thing that I am certain on, the highway I belong
    Open ended as a wizard to the sun

    Is this the end of
    Is this the end of

    IS THIS THE END of life worth living
    IS THIS THE END of heart won’t give in
    I wanna know, I wanna love
    I wanna know, I wanna love

    Take my life for the living
    For a new beginning

  10. andy January 30, 2014 at 10:56 am

    @ed you say ‘they’ve got a defined template and they stick to it’…..Duh…. first album Prisoner goes Gold..gets Rolling stone record of the year award AMP music prize and a fkn Aria for best independent release….oh too easy better change the template so some pricks from Brisbane can watch us fail..are you fkn serious?. ‘havent progressed anywhere’ listen( remember that key word when reviewing music… it will help..maybe not yet but some time in the future ) to first EP The man is dead 2nd Shes so hard 3rd Dark storm and tell me they havent progressed..I first saw the Jezabels when they were 2 young teenage girls busking in sydney railway tunnel..8 or 9 years ago….dont preach about progression until you know the meaning of the word..oh by the way U2 dont have the copyright or the patent on digital delays you buy them in the shops fkn halfwit..sorry about dropping to dzzzzzzzzzz venacular …you possibly deserve it.

  11. andy January 30, 2014 at 11:06 am

    @ed ps if the writer has something real to say why doesnt he just say it without bringing some young bloke into the review..like i said this is a review on a generation not on music..you can get counselling for that …thanks for posting …the end….i like it….. post Psychotherapy too plz havent got the album in hard copy yet….I personally like the lyrics of most Jezabels tracks that and the drumming…they are different..

  12. andy January 30, 2014 at 11:21 am

    @ed last post re- the lyrics you have posted .they arent the lyrics to the song at all major flaws ..michael angelo would pay to paint the floor..too many wrong ones to point out..again get your act together on posting references or urls that only give misinformation probably best wait till actual lyric sheet arrives..you know theres a lot of crap posted on the net.now you have posted it you must…..easy mistake tho….how old are you?.

  13. dzzzzzzzzzz January 30, 2014 at 11:40 am

    > @dzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I think you may have to discuss or qualify with a few more grunts.

    @andy – your stream of consciousness criticism of a review that happens to differ from your opinion is a work of art. It makes zero sense whatsoever. For your information, the person who did the review comes from your great state of New South Wales so your repeated, and frankly idiotic, attempts to link a person’s location as somehow relevant on said person’s subjective opinion of piece of music fall down immediately.

    For the record, this Jezebel’s album, like the band itself, is a massive load of rubbish.

  14. ed January 30, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Yep, you can’t trust anything you read on the internet although I don’t think they send out lyric sheets for stuff this banal. Don’t worry, I’m old enough, you’re in no danger of being accused of grooming.

  15. andy January 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    @ed lol ..@dzzzzzzzzzzzz if you read the thread ( go on give it a go)brisbane based and written by sydney based author was written by ed… wether it was apologetically or not i dont care i was only referencing him and if you dont think location has any bearing on matters when it comes to reviewing you truly are a halfwit…like i said this is euro mixed not brisbane mixed brisbane is just leaving the 60s now culturally while other cities are having a renaissance Brisbane is hitting it for he first time..in the last 10 years brisbane has exploded culturally .. all for the better some thought they would miss it completely ..australia is the brisbane of the world in many ways.. now are you with me how location is important in context? probably not I dont mind someone saying shit band or shit album thats taste..i hold to my opinions on the review though it wreaks of bile towards a generation and one young man as an antagonist because he was attractive to womenWTF…@dzzzz. dont keep repeating info it makes you look like a knuckle dragger

  16. ed January 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    That’s a lot of assumptions. You assumed that location is important in context without considering that we might not live in the same place as we were born or brought up, that we might have spent time not living in Australia or that we might not even have been born here. Location becomes a lot less important in that extent. The review uses the phrase “young buck” but you’ve assumed this is an age gap that could be measured in generations when there’s no other information to say whether that’s true or not. I mean it might be (I don’t think it is), it might be a few years age difference or it might be a comparison made against the rest of the work colleagues.

    Or are you just saying that Brisbane isn’t culturally developed enough to understand the art of The Jezabels yet?

  17. dzzzzzzzzzz January 31, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I think you’ve checkmated him ed.

  18. andy February 2, 2014 at 9:51 am

    @dzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzz you obviously don’t play chess,pawns rarely win the game @ed I havent got the time or headspace to continue,already spent too much time on this review ..make no doubt about it, even if you have only been in brisbane for an hour you have it franchised on your buttocks..like a jailhouse tattoo…you don’t have to be of a different generation to hate it…i think you’ll find this is a gen X v gen Y thing tho from a very bitter person…at least it sticks out among the wishy washy positive ones.@

  19. TT February 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I know the Jezabels closely on a personal level and I can tell you without any hesitation that you have absolutely no fucking idea what you are talking about. They are genuine humble musicians who have no interest in appealing to the masses as a”brand” or designing their sound to sell out. They have created a sound that is instantly recognisable as their own and is appropriately popular. They were fortunate enough on this album to work with a world class producer and the polish of the album is the result. I agree that the songwriting on this album doesnt connect on the same level as the EPs, but it is a matter of taste.

    As for understanding their lyrics.. well I had to reread most of your article twice because it was so overly verbose and unfocused, i suggest you learn to write before you critisize the writing of others.

  20. Everett True February 3, 2014 at 11:30 am

    @Tom @Ed @dzzzzzzzzzz You’re forgetting the Golden Rule when it comes to discussing generic ‘indie’ music like The Jezabels.

    The blander the band, the angrier the fans.

    These folk will never admit defeat.

  21. zzzzzzzzzz February 3, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    > They have created a sound that is instantly recognisable as their own and is appropriately popular

    I hope The Edge isn’t reading Collapse Board or the Jezebel’s might have a lawsuit on their hands.

    > i suggest you learn to write before you critisize the writing of others.

    ^^ Point taken.

  22. andy February 4, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    @ ZZZZZZZZZZzi doubt the edge would read collapse board, more likely this…@ed .this is a cut and paste that does make sense …this is for THE END
    Rolling Stone ‏@rollingstoneaus 2h
    The Jezabels winner of Single of the Year sponsored by Patrón Tequila Australia #rollingstoneawards http://fb.me/6q6CXW8iy
    i think from a music journals point of view that would be game set and match check mate… mate and TOUCHE…good luck with the negativity guys… while it does have its place on the banks of certain rivers …….it doesn’t cut it in common time.1…2…3…4 . good night @

  23. ed February 5, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Oh so you’re the guy that thinks Rolling Stone is still relevant.

    You realise that more people visit this website than buy the Australian version of Rolling Stone each month?

    Do you know who the main sponsor was for Rolling Stone’s awards? Royal Doulton. Says it all really doesn’t it?

  24. andy February 5, 2014 at 11:21 am

    im the guy that thinks rolling stone has been going in this country since the late 60s im the guy that thinks Rolling stone Aus also has an online mag that far surpasses yours in many ways especially in visits. Im the guy that thinks your mag has like 518 likes on FB and 4 talking about it …my mother has more and she has only been on it for a year..and before you ask me if its relevant..I would say YES very relevant when it comes to the guff you have posted implying more ppl read your snipes than their critiques… you are on a hiding to nothing here mate quit while you are ahead ..rolling stone is far more cultured and has more cred street or otherwise…..for an online rag that claims to love music you sure go the long way round fostering that belief in others…puerile journalism attacking hard working musicians..who sponsors you… the fkn navy?

  25. zzzzzzzzzz February 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks for your pageviews Andy. Please kindly fuck off now back to Rolling Stone.

  26. ed February 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Woah, touched a nerve there. So what exactly do you do for Rolling Stone?

    Rolling Stone Aus has an online mag now? Have they finally caught up with the rest of the 21st century?

    That Best Single award was voted by RSA readers, which obviously says a lot about the people that still read RSA. What’s far more amusing is that they also gave Best Album & Best New Talent to Lorde (while giving Best International Act to Arctic Monkeys). Maybe someone should tell them that Lorde isn’t Australian.

  27. Andy February 5, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Kiwis and oz acts have always combined and called themselves oz every successful kiwi act has used australia for developement and os in roads ..lorde included … im not aware of any nz act who didnt use australia as a springboard …of course they dont go to brisbane they go directly to syd or melb where the culture of music is respected . buy the app from itunes u can join the world of rolling stone to keep up or u can just go in to american one and type in australia get all the info past and present from australia rolling stone also have a new owner and may be looking for bum boys so u and tom probably qualify u may have to be less abrasive tho its nice to be important but more important to be nice…. u think lorde didnt deserve it? U really are insane…lorde is a machine.. Can u do barre chords yet? Sniveling jealousy isnt enough to base a music mag on..try another tack or u will be down to 3 talking about u on FB

  28. Everett True February 5, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Wow. So cultural appropriation and homophobia is OK then, Andy.

    Let’s just hope for The Jezabels’ sake you aren’t representative of their fan base.

  29. Andy February 5, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    The original post by tom was hetro phobic by any stretch my use of the term bumboys was due to the fact that Ed jokingly mplied that I may have been grooming him i am sorry if i offended u with continuing on both his and toms reference to sexuality it was a thread that seems to have lost its context especially for you everett who has just joined .. I apologise for offending u in particular with what may seem homophobic come backs i can assure u i am not homo phobic and i wish u the best of luck in your same sex relationship should u choose or not choose to remain there. ps i havent a clue what u mean about cultural appropriation

  30. noise February 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    “ps i havent a clue what u mean about cultural appropriation”

    What a shocking revelation.

  31. Andy February 8, 2014 at 12:06 am

    The only shocking revelation is that colllapse board is lacking in culture and is run by bitter old queens who are stuck in the 90s

  32. Chris February 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I care little for this reviewers sanctimonious, puffed up, self important diatribe – after all, that’s what he’s paid to do. He is just as much a victim of the incongruity of art and capitalism as any artist is, except he is much harder to forgive.

    The Brink is one if the finest Australian albums ever. Hayley Mary’s vocals are stunning.

    The line ‘Michael Angelo would pay to paint the floor’ will be remembered long after our reviewers corpse is feeding worms.

  33. Peter February 11, 2014 at 3:07 am

    I’ve been following the Jezabels’ music since their Disco Biscuit Love single and I always liked their sound but I have to admit The Brink was a disappointment to me. I loved The Prisoner and the work these guys put in it. Sam’s post-rocky guitar as well as Nik’s energetic drumming and Haley’s dynamic voice made me love them. Their previous EP, Dark Storm, was also brilliant. What happened with The Jezabels has happened to many bands in the past. They decided to work with a famous producer in order to increase their audience. Being a musician myself, I can safely say that the producer considerably influences the sound and style of the band because he is the one in charge and his reputation relies upon the outcome. They worked with a pop producer and therefore their sound is poppy. I don’t have anything against pop but in order to get that pop sound they sacrificed the elements that made them unique and appealing to me. Nik’s drumming turned into basic beats, quantized drums with fake snares and claps, Sam’s guitar is less present and keeps on repeating those boring pop licks and Hayley’s voice turned into a classic, highly pitched voice with cliché pop melodies. Heather’s keys are still very present, or maybe too present. The Brink isn’t a bad album, it is just different than before. Consequently, some of the old listeners won’t like this change.

  34. ed February 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I’m sure everyone will enjoy Drowned In Sound’s review – http://drownedinsound.com/releases/18081/reviews/4147417

    “It’s vanilla, it’s milk in tea, it’s lager, it’s a morning bowel movement.”

  35. andy February 22, 2014 at 9:43 am

    yea at least that guy gave a balanced and colourful review for every bad one theres 5 good ones read this

  36. CDH March 13, 2014 at 11:49 am

    So I know this argument’s been dead for a little while, but this just came out. For the record, I’m totally on the side of the author of this CB review, but this pushes the discussion a little bit.


  37. Mark April 25, 2014 at 12:13 am

    @Chris you need to get out more if you think this is one of the finest Australian albums ever. I mean, my god.

  38. rob1907 May 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    This is funny

  39. Pingback: Lorde v journalism | Matilda Edwards

  40. Christopher August 24, 2014 at 11:09 am

    “This tactic of straining for profundity (of the slow-motion-footage-of-a-plastic-bag-blowing-in-the-wind kind), as if it were a recalcitrant turd that won’t come loose, continues with “Time to Dance”. An asinine piano power-whatsit, it also lacks any apparent raison d’être.”

    This is why music critics/journalists (LOL) are in reality either bitter, failed musicians or lacking entirely in the ability to play an instrument. The only thing worse than their ability to play or write music is their ability to write about it. Is it a rule for you hipsters to do everything badly, from listening to music to playing it to writing about it? What is it with you people? Can you not suck at everything you do?

    This entire piece is the literary and/or journalistic equivalent of a duck-faced selfie. Until I read this review, I thought gaming journalism was the bottom of the totem pole. Thanks for that.

    The album was meh, sure, but taking these types of shots at professional musicians, even if it’s just stupid pop, is a little over the top, especially with your forced, bordering-on-desperation-to-appear-witty-and-edgy style of “writing”.

  41. LeeA August 24, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Hi, Christopher. If you think Tom’s writing is that awful, why don’t you send us your own review?

    Also – we folks that write about music do many other things besides listening, playing, and writing about it. For instance, I’m studying health journalism and have currently published four (almost five) articles over the course of a year. (Have you published anything?) So yes, we can not suck at everything we do.

    Besides, what do you know? Tom may actually be an extraordinaire at the oboe. Not all critics are alike.

    As for this review itself – that paragraph you picked out is wonderful. Are the Jezabels just “stupid pop”? At any rate, better to aim for the stars and piss off squares like you than to dump off some banal, track-by-track review that reads like an instruction manual.

  42. Christopher August 24, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    “Also – we folks that write about music…”

    Firstly, “we folks WHO write about music…” Sorry, it’s just a pet peeve of mine.

    Secondly, you misread what I wrote. I didn’t say music journalists suck at everything they do, I said hipsters suck at everything they do because they have taken the less-is-more attitude and turned it into “worse-is-better” because they think it’s edgy and cool. They’ve just infiltrated the music journalism world as of late.

    You asked me if I have ever had anything published, but has Tom ever played in a successful, world-touring band? Have you? It doesn’t matter and it’s completely beside the point, but I’m simply pointing it out for argument’s sake that anyone can be a critic. It doesn’t take any special knowledge or training to complain or berate, Tom doesn’t have to be in a successful band to be a critic just as I don’t have to publish anything to critique as well. The point is that it’s a bitter, scathing review on an album that really is quite ho-hum, yet Tom’s terrible style in his scathing review by far and away outshines any of the missteps taken by the band. *That* is the point I was trying to make.

    Tom’s writing in this review is haughty and conceited at best, and downright rude at worst. This isn’t journalism, this is simple ranting on the internet over the bitterness of being sick of hearing about a local band making it in the music industry. I would expect this type of writing in a ranting Facebook post, not on a quasi-legitimate music review site. In his mind, he threw in a few ten dollar words and phrases in order to shield himself from what he considers the unwashed masses, thinking they’d have to look them up in order to respond to his review. I’ve never heard “recalcitrant” and “turd” uttered in the same sentence, and I don’t think I’ll likely hear it again…not because it’s witty and edgy (as he obviously thought), but because it’s just bad form.

    Lastly, what is it with you people and your swooping in every time someone disagrees with your style or review? Just a cursory scrolling up of the responses will reveal that you’re like helicopter moms over their children whenever someone has a critical word to say about your own reviewers. Can you not stand by your convictions and be confident in yourselves, or must you come to their rescue every time someone critiques a critique? If you want to avoid these big-brother-on-the-playground responses, try writing with a little less snark and haughtiness.

  43. Christopher August 24, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I forgot to mention, however, that I thoroughly enjoyed the opening of the review with the overconfident-yet-underwhelming colleague, and had it gone ahead in that manner, I believe it would have been wildly entertaining. It’s a shame that he chose to bury himself with trite and petty insults. While I agree that it may be better to write in such a way instead of making a track-by-track review, in this case a banal, dull track-by-track review would have been a step up.

    One more thing: who the hell asks for a lyric sheet? Are you seriously reviewing music lyrics first and ignoring the score? Do you really need a lyric sheet for a pop band? This isn’t death metal. I know it’s just pop and I’m really not a pop fan, but maybe understanding things like harmony, dynamics, tracking, layering, etc. would help you write a decent review when it’s warranted.

  44. LeeA August 25, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Fair enough. Although, yes, I’d say there IS some special knowledge required to berate and complain about pop music. If you aren’t aware of the wider world of music at large – and the better parts of it – then why would you ever complain about pop in the first place?

    As for the “swooping in” – it’s not that Tom couldn’t defend himself. It’s just that ed and ET and I are the editors, and ergo the only three CB members that check the site routinely. And you have to agree that Andy was a bit of a nut job.

    I wish more digital downloads came with lyrics sheets. No, he wasn’t only looking at words – look back in the article. He described the first song aptly enough. It’s just that consumers who buy the physical copy can crack open the case and usually find the words, when the critic often only gets the mp3s. Would’ve been nice if I had said sheet for that last Liars LP, where that singer mumbled everything. Everything else about a song is obvious, especially after you’ve listened to it half a dozen times. But lyrics can always be misheard or obscured. No, it’s not always vital – but it’s just one more component of the song, you know? Like dynamics and tempo and harmonics. And if there’s nothing special in how it sounds, then maybe there’s some substance in the lyrics that we’ve missed.

  45. Christopher August 25, 2014 at 10:38 am

    “If you aren’t aware of the wider world of music at large – and the better parts of it – then why would you ever complain about pop in the first place?”

    Very good point, and that is precisely the reason why I could never write on a music review blog. I mean, I COULD write reviews, but they would be limited to music I loved, which completely defeats the purpose. It would go something like this:



    “What is this crap? Do people actually listen to this garbage? Next.”

    “This was good the first umpteen bazillion times I heard it from the other bazillion post-whatever bands out there. Gonna go listen to the new Pallbearer.”

    “Is indie still a thing? It still sucks, regardless. Keep aping each other and we’ll keep ignoring you.”

    “Arcade Fire? GTFO. Gonna go put on the new Pallbearer. It’s better than the new Mastodon.”

    “Did I mention the new Pallbearer?”

    On a more serious note, the problem with so-called alternative music today is it’s 90% superfluous, banal tripe packaged as something edgy and experimental, and people just eat it up because it’s considered underground when it’s really just awful music. Just the mere mention of words like “riff”, “heavy”, or “instruments” or lack of any electronica and you’re branded as someone who listens to dad rock. If by some miracle they know SOMETHING about it, it’s always the same story: “No, I’ve never heard of them but have you heard the new Mastodon?”. That’s like asking if anyone’s heard of Led Zeppelin. I am disappoint.

    There is so much great underground heavy music, yet so many reviewers look at it as if we’re still in 1992 and we’re talking about fucking Metallica or something.. As soon as the word “heavy” gets thrown out there, people instantly have this image of testosterone and bullet belts with pointy guitars. “Heavy” does not mean “metal”, and at this point I don’t even recognize the marriage of those two words. There is more alternative, post (or whatever it has devolved into as of late), ambient, and experimentation in underground heavy music than bands who firmly place themselves squarely in those genres. /rant

    By the same token but on the opposite end of the spectrum, I see a lot of bands who make poppier, more accessible music being written off completely in the same manner even if they play great music.

  46. LeeA August 25, 2014 at 11:26 am

    You don’t THINK you could write a music blog. But that rant would be a bangin’ CB article. Or at least the seed of one.

    True. Probably by the people who think that banal indie stuff IS edgy and experimental. You’ll find bunches of articles on this site that defend great pop artists, though. Look up Sky Ferreira, for instance.

  47. nicholas fry February 26, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    All of the above commentators who bunch together, and negatively criticise Jezebels ? have something to prove to themselves. They are all fools who are incapable of enjoying the truly wonderful and exciting music of Jezabels whom I have loved sine I first heard their music. I am unable, through poverty to see them in concert in Australia, but I would dearly love to.

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