Architecture: An Interpretive Dance in Eight Parts

May 6, 2009
Lord help me, I hate this band.

Lord help me, I hate this band.

As a former DJ and constant music fan, I just thought I’d waste your time with some things I find depressing, annoying or just confusing.

Classic Rock
I know a lot of people who are classic rock fans but seem to only be interested in the outer surface. Their CD collections will contain Bread, Meatloaf, lots of Lynyrd Skynrd, Molly Hatchet, Billy Squier, Journey, etc., but nothing from Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones or the Beatles. Not to make the automatic assumption that the listed bands are worse (although they are) but that ignoring some of the greatest classic rock bands seems almost criminal.

The Beatles
Yeah, they were awesome. I just really don’t care for 90% of their output and that do-gooding sonofabitch Paul McCartney’s insistence on staying alive and producing weak music certainly isn’t helping.

mp3 Collections
Nothing wrong with them. I have a huge one. But with all the music out there, how come some peoples’ collections look like the playlist for the last 20 years of radio? There are millions of gigabytes of music out there but their players make me believe that they’ll never enjoy life as much as they did in high school.

Van Halen
See also Classic Rock, mp3. Who are you people who insist that Van Halen improved once they ditched the only member with a personality? I can’t see it, unless Haggar just tapped into the zeitgeist that was clamoring for more power ballads. See also: Aerosmith – the Armageddon years. (Note to Aerosmith: If your name isn’t Lynyrd Skynrd then country “artists” shouldn’t feel comfortable covering you.)

DJs/Electronica Artists’ Full-Length Albums
Why do godawesome DJs insist on delivering shitty full-length albums with radio-friendly four-minute tracks and flavor-of-the-week guest vocalists? The mainstream isn’t what brought you your success, so stop pissing off your actual fans while polishing turd (featuring T-I!) after turd (featuring Rhianna!) in an attempt to impress the easily-impressed.

It’s a little like heading to the club and watching your favorite DJ turn on the radio.

Case(s) in point: Timo Maas, any album past their first three for both the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, Paul Oakenfold, the Crystal Method.

Possible exception: the Brighton Port Authority, Fatboy Slim’s new supergroup. His/their debut album features some standout tracks featuring David Byrne (Toe Jam), Iggy Pop (He’s Frank) and Ashley Beedle (Should I Stay or Should I Blow?)

People Who “Don’t Get” Rap
Don’t worry about it, no one’s trying to sell it to you. There are plenty of others willing to pick up your slack. I’m not a huge fan myself, but I don’t wear everyone out with my insistence that it’s not a viable art form. Especially when the entire argument is wholly encompassed in this dandy of a line: “I just don’t get that rap crap.”

For instance, I don’t really care for classical music. Millions of people love it. Millions more pretend they do so they don’t get labeled Philistines. But I would never sum it up with something pithy like, “Whatever. But I don’t see them putting out anything new.”

I Don’t Get Jazz
I just don’t. People have tried to turn me on to it with basically the same persuasive arguments they use to try to get me to drink beer. “You haven’t tried the right beer/band.” “You’d like it if you drank/listened to more of it.” “Drink/listen to it for awhile and you’ll get used to it.”

I’m sure all these beer/jazz arguments also work for anything unpleasant like roadkill removal or terminal diseases.

Music Genres I Think I Like More Than I Actually Do

Prog Rock
Reading reviews and hearing a few select tunes has made me think this would be right up my alley. After all, I like a lot of space rock and that’s pretty much right in the ballpark. I really like the individual members of King Crimson but collectively most of their output sounds like several instruments in search of a tune.

This leads me to believe that proficiency does not equal listenablilty. (It’s a word. It’s my word.) It’s like several gifted musicians all doing their own thing.

I’d much rather listen to bands whose musical fundamentals are severely limited. Like the Jesus and Mary Chain, who shoved one guitar through an amp and made as much noise as they could with the others. Or Suicide, who set their synths and drum machines to stun and wandered around picking fights with their audience. Or, to bring things up to date, A Place to Bury Strangers (JAMC followers) and We Are Wolves (somewhere between Suicide and Death From Above 1979).

And as for the space rock, Hawkwind may be great and all, but they too often (especially in the live recordings) sound like a less-focused Grateful Dead. With more flute.

There are a million bedroom producers creating a million electro tracks. Some are fucking awesome (i-f’s Space Invaders are Smoking Grass, Westbam’s Agharta, Solvent’s My Radio, Zombie Zombie’s entire album A Land for Renegades) but most are a cliche casserole of clicks, bleeps and deadpan vocals. But I’ll still read some blog somewhere that will say nothing more than “Awesome electro track!!!” and away I go.

the Fall
Not really a genre, but prolific enough they could be one. I love Mark E. Smith’s delivery and his lyrics can be amazing, but I think the danger lies in the fact that they’ve released 1,392 albums over the last 30 years. There’s got to be something that could have been scrapped or left in the vault. But as a blogger, I totally get the mentality that “if I created it, it should be released.” See also: Guided by Voices, Prince.

As a theoretical fan of prog rock and an actual fan of repetitive beats, you’d think this would be right up my alley. But with the exception of a handful of tracks by Neu!, I honestly can’t say I’m impressed.

Some of the more contemporary artists, carrying on the proud German tradition of making sterile, emotionless music, have caught my ear. Fujiya and Miyagi’s Ankle Injuries, Stereolab & Nurse with Wound’s Simple Headphone Mind and a few tracks from Death in Vegas’ Satan’s Circus.

It just doesn’t click with me often enough. I can handle 13 minutes of 303-noodling in Laurent Garnier’s Acid Eiffel, but not 13 minutes of drum lessons from Can.

Go figure.



  1. As always – nice job. Music seems to be the theme of the night and I’ll give you fair warning that, having read this, there will be a few links I dropped for you that you’ll likely not be digging. The good news is: No Nickleback or Billy Squire (although I will confess a certain amount of guilty pleasure to “The Stroke”). I also didn’t leave any classical or jazz links – although I am a fan. I think Ella Fitzgerald has one of the purest voices I’ve ever heard and I’ll never tire of Fats Waller… Or Mozart.

    I also think there’s been a real good resurgence of indie bands (one can only listen to The Pop Group so many times as great as they are). For me a few the last couple of year’s highlights were St. Vincent, TV on the Radio, Carbon Silicone, The National, Sons and Daughters, Sigur Ros, Fiery Furnaces, Make Model, most everything by Mark Lanegan, Spoon, Shins, (yes) Zombie Zombie, Robyn Hitchcock, the long awaited Portishead, Grinderman, Mother Mother, Emma Pollock, Malcolm Middleton…

    Anyway, sorry to ramble… I love music and going to live shows. But I am going somewhere with this… It all leads me to a question I asked you ages ago. Never did a get a response. I discovered the band, I think on Minneapolis Fucking Rocks (I think)… I’m guessing maybe you didn’t respond because they ain’t doing it for you, but… What do you think of The Melismatics?

    • It’s always great to run into another true music fan.

      As for the Melismatics, I don’t know. To be honest, I have not checked out their music. But I will, and I’ll get back to you. In a much more timely fashion.

      Loving TV on the Radio and Grinderman. I’ll have to post some stuff of theirs soon to spread the word to the rather small group that checks in here periodically.

    • I just Nick Cave a few months ago (for the 5th time). It was an incredible show.

  2. So, the question I keep asking myself is, “Was music better 30 years ago?” I think it was but maybe I am just simply biased. Still, I ask; who is today’s Bob Seger or Queen? (nevermind Zep, The Beatles, or the Stones).

    My kids tell me I am just stuck in the past and today’s music has the same weight. I just don’t see it.

    • I think that some of the music that is coming out now is as good as the stuff that happened 25 years ago. Not the dreck on the radio, but there is a lot of really strong alternative music.

    • As for Queen, I’d say Muse carries out some of their big ideas and pomposity.

      As for Bob Seger, my answer would probably be very different than someone who thinks highly of Bob Seger.

  3. Having need of a break from painting by numbers I have wandered here from sickdays, via claire collins and a few others!

    Our tastes in music could not be more different I deduce, but I am really concerned that you pan proper beer. British bitters have improved markedly since CAMRA led the revolution some 20 odd years ago. I could recommend numerous bottled specials, but what might you have access to?

    Concerned Elpres.

    • ElPresGod –

      I just don’t like beer, proper or improper. It must be the hops or barley or whatever the hell it is that gives it that distinctive “beer” flavor.

      It still pains a good friend of mine who is the brewmaster at a microbrewery. If anyone should have been able to convert me, it would have been him and his overenthusiatic brewer’s assistant.

      I can only imagine having weeks or hard work and perfection being summed up in the pithy phrase: “Yep. That tastes like a beer.”

      On the other hand, I’ll never convince him that Ronald Reagan was a good president and that the Grateful Dead are not worth listening to.

  4. Vive la differences in life!

    Shame about the bitter beer though but you’m beyond hope I suspect!

    • It would certainly appear so. Beer has a powerful pull, though. It brings out the guy-who-thinks-the-lesbian-just-hasn’t-met-the-right-guy in everyone.

  5. Or promotes;



    • Awesome!

      Thanks for that, and nicely played with the Jerry Lee Lewis.

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