Sunday Brunch 10: Talk about artists who act dumb, but you think are secretly brilliant.

Brandon
Many artists who make over-the-top music about partying. I’ll use LMFAO as an example. Songs like Sorry for Party Rocking seem superficially stupid, but they are so absurd that I suspect they may be a mockery of party music as a genre. Or perhaps it is a pastiche, making fun of dumb party music while simultaneously embracing it. It’s a ballsy move and I respect the hell out of it. There’s a tendency to think of partying as being stupid, but I know of people who have passed engineering exams with gutfuls of cheap beer. The world’s weird like that.

Alex
Kanye West somehow managed to become a huge idiot in the eyes of the public. He also managed to get his latest album loved by most critics. Now, I love Kanye but I wasn’t a big fan of Yeezus, but a lot of people liked that album.  How do you manage to get upset at handicapped people for not standing up, and compare yourself to Steve Jobs, Katniss Everdeen, Beethoven, and God, and still make a commercially successful album that was praised as forward thinking?  Say whatever you want about Kanye, but he’s living life the right way.

Ian
Frank Zappa was a sharp social critic (see Brown Shoes Don’t Make It, which is hilarious), he really could play his guitar (Willie the Pimp), and his career is probably the most prolific and diverse of any major artist in the twentieth century. But for all there is to LIKE about him, there’s also a lot to dislike. He can’t tell funny from shit, which means a lot of his ’70s records (Shelk Yerbouti et  al) often consist of blunt tales of someone fucking the most absurd things possible. There’s a difference between “crude comedy that’s FUNNY” and “cheap attempts at funny.”

 

 

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Sunday Brunch 9: Discuss your musical pet peeves.

Brandon
“I listen to everything but rap and country.” That’s basically code for “rock and, like, maybe two Daft Punk songs and/or the soundtrack to Frozen” (good movie, though). Music is already such a tricky to define concept that I find it strange and irritating to put up walls by genre. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the mindset. I’ve been there. Often it’s about bridging the gap and finding that first album in a new genre that you dig. That’s why we’re here, though. We want to open those closed doors.

Alex
You know that annoying snare drum that keeps on getting higher and higher in pitch in EDM music? I hate that.  I despise that with a passion. I love EDM music, some of my favorite albums are EDM, but that annoying snare clap drives me insane. It’s unoriginal, annoying, and the drops that always follow it are never interesting or exciting.  Most things I’m fine with when it comes to musical tropes, but I swear to God, if I have to hear that noise one more time, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

Ian
To me, one of the ugliest-sounding words in the English language is “snob,” and whatever meaning this term might’ve had once has been completely stripped away by people throwing it at whatever it happens to stick to. At this point it pretty much means “someone who doesn’t like something I do.” “Pretentious” is another one that gets tossed around a lot. Basically all art is pretentious, as all art elevates the subjective opinions/experiences of the creator to a point of High Importance. And fuck labeling music as “depressing,” art has no obligation whatsoever to be pleasant and only pleasant.

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Sunday Brunch 8: If you could send one album into outer space for aliens to discover, what would you choose?

Brandon
Who better to decide what to put on the next Voyager Golden Record than an amateur blogger on a nobody music site? It would have to be something diverse to portray what the world is like, but completely inoffensive. Representing the whole world? I don’t know nearly enough about music outside of the West. Caveats in mind, I’d pick the Beatles’ Revolver album. It’s a diverse listen, brief so the aliens don’t get bored, there’s no weak tracks, and it covers so much of the quintessentially human characteristics that we’d probably want them to know about.

Alex
Whatever the current Kidz Bop album is.  We don’t know if these aliens are hostile or friendly.  If they’re hostile, they’re going to listen to Kidz Bop and think “oh my, these humans have such a bad culture, they shall be no threat to us” and move on.  If these aliens are friendly, they shall think “we must save these poor humans from Kidz Bop” and they shall share their music with us.  It might not be all that great, but I bet you any money that I’ll genuinely enjoy it more than I enjoy Kidz Bop.

Ian
I would love to see Ágætis byrjun by Sigur Rós shot into space and taken to an alien planet so the locales would know that we Earth-people are capable of making utterly fantastic music. I have no idea what the lyrics are trying to communicate, I just know it’s beautiful.  It also reminds me of nature and why I love being outside. The common description of the album is that it is “icy” or “glacial,” which works, but it’s also very green and earthy. Sigur Rós may be an Icelandic band, but remember, “Iceland is green and Greenland is icy.”

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Sunday Brunch 7: What are some of your favorite genre names?

Brandon
Want to talk about obscure genres? Think C86 – probably the least descriptive genre name ever. I love it. It was named after a cassette compilation and is actually a mix of a bunch of different genres. Trying to explain the sound over text is a losing battle, and I’m not confident I understand it myself. It includes early Primal Scream and the Half Man Half Biscuit. Also, I’m not sure if this is a genre itself, but here’s a link to Tribe Called Red, who brand themselves as pow-wow step.

Alex
Shoegazing, only because of how it came about. The story behind shoegazing came from the guitarists looking down all the time at their pedal boards, making it look like they were gazing at their shoes. The singers also tended to look down at the ground, with the most common theory being that the lyrics were very introspective for some reason that made them look at the ground. I’m not sure how true the singer part is, but as a guitarist myself the idea of a genre being named after the activities of a guitar player has always made me happy.

Ian
Cowpunk is such a hilarious genre name. Cowpunk, for the uninitiated, is like cyberpunk, but with cows. Think Blade Runner, only Deckard is retiring cowplicants instead of replicants. Cowpunk, for the uninitiated, is the least likely offshoot of country music ever, and as a result, one of the most awesome. Specifically, it’s country crossed with punk. I also like the genre name Zeuhl, which was created by the awesome Wagnerian-pomp-with-free-jazz-intensity-and-trace-amounts-of-rock band Magma. Also, it reminds me of Ghostbusters.

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Sunday Brunch 6: What do you think future music will be like?

Brandon
Since high school, I’ve watched two genres grow in pop music: EDM and indie. It’s seemingly contradictory since these two aesthetics were historically totally different: clean and snappy versus rough and low-fi. I think the blurred lines will keep getting blurrier. I think, and really hope, that the music of the upcoming 20s and 30s will be so eclectic that it will be difficult to classify genres because they’ll be all mixed together. Unlike our predecessors, the ability to make any kind of sound is in the hands of any kid with a laptop and a torrenting program.

Alex
Music is going to stay the same more or less. Listen to indie music from now versus the 1980’s of course it sounds different, but all the same elements are there. If you listen to hard rock, it’s the same case. Pop music? Same case. The only two genres that I feel have changed a lot are EDM and Rap music, and even then, the same basics are still found. Musical theory doesn’t change, and neither does the formula for making something popular. There will always be new twists, but at the core, it’s going to be the same.

Ian
The times they are a-becoming quite different. DIY music is bigger than ever. It’s mostly just people being DJs and one-man bands in their bedrooms instead of playing guitars in their garages. Gene Simmons recently (for some reason) made headlines when he claimed that “rock is finally dead.” Styles change, especially over 40 years. In 1974, Kiss wasn’t playing the music played in 1934. Why should the people of today be playing the music they played in 1974? Who knows, maybe there’s a huge vaporwave or bubblegum bass revolution right around the corner.

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Sunday Brunch 5: What are some genres you just don’t “get”?

Brandon
This is a contentious question, so I’ll preface my statement by saying that not “getting” a genre as a whole is a personal weakness. The diverse array of genres that typically get lumped into screamo…I just don’t get it. It’s unpleasant to me. Is that the point? Maybe. I don’t really know. Maybe I’m inexperienced or haven’t found anything in the genre I like. Worse still, I don’t really have much of a desire to explore the genre, which is rare for me. I still give it a fair shake from time to time. It’s only right.

Alex
I don’t get pop-punk. I find pop-punk to be a contradiction. Pop music is all about going with the norm, and creating pleasant sounding music that the masses can enjoy. Punk music is all about defying the norm, and creating harsh in-your-face music. I don’t get how the two can mesh together and people enjoy it. Pop-punk just doesn’t sit well with me. The I feel the entire scene is fake, as well as the music. Ever look at a pop-punk band? They look as if they’re trying to keep the hardcore punk look, with a family-friendly attitude.

Finney
There are several genres and sub-genres that never really “spoke” to me – one of those being country-rap. Country music is meant to have a sort of rustic sound to it and a common theme among many country songs is easygoing good times. Rap music, on the other hand, tends to be less laid back and more direct in terms of lyrics and tone. Mashing two polar opposites such as country and rap creates music that seems confused as to which direction to take, which might be why I never really “got” country-rap.

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Sunday Brunch 4: Discuss track-by-track album reviews.

Finney
I think it’s hard to have a one-sided opinion of track-by-track album reviews. For many albums, such as The Wall by Pink Floyd, track-by-track reviews are irrelevant because the album was made to be enjoyed as a whole. However, albums such as Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun are mainly driven by strong singles, so a review of the individual tracks would be appropriate there. It honestly comes down to which album is being reviewed, as all albums are made to be enjoyed differently.

Brandon
They make me shake my head and say “noob” when I see page long track-by-track reviews in the comments of the iTunes store. Albums are ideally made to be enjoyed as a whole, and reviewing them as a collection of singles, I think, misses the point. How does that work when you rate fourteen tracks on a 5-point scale? Do you sum the numbers and divide by 14 to get the album’s overall score? If so, how do you reconcile weak tracks dragging down great ones? If not, how do you reconcile the overall score being different from the average?

Alex
I’ve never really cared for them. While I agree with Brandon that albums should be enjoyed as a whole, and therefore reviewed as a whole, I don’t think that it makes a person a “noob” for reviewing albums track by track. Instead, I see it as “that reviewer enjoys albums in a different way that I do, and that is okay.” As much as I believe that my opinion is the right opinion, it is only the right opinion for me. As I say about most things, different strokes for different folks.

Brandon
And that’s why Alex is a better person than me.

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