Friday, May 19, 2006


With the staggering volume of movies, DVDs (new, re-released, and special editioned), CDs (new and reissues) and downloadable music, we rely on reviewers more than ever to sort it all out. The prevalence of websites such as Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes are evidence of this trend, and with The Da Vinci Code out today and getting decidedly mixed reviews (the French laughed during the Cannes screening!), a few naysayers can make or break the success of an artist's creation. Of course, sometimes a reviewer simply has a bad day, and it's probably not a good idea to take just one guy's word for it. But it's a start.

I just recently downloaded a few tracks (legally from, thanks for asking) from the new Grandaddy album "Just Like the Fambly Cat", because I mostly enjoyed 2001's Sophtware Slump, but also because it's been reviewed very favorably. However, one of the songs, Where I'm Anymore, features a chorus with lead singer Jason Lyte singing "meoooow meow-meow-meow meooow". I shit you not. He's imitating a cat. I guess I wouldn't mind if he sang "laaaa la-la-la laaaa" instead, because that's a time honored rock music convention that I can deal with. But he's fucking MEOWING? I could almost understand if it was a Meow-Meow Kitty tribute album, but it's not. It reminds me of the old Meow Mix commercials, and for the record, that's not a good thing. Every article I read about it fails to mention this fact. Thanks for the warning, guys!

In some cases, it pays to just download a track or two vs. a whole album, and reviews certainly help in this case. Case in point: the new Raconteurs and Gomez albums, which have been universally reviewed as being "meh", but have two damn good singles "Steady, As She Goes" and "How We Operate", respectively. Until you guys can put out a full beginning-to-end solid album, I'll just pick and choose, thanks. With several songs clocking in at 11 minutes, perhaps Tool is trying to give the iTunes crowd more bang for their download buck--it's a shame that most of that length is self-indulgent filler, according to several reviews (well, Rob said it, for one). Funny how people focus on that in their reviews, but never complain about the length of CCR's "Heard it Through the Grapevine" or Led Zep's "Stairway to Heaven".

Sometimes, reviews can just be blisteringly funny. The review for Tool's Lateralus on (billed as "My Summer Vacation, by Crispin Fubert, Ms. Higgins' Eng. Comp. 901") was one of the funniest in recent memory, including the line, "Then at the end there's this part where Danny Carey hits every drum he has." Of course, the music industry constantly steals and samples from itself in a sort of reverant plagiarism, so why can't music reviewers do the same? I saw this line, discussing how Tool is not a "progressive rock" band, in the review of 10,000 Days on Stylus Magazine: "'Progressive' doesn’t mean clocking in at over seven minutes no matter what. It doesn’t mean hitting every goddamn skin, tom-tom, and cowbell on your drum set." Oops. Looks like he probably had that review in the back of his head from 5 years ago, and it just leaked into his article.

I just wanted to point this out: the Top 10 Billboard/Soundscan album chart this week is strangely rock heavy. With Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, and Bruuuuuuce all with new albums out, the majority of the titles are from established rockers, with Jagged Edge the only R&B/hip-hop/rap album to be found (the calm before the storm?). Is rock back? Did it ever go anywhere? You make the call!

Anyway, did I mention that the guy from Grandaddy MEWS LIKE A FUCKING CAT?

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