I'm on the fence about the new Neko Case... for now...
I’m a pretty big Neko Case fan. I’ve been looking forward to Middle Cyclone for a while now, and a couple days ago i finally obtained it.
I’m about 3 or 4 listens deep and while the album is getting better the more i listen to it, as of right now, my official review is an unenthusiastic “It’s good.” Don’t get me wrong, a “just good” Neko Case album is better than most other albums, but my standard is a bit higher. Blacklisted, Furnace Room Lullaby, and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood have raised the bar in my mind so high i guess there was bound to be a let down sooner or later.
I’m curious to see how i feel about this album in a month. At least i know the album cover can’t get any more amazing.
In defense of N.A.S.A.'s recent crappy review on Pitchfork
Let me start by saying that i admit to being a Pitchforkmedia.com junkie. It’s not that i hang on every single word anyone from Pitchfork says, it’s just that they happens to be the most comprehensive music webzine/blog/thing/news source that encompasses my music interests. What it boils down to is Pitchfork’s music opinions and tastes, in a very general and broad sense, match closer to my own than 99% of other music magazines, print or online. For example, I thought (and still think) Arcade Fire’s Funeral was just okay, but still I think it’s fair to say i agree with Pitchfork the majority of the time. And it’s not that i have to agree with them all the time or anything, it’s just that, in general, i trust their opinion. Moving on…
That being said, every once in a while i’ll be reading a review or column on Pitchfork and think, “Really?! Seriously?! Come on!!!” and become upset at Pitchfork’s audacity. And i’m not talking about Paavoharju’s Laulu Laakson Kukista not being included in their best albums of 2008 list. I’ve come to terms with that.
My current point of outrage is with a recent review of the N.A.S.A. album The Spirit of Apollo which was given a 1.6 by the reviewer. To give you some perspective on that 1.6 Madonna’s Hard Candy got a 5.3, the new Weezer (the Red Album) received a 4.7, and the Scarlett Johansson album of Tom Waits covers got a 5.5!
I won’t go into details of how the review tries to defend this rating (it doesn’t do a great job), but the gist is that The Spirit of Apollo is just a weak attempt at these two producers, Squeak E. Clean (Sam Spiegel) and DJ Zegon (Zé Gonzales), to show off the fact that they could get an obscene amount of musical heavy hitters to appear on their album, because they’re Hollywood people and have crazy connections or something.
Fine. I’ll admit the guest appearances are a bit ridiculous: Lykke Li, David Byrne, George Clinton, M.I.A., Chuck D, Ghostface, and Tom Waits to name a very small percentage. I’m not going to say the album isn’t cluttered in this way, and i’m definitely not claiming that this album is awesome in any way either. It is, however, most definitely decent. David Byrne’s performance on “The People Tree” is pretty great. Tom Waits on “Spacious Thoughts” is straight up kick ass. And “Whachadoin’” is without question one of my jams of the moment.
I guess the thing that really bothers me about how Pitchfork trashed this album is the inconsistency with other reviews. I know it’s a comedy album, and can be treated differently, but the Lonely Island’s Incredibad was awarded with at 7.7!!! Really, Pitchfork?! Really?!
Incredibad’s review basically tells of how hilarious it is and how music quality wasn’t sacrificed. That’s fine, and I actually agree with that. My beef is that there are some REALLY REALLY lame parts of that album also. “Sax Man” just for starters. More importantly the weak parts of Incredibad are far superior in their horribleness than ANYTHING on The Spirit of Apollo. There’s no way to justify the discrepancy here. (This seems like a good time to revisit this article.)
The bottom line to me is that Pitchfork in the past has done a decent job of being somewhat balanced in their reporting and reviews, and this current situation is a glaring stain and is just really bugging me, because despite some legendary tracks on Incredibad, i find the Spirit of Apollo to be a far superior album, if nothing else because of the lack of cringing that i experience when i listen to it. But i guess these days, Pitchfork is a lot like Kevin Garnett…