Sunday, January 2, 2011

Your Review Sucks #1 : I Gotta Wear Shades

Okay, so my title might be a little misleading. As you might expect, these will be reviews of, um, reviews. They won't necessarily be reviews of reviews that suck, though. They could be glowing review reviews. But "Your Review Sucks" is catchy. So that's what it is. Suck it. :P
First up: a review of a live show by the band Brite Futures that appeared in the September Aught-Ten issue of Performer Magazine. The show being reviewed was the band's appearance at Neumos in Seattle, WA. in July of the same year.
So, to get a couple of things out of the way: I've never heard Brite Futures. I've never seen them play live and I've never heard any of their recordings. Before reading this review, I'd never even heard of them (although their previous name, as quoted in the article, sounds vaguely familiar: Natalie Portman's Saved Head). I have no opinion about their music, which I still have not heard.
I usually enjoy reading Performer Magazine, too. It's a pretty good resource for musicians and music fans. So, what did I think of this particular review? Pretty good. It actually gave me a halfway decent idea of what this band I'd never heard might sound like, something a lot of reviews never do. I could do without lines like, "each new synth lead dripped over the beat like syrup" (ewww), but, hey, that's just me. Overall, though, it painted the group in a pretty positive light without excessive use of cliches or too much vagueness. Thank gawd, no references to how the group sounded like Grizzly Bear's gym teacher on a field trip with Sonic Youth in the Appalachians with some Gregorian monks.
I DO have a beef with this review, though, or one specific part of it, anyway, which is why I chose to re-review it. In describing the band's song, "Me + Yr Daughter", the reviewer relates that they "reached such epic levels of arena rock sing-along that I couldn't help but think of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing". It was OK, though, because unlike Journey, these guys were half-joking, which made it all right to enjoy".
Really? Did you check the hipster handbook to make sure? Wouldn't want to get caught *gasp* enjoying something without official permission! Especially if it involves something as crassly uncool as melody or earnestness or *shudder* both. It's a good thing they didn't mean it when they wrote that awesome hook in the chorus, otherwise it would just suck.
I liked the review in general, and might actually check the band out at some point because I read it. So, I'm really not trying to come down too hard on the reviewer, one Kevin Minnick.
I'm sure he's a good guy, and he seems to be a good writer who knows a thing or two about music, so fair play to him. I know how cringe-inducing it can be to read back something you've written, or how easily one can change one's mind after writing something, so I don't want to be overly harsh. It's just this one bit that really bugs me.
I do think this one line is representative of a fairly wide-spread attitude in some circles, however, and one that I find pretty repugnant. I don't think there's anything wrong with writing a big sing-along chorus, or with enjoying one. If you happen to be kidding around when you're rocking out, all well and good, but if you're deadly serious, that's okay, too. You might not get any free PBR's from your homeboys at the bar with their ironic Joaquin Phoenix beards because they caught you banging your head to REO Speedwagon at the County Fair, but so what?

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