Capsule Reviews 7/30/09

Before attempting to read this, I would like music critics to take note: I’m having a hard time with you.

Not all of you, by any means—there are still a good number out there who emulate a true love of music in their reviews. But recently, I feel there has been more train-jumping, more jadedness, and more high-falutin’ smugness than actual music-listening. Granted, if you are a music critic by profession, there is a ton of music you have to listen to in a short amount of time, and sometimes it’s hard to take it all in. I understand this.

However, this has been my experience—the records that really stick with me for long amounts of time are the ones I have to give several spins before they really start to hit me. Inversely, the albums that wow me right off the bat usually lose their punch over time, and eventually become novelties. So critics, do you know what this means? It’s not that complicated of a revelation, but it’s the truth—you need to TRY HARDER. Listen to an album a few times before you review it, or you may end up regretting those words you wrote at some point.

“It takes courage to enjoy it.” –Bjork

Children—Hard Times Hanging at the End of the World

Kemado Records

Kemado Records

I have been wondering for some time when I was really going to love a new metal band again, and here they are. NYC’s Children don’t necessarily stray too far from the metal formula of constant hot guitar licks, precise and invigorating drumming, and head-spinning, non-cyclical songwriting; they just happen to do all of this shit better than 99% of metal bands out there. The really frustrating thing is, after seeing all this boring, same-old-same-old, cliché-ridden black metal hyped to unreachable heights by nearly every music critic imaginable, no one seems to care about Children. Aside from a Myspace page and the very little amount of info one can find on the web, they are hanging in obscurity. But, just as the gods of rock have said before, the kids are alright. In this case, they are flat-out stellar.

It Hugs Back—Inside Your Guitar

4AD Records

4AD Records

This album has the odd quality of seeming like something I played over and over again back in high school. However, rather than the album sounding familiar, it simply feels familiar. It seems the furthest thing from It Hugs Back’s agenda is to be innovative or groundbreaking, but they have definitely put their own stamp on their brand of mope-rock—a subtle, whispery stamp, but a stamp nonetheless. At first listen, I thought of the majority of the songs as boring and, to be frank, lacking testicles. But after repeated listens, most of them have worked their way into my heart. Tiny Mix Tapes referred to It Hugs Back as a “faceless and generic indie band you [would] hear at Starbucks”. Seeing as I had similar feelings initially, I can only assume the writer listened to the album only once, then reviewed it. This is what is wrong with music journalism.

Dinosaur Jr.—Farm

Jagjaguwar Records

Jagjaguwar Records

I can say more about Dinosaur Jr. than most of the plethora of 80’s/90’s rock bands that have since reformed in the Naughts. While 2007’s “Beyond” was fun yet not entirely fulfilling, “Farm” ups the ante substantially. At just over an hour long, and requisitely chock full of sweet-ass guitar solos, it’s a bona-fide beast. It’s not perfect, but who was expecting that anyway? Don’t be disappointed or start talking shit when the two or three dull tunes on the record pop up on your I-pod shuffle. Pod-heads probably don’t do this very often, but I would recommend listening to this one all the way through. It may seem like a task at first, but pretty soon, all those licks are going to be swimming around in your body like heroin, and you’ll need to hear it again and again. I will also add this: music critics, please stop referring to Lou Barlow as if you are surprised he wrote a couple awesome songs for this record. Remember Sebadoh?

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