a word here if you don't mind

Okay here is the deal. Our new cool hip Internet-driven bloggy-mountain-breakdown everyone-is-a-critic thing is great in theory but it has led to a very strange dynamic in terms of rockism.

Oh crap now I have to define rockism. I'm going to say here that it means this: "The notion that that music appreciation, no matter the genre, has to follow a 'rock aesthetic'; to wit: 1) music is best if it is somehow 'authentic' and 'real'; 2) that there are certain records or songs that form an accepted and acceptable canon that just about everyone agrees on; 3) that records or albums that do not fit this aesthetic are somehow inherently bad; 4) that this all actually matters; 5) that it is okay to think along these lines." I know this is a crummy definition but so what.

So here's my problem: we're all so desperate to avoid this kind of thinking (because we're modern don't you know, we're hip and happening, future moving a mile a minute etc.) that we have no patience anymore for the transitional record. Case in point: the new Over the Rhine record, due out in March. I like this record and will be reviewing it, but it only makes sense in the most gross "rockist" terms: a.k.a.: it tells the story, basically, of the couple that makes up this band,and how they have decided to save their relationship by scaling back their ambitions, it's a whole re-connection to each other thing, etc. NONE OF WHICH will make any sense to people who don't know that they're married to each other, that they almost broke through to a big audience last year, that they almost broke up in the course of their tour, etc.

We used to care about details like this: this song must be to this ex-girlfriend, this sound is a new one struggling for air so we thought we'd try it out for a bit, this album mourns a war that the singer hates, etc. Now these biographical / career-history details are irrelevant. It's all about PLEASE US NOW, ENTERTAIN US, knives out, worst.album.ever, etc. Maybe this is a good thing, in fact probably. But I'm going to miss growing along with a band, judging records by earlier sounds and efforts (without being beholden to the past or anything), being able to appreciate something using my memory instead of just my snap critical judgment WHICH IS ALWAYS RIGHT etc.

Oh well. C'est la vie.


jake said...

Mr. Cibula,

This comment begins last summer on a stretch of road between Ashland and Chiloquin, Oregon. I was on the northwest shore of Klamath Lake, pulling in a repeater of KLCC (Eugene-based public radio) when they played "Love Trap" by Susheela Raman. As I know you know, a hypnotic and unbelievably original track. I was going to a meeting with the Tribal Council of the Klamath Tribes to talk about sustainable forestry, tribal land repatriation, et al. Fast forward to two days ago when I was reorganizing mp3 files on my computer and pulling in some digital archives off the kexp.org site, when that song percolated up from my subconscious (I just simply lost track of it in my brain given work and child rearing responsibilities in my existence in Portland, Oregon) and I realized I needed to dial it in. So I remembered the track and artist, googled it to find a deal or bargain, and was immediately pulled into the world of Matt Cibula by way of your review of that album (which by the way was an incredible read on its own). So that is my sordid tale.

Oh, and the other thing. This is Craig Jacobson who knew you once when we both were kids, and now we have some of our own (2 boys, 7 and 4). I believe it was Britney Spears, or was it Dean Wareham, who once said, "Whu-dju talkin' bout, Willis?" No, that was Gary Coleman. I meant a more poignant blog close-out quote, like Hall, or was it Oates, who said, "Keep on truckin'." Peace out. Please forward any post-Lakoffian notions on reenergizing the progressive left, and in return I will send you a taco burger from Taco Man. I shit you not, bitch.

fekfejgopej said...

I think the story tied in to a real-life event makes the record sound intriguing; it gives it life beyond describing the sound beyond terms like sonic event or as something that will get you/your friends moving in the club. Within those parameters, 'authentic' isn't rockist at all.

fekfejgopej said...

oops I meant within the parameters you describe, matt, so I think ppl still care about what can be affecting. or at least, readers won't deny its effects on others.

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