Saturday, January 17, 2009

The big change and Why I love to Hate

Hello there-

As you may have noticed, the promise of a return of top five lists in the new year has so far been an empty one. Well, besides losing interest in the idea, I have the glaring fact of my old website to deal with. Angelfire was a fine free service in the days that I started my original reviews and ramblings website, but the increasingly tasteless banner ads and imposing pop-ups have become too much of a botch on even me to edit or update my own site. So, new updates to Redundant Chicanery will continue, however sporadically. I will now be posting new updates here that will consist of transferring over all of the content from my Angelfire page. If this means re-reading all my old reviews that you've read before, so be it. Enjoy them sans pop-ups. I will be trying to add album cover artwork and little extras to all of the artist write-ups as I convert everything over. Stay tuned.

As a starter, here is my diatribe against, originally posted 17 July, 2007:

Why I love to hate

When there's a service —because, let's face it, offers a lot of useful music nerd information for free— as expansive and about as close to complete as you can get for major label (and a good chunk of independent label) recorded music, there's bound to be some descrepancies when editorial comments are added. Admittedly, most of my gripes with them are subjective. However, there are some extreme cases of inconsistency and, sometimes, just outright inaccuracies being passed off as legit editorial opinions. Some of my descrepancies are petty —I openly admit that I don't appreciate when they don't like the same things as I do— but others (I think) are quite valid. Don't get me wrong, this is all in good fun and I'm not really that upset about this stuff, but it's fun to point out. And for the record, the blog has been surprisingly good (so far).

First of all, the remodel...
»A few years back, they had this big revamp of the entire site where they really screwed up their otherwise flawless layout. The tabs that they relied more heavily upon really did ruin things. When you went to artist's page, the discography was on the front page, along with the bio. Granted, it took longer to load, but it did away with a lot of the unnecessary navigating that is now an essential part of scouring the site. It sometimes feels like you have to navigate through a dozen pages to get to the one you were initially looking for. And then there was the small things: the discography used to be listed newest albums to oldest, which just seems to make more sense to me.

The 'Similar Artists' and 'Roots and Influences' comparisons are not very realistic...
»Just look at the U2 page. They list the Virgin Prunes as a similar artist to U2. I know the two bands are affiliated because The Edge's brother was in the Virgin Prunes and they were all mates from when they were kids, but really, they are pretty much as opposite as new wave bands can get. The Sound is listed as a similar band, which I'll take, but the Chameleons aren't mentioned anywhere on the page, neither as being similar, nor as an influence. Right.
»Were you aware that the Trembling Blue Stars are influenced by New Order but the Field Mice weren't? Oh, and for some reason, TBS are also influenced by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. What's next Dave Matthews being influenced by Devo?
»More New Order fodder: they're influenced by Ian Curtis (??!?!?!???!!!??) and are similar to the Durutti Column (they were on the same label, DUH AUSTIN, you fucking moron!!!).
»The Cure is influenced by a German band called Klee, which was formed in the late 90's. And that's possible because, you know, the Cure hadn't been around for twenty years at that point. Also, the Cure and Sinead O'Connor are very similar.
»And, for the icing on the cake, Miles Davis was apparently a big influence on Bill Evans.

The Cure's entry is full of shit...
»In the review for Wild Mood Swings Stephen Thomas Erlewine states that 'several key players from Wish' had gone 'missing.' This implies that there was a whole new lineup or something. Actually, just Porl Thompson and Boris Williams were the only ones absent. And they weren't 'missing' — they left the band.
»Why isn't Boys Don't Cry on the compilations page?
»You'll just have to take my word for it, but they have changed star ratings on several of the band's albums. Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography all had ratings of two and a half stars at one point, now they're all different. Disintegration used to be at five stars, as well. In the print version of the All Music Guide to rock music, three of the band's proper albums receive five stars.
»Our good friend Mr. Erlewine, in his review of Galore calls them 'a singles band.' I mean that's just stupid.
»In his review of Pornography, Stewart Mason says that "The Figurehead" is a 'sound-over-substance piece of filler, which sounds suitably bleak but doesn't have the musical or emotional heft this sort of music requires.' Besides being a grammatical nightmare, the statement makes you wonder if he even listened to the song.

The criticisms of Maxwell are bottomless...
»Stephen Thomas Erlewine points out that Maxwell's Embrya is full of 'ideas that lead nowhere', but never expounds. With a pretty aggressive criticism like that, it would be nice to know what specifically you're talking about, Mr. Erlewine.
»Erlewine again makes a pretty dumb assessment in his review of Max's next album (Now) as well: 'He's trying to live up to the tradition of Marvin and Prince, and while his productions often live up to that legacy, he has yet to write songs memorable enough to truly justify those comparisons.' Who decided that Maxwell was trying to live up to Marvin and Prince? Couldn't it be that he's influenced by them and that's the end of it? That's just silly. You might as well say, 'You know, Love and Rockets will never record anything as good as "Bang a Gong (Get it On)", even though they really want to.' It's just an absolutely irrelevant thing to point out and, not only does it make Max out to be totally incompetant (which he's obviously not), it really makes the reviewer sound like he's got a personal vendetta.

The John Klemmer discography is a god damn disaster.
»All of the albums have ratings, but very few have actual reviews written. "This is a piece of shit two star-worthy album. Don't ask why." What the hell?
»Why is Touch on the compilations page?
»Why are so many of the albums listed out of order? And furthermore, with a completely wrong year of release listed?
»Why does the entry just suck so fucking much?!?!?

Ok, sorry. I'm calm now. Let's continue...

Why do most rock bands and artists also have a classical entry?
»Hey, I think it's great that there's a string quartet tribute album for just about any flavor of the month frontrunner of a band these days, but why does that merit a classical music entry? Here, let's bog up the entire site with double listings for everything, why don't we?

Scott Yanow is a pretentious butt who is maddeningly redundant in his criticisms.
»Just look at the Joe Henderson page for a small example. The first sentence of the bio reads that Joe is 'proof that jazz can sell' — a reference to Joe's later success at Verve in the mid-90's. In the first sentence of the review for Joe's first Verve album in the 90's, Yanow again states that 'with the release of this CD, the executives at Verve and their marketing staff proved that yes, indeed, jazz can sell.' Thanks, Scott. That was profound. And it really lets me know about the music. Later on, in his review of the Miles Davis tribute album on Verve from the same period, he likes the fact that Henderson picked mostly lesser-known material from Davis' cannon: 'He is to be congratulated for not taking the easy way out and sticking to the simpler material of Davis's earlier years.' Because, really, it's not about how well the material is performed, it's about 'not taking the easy way out.'
»According to Mr. Yanow, Ron Carter's albums as a leader are "for lovers and/or fans of bass solos" (in two different reviews) and that his albums are mainly a showcase for Carter's bass (two separate reviews). Thanks, Scott. Here I was, expecting Ron Carter to be playing extensive banjo solos.
»Also, according to Mr. Yanow, in his review of Bill Evans' 1977 album Affinty, Bill plays "electric piano on this album for the final time in the recording studio." That's just fine, except that he played it again on We Will Meet Again, which was recorded two years later. I guess in Yanow's world, 1979 came before 1977.
»The guy is the reason that there is a stereotype of jazz fans being snobs. With his authoritative stance and broad generalizations passed off as valid criticisms, Scott Yanow is an embarassment to any jazz loving listener.

I hate Mackenzie Wilson and her stupid Beulah reviews.
»In the review for The Coast in Never Clear: 'After the dazzling reception of 1999's When Your Heartstrings Break, Beulah wasn't concerned with following things up with something fashionable.' Ok, thanks for telling me that. Whatever it happens to mean. Also, to finish off the review: 'Beulah's indie cred cannot be tarnished with The Coast Is Never Clear. It's not strict rock music — it's basic. And it's good.' Great associative transition there.
»In the review for Yoko there is a striking similarity to something I pointed out in my initial review of the album: 'It's not entirely wrong to wonder if the title itself represents the obvious — that famous lady who's associated with things breaking up. Or it could very well be an acronym taken from the string-laced gem "You're Only King Once."' It's an easy thing to notice, I suppose.

Merge the fucking Dollar Brand and Abdullah Ibrahim entries already!
»It's the same guy, dummies!

Discography gaps, inconsistencies and inaccuracies...
»Although Björk's early bands (Tappi Tikarrass and K.U.K.L.) are mentioned in her bio, they are not listed under the 'Member of' listings, despite the fact that both bands released records.
»On Stephen Duffy's overview page, in the 'See also' listings, there is a link to the page for Tin Tin. However, it directs you to the early 70's Australian band of the same name. For Duffy's own Tin Tin, you have to look under the discography, where both his solo albums and Tin Tin albums are listed. Furthermore, some of the later Lilac Time records are also listed under Duffy's name, while the early Lilac Time albums have their own entry under the band's proper name.
»In his review of The The's Soul Mining, Stephen Thomas Erlewine calls the album 'The The's first album.' Soul Mining was released in 1984. Strange that, in the discography section, the band is credited as having a release called Burning Blue Soul in 1981. Maybe because Burning Blue Soul was their first album. Also, Soul Mining is listed as being released in 1983, but anybody with an original vinyl copy (*pops collar*) can clearly see the '© 1984' on the back of the cover.

That's all for now. But you better believe there's more on the way.

And there will be.


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