nate patrin.

April 13, 2009, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Criticism

I’m going to this year’s EMP Pop Conference up in Seattle, which has become a sort of annual tradition since I have friends who live up there or are otherwise attending, plus maybe this will be the year I work up the nerve to talk to Robert Christgau for more than two minutes. I have also pledged to catch Laser Daft Punk at the Seattle Laser Dome, because, c’mon, it’s Laser Daft Punk. I may blog from the road if anything particularly interesting happens; otherwise you can catch me engaging in miscellaneous Twitteration.


April 7, 2009, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Criticism, Music

1. There is some musical act you’ve heard of but not actually really listened to before. His/her/their first/second/sixth album is rumored by your critic pals and anyone else with the tendency to closely follow the album-leak scene to be Hot Shit. Since the act is a foreign entity to you, possibly even outside your general area of interest or at least on the back burner thanks to an ongoing obsession with some different microgenre or artist or scene or another, you hear the buzz but do not follow up on it.

2. Reviews start to pour in. They tend to be 0.5 points or half a star or a “+” away from the highest attainable score used by that particular review system. Names you haven’t paid much attention to previously are attached to feats of artistic profundity and spectacular craftsmanship, and are subsequently compared to other great musicians (many of which you like) or maybe films or physical sensations or even entire periods in one’s life where everything is as good as it will ever be. You, the non-fan, are now intrigued.

3. You download the album. It is, in all likelihood, a minor expenditure if that. There is a high possibility that you simply download it off a P2P network or a torrent or Rapidshare, therefore taking money out of the equation entirely and putting your total potential lost investment solely in the realm of time.

4. The album stinks. It’s grating. You don’t get it. You threw it on when you were walking outside in 5 degree weather or riding on crowded public transportation distracted by a bunch of chattering cell-phone idiots or getting decimated at a video game. This music is grating, it’s wrong, it’s derivative, it’s stupid, it’s completely out of your comfort zone, fuck this shit. Deleted.

5. Vindication! Blogs have caught on to the fallacy of hype and they, too, are calling bullshit! Emboldened by the notion that you are not, in fact, alone, you — like 10 or 40 or 275 others — weigh in with the fact that you cannot believe how anyone could like this garbage, that these stupid hipster douchebags will glom onto anything just to appear ahead of the curve when they could be listening to something less pretentious and, like, genuine.

6. You eventually forget about the album. “Eventually,” assuming you are not in the immediate vicinity of the end of the year and its deluge of critics’ and readers’ polls, is usually about two months. Possibly less time if you suddenly become attuned to an album you really like.

7. Another album has entered the hype cycle! Repeat steps 1-5.

8. HOWEVER, while you are on the brink of repeating step 6 with the album introduced in step 7, the album from step 1 suddenly reenters your mind. Maybe someone whose tastes you trust mentions it. Possibly you are simply bored and/or curious. You idly wonder if you did not give this hyped album enough of a chance. You download it for a second time, again at no cost to you monetarily.

9. The album turns out to be pretty okay. Not spectacular, but fine. Maybe somewhere between a third to half of the songs are removed from your library, never to be heard again, but the rest is tolerable. There may even be a song or two that get integrated into your “Favorites” playlist. You still don’t buy into the 9.x or the ****1/2 or the A, but you can at least get close enough to empathizing with someone that would like the album enough to give it that grade. You start caring less about the things in this album you don’t like and more about the things you appreciate.

This post brought to you by today’s revelation that I actually enjoy roughly 2/5 of Merriweather Post Pavilion.