Pimplomat

 
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The Hype Wagon
Friday, May 05, 2006
Ok, so I keep hearing praises about bands such as Band of Horses, Sound Team, the Black Angels, Sufjan Stevens, the Secret Machines, etc., and about how these artists are the second coming of Christ or other such hyperboles.

But I don't get it. I listen to them, and while I agree that these artists do have some okay to good songs, I don't understand the hype.

Maybe if someone could point out what I should be listening for in a Sufjan Stevens song that makes him artist of the year, then I'd understand. But all I hear is "he writes good songs." Yes, he does have SOME good songs, even some great ones, but what about these songs make them special? I'm not saying every song or artist has to be special, but if you're heaping on piles of hype on an artist, I'd like to hear some justification for that.

For example, I really appreciate this profile of local band Teenage Symphony. The writer took the time to explain why this band deserves listening to and any hype they may receive.

Are these artists--such as the aforementioned--truly doing something different, pushing the envelope, expanding music, and I'm just not hearing it? I want to know why so many people jump on the hype wagon.

If you read my blog, and you've heard these bands and you think they're the greatest thing since shoe insoles, please comment and guide to me to what I should be listening for in their songs. I'll take your silence, though, as vote that they're nothing but hype and nothing else.

Thank you.

Song of the Day
"Letter" by jaymay
posted by pimplomat @ 12:39 PM  
9 Comments:
  • At Friday, 05 May, 2006, Anonymous bitessa said…

    I find that it's a waste of time to explain away a band to someone else. No matter how articulate you may or may not be, it's so subjective that you're really better off handing someone a cd. They can then listen and decide without having to translate your opinions.

     
  • At Friday, 05 May, 2006, Blogger Eric Grubbs said…

    What? You're not hearing the subliminal messages?

    :-)

     
  • At Saturday, 06 May, 2006, Blogger Long_Division said…

    "I'll take your silence, though, as vote that they're nothing but hype and nothing else."

    Man, you've gone into new territory with the comment manipulation. Smart. I think that "dancing about architecture" quotation comes in handy once again. No one is going to convince you that a band (or an experimental writer ;-) ) is cool through a description.

    Remember when we saw the Secret Machines and their drummer was so amazing? Was that you? Maybe I was with Rhett?

     
  • At Sunday, 07 May, 2006, Blogger Original Garage Skeleton said…

    Problem here, Pimpmat, is the belief that criticism supports and even generates hype. Hype's a marketing strategy. Masses buy hype and its current product because redundant, cold people sell it.

     
  • At Monday, 08 May, 2006, Blogger sdfl;kjasdl;fkj said…

    Um, what doesn't generate hype? The hype issue suggests that some kind of authenticity IS possible . . . and the notion of hype itself contradicts that idea.

    Anyhow, Pimplomat, why not try to explain music? Who cares if it's subjective? And why is dancing about architecture such a bad thing? I mean, is this whole thing really about "convincing" someone of the worth of music? Does everything have to mean or convey something? If it does, the worth of a lot of music is negated before it even gets interpreted. Seems to me that criticism of art is an integral part in the existence of the humanities--and the generation of "hype" is also necessary. (Although I am sad that this hype is generally tied to some kind of capitalist agenda . . . )

    I agree with you, Pimplomat--the act of writing about music is an art in itself. And even it it's unsuccessful, it's still worthwhile. Just look at Larkin or Nietzsche or Zizek . . .

     
  • At Monday, 08 May, 2006, Blogger goodaudra said…

    Dude, you need to stop depending on pitchfork for your music reviews. And mr. Sufjan(sp?) incorporates a choir as back up on a lot of songs which is totally COOL! But nah, I ain't too much in to any of those bands either. You're so awesome, Jason. Thanks for being my friend.

     
  • At Monday, 08 May, 2006, Blogger Long_Division said…

    "The writer took the time to explain why this band deserves listening to..."

    This is the problematic part for me. I've approximated "convince" here from Pimplomat's post.

    Of course criticism is an integral part of art, but there is a profound difference between Larkin and Jenny Eliscu. Maybe the bigger issue is that discrepancy and what it means about the state of music criticism in general.

     
  • At Monday, 08 May, 2006, Blogger sdfl;kjasdl;fkj said…

    Agreed, LD. BUT Larkin and Eliscu were/are both beholden to corporate music machines (or hype wagons) . . . in this way, they're not that different. This is not to say that one can find a less "corporate" criticism through a music blog . . . My point is, however, that there is an even BIGGER difference between Pimplomat and Larkin . . . and I think that means that Pimplomat (and other critics like him) should continue to write about music as long as he wants . . . because maybe there's something more redeeming and valuable in this type of questioning than that in Rolling Stone or even Larkin's jazz reviews. Or maybe not.

    I still feel, and maybe this is just me, that philistine criticism and failed attempts to explain art are better than no attempts at all. And my "convince" thing wasn't aimed at you, LD. It was aimed at Pimplomat. Maybe another question here is whether or not criticism is actually supposed to change anyone's mind . . . oh, art!

    I love and miss you so much, LD!!! Let's talk about this over martinis when I get to NYC!!! I'll bring the Size Bigs and Kashi Go Lean Otherwise, you bring the Ford Focus. (Oh, and I'll also bring the Gershwin . . . for the sake of the music criticism discussion.)

     
  • At Wednesday, 10 May, 2006, Anonymous zak said…

    late to this but here are my thoughts:

    the hype machine is primarily driven by the bands' labels shelling out cash for a top promotions firm to drum up hype. Rarely, more and more, is this not the case. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah last year were driven by fans amongst the bloggers and touring relentlessly.

    I do believe that well written reviews do exist and can be very helpful, but some are just awful. We Shot J.R.'s newest review was a good example of how they should be written...

    Now Sufjan I think deserves the hype... great songwriting with beautiful lyrics, amazing voice, plays all the instruments on the record and is actually doing something interesting in the folk area.

    Black Angels are nothing new, but I do really find their dark, droning, repetitive take on psychedelia very appealing and I love that new record. Good singer too.

    Sound Team is thoroughly overrated. Great live though... very energetic. I'll pick up the new record when it comes out, but I don't get the excitement.

    Secret Machines just can't make a good record and the only reason you ever hear anything about them is their label pays for it. Really good live, but they have never translated well to record.

    Band of Horses is an enjoyable record but nothing brilliant or new but I like it.

    I'd say the one band that has gotten a lot of hype that you did not mention that I think is deserving of all the stellar reviews is Liars with their new record. No one sounds like that right now and while they reference krautrock and other music it is refreshing to hear it.

     
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