Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kickin' rock critic ass

The kids from Straightener.

Cultural scripts, I suppose, by their very nature tend to last. Still, some seem to have outlasted their usefulness. The rock-as-rebellion script, in particular, is by now as old as (but with fewer teeth than) Methuselah. But even as its sustaining myth has fossilized, rock criticism has become almost insanely florid, an unbridled riot of idiotic superlatives (or negatives). Band after derivative band is either hyped or dissed (Hello, Franz Ferdinand! Goodbye, the Strokes!) in a chorus of critical voices as vapid as they are articulate. I'm reminded of this by an article in today's Slate in which crit and myth are tightly intertwined - "jTunes: The Insanely Great Songs Apple Won't Let You Hear," by one Paul Collins, which begins:

"Killer Tune" is just that: It sounds like the Killers, and it is killer. It's one of the most popular iTunes downloads for the band Straightener—but you haven't heard it.

can't hear it.

Ah, a clever 180, there, eh? You can't hear it. You're oppressed. It's time to - yes - RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE (even if it's your Apple!).

And just what is it you're missing, exactly? According to Collins, the Japanese cuts you can't buy from iTunes (but can hear if you switch your country setting), are "by turns bracingly experimental and jubilantly retro . . . revelatory . . . blistering." Okay - I checked out Straightener on Youtube. They turn out to be a fun, smart little band that knows a good grunge hook when they hear one. But "blistering"? "Revelatory"? It's enough to make me want to kick some big fat rock critic ass - that is if I could stop laughing.

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