Find Me On:
Right, well, Perfect From Now On was released in 1997. If the consensus is that this was the best BTS album (which I tend to agree with), I don’t think that I’m bemoaning the present to drastically. When Doug puts the project on hold because he ran out of songs to write, I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch to argue that the past couple of albums don’t measure up to the pinnacle of the band’s performance.
I like the spectacle that is Brett Netson; I thoroughly enjoy his weird-ass musical tangents. What I do not enjoy is watching him repeatedly miss notes and play behind the rest of the band because he is too fucked up on whatever he happens to have taken for kicks. I don’t think I mentioned their show being shit or anything. I’m saying they are not as good as they were at the height of their creative output.
Also, on another point, I don’t think I implied that they were playing the same set for years on end. I do know that they repeat sets from night to night because I watched them on both of their past two tours at three different venues (each tour) along the way. They played identical sets in identical order down to the covers and encore. For You in Reverse they were playing Broken Chairs as an encore, which I have not complaint about seeing three times, and they did a great job of it.
The troll ratio in here is way above the mean.
I was unlucky enough to grow up a few miles from Athens and not hear of NMH until I moved away. I’m excited about having the opportunity to revisit something I missed the first time around. NMH at the 40 Watt is like taking a trip in a time machine.
And while I would give the band the benefit of the doubt, I suppose it’s conceivable that the master plan is: “Wow, we’re pretty hard-up for some cash. Instead of recording and selling what would probably be the most anticipated indie album of all time in the studio that we own for a cost of next to nothing and the potential revenue of millions virtually overnight, let’s book five shows in the fall in three small venues and two foreign countries.” These evil fucking commercial hipster-wannabe fucks.
Not sure about the tendency to leave off EP’s, etc., but I would have to include The Normal Years. I also think this author has mischaracterized a serious decline in quality for BTS, even to the extent that the live shows began to be phoned in (Anyone who saw this band in the late 90′s could not deny that they were one of the best live acts going. Fast forward to their tours supporting the last two albums, and they were still playing decent sets, but it was not even a comparison. They went from a band that consistently played completely different sets from night to night to being a band that played the same songs in the same order the same way [even the encore!]).
I also disagree with the commentary on Ultimate Alternative Wavers. While the production is definitely DIY, I think it contains much more Perfect From Now On-like jam structures than most of the recent albums (which makes it preferable for me).
My list would be more like:
1. Perfect From Now On
2. Keep It Like a Secret
3. Ultimate Alternative Wavers
4. (The Normal Years)
5. There’s Nothing Wrong with Love
6. Ancient Melodies of the Future
7. There is No Enemy
8. You in Reverse
“A dud” is a much better description of this article and list. Oh, BTS is from Idaho? Oh, Doug is a great guitar player? Oh, Doug has kind of a nasaly voice? How insightful. What a great fan of the band this gentleman must be. I digress.
But I echo an appreciation for “The Weather”. It is a lovely song, a bit of a novelty, but one of my favorites.
You are not (completely) alone.
I’ve tried to get out of the habit of saying things unless they are nice, but if JT’s getting 10X the posts that a reflection on Jason Molina is, then I’m just going to have to say, “Fuck you for choosing this steaming pile of shit as AOTW.”
I can’t really knock anyone for preference, but describing this album as “AOTY”, “complex”, “great”, or “fuck-it-I’ll-be-boring-now album, in a good way” are all ways of saying to the world, “Hey, I’ve given up on sharing any sort of genuine perspective with you; excuse me while I go and enjoy Anderson Cooper’s daytime chat show.”
I do not hate Justin Timberlake. I’ll go so far as to say that he has a great knack for comic timing that the Adam Sandler’s of the world could learn from. I also think that he does very well with small dramatic roles. He also seems like a pretty decent guy. However, there is no debate in terms of his artistry. He is not an artist by any reasonable definition, and there was more “art” in any five minute segment of the Mickey Mouse Club in which he appeared than during the entire seventy minute span of this trite, facile, flaccid cashgrab.
Excellent piece, Sam. Thanks for doing justice to one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. One mark of Jason Molina’s artistry is the divergence of fan favorites. You can ask twenty people which song is their favorite, and twenty different songs will come up. I revisit his work almost everyday. While I haven’t really ever considered the overarching theme of his music “sadness”, there is certainly an element of privacy in his songs. His ability to write truly meaningful lyrics notwithstanding, Jason Molina’s talent for arrangement may never be duplicated. I cannot think of any other songwriter who was able to utilize the potential of instrumentation (including his own voice) to the extent that he did. While it will be difficult to consider songs that I enjoy so deeply in a new way, just thinking about the level of self-abuse necessary to cause this kind of death at such a young age adds a level of profoundness to many of his lyrics. R.I.P.
I don’t mean any disrespect to you, and I appreciate that I was critical toward your article, but I don’t think that it was completely undeserved. Posters get to come on, hide behind anonymity, and make whatever cracks they want toward columnists, but I don’t want my post to come across that way.
I’m not going to be the guy who tries to define “true fan” or “not a true fan” because that is a devolutionary conversation. My point is more that the inclusion and exclusion of EP’s on the list was questionable. Also, an album like Sad, Sappy Sucker (which is not an album and probably wasn’t intended to be released until a relatively large fan base was salivating for something “new” from the band) is an opportunity to see the early material that was to become the great albums. Though rough-hewn, the instrumentation and creativity far exceed the content of the later MM albums. I was also a little pissed about the Built to Spill knock (in case that didn’t come through above). So, I thought of that as being snarky. Along with the description of Isaac’s voice. You could definitely say that it reminds one of Cartman’s voice, but that is kind of like Southpark comparing Stevie Nicks’ voice to that of a goat. Not exactly reverent. And you don’t have to be reverent, by any means. I would have preferred someone who was a bit more so to write the article.
As far as the “filler” deal, almost half of each of the newer MM albums are filler. Can’t say that about the earlier ones. I won’t disagree about your “Exit Does Not Exist” example, but I do take exception to “Long Distance Drunk”, which I think is just a jammy, better-heard-live track, but not really filler. The Moon and Antarctica is clearly a “concept” album, and I think of “The Cold Part” as a placeholder in the “middle” third of the story. To each his own. So when you make a statement like, “Even their best. . .”, then I assume you are referring to Lonesome Crowded West, and I would challenge you to qualify that album as “stacked with filler”.
As a final explanatory note, describing the rhythm section as “loosey goosey” (drums) and “slinky” (bass) is inaccurate and trite, respectively. (See Also: Truckers Atlas, Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine, It’s All Nice. . .)
First, I’m glad that the ‘gum posted a Modest Mouse list. I’m a bit older than some of the other posters, so “This is a Long Drive. . .” was my entry point to the band. As a result, I really appreciate the song structure and especially the lyrics of the older albums (Building Something. . ., LCW, and This is a Long Drive.) Those stand alone (to me) as three of the strongest albums of the era. If those were the only three that the band put out, I feel like Modest Mouse would be thought of as fondly as NMH by indie fans. I think that The Moon & Antarctica really changed the trajectory of the songcraft. While there are plenty of stylistic similarities, it is the glaring moment of change for me. It is also a near-perfect album. They could’ve stopped there and been one of the best bands of the 90′s-00′s. As it happened, Isaac decided to keep making albums. I enjoy some of their later tracks, and Good News is a pretty decent album. If We Were Dead. . . was released by another band, it would be considered absolute trash. To my ears, it is just lazy and a sad testament to what happens when a voice that so many people want to hear feels compelled to speak when he really has nothing left to say. For me, I would place Sad, Sappy Sucker above Good News and We Were Dead, because I think that we could’ve used a few more “Built to Spill’s” at the time. There are some real parallels in the trajectories of those two bands (Modest Mouse & Built to Spill). They are two of my favorite bands, fronted by two of the more innovative guitarists of our time. Unfortunately, the quality of their work has diminished over time. It would have been nice to a) have someone who understood and appreciated this trajectory make this list, b) have someone who actually liked the band and didn’t feel the need to saturate the article with snarky comments, weak descriptors, and shitty lyrical references make this list.
Tom, exceptional article; one of the best I’ve read here in quite a while. I’ll have to second the nod to the Wire/Treme analogy. I’m not sure that I agree with you regarding Chet White’s role in the songcraft, but still a good point. I am definitely missing JR, though I agree that this is probably exactly the album that Mr. Owens wanted to make. It’s a little hokey at times, but I also agree with some other posters that his songs tend to be “growers”. I don’t think that this album will have nearly the listening longevity with me that previous albums have had.
I have been a really big fan of Owens’ music, but I almost wish that I had never heard or read any interviews with him. Or heard any background on songs. Or had to listen about his chaotic life. The more I learn about him, the less fascinated I am with his art. I still find him to be a very unique songwriter who is able to acknowledge his influences without being simply derivative. He has always seemed just at the cusp of falling victim to his own grandeur (exactly the way that Dan Bejar fell into the void with the last Destroyer album, though I know that a lot of people liked it). Hopefully this will be the farthest that Owens goes in the direction of the “70′s romantic drama”. For me this album, from cheesy sax to questionable length, is a reminder that, genius aside, Owens is still an addict who is really consumed with himself and probably cares very little what any of us thinks about his songs.
Donny-T, you just keep reinforcing my opinion that you are the best poster in the history of posting. Let me ask you this, what about those bears? Do they not make you feel very uncomfortable? Especially when the kid bear comes out from behind the tree with the bits of the “other brand” stuck to his ass-fur?
I, for one, “enjoy the go”. I like to keep it regular. I go dry paper, no bidet, no baby wipes, no medicated pads (though I’m not opposed to any of these ideas, or any other innovations that might be around the corner as a result of this conversation). I might hit the shower afterwards if things got too real. But I’ll tell you what, Donny, I don’t like commercials about it. I don’t like cartoons pitching rump ribbon. I don’t like the insinuation that charmin has put in the work, when it is me who has put in the work. Having said this, I have done the market research, and those fuckers at charmin put out a hell of a square. I’m no stranger to boycotting a product based on how annoying a marketing campaign is, but if you’re using Angel Soft, or Scott, or the store brand, just do yourself a little favor and give the charmin a try.
No, no, that’s actually great. Much improved. You do have a screen name, and I apologize for having not used it. Not a fan of aardvarks, but that is not a good excuse.
As to not having actually addressed anything that I said, aside from arguing that my comments actually “strengthened” your argument, as opposed to addressing any of them; just let me add two things:
1.) I disagree that my comments strengthen your argument and that I said exactly what you said;
2.) when you qualify yourself as an expert, you hold yourself to a bit of a higher standard of commentary. I get that you were responding to a previous poster’s hyperbole, but you shouldn’t have to preface your opinion if you don’t care what other people think about it. One who qualifies himself as an expert shouldn’t need to (and usually doesn’t) resort to simple insult to prove his point.
I certainly did not “pointlessly” belittle nor degrade your comment. I stated several points which were, to my thinking, neither degrading nor belittling. As to the intelligence argument, I know enough to know that I disagree with most of the comments that you post. I didn’t advertise myself as intelligent. You, in an unnecessary way (according to your own assertion that you don’t care what people think of your opinions) advertised your own intelligence within this context. I’m waiting for the pudding. . .
Also, Aaron, I agree. And “sean sean” (whatever that is), would it be too much to ask for you to just repost the gif where you think it belongs? Honestly, the abject laziness of this generation is depressing.
Weirdface, I mainly disagree with most of what you post. Generally speaking, I keep quiet about it. However, when one chooses to just blow up on a “I’ve been listening to music for a really long time, and I’ve got the artifacts to prove it” rant, then I expect them to come with something a bit more nuanced.
Let’s be honest. If you put the “Leaving” track on a continuum with “Skrillex” at one end and “Burial” at the other, this song would fall closer toward the “Burial” end. Now, I am completely neutral toward Skrillex. I don’t hate his music, but would never choose to purchase or play it for myself. Objectively speaking, some percentage of people like his music. You seem to be confusing subjectivity and criticism (in the journalistic sense). If you have amassed thousands (or tens of thousands) of hours listening to “electronic” tracks, bring something to those of us who haven’t. Your description of Skrillex’s music as “generic, simple, and abrasive” is exactly the way that I would describe my attitude toward Kanye and AnCo. But, of course, millions of others love that shit.
Having listened to Skrillex, I would argue that you are confusing the “beat” element of his music with other elements (sample, time signatures, rhythm). I don’t believe that he frequently reuses or recycles entire beats. There are many artists whose styles incorporate repetition, and with those we like we tend to embrace these tendencies as a part of their aesthetic. No artist is more “guilty” of this than the aforementioned Burial. But I thoroughly enjoy Burial. Another artist I love even more, who also incorporates an awful lot of similar elements within a given sequence of releases, is Four Tet.
Having said that “Leaving” as a track sounds more like releases by Burial than previous releases by Skrillex brings me to my next disagreement with your perspective. I don’t believe that Skrillex intentionally “pushes” elements of his tracks to the front. It is clear that a growth area for him is the texture of tracks related to layering elements. His songs tend to sound quite “flat” to me, rather than overly “loud”. The real contrast with an artist like Burial, which can really be heard when listening to a track like “Leaving” aside a track like “Kindred”, is that Burial understands how to saturate a track with layer upon layer of sound elements that really build a depth of listening that rewards repeated listening.
One might argue that Skrillex is simply lazy, or that he just wants to cash in on the dub step movement. However, one might also argue that he is simply a novice in terms of building tracks, which betrays just how complex and nuanced song craft can be. Perhaps Skrillex is moving in a new direction with his music. Or, perhaps, he is saying (incorrectly), “See, I can do that Burial shit, too, but I choose to make dub step differently.” At any rate, I wouldn’t argue that Skrillex is anywhere near approximate to Burial in terms of song craft or even artistry in general, but I do believe that we can elevate the discourse a bit if we are going to actually talk about the fucker. I would agree with bedangldinskii that there is certainly a gang mentality when it comes to liking or disliking certain artists. The fact that you, weirdface, peppered your commentary with hyperbole and even the word “bro” betrays this tendency, which we all fall victim to from time to time.
Somebody’s got a nasty case of the “all about me”‘s.
I don’t want to sound really old or anything, but all the fretting over progress (and piracy) is a bit tired. I’m old enough to have vinyl, 8-tracks, cassettes, CD’s, downloads, etc. in my home. I have bought or “inherited” all of them, but not because of my age group. Many of my friends stole hundreds of CD’s (and tapes), and who among us wasn’t sneaking into shows at the age of 15?
We are grappling with a stark dichotomy, which is music as art v. music as product. There is really a problem separate from whether Grizzly Bear (or some fucking metal band) is getting paid. Many of us put on our big boy pants daily and saunter off to “work” in exchange for some level of compensation. In a similar way, artists have to meet the demands of their own craft (in other words, you get paid in any way that you can in order to keep doing something that moves you). How many shows a year is Grizzly Bear doing? Now go and check how many shows a year (or a day) the Beatles were doing before they “made it”. Music as an artform is very different from music as an industry. The industry side of music is bemoaning the behavior of our youth because corporations have targeted that demographic. Kids are fickle as shit, and I have very little sympathy for record companies et al who have decided to sacrifice the artform (what happened to jazz?) in favor of a more broad, palatable product. They are receiving the natural consequences of their actions (as an industry).
People have always lamented the behavior of youth, but the fact is that our society has grown ever more economical in it’s consumerism. Art is an opiate for the society of its inception, and the way that we are choosing to ingest our medicine has changed. With the exception of some incredibly niche vendors, physical musical artifacts are without much monetary value. Good luck trying to get any cash for those old Marty Robbins records (even from old guys who like Marty Robbins). People just tend to “use” music differently as our timeline progresses. We are now actually able to soundtrack our own lives whether at home, school, work, commute, stores. In some ways an aging guy like me sees this as a violation of the social contract. It is disappointing to believe that something so important (artful music) is threatened by our consumption of it. But, unlike the actual physical space we inhabit, a few dying species of music will not diminish the overall tendency for humans to produce music. Treating music as what it actually is (art) is far superior to allowing an oligarchic bureaucracy to define the ethics of its consumption.
There is clearly a domino effect that means Macy’s might stop paying Stereogum for advertising, which might mean that I will actually have to talk to a physical entity about music being played in a live setting we are both sharing. In essence, the problem of “stealing” music will take care of itself at the extreme margins, at which point we’ll all be reduced to memories of sneaking into a bar to see Pavement because a) we weren’t 21; b) we didn’t have $11.
To echo the lamentations over the D-Tilla (aka “The Don”, aka “Donny Bravo”, aka “Donny Tuffnuts”) snub, maybe this is an opportunity for us to reflect on the genius of donnytilla. Isn’t it better for us to regard his contributions in light of omission rather than have him relegated to, say, 40th position on the list? We all love the D, so let’s just remember our fave Tilla moments from ’12.
Being the self-indulgent cunt that I am, my favorite was the “D-titties” thread.
And if no one else follows up because they’re skiing in Vail or puking in Des Moines, Tilla, you’re better than LDR tromping through pigshit any day.
I remember this one time that Joe Howse wanted to brag on a Stereogum post, but intentionally minimized his boast with the knowledge that fellow posters would not be able to restrain themselves from correcting him, thereby deflecting any negative karma and allowing at least one Stereogum poster to do what he loved the most.
Joe Howse = Ghandi? Yep.
Dude, you threaten to leave more than that drunken uncle who everyone wants to leave but never actually does. I don’t hate you or anything; you’ve just become the underscore that cries wolf. Leave, stay, whichever, but your existential crises has become that beautiful cake that would be delicious if you would just eat the motherfucker already.
I hate to take a jab at either DOOM or Why?, but the common bond for those two releases (aside from them being disappointing) is that they just come across as lazy in comparison to previous releases. Mumps, etc. has its moments (‘Strawberries’ is pretty brilliant, as an example), but it is not what we was lookin’ for.
Either: From your shitty “article” to your shitty list, this is trash from the top. DOOM is one of the best of a generation. While most “rappers” are spitting the same trite lines over increasingly forgettable tracks, DOOM has continued (until recently) to push forward. To place Born Like This at the bottom is to avoid the fact that it has one of the strongest tracks (of any genre) of the past decade. This list also sabotages the trajectory of this guy’s career. By his nature, DOOM is an uneven and sometimes incomprehensible artist. With the exception of Madvilliany, there is not one DOOM-related album that is great front to back. However, the great moments have clearly gotten greater over the course of his career. There is only one album that lacks any great moments at all, and it certainly isn’t Born Like This. I don’t really want to belabor the point, but though I love DOOM above any other “rap” act going at this point, JJ DOOM is pretty much unlistenable and clearly the worst album of his career. Along with Why?’s forgettable p.o.s., it was the most disappointing release of the year.
The typical Stereogum list troll move with Madvilliany is too predictable.
Or my other comment option: “I know! Let’s make a list of DOOM albums by pulling them randomly out of my ass after having inserted them randomly into my ass. Then let’s smear the rest across the page and call it ‘music journalism.’”
And That’s That
The Stereogum readers are as bad at making lists as the Stereogum listmakers are at making lists. You’ve taught us well, Stereogum.
Wrong list, bro.
Two Words: Rubber Johnny
Not really sure about yours, but, “Part of the meaning of life is to bitch on music blogs.” would be my answer. Judging from the number of “I hate Mumford & Sons” comments and “This is all NMH’s fault” comments, then I would say many others have also co-opted that take. Not to say that the majority of people are right. Just saying that like-minded people normally congregate in the same place (though I most certainly do not share Stereogum’s overt love of a) Radiohead; b) Animal Collective; c) Lists written by trolls), and I think that we can congregate around some more stimulating topics than some of the ones posted recently. I thought that the Sufjan piece was well-written, but shit, I thought that guy died like two years ago.
And I know that you were just being a bitch with your comment, spenny, so you also enjoy bitching on music blogs.
I wish I could upvote your post several more times.
And, as much as I hate agreeing w/underscore, I agree with underscore. If we want artists paid, we have to pay them.
I use pandora as a service. As a result, I have purchased several songs that I would not have otherwise. It is not a perfect model, but I’m too old to drive three hours and pay $30 (plus the cost of drinking to eliminate the awkwardness of being an old guy at a show) to see a band that I kind of like. I’m much happier buying the couple of songs that I prefer, and leaving the concert hopping to the teeners. I also have trouble buying “CD’s” in record stores, because there aren’t any fucking record stores anymore.
I’m not sure why the marketing opportunities provided by vendors like pandora are not mentioned more often in these sorts of articles. I rarely read comments on pandora, but most of the ones that I have read are a) people who hadn’t heard of the band before (and are seemingly now likely to purchase some music); b) people who “love this band” (and presumably have paid for the music); c) trolls.
And there is another ugly, but very simple, fact. Markets simply don’t support thousands of mediocre competitors. It would be fantastic if everyone could be in a band and “make a living”. However, being in a band does not mean that “being an artist” is one’s job or career. If artists make art to make money before they make art to make art, then there is a serious disconnect somewhere.