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TSR #2 - Gidgets Ga-Ga

Gidgets Ga-Ga - Don't Boris
A quick note to music critic Katherine Raz…

In her review of Gidgets Ga-Ga’s 2003 album Don’t Boris on, Raz makes this band out to be another pop cliché, a hackneyed failure of “stale and flat” riffs “echo[ing] the eternal jangle of another alternapoop commercial stuck somewhere in the FM frequencies between 94.7 and 101.1.”

Not surprisingly, she supports her statements using the most hackneyed, stale cliché of cultural criticism. It's try it. First, draw parallels between individual elements of the music/film/art you're reviewing to other popular (and by that implication, less respectable) music, films, or art. Then, proceed to use these parallels (which are, of course, a product of the critic’s mind and not the work itself) as reason to pan the work wholesale and ignore its intrinsic merits.

This isn’t to say that I want you to ignore Raz’s review. On the contrary, I respect much of what she has written about other bands, so I want you to read every word. Then I want you to listen to Gidgets Ga-Ga and see just how wrong she is about this band’s infectious brand of alternative pop.

There isn’t any question that Gidgets Ga-Ga’s sound shows definite, although hard to qualify, changes between their 2000 self-titled EP and Don’t Boris (both are available on the iTunes Music Store and from other sources listed on the band’s webpage). The overall tone of Don’t Boris is maybe a little brighter. The edge maybe a little softer. But whereas Raz considers this to be evidence of an impending sell-out, I hear it as a natural part of the band’s evolution. A baby step away from the British Invasion pop feel that permeated the Gidgets Ga-Ga EP hardly worries me that they’re trying to conduct a Hootie-and-the-Blowfish makeover. The songwriting is still good, the vocals and instrumentals are still fresh, and the production is still quality.

What someone might be left feeling, however, is the familiar sensation that change sucks, regardless of whether it is objectively for the better or for the worse. In a way, it is probably a little unfortunate that the band cut what I consider far and away to be their best track, Belmont, so early on. The quality of this song appears to be the one thing that Raz and I agree on, and it’s not hard to understand why someone might get nervous at any suggestion of a move away from this winning style.

Still, I know better than to want a band to stay in one place musically. It is that characteristic stasis of many "successful" bands that has driven me away from commercial radio and (thankfully) into the world of independently produced music. I want Gidgets Ga-Ga to continue exploring new ideas, new sounds, new songs.

Of course, Ms. Raz would agree with me that anything less would be the true sell-out. Wouldn't she?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is essentially my issue with a lot of the American music podcasts that around at the moment. 80% of it is very generic 'Offspring' type rock which you can hear on mainstream music while the other 20% are the real gems which should be getting the additional exposure. I'm not sure whether it's indicative of the strength that commercial radio has in the US - where bands feel obliged to follow the 'formula'.

2/24/2005 5:27 AM


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