Posts tagged "criticism"

Flamboyant masculinity is not common in Australia; our celebrated “mateship” only really functions when a man is much the same as his neighbour. The great dynamism of You Am I, at least on their early records, came from the ordinariness of suburban life as directed through Rogers’ blowtorch charisma and, at times, his rage. He was sexy, and he was angry – an almost irresistible combination – windmilling and pirouetting across the stage, but his lyrics were wry, tender and generous. In his narrative sympathy, his eye (and ear) for small sadnesses, Rogers closely resembled his idol, The Kinks’ Ray Davies.

Anwyn Crawford, “You Am I and the New Nostalgia,” The Monthly (October 2013)

A touch awkward to write it out, since I work with her, but it’s amazing what a great critic, and a great writer, Anwyn is.

From the same piece:

Sound As Ever wasn’t that great an album, even 20 years ago, but it does contain two genuinely great songs: ‘Berlin Chair’ and ‘Jaimme’s Got a Gal’. The latter remains as moving an examination of male friendship as I have ever heard, rivalled only by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s crushingly sorrowful ‘I See a Darkness’. “Jaimme’s got a girl / Don’t think things gonna be the same,” sings Rogers at half-volume. “He ain’t coming out and drinking tonight / I think he’s gonna change his name.” It’s a love triangle not often broached in popular music, a woman interrupting the poignant, unacknowledged intimacy between two men.


Saul Austerlitz:

I spend most of my time, professionally speaking, writing about movies and books, and during quiet moments, I like to entertain myself by imagining what might happen if the equivalent of poptimism were to transform those other disciplines. A significant subset of book reviewers would turn up their noses at every mention of Jhumpa Lahiri and James Salter as representatives of snobbish, boring novels for the elite and argue that to be a worthy critic, engaged with mass culture, you would have to direct the bulk of your critical attention to the likes of Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer. 

lol

Saul Austerlitz:

I spend most of my time, professionally speaking, writing about movies and books, and during quiet moments, I like to entertain myself by imagining what might happen if the equivalent of poptimism were to transform those other disciplines. A significant subset of book reviewers would turn up their noses at every mention of Jhumpa Lahiri and James Salter as representatives of snobbish, boring novels for the elite and argue that to be a worthy critic, engaged with mass culture, you would have to direct the bulk of your critical attention to the likes of Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer.

lol


Still think this is one of the better things we’ve ever done.

Still think this is one of the better things we’ve ever done.


Note, however, that “difficult” is not the same thing as “valuable.” Solving a Rubik’s Cube is difficult, but not particularly valuable to the world.

Nate Silver, “What the Fox Knows,” FiveThirtyEight, March 17, 2014

Oh, man, totally appropriating this completely obvious metaphor for future use. I’ve struggled to find the perfect way to describe how inessential difficult things can be, (usually settling on calling it a “party trick”) and this is ideal. Your guitar solo? Rubik’s cube. Hitting the right note in the studio every single time without Auto-Tune? Rubik’s cube. Speed rapping and beat boxing? Motherfucking Rubik’s cube.


U2 – “Discotheque”

Good advices.

She sang a rousing version of “Politically Uncorrect,” which is, perhaps fittingly, an un-protest song. (“I’m for the Bible/ And I’m for the flag,” she sang, as if she were expecting a fight.)

Kelefa Sanneh, “Gretchen Wilson Sings at Radio City Music Hall,” The New York Times, June 17, 2006

Looking for an old article — not this one — and I was reminded yet again why I love Sanneh so much. This is perfect: he gets out of the way, detailing Wilson’s intent plainly and fairly, yet he still finds room for his own voice. “As if she were expecting a fight” is such a mild rebuke, but those seven words — such marvellous economy! — deflate Wilson’s entire argument, and yet they aren’t rebuttal, they don’t oppose per se, but rather permit her stance to crumple through its own weakness. I wish I could write like this.


Laura Marling: utterly boring, or utterly, terrifyingly bored?

katherine st asaph: ONE ALBUM ONE DAY: Dec 1. Haim, Days Are Gone 

Ooooh.

(Guys, to make up for the way I unfeelingly extracted this parenthetical aside from a great post on a completely different subject, you need to now go read Katherine’s writing about Haim.)


thesinglesjukebox:

KANYE WEST - BOUND 2
[7.36]


We made it to Thanksgiving, maybe we can make it to Amnesty Week…

Jonathan Bradley: Kanye spends Yeezus waiting to exhale, and “Bound 2” is the relief after all the not-breathing and gasping. For a song featuring Ye on his worst behavior — intermingling sex and violence and romance, quoting Martin — “Bound 2” never fails to be anything but blissful, with Brenda Lee always ready to scold West’s silliness with an indulgent “uh-huh, honey.” Ain’t nobody perfect, and Kanye sounds emancipated by being bound, be it in the sense of tied or destined. Charlie Wilson is the plain romantic West can’t be, but the way the song shudders into the chorus makes even Kanye’s threats to turn-the-plane-around-with-no-Jamaica-for-anyone sound moon-eyed. He’s been here before — try Graduation-era bonus “Bittersweet” — but he’s never sounded so comfortable, so content in this territory. He’s tired. We’re tired. Yeezus wept.

[10]

[Read, comment and vote on The Singles Jukebox ]

Not thrilled by my blurb here — a [10], like a [0], deserves a [10] blurb — and this isn’t it.[*] Thinking about it more on the train, I figured:

1. I do love the jump-cuts between the samples — which makes this much more new Kanye than old Kanye to me, soul sample be damned — and I’m glad I got at that with “the way the song shudders into the chorus…”

2.  But, as well as “Bittersweet,” I reckon the other touchstone here, though in relief form, is “Devil in a New Dress.” That’s heady in the same way “Bound 2” is, but it’s also venomous. Cross the anxious swoon of “Bittersweet” with the narrative intricacy of “Devil” and you arrive at “Bound 2.”

 3. What really makes this song work is not that it’s romantic, but that it’s intimate. Yeezy sounds like he’s addressing an audience of one, which is exceedingly rare in pop. That redeems all the dumb shit and the puffed up shit and the mundane shit. “Have you ever asked your bitch for other bitches,” says the guy who rapped about telling a girl who bought him a sweater for Christmas “do better” — well, maybe he did, but that was their thing. Kanye makes his verses so personable: not just through the use of the plural first person, which really does bind (“hey, we made it, Thanksgiving!”), but also the singular second. “This that what-we-do-don’t-tell-your-mom-shit” sounds like he has a specific mom in mind. And all that makes the Jerome parts better: Not Yeezy with a dumb impersonation, but something that could be a part of a relationship. Maybe she indulges his Martin schtick. Maybe she thinks it’s funny. Maybe she’s just confused by it. But when Ye says, “Damn, what would Jeromey-romey-romey-rome think?” he’s asking her, not us.

——

* For a start: “waiting to exhale” is corny not clever; at least “worst behavior” is appropriately allusive. And Patrick gestured at all the emotional stuff far more vividly than I did; where I repeated “romance” twice, he was saying things like “dizzy in love” and “Charlie Wilson’s private-fireworks-display vocals.” And I’m not sure my outro means anything, as important as that part is in the song.


Here’s what I’ll admit: many boys have a really hard time with subjectivity. To grapple with your own subjectivity is to grapple with the subjectivities of others. It’s to see the world not as legible, stable, conquerable but as resistant, shifting, and fundamentally unknowable. It diminishes your certainty and authority. It leaves you vulnerable. This is a human problem, being a person among persons, but one that many boys have trouble admitting even the basic tenets of. And so they call for an objectivity that has no foundation except received opinion, that seeks to diminish individual experience, and that turns out to not even exist.

Objectivity is very convenient for the straight white middle class male gamer. Videogame culture encourages him to see his own subjectivity as the standard, as objective. He’ll invoke science, economics, statistics, and all manner of folk wisdom to defend his little kingdom. He’ll decry any challenge as ‘politics’ or ‘bad business’ or ‘whining’ or ‘here we go again’. He never considers how often objectivity is a cover for a dominant subjectivity, for a subjectivity that stays in power by not being recognized as such. He fears what will happen if the established order breaks down and the Vox take control.

On Videogame Reviews” (via occupiedterritories)

tomewing:

This whole piece (spinning out of criticism of a game I’ve never played into a discussion of videogame criticism, and criticism in general) is excellent.

Yes: “…objectivity is a cover for a dominant subjectivity, for a subjectivity that stays in power by not being recognized as such.”

This whole piece is indeed fantastic (and I don’t care at all about video games) as a meditation on the value and possibilities of criticism. Highly recommended.



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