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I am a Los Angeles-based twentysomething. I have a profession, and I have a secret life in music, and this blog isn't about any of that. I like Blogger because I can't read what you're thinking.

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Thursday, September 2   >>

IT'S ABOUT MUSIC: A MANIFESTO FOR MUSIC BLOGGING

From RiffCity:
The most prominent paid [music journalists] will not give me reasons why they like these songs as compositions, productions, performances — anything other than as signifiers of various contexts that sit well with them. No explanation of mechanics, how the songs surprise in new ways [...]
[...] Rock criticism as ‘criticism of music’ remains a non-fiction fan-fiction enterprise. It is a flaccid, indecisive farce — neither informed nor informative nor entertaining.
----

I'm ditching the academic argument for sake of being REAL: There are few things in the world that irritate me more than shitty (not all, but only the majority of) music op-ed written by non-musicians.
"I'M TOTES FEELING THIS NU WAVE THROWBACK TO A MARTY MCFLY ERA, WHEN IT WAS TOTLY KEWL TO HAVE A HUVERBOARD..."
It's, like, "Who the FUCK are YOU to be telling ME what's good and what isn't? When did YOU ever play a show? When have YOU written and/or produced a single song, let alone an entire album? Where's YOUR cred that tells me that you REALLY know music? No, not like, 'Oh, I own Pet Sounds in mono and have been to Pehrspace and stuff' but REALLY, REALLY, REALLY know about music?"
"SO LIKE IN ARCADE FIRE'S 'SUBURBAN WAR' THE INTRO EVOKES THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS DEPRAVITY OF BLINK 182'S 'ADAM'S SONG...' IT'S IN A MINOR KEY SO THIS IS OBVZ..."
Listen, if you're in rock journalism/blogging for the free tickets and free drinks and all the PR ass-kissing in the world plus opportunities to hang out with famous people who don't give a shit about who you are, all without caring about the quality of writing and the REAL stories that are out there in today's ever-changing music world, you better quit the fucking game. You'll soon realize that everything you're doing is a big and empty waste of time.
"SO, LAHHHKK...WHAT'S T3H CRAZIEST THING U EVER DID ON TOUR? LOL!"
What you're providing us--100 variations on telling us that something is either "exciting" or "boring," or other irrelevant bits about how some music fits into the "big picture"--is valueless.

You know why? Because 1. People can already make up their minds about what they like in a matter of an iTunes sample

and

2. When the fuck was the last time anyone EVER picked up a record and said, "You know what? I'm going to listen to this to feel like more of a feminist." Or, like, "You know what? I'm going to listen to this because it reflects the values of east coast ideals?" NEVER. THAT'S WHEN.
"THIS IS AN AMBITIOUS EFFORT..."
Music is about LISTENING. Hey, BREAKING NEWS: When us musicians write songs, you know what's the LAST thing we're thinking about 95% of the time? LYRICS. YET THAT'S THE ONLY THING YOU ASSHOLES CAN EVER WRITE ABOUT BECAUSE THERE'S NOTHING ELSE YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO DISSECT. YOU COULDN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE FROM A POWER CHORD AND A FULLY DIMINISHED CHORD, THEREFORE YOUR ONLY UNDERSTANDING OF MUSIC IS THE VERY LAST THING 99% OF US MUSICIANS EVER REALLY CARE FOR. All we want our lyrics to do is to avoid sounding stupid at all costs! That's the goal! SERIOUSLY!*

*SERIOUSLY!!!! (And if we hit something profound, trust me, it's luck.)

When we write, we write for IMPACT, and no matter how good lyrics are or how "important" the culture surrounding it is, the worth of any song will be how cool/dope/good/interesting it sounds to the sole listener, and you'll never be able to convince us otherwise UNLESS YOU TALK ABOUT THE FUCKING MUSIC FOR ONCE.
"ONE OF THE MOST SUFFERING WORKS TO HAVE LAID A NEW BLUEPRINT IN ITS QUEST TO FIND THE [HISTORICAL REFERENCE THAT IS REALLY NULL TO MOST ANYONE WHO REALLY UNDERSTANDS HOW AWESOME THAT 5/4 BRIDGE IS.]"
No, you don't have give us some shop-talk about counterpoint study or greater topics in western harmony (A MAN CAN DREAM...), but you can certainly talk about instrumentation. However, YOU KINDA HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT THEM. SIMPLY TELLING US WHAT YOU THINK WITHOUT ANY CONTEXT IN THE ACTUAL, MEATY WRITING IS NOT ENOUGH. My friend Rob is a fantastic reviewer of music and he's never even picked up a guitar or had a music lesson in his life. He just knows what to listen for and why some musical devices should be noted.

Wanna know why bands are dicks to reporters most of the time? Because you guys never talk to them about music.

You know what happened when I asked a VERY prominent musician about why he changed guitar sounds from one record to another? I mean, seriously, this isn't that meaty of a music-question, more of a tone question, but whatever.

Well, anyway, you know what he said? First, it was like a bucket of ice was thrown on him, and then he stiffened up and said, "OH. WELL... Yes! I'm glad you asked me about that ...I THOUGHT NO ONE CARED. YOU'RE SERIOUSLY THE FIRST GUY TO ASK ME ABOUT THAT ON THIS ENTIRE PRESS TOUR. AND, UH, FRANKLY, THIS RECORD WAS WRITTEN BECAUSE I FOUND THIS NEW GUITAR TONE."

W
T
F

I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT. THAT'S REALLY FUCKING SAD.

We musicians write for sound, that's it. And sound can't have plot holes. Plot holes and inaccuracies and other pitfalls of bad storytelling don't exist in sound. Sound just is, and you either like it or you don't, so stop trying to convince us to dig a little deeper just so that you can justify getting paid/swag for talking about something you really have no understanding of. Unless you want to write about WHY bands write, then your rock journalism is worth nothing more than SEO juice for the guy who owns the site and is making BANK behind your back BUT THAT'S AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT STORY IN ITSELF.

GO NOW. CHANGE YOUR WRITING.