the very best from independent music podcasting

2/25/2005

A call for feedback

The Reader has been up and running for a few weeks now, and I would really like to know if anyone is reading it and, if you are, what comments or suggestions you have. I particularly want to hear your opinions about format, article length, and frequency of publication, but please don't feel you have to limit your comments to those topics. It doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with me, have praise or criticism for the Reader, whatever...I want to hear from you.

Please leave any comments you have by clicking on the comment link at the end of this post, or you can send me an email or contact me using Skype or AIM using the links in the sidebar. You can also go back and leave comments on the reviews of Lorenzo's Music and Gidgets Ga-Ga.

Jason is taking a well-deserved break, so there was no Insomnia Radio podcast last night. One way or another, though, there will be a new edition of the Sleepless Reader here on Tuesday. Stay tuned for more details!

2/22/2005

TSR #2 - Gidgets Ga-Ga

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

In her review of Gidgets Ga-Ga’s 2003 album Don’t Boris on chicagogigs.com, 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 easy...you 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?