Professional Appreciator

By: Josh Love

Posted 11/22/2005 - 10:57:01 AM by pabanks46:
 I think I drifted towards jazz a few years ago for the same reason: a frustration with my time making songs for myself passing, and my increased skepticism as to the worth of the rock narrative. Within the confines of modern jazz, people were (mostly) a different race, from different environments, with a completely different musical philosophy. This drew me. Perhaps its simple as the cliche' of the attraction of opposites. Even as I delved further into avant-garde & free jazz, and the loosened style and professionalism attached to those, I saw the alien form as something still largely different than what I saw in Hendrix, Zeppelin and all the other behemoths I loved when I was 10. Still, can a person ever transition out of a "rockist" stance? Without too much effort I could point to a host of similarities between qualities I value in rock & jazz (and electronica & hip-hop, etc. for that matter). Does your search for "narrative" in country mean anything more than the rock well has run dry? In other words, what's different than going to Dylan for stories and insight rather than Cash, or vice versa, other than voice? What's different between the improvised explosions of Hendrix's 'Machine Gun' and Miles Davis 'At Filmore' beyond Miles' ability to read music and his training in the jazz notion of harmonic correctness (and later modal composition)? I don't see many, and where the differences are, they don't chip away at the heart of the comparison. As a side question, do you think that your own compositions, no matter how amateurish and spare, represent the unifying thread that connects all the artists together? Like, are the things that inform a composition, even on a 4 track, what you really look for in music, and from that, you can appreciate any artist that has 1 of those qualities, no matter the genre or context?
Posted 11/22/2005 - 01:04:30 PM by J_R_K_:
 there's good music and bad music, to paraphrase someone famous for saying something like that.
Posted 11/22/2005 - 04:40:09 PM by :
 Personally, I think rock deconstructed itself around the time glam hit. Or maybe the rock "narrative" just imploded. The phallogocentrism that had traditionally been propping up rock kinda went limp when people like Bowie used the traditional rockstar as Nietzschean uebermensch with cocksure stage presence to project androgyny and tease out what had always been the homoerotic subtext in that narrative. Madonna followed on the Bowie model to different (but I would say equally great) results. Ditto for Missy Elliot. We can divest of the masculinity constructing and still utilize the self-mythmaking to make great popular music, no? Of course, after Bowie and the New York Dolls there were the literalists like Poison. I guess you could think of them as meta-rock. In the end that all wound up in a big steaming pile of camp, though, didn't it? One thing I find really revolting about current American "indie" is its self-consciousness, the way it defines itself in opposition to camp like Poison. Bleh, boring. Too much post-Cobain authenticity baiting. Too much preaching to the choir. Too much emphasis on lyrics to convey "depth" and other archaic and worn-out nonsense. Not that it's all bad, but in my mind it's really the worst kind of rockist fallout, a lot of indie rock...
Posted 11/22/2005 - 05:05:55 PM by cleric:
 A strange thing i have noticed: The music geeks/critics seem to be failed musicians and the successful muscians aren't really that interested in music at all. At least not that much as i would expect them to be. But whenever you hear musicians talk about other music besides their own, they are clueless most of the time. (IE not having a bad taste or smth but not knowing the other bands at all). But maybe it's the same thing as with the plump football fan who sits before his tv. he might know more than the players in a theoretical sense, but he would be smashed on the field.
Posted 11/23/2005 - 09:26:21 AM by J_R_K_:
 ok cleric that has to be one of the biggest generalizations i've seen on these comments sections. seriously. let's think for 1/2 a second. doesn't lcd soundsystem have some song where james murphy lists of a million hipster references? your point is without merit.
Posted 11/23/2005 - 09:27:18 AM by J_R_K_:
 oh and JGraves, i'm an american indie rocker, i'm not in opposition to poison, but rather alliance with zodiac mindwarp.
Posted 11/23/2005 - 11:10:43 AM by :
 Cleric, you're right: what you say is "strange." Do I even need to start with the quotes from musicians about how music is made only in response to other music? Do I need to trace the origins of the rock narrative back to jazz and blues and spirituals and folk music? I'm a classically trained musician, so I guess it seems clear to me that technical and theoretical training can only help develop your ear, but that just knowing how to play doesn't guarantee you a good ear. The rock musicians I know personally know tons about music. Can you name some bands that exist in a musical/cultural vacuum for me? I can't think of any.
Posted 11/23/2005 - 11:27:52 AM by :
 Oh and the point about athletes is terrible, too. My brother's best friend from high school is now a top NFL draft pick. He doesn't know much else, but he knows the game technically inside and out.
Posted 11/23/2005 - 12:03:20 PM by James_McKean:
 I enjoyed this piece. Its an interesting point you touch on towards the end: "perhaps I’m jealous...and can’t cope with the similarities of our background and cultural training, and so I gravitate towards genres and performers whose make-up doesn’t mirror my own." It seems to me that most, if not all, of my friends who are music lovers (to geek level and beyond) get to a stage where they turn their noses up at the sort of music that grabbed them at 14/15. For myself (and most of those friends) that'd be mid-90s (largely British) guitar music. I think to some degree it can be seen as inverse snobbery; I tend to think of that style of music (Oasis, Blur, early Radiohead et al) as being a sort of 'folk' music for my...maybe not generation, but people of my background - ie. white, english, mid-twenties, middle-class etc. As people listen to more music its only natural that they'll listen to more styles of music, and most of the music lovers I know listen to hip-hop, blues, reggae, folk etc... or as you say "genres and performers whose make-up doesn’t mirror (their) own" upbringing / background. This makes perfect sense. But at the same time, most of them seem to stop listening to the opposite; ie "genres and performers whose make-up... mirrors their own" background. That music which they should find it most easy to relate too. And this, I don't understand. Blah blah blah
Posted 11/23/2005 - 02:32:47 PM by J_R_K_:
 maybe cleric was saying something like this... bands like Dream Theater get so hung up on technically-proficient chord progressions they forget to have fun. bands like CKY can't stop having fun, so they never really challenge the listener.
Personally, i think the solution is to have as wide an understanding of music as possible, learn your instrument, and experiment often. The less a musician second-guesses themselves, the better. Usually when the song sounds like it might be ending soon, it should end then. When a song sounds like it's too stupid or cheesy, it's probably your only chance of having a hit single.
Posted 11/23/2005 - 03:23:37 PM by cleric:
 Well of course it was a generalization. Took you damn long to find out didn't it? :D Anyways i was more referring to rock bands that are pretty well know (the category of foo fighters, franz ferdinand and that kind). I read a magazine some time ago where musicians had to listen to songs and tell the journalist how they rate that songs. And surprisingly tmost musicians had very limited knowledge. Even i knew most of the titles. So maybe it was just the wrong artists they asked, but i still believe it's funny that at least some musicians don't seem to really care about other music than their own and still they are pretty successfull. If you want, i can try to dig up some old magazines with examples of this over the weekend.
Posted 11/23/2005 - 04:22:15 PM by TheBrad:
 Yeah, musicians tend to be much more diplomatic about their peers than, say, a critic would. Maybe it's because you never know with whom you're showcasing or touring. But yeah, I've noticed that when interviewers ask artists "what are you really into right now," I'm not struck by how knowledgeble they are. Maybe they're too busy creating to appreciate. If they weren't, critics would be in trouble.
Posted 11/23/2005 - 10:41:45 PM by pabanks46:
 I am not so sure. The Wire shows that many musicians know a shitload about bands and artists that are obscure, period. Miles Davis was aware of all the ppl in NY running around in live bands. That's how he recruited. He also had time to listen to David Axelrod, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and about a million other ppl (see interviews and pictures of his reel-to-reel collection). Yeah, its Miles Fucking Davis, but I think that the very best, especially in the realm of electronica (esp., esp. DJs) are better listened that anyone here, and for the most part, I really respect how knowledgeable Stylus readers are.
Posted 11/24/2005 - 06:12:46 PM by adentice:
 As a generalisation - it's probably not that other bands are less knowledgable, but that they don't CARE quite as much as critics and ardent fans about all the other music out there, and this comes out in their interview etc. But i thought it was a fair point in dissecting the role of the critic - along the same lines as the whole "what do i care if a few snobbish critics rip the shit out of me when I've got millions of adoring fans" scenario.
Posted 11/25/2005 - 02:14:17 PM by badhaircut:
 This sounds so much like my own tragic story/journey/narrative that it's painful to read, like looking in the mirror as a Tarantula bites my foot. Bless you and keep living up to your namesake. Remember what Meat Loaf said: "even rock & roll dreams come true!"
Posted 11/29/2005 - 01:02:54 PM by Pillow:
 I liked this article a lot. It seems that so many ageing indie rockers attempt to "look beyond rock" for one reason or another, but it's really interesting to see what they end up listening to. How does music like MIA/Diplo and Dizzie Rascal slip through those cracks, when a lot of those same listeners denounced crunk hip hop and the like not too long ago? Erlend Oye, Ellen Allien, sure, but how many of us know how important Richie Hawtin and Aux88 are right now? DE9: Transitions hasn't even been reviewed, and I think a lot of people on here would say, "Aux eighty-who?" if that says anything. House lovers know that Kaskade and much of OM have already hit their peak and are tumbling quickly unless something changes, but nobody here knows/cares even though they love microhouse.
Posted 11/29/2005 - 08:28:01 PM by hibeside:
 just to add a little on the side here. when I am making my films or thinking about my films, I never have time to watch the contemporary outputs. I try to catch up later, but miss a lot of what critics would claim to be essential. Granted I haven't been making films all that long, but I've noticed a push away from watching for the sake of making. I don't know if you all find this observation worthwhile, especially since its just one man, but I wouldn't be too surprised if there were others like me as well.