...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Break the silence - it's okay to hate that album

I love this idea - The Guardian (UK) asked musicians to write about one album that everyone loves but that they hate. It takes a marvelous bit of bravery to get this off your chest, and even if I disagree with some of these assessments (ooh, and agree with others) I really like hearing different perspectives.

Here are two excerpts:

The Doors, LA Woman
Nominated by Craig Finn of the Hold Steady
In America when you're growing up, you're subjected to the Doors as soon as you start going to parties and smoking weed. People think of Jim Morrison as a brilliant rock'n'roll poet, but to me it's unlistenable. The music meanders, and Morrison was more like a drunk asshole than an intelligent poet. The worst of the worst is the last song, Riders on the Storm: "There's a killer on the road/ His brain is squirming like a toad" - that's surely the worst line in rock'n'roll history. He gave the green light to generations of pseuds. A lot of people told him he was a genius, so he started to believe it. The Velvets did nihilism and darkness so much better - they were so much more understated; what they did had subtlety, whereas the Doors had little or none: they were a caricature of "the dark side". I actually like Los Angeles, but the Doors represent the city at its most fat, bloated and excessive. Morrison's death does give rock some mythic kudos, but that doesn't make me want to listen to the music. In fact, if it comes on the radio, I change the station.

Arcade Fire, The Neon Bible
Nominated by Green Gartside of Scritti Politti

People who enjoy this album may think I'm cloth-eared and unperceptive, and I accept it's the result of my personal shortcomings, but what I hear in Arcade Fire is an agglomeration of mannerisms, cliches and devices. I find it solidly unattractive, texturally nasty, a bit harmonically and melodically dull, bombastic and melodramatic, and the rhythms are pedestrian. It's monotonous in its textures and in the old-fashioned, nasty, clunky 80s rhythms and eighth-note basslines. It isn't, as people are suggesting, richly rewarding and inventive. The melodies stick too closely to the chord changes. Win Butler's voice uses certain stylistic devices - it goes wobbly and shouty, then whispery - and I guess people like wobbly and shouty going to whispery, they think it signifies real feeling. It's some people's idea of unmediated emotion. I can imagine Jeremy Clarkson liking it; it's for people in cars. It's rather flat and unlovely. The album and the response to it represent a bunch of beliefs about expression and truth that I don't share. The battle against unreconstructed rock music continues.

Read the full article here.

So, which albums do you just hate (you heretic)?

Thanks Ben!


At June 21, 2007 12:33 PM, Blogger Mark said...

wow, very strange... i just wrote about how i immensely i dislike the neon bible album, then visited my brother's site (mikeandtim.com), clicked your link and felt vindicated someone agreed with me even if it wasn't actually you making the comment.

At June 21, 2007 12:37 PM, Blogger ack said...

You aren't alone, but I think I was one of the only people at Sasquatch that wasn't in awe of the band.

I just don't think the record is anything great.

At June 21, 2007 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've not heard enough Arcade Fire to form an opinion but I certainly agree about the Doors. I cannot think of another group from that era I find more pretentious. Jim Morrison's "poetry" is terribly trite and, as they said, meanders aimlessly. I will admit to liking some of the music but overall I'll skip on The Doors anyday.
James Cassara

At June 21, 2007 1:35 PM, Blogger John Left said...

Interesting post. The good folks at The Guardian, though, must be on more drugs than the Lizard King. LA WOMAN is an all-time classic.

As far as my picks for crummy albums? I'll return the Brits' favor. How about INTRODUCING JOSS STONE by Joss "Why Am I Famous?" Stone? An entire album of instantly forgetable tunes by a singer who makes Debbie Boone look soulful.

But my all-time least-favorite is a moldie oldie from the 1980s: SO RED THE ROSE by Arcadia, which was a side project of Duran Duran's Simon LeBon, Roger Taylor and Nick Rhodes. Their song, "Election Day", sounds like a pair of winos harmonizing on a street corner at 2AM Sunday morning. Crap, crap, crap!

Love your blog; keep up the great writing!

At June 21, 2007 1:39 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

craig finn just lost major cool points

At June 21, 2007 1:46 PM, Blogger shawnstring said...

thank you some one else agrees with me about Arcade Fire. I just see what all the fuss is about. To me they kinda sound like 80's Bruce Springsteen with crappy new wave beats. Whatever I guess I am old and unhip. damn kids get off my lawn.

Now what album do I think was meh, while everyone else raved about it.... I would have to say The Flaming Lips-Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. I have never liked that album.

At June 21, 2007 2:27 PM, Anonymous Richard said...

OK Computer - Radiohead..........enough said.

At June 21, 2007 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

every grateful dead album.

At June 21, 2007 3:02 PM, Anonymous Finn said...

grateful dead are a live jammy thing
no album can capture that

overrated albums?

Nirvana - Nevermind
Coldplay - X&Y

At June 21, 2007 3:46 PM, Blogger Madame Courtney Whiny Complainy Pants, Esq. said...

OK Computer, Radiohead. Not from lack of trying, though. I.just.can't.

Thank you for standing on this side of the line with me, Richard, who ever you are.

At June 21, 2007 4:09 PM, Blogger andyracer said...

The. White.Stripes.
god, i feel better having finally said it...

At June 21, 2007 4:21 PM, Anonymous Wave slams rock said...

TV On The Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain

This is a strange one, because I can hear what's innovative and unique about it, but I just don't find it listenable. Maybe it's the vocals. I can find fitting moments in my life for everything from three-chord folk to free jazz, but a "you know what would be good right now? Return to Cookie Mountain" moment has yet to occur.

At June 21, 2007 4:29 PM, Anonymous Kristy said...

I'd have to pick Oasis. I know so many people like them, but I find them whiny and shallow and amateur.

At June 21, 2007 5:16 PM, Anonymous El Guch said...

Wow I was always afraid to speak out on my lack of love for Nevermind and Sgt. Pepper. I thought I was the only one. I love the Beatles but Sgt. Pepper is my least favorite. Perhaps I'm missing something. Nirvana is just horribly overrated IMO.

At June 21, 2007 5:29 PM, Blogger heather said...

Ahhh, I feel so refreshed by all the hoensty in these comments.

It's like Haters Anonymous: "Hi. I'm Heather. And I hate _____."

"Hi, Heather."

At June 21, 2007 7:27 PM, Anonymous phm said...

Crooked Rain Crooked Rain. Jesus.

At June 21, 2007 7:38 PM, Anonymous James! said...

"Riders on the storm.
Into this world we're born
Into this world we're thrown"

or something like that. I like the ambience of the song, but that rhyme is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

At June 21, 2007 7:57 PM, Anonymous James Cassara said...

Ask the risk of having death threats sent my way I should add that I've never understood the attraction many have towards the music of Frank Zappa. I liked Hot Rats well enough but much of the rest is, in my humble opinion, sophomoric bathroom humor set to third rate jazz noodlings. Some of Zappa's music was great, but the percentage of good stuff to crap was disheartening.
James Cassara

At June 21, 2007 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, here goes...Pearl Jam's '10' - gawd, had NO ONE ever heard arena rock before?! nicely done, but rehash city. I've always maintained that Ed's got the JuJu, but the band are just wildly OVERRATED!

heather, I love your blog - and you keep the love for ol' PJ, sorry to hit home, but that's how I see it.

At June 21, 2007 9:20 PM, Blogger heather said...

Anon, that's cool. I can both dish it out AND take it.

At June 21, 2007 11:59 PM, Anonymous Yellow dotted line said...

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain?!

I know we're being honest here, but c'mon . . .

OK Computer?!

I know we're being honest here, but c'mon . . .

Look for me lying down in traffic in defense of these albums.

At June 22, 2007 3:23 AM, Anonymous lism. said...

God bless you, Craig Finn. Yes, once again.

However, Ian Rankin's h8ing on the Velvet Underground made me weep, especially because I think he's so cool in so many other respects.

At June 22, 2007 5:17 AM, Blogger Paul said...

I think it's funny that people don't like Ok Computer when the radiohead album that really went to the crapper was Kid A. At least Ok Computer has some melodies and songs that aren't just weird noise. Kid A is proof that radiohead started to believe that anything they put out would be brilliant, even if it is just strange electronic noise.

At June 22, 2007 6:59 AM, Blogger cliff said...

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

Yawn and more yawn. It just keeps getting more boring with every listen.

At June 22, 2007 9:25 AM, Blogger lbc said...

If you want to hear people go off on every new record that comes out just read Stereogum comments. Lots of hatred for Arcade Fire, Wilco, Ryan Adams, anyone else that has a significant and devoted audience. There's a strange joy that seems to result in raining emphatically on other people's parades.

However, the revisionist take on all-time "classic" records IS refreshing. I'll nominate one that I've tried to love: Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street. I love Keith Richards singing "Happy" but don't really get anything else on the record.

At June 22, 2007 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree 150% about Sky Blue Sky.

Why did everyone like it so much?

Dad rock to the fullest.

I remember reading a positive review that stated:"The best Eagles album that the Eagles ever made."


Ok Computer was amazing.
I can understand you not liking Kid A, but o.k. computer???

At June 22, 2007 10:03 AM, Blogger shawnstring said...

this thread reminded me of a book i picked up once at the library
Kill your Idols Its basically "a collection of 35 essays about allegedly great rock albums that this new generation of critics loathe." They hit all of em here....Exile On Main St, Sergeant Peppers, Nevermind The Bollocks, etc. It is kinda harsh, but a interesting read

At June 22, 2007 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my thing would be that it's hard to say "everyone liked" any of the more recent albums. Not like the kind of crap that builds up around "classics" that get a tongue bath of critical love every year or so in Rolling Stone.

And Craig Finn stole my bored with the Doors comment, so I'll note I enjoy listening to the Beach Boys greatest hits way more than wading through Smile.

At June 22, 2007 4:29 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Blueberry Boat, by the Fiery Furnaces was the darling of every blogger alive. I couldn't stand that shit. The words pretentious, amelodic, trite, and pretentious come to mind.

At June 23, 2007 11:15 AM, Blogger kingseyeland said...

There's probably a sub-topic in this: How it's cool to like certain bands or albums regardless of the quality of the music.

Wilco, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, The Doors...all bands with fanbases so rabid, they'll buy and listen and love and defend everything the bands release, even if it's a series of dots and loops with Thom Yorke going "nuh nuh nuh" over and over and over. Or Jeff Tweedy recording 12 minutes of screeching feedback and appending it to a song. Or Arcade Fire taking themselves so...damn...seriously. As for Morrison, I'm with Lester Bangs: he was a buffoon.

I dunno. Sometimes fans' irrational idolatry sort of ruins it for the rest of us. It's certainly not easy sitting among a group of Radiohead fans who are talking about how "brilliant" it all is, but they can't explain why. (Before anyone jumps, I love The Bends.)

At June 23, 2007 11:38 AM, Blogger scissors happy said...

excellent post idea and i love all of the comments.

all of my friends ADORE the hold steady. i hate his voice - like, REALLY HATE IT - and find them to be derivative and boring.

also, i have never understood what's so great about billy joel, and while i understand his cultural significance, i cannot listen to bob dylan.

thank you for allowing me the space to finally admit these things.

At June 23, 2007 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh thank God someone else said Pearl Jam. add:

The Shins
Alice in Chains
Alanis Morrisette
Sonic Youth
Lucinda Williams
The Polyphonic Spree
Dave Matthews

At June 23, 2007 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave Matthews Band indeed, his voice is nasal and epileptic, and their sound seems so thin.

As for The Doors, yes Morrison the "poet" is obnoxious, but I'll always love the music. Strange Days is a masterpiece. The Soft Parade on the other hand...What's the deal with those all those horns?

At June 23, 2007 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, really-I want someone, somewhere to explain the appeal of Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth-without using phrases like "you just don't get it" or "they're just good". Both bands have rabid fanbases, and both bands are simply unlistenable to me.

At June 23, 2007 9:44 PM, Anonymous sean said...

I never understood the devotion to Sgt. Pepper. I also never understood why the Smiths were so beloved.

At June 24, 2007 9:45 PM, Blogger staggerlee said...

re: "Craig Finn just lost major cool points"

If anyone ever tries to give me "cool points," I'm gonna punch him. There's nothing cool about being cool. The Doors were the worst band to ever get big and stay big; bands like Blue Cheer were worse, but people realized it quickly, while Morrison, Manzarek & Co., Inc. manage to continue to snooker generation after generation of listeners. Jesus, the lyrics are crap and 99% of the music is brutally lame! They sound like a Holiday Inn band (see: Light My Fire, Touch Me) or a fucking polka act (see: Alabama Whiskey Song). I'll give you People Are Strange, and Peace Frog always got my blood up somehow, but almost all the rest of it is pure unadulterated shit.

The Arcade Fire. I understand why kids like them, but anyone old enough to have listened to U2 pre-Joshua Tree should have had more than enough of that sort of thing by now, don't you think?

Ah, well, chacun a son gout (which means, I think, "everyone's son has gout" in French).

At June 25, 2007 1:22 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Along the same lines of web-o-sphere cred suicide, I just can't stand the Flaming Lips... And, as Madame Courtney also said, not for lack of trying. Repeated ghastly listens, each more painful than the last. I feel vindicated coming out about this... Yoshimi is still on my stuffed-to-the-gills iPod, and survives every purge just because I am afraid someone hipper-than-thou is going to notice the glaring lack of Lips and know how unrefined I really am...

At June 25, 2007 2:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sonic youth? dylan? ....please kill yourself

At June 25, 2007 5:57 AM, Anonymous let the backlash begin! said...

As all art is subjective, I don't understand how anyone can hate on the haters. Big deal-your meat is my poison. Sonic Youth is noise. Dylan is to be respected, but a lot of his tunes are...boring! Pearl Jam is like what Bart Simpson said about the Smashing Pumpkins-"making depressing music for teenagers is like shooting fish in a barrel". Yeah, I get it-the tunes "changed your life" and "saved me from suicide" and blah blah blah whatever horseshit- navel-gazing-self-important-tripe you spoon feed yourself.

Music is supposed to move you, not become fodder for endless dick measuring contests. Great, you like Band A. Hooooooo-ray for you! You made a choice! The same masturbatory self importance was hoisted upon the Dead, the Beatles, Zeppelin, et al. Can't the music just speak for itself and stand alone without the baggage of street teamers?

At June 25, 2007 7:12 AM, Anonymous petepizza said...

I'm gonna have to go ahead and give a little love to Sgt. Pepper, to balance out the negativity here.

At June 25, 2007 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear heather, thank you for the blog and all your hard work.

the doors are a great juke box band, meant for swilling PBR on a Saturday night to...not exalting as poetic wunderkinds. LA Woman was Morrison at his drunkest-and possibly most inspired (the track, not the album). Who amongst us here can exalt Robert Pollard for inhuman drunkeness and bash Morrison in the same breath??

At June 26, 2007 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried so damn hard to get into Modest Mouse's Moon and Antarctica but I could only enjoy one song and everything else sounded like shit to me. Oh well, right? You can't like 'em all.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Stats tracked by StatCounter