Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Iceberg Writers

I'm happy to welcome a couple of new review writers on board our little floating glacier here. I figured getting some friends in on the reviews would be a lot more fun than dancing around on my own pedestal forever. This way the range of genres, bands, and tastes covered will expand and everyone benefits! So see above to check out Amy Mika's first review for Destroyer's Trouble In Dreams.
More updates by more fabulous mystery writers on the way.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rating System!

I've decided to enter the world of the ultra elite by implementing a rating system for the records i'll be talking about on this site. I want to clarify that by no means am i a professional music critic. But as a person who's watched his own bands' albums get criticized, rated, sometimes praised, sometimes degraded, i've decided to have some fun of my own.
And you'll probably be getting reviews more from an artist's perspective (more sympathetic, but less objective, obviously), rather than those you'd read in your average "website that shall not be named" -style review blog.
You can check out the meanings behind the number scores to the left, and i'll be amending older posts with corresponding ratings, so you can get a feel for them already.
Really, ratings are completely arbitrary, but i think people secretly love them. One thing you won't get here ever is me bashing a band just because i have a personal vendetta against them. I think all art made in earnest is worth respect, and i've saved the 5.4 and belows just for fun, or maybe for a day when i'm just in a really bad mood.
Should be an interesting experiment. Who knows? Maybe someday this blog will even have a little good influence...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Reasons That Music Fans Listen

A couple of days ago, i found myself engaged in a conversation with someone i was sitting next to in a doctor's office. He was a music fan and we naturally fell onto the topic. We discussed Bob Dylan, local music, the lack of venue space or support for kentucky artists, and the conversation was all going pretty good- until i made a comment about how much i hate the Rolling Stones (which was partly tongue in cheek, though mostly true).
This opened up a bag of theories on why "old stand bys"- proven bands who have stood the test of time (like the Rolling Stones, maybe, or the Beach Boys, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, U2, etc.) might or might not be a person's preferred listening over slews of newer, sometimes more "experimental" bands (unproven ones with maybe not enough albums to yet justify their often trend-fueled popularity).
This guy explained to me that as much as he wanted to, he couldn't listen to "new" bands like Modest Mouse or the Shins as much as his friends were, and his theory was this:
There are so many thousands of bands now and such easy access to music with the internet that you can fill a harddrive with 100s of GBs of stuff that will take you months and even years even listen to, let alone let sink in. But in 10 years, will you still care about half those bands? Since people's tastes tend to change, he was saying its a better bet to just enjoy the music you know is good, and not waste too much effort on a band that will just come and go.

I thought this was a pretty good point in a way, and also agreed that for a lot of people, being a music fan is a lot like being a collector- it becomes obsessive to the point that people download 20 albums a day, but the listening is only half as important as the "owning". A lot of the stuff probably doesn't get listened to ( or at least listened to WELL).

I thought for a minute and then tried to explain why i find myself constantly chasing after new music. My explanation was this: I listen to a lot of music, and most of it is new (especially lately). A lot of it is experimental or "out there" to a person who doesn't often go beyond Aerosmith or The Red Hot Chili Peppers. And a lot of it is crap.
There is a ton of new crap out there. There is also a ton of wonderful new stuff. The extra effort here is concentrated on having to constantly filter through the crap to get to the good stuff. But what i find, for me, is that all the extra work involved in "discovering" new music: that is filtering through the bad, discerning quality vs mediocrity for yourself, and swimming through an ever growing digital sea of totally "unproven" internet releases or challenging musical ideas- is that every few years i will find a gem, a real one- something that will completely change my view on what music is. Something that makes you say, "I never knew music could even BE like this". And it changes your musical perspective, as well as your LIFE from that point on. And this, to me is worth the trouble.

So, there's where i stand on listening to "modern" music. Of course, not everybody has the time or even finances (though i'd say the internet cancels this excuse nowadays) to wade through thousands of releases a year, and that's really understandable. I think you have to be a pretty big music geek to think like this.
On the other hand, there are artists out there who take years to create, refine, and execute their craft, hoping it will bring something new and wonderful to the world. Is it not too wrong to expect that a person takes five minutes to listen to a song outside of their usual, safe, circles and give some attention to those who might not have the funds or influence to get supermodels to dance on cars in their videos? Where would progression be without people trying out new things?
When Stravinsky debuted his "Rite of Spring", there were riots breaking out in the audience, who opposed it almost entirely. We now consider this work a timeless classic. It's easy to see how great it is in retrospect. My point is that if we aren't paying attention, we might be missing some great things going on in our own lifetime. Without being open minded, we might miss something that will ultimately enrich us (somehow the Pharisees and Jesus come to mind).

Like Nietzsche said, "Without music life would be a mistake."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Current (heavy) listening:

Band Ane: Anish Music (Danish Electronica)
Matmos: Supreme Balloon (Electronic, Baltimore)
Kashiwa Daisuke: Program Music I (Electronic/Neo-Classical, Japan)
Disinterested: Behind Us (Ambient/Post-Rock, Seattle)
Murcof: Cosmos (Minimal Electronic, Mexico)
Gavin Bryars/Philip Jeck/Alter Ego: The Sinking of the Titanic (Ambient/Classical/Experimental, UK)
M83: Saturdays = Youth (Electronic, France)

All are highly recommended!