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Your worst favorite band sucks
November 17, 2008 10:07 AM   Subscribe

"Beautiful Sunrises" is a pretty good litmus test for whether or not you like music for reasons I can get behind. If you don't appreciate "Beautiful Sunrises" as a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression, then you probably like a lot of bullshit music. If I could spend five minutes of my life as completely into something as the vocalist of Complete is about being the vocalist of Complete, well then I'd think I had reached some sort of life accomplishment pinnacle. - Steve Albini (quote via this electrical audio thread)

More Complete:

"Hot as Hell"

"Dream-Ing"

"Into the Night"

The interview

and the immortal classic "Hoogie Boogie Land"

The (somewhat douchebaggy) "Behind the Music" from the guy who taped the original footage

And finally...the reunion.
posted by anazgnos (135 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like a lot of bullshit music.
posted by aubilenon at 10:14 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bullshit music lover here.
posted by i_cola at 10:15 AM on November 17, 2008


Steve Albini thinks my favorite band sucks.
posted by weston at 10:16 AM on November 17, 2008


I think Steve Albini's favorite band sucks.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:17 AM on November 17, 2008


I appreciate "Beautiful Sunrises" as a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression, but I'm never going to listen to more than the 5 second sample I just did.
posted by DU at 10:18 AM on November 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


I subscribe more to Duke Ellington's method of music evaluation than to that of the esteemed Mr. Albini. Also, Steve Albini does not say nice things about Urge Overkill, so I have a hard time saying nice things about him.
posted by The World Famous at 10:19 AM on November 17, 2008


I don't appreciate "Beautiful Sunrises" as a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression. I can recognize that it is a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression, but that alone is not enough to make me appreciate it. I can tell that the vocalist for Complete is totally into his band, but he'd be totally into his band no matter what, I feel. Like, if he had to start another band, I bet he's be totally into that band, too. It's cool to be into your own art, but if your reason for doing so is "Because I'm the one who made it" then it's going to be harder to convince people who didn't make the music to find their own reasons for liking it.

Disclaimer: I probably like a lot of bullshit music.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


That was pretty much exactly what I expected.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am disappointed that Steve Albini dislikes my choice of music. I plan to send him a strongly worded letter.
posted by newfers at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, this could in all likelihood turn into a "provocative thing Steve Albini said at one point or another" thread, in which case we could get 250 comments, easy.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:21 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is a drugs thing, isn't it?
posted by Richard Daly at 10:22 AM on November 17, 2008


"Does my music taste make my head look fat?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm detecting a thread to this thread...
posted by i_cola at 10:24 AM on November 17, 2008


The first couple chords made me think it might be halfway decent. But it wasn't.
posted by jonmc at 10:25 AM on November 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


This is like when that random dude in a bar comes up to you and says "I don't like your car, buddy. Chevvies are where it's at." I mean, so what?
posted by maxwelton at 10:28 AM on November 17, 2008


That's fine as far as it goes, Mr. Albini, but this is a much better litmus test. If you don't appreciate the Ledge, I don't care what kind of bullshit music you like. It will be pistols at dawn in any case. And as you can plainly see, the Ledge is already dressed for the duel.
posted by gompa at 10:29 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thinking "Beautiful Sunrises" is a pretty good litmus test for whether or not I like music for reasons you can get behind is a pretty good litmus test for whether or not you're a doggedly persistent oversimplifying peabrain for reasons I don't, in the affirmative case, even give a shit about.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:31 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Weird, this got passed around to me about a year ago and everyone involved had a good laugh ... and now it comes around again with Albini's recommendation? I guess I can see where he's coming from, in a Lester Bangs on The Godz sort of way... probably a lot of bands could and should take some inspiration from Complete's total dedication to their awful, awful music.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 10:32 AM on November 17, 2008


They're rad.

I find myself very surprised that Steve Albini and I can hang. I would not have believed this to be the case.
posted by padraigin at 10:32 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously, who the fuck needs litmus tests for why someone else (not you) likes music? Litmus tests: good for determining the acidity of a solution. Bad for assessing some of the most complicated and subtle facets of human personality.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:32 AM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Apparently, leaving Van Halen took its toll.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:32 AM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


hahahahahahahahaha!

Oh, wait. Seriously?
posted by papercake at 10:34 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've typed this on MeFi many, many times before (to the chagrin of many), but rarely has it been more contextually appropriate than now:

Shit Sandwich.

posted by dbiedny at 10:36 AM on November 17, 2008


just a clarification: this post was not supposed to be about "indie rock hothead Steve Albini and what he thinks about your taste in music"...his quote was just intended as a framing device for the larger "Complete" story. This may have been a miscalculation.
posted by anazgnos at 10:36 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is like when that random dude in a bar comes up to you and says "I don't like your car, buddy. Chevvies are where it's at." I mean, so what?

It's exactly like that, except that the random dude is actually John DeLorean. And you're all like "Wait, I thought you were the guy who made that Back To The Future car. And didn't you die a few years ago?"

And then he punches you in the face.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:37 AM on November 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's exactly like that, except that the random dude is actually John DeLorean. And you're all like "Wait, I thought you were the guy who made that Back To The Future car. And didn't you die a few years ago?"

And then he punches you in the face.


Why didn't you ask him for some coke, dumbass??!!
posted by jonmc at 10:38 AM on November 17, 2008


You know how a few cynical people used to say Jandek was an elaborate joke set up to get hipsters to say they like his music, and thus expose themselves as pretentious twats who like anything ultra-esoteric (disclaimer: I am a huge Jandek fan)? I am pretty sure that's what "Complete" is, for real. There is no way anyone could possibly really like this music. Look, I understand noise and improv and all that, believe me. This just sucks. And I'm not sure the singer is even in on the joke. He looks and sounds like they abducted him from some meth-hovel trailer in Arkansas. If you really think this is good, I've got awesome news for you because every group of 13 year olds who don't really know how to play their instruments yet and have formed a band anyway sounds exactly like this. Go check out little Billy Finklestein's garage band down the block, they've got just as much "unique untempered expression" to offer (minus the inbred lead singer who looks like Murderface*) and Mrs. Finklestein might even bake cookies.

* Great YouTube comment: "This must be his side band, Planet Piss."
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:41 AM on November 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Fuck Steve Albini.

OK, now I'll go check out the links.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:44 AM on November 17, 2008


I've not yet listened to the clip, but the phrase a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression strikes me as a strangely wooden phrase to describe something one is passionate about; I mean, who says "listen to this great song--it's genuinely expressive!" The rest of the Albini quote seems to bear out my suspicions, since the quote seems aimed not at attempting to describe what makes the song in question so good--but instead sets up some Platonic ideal about what constitutes "genuine expression" as a "life pinnacle." The song seems wholly secondary to Albini's dogmatic aestheticism. Wittgenstein would perhaps say that no expression is ever truly genuine: all human language is inherently artificial.

I remember watching Byron Coley in the Half-Japanese documentary years back wax hyperbolic about that band in the same way, and half-wondering if his enthusiasm wasn't at least partly just a pose: a hipster way of raising his taste-flag up the aesthetic snob-pole.

Then again I think Big Black was the epitome of an overrated indie band.
posted by ornate insect at 10:45 AM on November 17, 2008


I still like Steve Albini, anyway.

Steve Albini on TSOYA. However he may come off in various quotes, he seems like pretty much a total non-dick.
posted by rusty at 10:45 AM on November 17, 2008


Beatiful Sunrises
posted by nickyskye at 10:47 AM on November 17, 2008


I made it exactly one minute and 43 seconds into the first link. I repeat: Fuck Steve Albini.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:47 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I still like Steve Albini, anyway.

He's supposedly a big fan of ZZ Top and Cheap Trick, which means he has some taste, this pile of bullshit notwithstanding.
posted by jonmc at 10:51 AM on November 17, 2008


The fact that the song is called something as poetic as "Beautiful Sunrises", and .... is what it is, makes it entertaining.

But not for the whole length of the s..OOOOOOONNGGG-AH
posted by flippant at 10:53 AM on November 17, 2008


I hate loving Steve Albini almost as I love hating Steve Albini.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:56 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread is a whole hell of a lot better than "Beautiful Sunrises."

This may have been a miscalculation.

I'm afraid you're right. Hang on and enjoy the ride!

posted by languagehat at 10:57 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was in a band that was almost exactly like that. Several, in fact.
posted by unSane at 11:00 AM on November 17, 2008


Has some one said "Christ, what an asshole" yet in this thread? Cuz I'm pretty sure I can get behind anyone who says that in this thread.
posted by notsnot at 11:01 AM on November 17, 2008


If you don't appreciate "Beautiful Sunrises" as a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression, then you probably like a lot of bullshit music.

Guilty as charged.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:03 AM on November 17, 2008


Anyone who doesn't have a music theory degree leave the thread now.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


all hail the cult of the deliberate incoherent and studied primitive masquerading as "genuine expression" - musicians will note that the band is nowhere near as untalented or untogether as they'd like to pretend they are, in fact, they're fairly tight

i'd think that non-bullshit music would be a little less arty and pretentious
posted by pyramid termite at 11:07 AM on November 17, 2008


I liked them better when they were called Smeg and the Heads.
posted by Herodios at 11:09 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Put me down for a bullshit music lover, too.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:10 AM on November 17, 2008


Oh noes, Steve Albini don't approve of my musak!!!!1!! WUT DO I DOEZ?!??!?!?!11?!?
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:10 AM on November 17, 2008


i'd think that non-bullshit music would be a little less arty and pretentious

Exactly. Given Albini's history, I was half expecting some Aerosmithy bar band, and that-done well-I can appreciate and enjoy. But this is some transparent attempt to get people to pretend to like pretentious shit.
posted by jonmc at 11:11 AM on November 17, 2008


If you don't appreciate "Beautiful Sunrises" as a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression, then you probably like a lot of bullshit music.

Wailing into a microphone with the vocal cadence of a strung-out paint huffer, while my band stumbles over their instruments with the grace and skill of an arthritic jungle cat.... Yeah, that's the sort of genuine expression I can live without. He may be sincere; but so am I; turn down the 'suck', and turn up the 'awesome' please. Hell, just turn off the sound; that'd improve things by leaps and bounds.

That video barely qualifies as listenable; from a purely descriptive sense. It sounds like it was recorded on an answering machine, that was stuffed inside of a metal trash can. If they sucked any more, the gravitational pull would have pulled the skin off my face.

I'll stick to my "bullshit", thanks.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:13 AM on November 17, 2008


What if you can "appreciate 'Beautiful Sunrises' as a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression" but still think it's just horrid?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:14 AM on November 17, 2008


musicians will note that the band is nowhere near as untalented or untogether as they'd like to pretend they are, in fact, they're fairly tight

Of course. Anyone who plays for more than a few months will not remain that genuinely bad. They're average musicians pretending to be that bad. It's all part of the joke. I'm telling you, someone somewhere is laughing their ass off daily that they actually got hipsters to like three of his musician friends pretending to suck at instruments and his itinerant laborer uncle on vocals.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:15 AM on November 17, 2008


So I listened to the first 45 seconds or so. And I'd agree with Mr. Albini if, say the lead singer could actually fucking sing. Or if the others had some idea of what they were doing. Then again, I've never understood musical criticism. The best I've ever found is the sort of musical wandering that Pandora gives you. Actually critiquing music, well, I generally think music critics are wasting my time and theirs.
posted by Hactar at 11:16 AM on November 17, 2008


So anyway, Steve Albini is kinda like the Republican party - used to make some sense (Big Black's Songs about Fucking is a lot of fun), now just about being a dick and making on-their-face ridiculous bullshit assertions.
posted by notsnot at 11:16 AM on November 17, 2008


Not too sure about this group, and I love freaked-out "rock" like the Shaggs and the Magic Band, Flipper, Dead C., etc.

For blown out jams, I'm sticking to Harry Pussy's What Was Music? compilation.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:16 AM on November 17, 2008


I was in a band that was almost exactly like that. Several, in fact.

I was in a car accident that was almost exactly like that. Several, in fact.

Although, dialing back the snark a bit, I am glad I saw this, and I agree with the larger point that sincerity and earnest expression that ends up sucking is vastly more interesting than the same old canned garbage.

Of course, there's plenty out there that is earnest and doesn't suck.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:17 AM on November 17, 2008


It seems everyone already knows and (mostly) hate the guy, but for anyone not in the know, while he has been in some much-lauded indie bands (Big Black, Rapeman, Shellac), he is usually mostly regarded for his list of his audio engineering work (more detailed list on Discogs.com).

Love him or hate him, he's had some part in a huge number of influential recordings. In his later years, name-dropping him as a part of your recording generally meant you had that "Steve Albini sound" - something I still can't describe, but can often hear in the bands he's worked with more recently. I'm still not sure if he picks bands who sound like his style, or if he shapes them into his sound (he generally denies being a music shaper, avoiding the role of producer and instead taking the role of engineer just check the ratio of Producer vs Appears On credits on Discogs -- note: Discogs doesn't filter Engineer, Recorded By, or any of a number of other useful credits, so most of his roles get chucked into "Appears On").

But I'll agree, I'm not a fan of his stated musical interests. No comment on "Complete."
posted by filthy light thief at 11:18 AM on November 17, 2008


I'm still not sure if he picks bands who sound like his style, or if he shapes them into his sound

I think he just likes being talked about.
posted by jonmc at 11:22 AM on November 17, 2008


Anyone who doesn't like what I like is irrefutably, irreversibly, globally and existentially wrong according to my calculations.

Oh wait...
posted by wrok at 11:22 AM on November 17, 2008


If I could spend five minutes of my life as completely into something as the vocalist of Complete is about being the vocalist of Complete, well then I'd think I had reached some sort of life accomplishment pinnacle

You know who else was as completely into something as the vocalist of Complete is about being the vocalist of Complete?

That's right. Lou Diamond Phillips.
posted by Mayor West at 11:25 AM on November 17, 2008


Not too sure about this group,

Go out on a limb, why don't you?
posted by jonmc at 11:26 AM on November 17, 2008


I take Albini's comment as typical semi-tongue-in-cheek baiting from him, though he may well truly love the song. For my part, I'm not taking the bait as far as whether they're great/horrible/sincere/a put-on...I just think they're bad in a pretty fascinating way.

As jonmc said, contextually, they seem like the kind of group that would be aiming for Aerosmith, but as the 7 minutes of "Beautiful Sunrise" wears on, it becomes clear that they are not merely inept. There's no way, in playing what they are playing, that they are aiming for Aerosmith and missing. Whatever it is they're doing, they're doing it on purpose.
posted by anazgnos at 11:28 AM on November 17, 2008


Whatever it is they're doing, they're doing it on purpose.

Just like the guy who whips his dick out on the bus...
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:32 AM on November 17, 2008


Some you tube comments:

mellino3 (1 week ago)
I got married to this song

Elnonopololo (3 weeks ago)
This is what God listens to when he gets tired of Christian rock.

rosepearljanis (3 months ago)
better than rap!

fiddycent2 (4 months ago)
it makes me feel good to know that my band is better than at least one other band out there

Kapila (1 year ago)
I can hear someone at the end say "Get me my fucking gun." HAHAHAHAHA!

ryansthewalrus (1 year ago)
I wonder why I've never heard of these guys...

DrMotherfucker (1 year ago)
I call it interpretive methamphetamine. Stay in school kids.

49fingers (1 year ago)
This band is brilliant - they managed to play four completely different songs all at the same time.

nukunukufufu (11 months ago)
Actually I looked at the lyrics on the CD jacket. It goes-
bEAuTIfUlSuNrISefOrYOuUuUUu BeAUtIfUlsuNrISeFoRYOuBeAUtIFu LSuNRiseFOrYOu and BeAUTifUlSuNRISe FOr meeeEEEEeEeeEEEE!!!!!!

mellino3 (8 months ago)
I am so dedicating this to my girlfriend

Notice Mellino's love life revolves around this song.
posted by Bitter soylent at 11:44 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Steve Albino: what an asshole! Next time, just rickroll me, dude.
posted by grobstein at 11:56 AM on November 17, 2008


There's Beautiful Sunrises around, something to do
There's Beautiful Sunrises around, she's something to do
There's Beautiful Sunrises around, she's something to do
There's Beautiful Sunrises around, we'll find something to do
Beautiful Sunrises around, she's something to do
Beautiful Sunrises around, set me on fire.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:59 AM on November 17, 2008


I love this; it captures all the fun of playing rock and roll. That said, fuck Steve Albini, in spite of all his music that I like.
posted by not_on_display at 12:00 PM on November 17, 2008


Anybody who claims there is "litmus test" for ANY matter of taste is, in my experience, a fucking insufferable asshole.
posted by tkchrist at 12:01 PM on November 17, 2008


I lasted about 20 seconds before I vowed to avoid every dawn of every day for the rest of my life, lest I accidentally view a beautiful sunrise and be reminded of this song.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:32 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression about half an hour ago.

Then, I flushed.

gompa: Oh, the Ledge was certainly better. His suckitude was at least entertaining. This video wasn't even funny.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:36 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Steve's bluffing here, or at least semi-bluffing.

Thanks for the link, this band is fully awesome and whips Getty Lee's ass with a belt. A+.

Previously

Previously
Previously
Pweviously.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:37 PM on November 17, 2008


And then at the end we hear in an echo-soaked voice "Can we hear it back now?" Right? Oh, wrong thread.
posted by gac at 12:41 PM on November 17, 2008


Three year olds drawing all over the walls with markers is a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression, but that doesn't mean I have to endorse it.

And, for the record, Steve: Wesley Willis' unique and untempered works of genuine expression blow Complete away.
posted by chimaera at 12:53 PM on November 17, 2008


I note the respect Steve gives to others who don't share his taste in music, and wonder why we don't respect him.
posted by mcmilwp at 12:56 PM on November 17, 2008


I love this; it captures all the fun of playing rock and roll.

If you want a band that actually captures the fun of playing rock and roll, listen to The Shaggs. I don't know if Complete is someone's idea of a joke, or if there's some artsy-fartsy concept behind it, but whatever it is they aren't genuine, I'd bet my life on it. I really hate shit like this, I wish these kinds of people would stick to the gallery show world instead of pissing in the music pool.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:58 PM on November 17, 2008


I think I heard the Muzak version of this track playing in my local supermarket the other day. Bunch of sell-outs.
posted by kcds at 1:00 PM on November 17, 2008


Wesley Willis' unique and untempered works of genuine expression blow Complete away.

Wesley Willis by himself, yeah, but towards the end of his life he was exploited by the same sort of people I'm pretty sure are behind Complete. all hail the cult of the deliberate incoherent and studied primitive masquerading as "genuine expression" is pretty dead on.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:01 PM on November 17, 2008


My downstairs neighbor's extraordinarily annoying housesitter is currently outside and, in an EXTREMELY high and loud voice, egging on her extraordinarily annoying barking-ass muthafuckin bird dog.

It sounds like Bach compared to "Beautiful Sunrise."

I am qualified to say this because I hold a music theory degree.

As for Steve Albini: I get the feeling he likes stirring up shitstorms.
posted by nosila at 1:03 PM on November 17, 2008


If you play it backwards, it's actually quite beautiful.
posted by davejay at 1:09 PM on November 17, 2008


Oh, and I'll take my wackadoo-frontman-grunting-metal in Life, Sex and Death form, thanks.
posted by davejay at 1:10 PM on November 17, 2008


I forgot to say that I also have an advanced music degree theory, and Complete is better than two Bachs making out in the bell tower, which they have been known to do at times anyway.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:12 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Saying that your favorite band is great makes you a fan.

Saying that your favorite band is a watershed, a litmus test, an event that transformed the music industry as we know it, and if we don't share that opinion, we're into bullshit music make you a tool.

Which, I don't care, I'll happily sit in my corner with my eclectic iPod collection.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:14 PM on November 17, 2008


Potomac Avenue: that's super hawt. Pictures?!
posted by nosila at 1:15 PM on November 17, 2008


Perhaps it is a generation gap thing but that seemed so tormented to ever equate with the notion of a beautiful sunrise. Poor fellow must be very unhappy.
posted by carolusal at 1:26 PM on November 17, 2008


"A unique and untempered piece of genuine expression"?

Sure.

"Good"?

Not so much.
posted by jscalzi at 1:30 PM on November 17, 2008


nosila: Even better I gots VIDS!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:36 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I dunno. I've listened to some bullshit music, I have plenty of bullshit music in my collection, and I've even got a lot of halfway bullshit music like Smegma and Whitehouse and Electric Eels bootlegs and a whole bunch of lo-fi anti-/freak folk which is pretty close to this, only acoustic. I know that there's all sorts of fraught critical paradoxes here (Complete's irony, Albini's irony, authenticity as criterion, etc.), but I just don't enjoy it. Even in noise like Merzbow, I find something that's compelling enough to hold my ear. I just don't get that here.

But then I see shit like this, "He looks and sounds like they abducted him from some meth-hovel trailer in Arkansas," with all its class assumptions and unearned judgment, and I really want to like it, if only to say, hey, fuck off with your ass attitude that some guy from a "meth-hovel trailer" can't make great music. I love Motorhead, and their best stuff was pretty much straight out of a meth hovel; I love speed metal and gay club music and all sorts of country made by illiterate retards from unfashionable neighborhoods with sincerely bad haircuts.

Even the way you admitted liking Wesley Willis or Jandek or the Shaggs privileged some sort of authentic vision and fairly dick-waving critical chops, and seemed totally alienated from the primal point of music—the artifact of the song itself. The mechanisms that lead up to music that I like (or that you like or that anyone likes) are only of interest after you've decided whether or not you like the music. That I think Steely Dan is largely bullshit isn't because of they were coked out of their gourds recording Aja, but because their music never really connects with me in a way that I want to return to—their cod-jazz just doesn't excite me, even as I can admire some of the musicianship and the chrome-smooth production aesthetic.

So whether Complete is the REAL DEAL or some over-trained musos taking the piss doesn't really matter if you don't like the song—you simply don't like it for its musical qualities (or lack thereof). Only when you do like it do any of the ancillary questions become at all relevant.
posted by klangklangston at 1:48 PM on November 17, 2008 [9 favorites]


*stands up and applauds wildly*
posted by jonmc at 2:00 PM on November 17, 2008


That I think Steely Dan is largely bullshit isn't because of they were coked out of their gourds recording Aja, but because their music never really connects with me in a way that I want to return to—their cod-jazz just doesn't excite me, even as I can admire some of the musicianship and the chrome-smooth production aesthetic.

The Steely Dan mention really makes sense here, since they're a band I'm extremely ambivalent about (mainly because whenever I'm in a restaurant that's trying to present an 'adult' yuppie image, they'll without fail be playing Steely Dan), but sometimes they'll do a song like "My Old School" or "Dirty Work" that'll hit you just right and all bets are off. Which leads to the larger point. All the extraneous non-musical cultural bullshit that surrounds music talk can be fun, interesting even revelatory, but at the end of the day it has precious little to do with what actually listening to the music is like, how it feels, what it makes you want to do. Wesley Willis? Crazy? Sure, but he genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself when it played and that comes across in his recordings and is difficult to resist. Ditto the Shaggs. Jandek..well, he's more like finding some new kind of fungus on your foot, good or bad dosen't really matter, you just can't help but want to investigate. But the approval of pissant self-appointed, self-absorbed, self-enthused 'tastemakers,' matters not a whit, nor should it.
posted by jonmc at 2:08 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I only like music from bands with a pH of 7 or greater.
posted by ooga_booga at 2:19 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


also, this is a good song, I don't care what anybody says.
posted by jonmc at 2:23 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also love Steely Dan. To be honest I think I've had more trouble over the years convincing people that Steely Dan is great rather than defending something simple and wild like Complete...and I'm not alone.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:27 PM on November 17, 2008


I think I've had more trouble over the years convincing people that Steely Dan is great

'Great' is pushing it. They definitely had their moments, but you could say that about everybody from Young MC to Quiet Riot to the Exploted to Rick James. and there's nothing wrong with that, a few moments of music inspiration and appeal is a few more moments that most of us.
posted by jonmc at 2:30 PM on November 17, 2008


Albini telling people what music to like is kind of like Mickey Mouse telling people not to be a poser on an album of cheezey club music covers.
posted by nomisxid at 2:31 PM on November 17, 2008


"The Steely Dan mention really makes sense here, since they're a band I'm extremely ambivalent about (mainly because whenever I'm in a restaurant that's trying to present an 'adult' yuppie image, they'll without fail be playing Steely Dan), but sometimes they'll do a song like "My Old School" or "Dirty Work" that'll hit you just right and all bets are off."

I like "Peg" and "Deacon Blues" OK, but not enough to ever pull out the album (my girlfriend owns it on vinyl)… I think that Steely Dan, for me, is a band best experienced purely over PA systems in restaurants and supermarkets and maybe occasionally on the car radio.

But yeah, within the last couple years, Steely Dan has had a critical renaissance, where all sorts of younger critics (well, people within five years of my age older and younger) are lionizing them and I really rarely hear something beyond amazing technical ability—it may as well be Guinness World Record cup-stacking for all I want to listen.

"Wesley Willis? Crazy? Sure, but he genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself when it played and that comes across in his recordings and is difficult to resist."

I'd go further though—faking it convincingly is just as good as real sincerity (paging Daniel Schorr). I know that there are plenty of times when Brian Wilson's only singing about surfing because he's been whipped up there by his dad, or that Tina's belting out love songs after Ike belted her, but that doesn't matter because they sound convincing. Just like how pitch correcting and "sweetening" doesn't bother me (except when done poorly), because the music itself is what I listen to—the artifice is part of the skill. It's just that Steely Dan doesn't do it for me, whatever "it" is.
posted by klangklangston at 2:34 PM on November 17, 2008


I'd go further though—faking it convincingly is just as good as real sincerity (paging Daniel Schorr).

Agreed and parody might be the best case in point, witness Manowar* and Spinal Tap. You can't satirize something that accurately unless you love it, at least a little bit.

It's just that Steely Dan doesn't do it for me, whatever "it" is.

Well that's where stuff like personal details and just plain old "I like onions/I don't like onions" there's-no-accounting-for taste comes in. "My Old School" reminds me of some people from my abortive collegiate career. "Dirty Work?" all about the chorus and the drumbeat. and the solo on "Reelin' In The Years" did more to get dissonant sounds integrated into pop music than all the VU albums in existence.

*I know you don't agree with me on this one, klang, but Manowar definitely knew they were a goof, but a warm one
posted by jonmc at 2:40 PM on November 17, 2008


"Does my music taste make my head look fat?"

No. It makes your head look the perfect size.

Seriously though, fuck's this shit? I haven't liked this Albini guy since he overproduced Jason Molina from Songs: Ohia (great!) to Magnolia Electric Co. (what?).

You know another band that sucks ass? Pavement.

*goes off in search of his Aqualung bootleg*
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:49 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't even know what to say.
posted by chugg at 2:56 PM on November 17, 2008


Anyone who really worries about what anybody else thinks of their own taste in music has yet to/never grew up past that point in their lives when they sat in their bedroom as a teenager and seethed over what some kid in the hallway said about their favourite band. It's a waste of energy and just gets in the way of your own happiness.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:59 PM on November 17, 2008


klangklangston: Interesting, were you not arguing just a few weeks ago that it's not just whether the music does it for you that matters, that the marketing, criticism, and everything else that happens around the song should be considered as part of the package?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:03 PM on November 17, 2008


I should add that this goes double for anyone who worries too much about what other people listen to...
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:05 PM on November 17, 2008


This reminds me of nothing so much as my own karaoke performances sometimes when I get bored and try to clear out the bar...A stranger once told me that my rendition of 'feels like the first time' sounded like I was being anally violated, which is one of the best compliments I've ever received for anything. I'm going to invite Steve Albini to the Ravari Room every second or third Tuesday to hear some more non bullshit music.
posted by Kwine at 3:06 PM on November 17, 2008


The Card Cheat: Anyone who really worries about what anybody else thinks of their own taste in music has yet to/never grew up past that point in their lives when they sat in their bedroom as a teenager and seethed over what some kid in the hallway said about their favourite band. It's a waste of energy and just gets in the way of your own happiness.

Yeah, but this is Metafilter where the name of the game is to get bent out of shape over how people listen to music. It's the local hobby right up there with religion wank.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:07 PM on November 17, 2008


> Yeah, but this is Metafilter where the name of the game is to get bent out of shape over how people listen to music. It's the local hobby right up there with religion wank.

I know. Hell, when I was younger no-one loved hating on other people's favourite bands more than I did. But then I got a little older and a little wiser and realized that it was a waste of time.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:26 PM on November 17, 2008


Religion Wank did a great cover of "Beautiful Sunrises."
posted by languagehat at 3:27 PM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Actually you know, there doesn't appear to be a band called Religion Wank, perhaps I should add it to my list of bands I'm not managing along with the Tahini Bikinis (surf rock and rai fusion) and Nubile Young Death Cowboys (a goth country boy band).
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:32 PM on November 17, 2008


I have never used this word before, on the Internet or in a conversation, but since the word has now officially entered the lexicon (see post above), I think this would be a could place to try it out:

Meh.
posted by kozad at 3:36 PM on November 17, 2008


That was sort of terrible.
posted by BabySeven at 3:43 PM on November 17, 2008


You can sign em to my label, Poopsock Recording Group - currently on the roster:

Mercy Flush and the Milk Duds

Indignant Parsley

Obama Rosenbaum's Airport Lipbalm

The Survivin' Cockroaches

The Fart-booboos

Phranque & the 4 Skins

The Swingin' STDs

Crankbite

Robosluts Over the Vatican

Byrd-Flew Kissingbooth

Border-fence and the Waterslides

the july 4th suppositories

Quick Hide the Nipples

Sponge-Craig Wide-Stance

Global Toast & the Further Studies

The Hairy Prunes

Slow Ride To Stinktown
posted by stenseng at 3:57 PM on November 17, 2008


"klangklangston: Interesting, were you not arguing just a few weeks ago that it's not just whether the music does it for you that matters, that the marketing, criticism, and everything else that happens around the song should be considered as part of the package?"

See, I thought about responding to "Saying that your favorite band is a watershed, a litmus test, an event that transformed the music industry as we know it, and if we don't share that opinion, we're into bullshit music make you a tool." with "I thought I just pwned you on this a week or two ago."

Then I decided that a) I didn't feel like needling you over something like that, and b) that you'd misunderstand the point of what I was arguing.

But since you feel like Thorton Melon, I can at least oblige—To the discussion of whether or not something is a watershed moment in music, or an event that transformed the music industry, the marketing and milieu of the music absolutely matters. But whether or not something is a watershed moment has little to do with whether or not I like it. It can be interesting, and I'll often search out music that has been innovative and prescient, but there's plenty that still leaves me cold (I never understood the attraction to Sgt. Pepper's, and Sweetheart Land isn't that great of a song).

Even further, like I mentioned above, to me the context is only important if I already like the song, because the song (or the album or the work, etc.) is the prime form. Take Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I know a lot of people who really love this album. I don't think it's boring because they love it, or because of the huge backstory. I think it's boring because, aside from a few moments, it doesn't grab me at all. To my ears, it's an indistinct fog of music to wash dishes by, no matter the intricate arrangements or clever lyrics.

But I could easily toss up an essay about how it changed the music industry (cemented the rise of mini-majors) without actually liking the album all that much. Heavy Metal Drummer's OK though.

Nirvana's not my favorite band (which has always seemed like a silly question—favorite band for what?), and Nevermind isn't my favorite album from them, and yet I can still acknowledge that it changed music in a pretty big way.
posted by klangklangston at 4:05 PM on November 17, 2008


Heavy Metal Drummer's OK though

"People always get confused about 'Heavy Metal Drummer,' because they think I was the drummer in a band that covered Kiss songs. That's not what it's about. That's not what it's about. I can tell you what it's about. Hopefully, It won't ruin it for you. That song is really just another reminder about not being judgemental and reductive. There were many, many night sin St. Louis where me and my friends would go see some punk band at the cool punk club, and then we'd all go to the landing on the Mississippi River, because the bars on the landing had a 4 A.M. liquor liscence. And all us punk guys would sit there and scoff and feel superior to all the heavy metal bar bands with the big hair and the spandex, most of whom were having the fucking time of their fucking life. So, who was losing? Me, I was." - Jeff Tweedy


I loved Wilco's music, but that staement made me (a guy who's been both a 'punk guy' and a 'heavy metal guy,') love the crazy sonuvabitch.
posted by jonmc at 4:48 PM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wilco has never really done it for me, but that's a great quote, jonmc, and good on ya, Tweedy. Brings to mind some of the disgusting comments I read online after the The Station nightclub fire; the people who died were losers because they were at a Great White show in 2003, etc. ad nauseum. It made me almost physically ill to read them.
posted by you just lost the game at 5:23 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Steely Dan was a really excellent band that, unfortunately, sounded a bit too studio polished in retrospect. But, damn, seriously talented. The roster of drummers who played with them is extensive, with the sort of talent and shared duty not heretofore found outside jazz circles. And the lyrics were comprise of the most subtle, interesting verses, and it was a nice contrast to the over-earnest '60s. And not only did these guys know how to do interesting things musically, they could also pull it off talent-wise. But it all came out of a period that sorta leaves a nasty taste in my mouth for the way it sanitized music. The very aesthetic that adores Steely Dan also created, by necessity, punk rock, a direct repudiation of the slick '70s studio band.

Which brings me around to this video ... well, the name of the song is funny, and it's also funny that some woman is dancing to it. Wow. It's relentless, gotta give it that. hard to believe they keep that up for over seven minutes. All their songs are in this same vein, as far as I can tell. Sorta reminds me of Larry "Wild Man" Fischer, except there is a real poet inside Larry. But it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I think their playing is deliberate, and they do know how to play "conventionally." It's not particularly great or even novel anymore, though. Maybe would be good for a few 7" on Sub Pop. But Steve Albini holds this up as an example of a pinnacle of artistic creation? Is he joking? Perhaps ...
posted by krinklyfig at 5:30 PM on November 17, 2008


Awww hell yeah Wild Man!

My favorite WMF song (sucks).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:00 PM on November 17, 2008


I don't hear anything beautiful, and I didn't see a sunrise.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 6:01 PM on November 17, 2008


What I like about Complete: they managed to elicit YouTube and Metafilter comment threads which are indistinguishable from one another.
posted by 3.2.3 at 6:21 PM on November 17, 2008


klangklangston: No, you just argued a whole mess of random stuff about "selling out" that missed the point.

Let me tell you a story that explains my point of view a bit. About a year ago, my sister expressed a negative opinion of Bob Dylan's voice. My uncle, just barely pre-boomer, took immediate offense. Criticizing Dylan was not just criticizing a performer, it was criticizing a social and political struggle that he identified with. As far as I know, my parents were never into Dylan either, so they were rolling their eyes and chuckling. And of course, criticism of Dylan meant that my sister's music was bullshit music at least in his opinion.

Which gets to the point of my criticism that you repeatedly misunderstood. The entertainment media creates these powerful myths of generational consensus. The baby boomers went to Vietnam, and were turned on by the countercultural music of the late 60s into the social activism of the early 70s, blah, blah, blah.. The reality that a majority of them had crew cuts or big hair, did their service time without much complaint, and voted for Nixon gets lost. Dylan became most popular through classic hits rotations, that over time has slowly weeded out the bubblegum pop. I don't think there has been a generational consensus in the United States since WWII (and even that had quite a bit of initial resistance.)

I don't think that there was ever a generational consensus around Beetles, Dylan, the BeeGees, Madonna, or Nirvana. Especially not Nirvana, at least with my peer group, the music scene had already fragmented into the goths, the pop junkies, the punks, the country fans, the queer-music fans, the metalheads, the classical nerds, etc., etc.

Disagreeing with the inflated claims made about a particular band mean that one's taste is towards "bullshit music."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:48 PM on November 17, 2008


"Beautiful Sunrises" makes me truly appreciate silence.
posted by mrducts at 6:57 PM on November 17, 2008


I gave the first link five minutes, just to be sure the noise didn't morph into something wonderful. It didn't, but I did realize that I had heard something comparable.

TROGDOR!!!
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:34 PM on November 17, 2008


I gather the album should be BURNINATED?
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:00 PM on November 17, 2008


wow. that sucked
posted by puddles at 9:36 PM on November 17, 2008


Kirk: "Which gets to the point of my criticism that you repeatedly misunderstood."

No, I got that point just fine. In fact, I addressed it in this comment, where I had a fair amount to say about how generational myths aren't necessarily without value or arbitrary.

But this is a bit of down-thread pissy derailing, so hows about we not have the exact same fight twice.
posted by klangklangston at 10:07 PM on November 17, 2008


I still hold the opinion that these sort of litmus tests are stupid. It doesn't matter that much whether that litmus strip is Complete, or the Beatles.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:29 AM on November 18, 2008


That's fine. I rather agree with you on the "litmus test" issue, though with a few key bands I can usually come up with five or ten more bands that a person would like that they haven't heard of yet.

But then, it was the conflation of "litmus test" and "watershed" and "landmark," which aren't all the same things (though the latter two are pretty close).

And whether or not your taste is bullshit is a whole different ballgame.
posted by klangklangston at 8:05 AM on November 18, 2008


Meh.
posted by swift at 12:07 PM on November 18, 2008


And whether or not your taste is bullshit is a whole different ballgame.

Well, if the criteria under question is whether a song "grabs you" there is no way to say that anyone's tastes is bullshit. If someone commutes to Celine Dion in the morning and Slipknot at night, more power to them. I'll just bring my iPod.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:33 PM on November 18, 2008


Whether this specific song grabs you? Yeah, Albini's talking out of his ass, we totally agree on that.

Whether someone's opinions on music are bullshit or not? Well, Albini's "tastes" are bullshit here because he's trying to use a subjective response to this song to support a broader idea of what music should be like. And that's bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 4:17 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Personally, if I'm going to listen for pleasure, I want some level of technical skill and quality beyond mere enthusiasm. I'm not shy when it comes to dissonance or music that makes me think "what the fuck?" * But if I don't think there is something in the composition to explore, I'm going to tune right out. I've learned that there is a subconscious little quirk that I have. If a musical piece grabs me, the hairs on the back of my neck tingle. Or in rare cases, I burst out crying, but that's usually reserved for Beethoven, Pärt, some Cash-Rubin songs, and most recently Poulenc **

There are cases where I just don't get it and it's a problem with me: Bartok comes to mind as a composer that I just can't find a hook into. I know there is something going on, but I just don't feel it. Even with cheesy bullshit pop songs (no harm in listening to them) I can see the structure and form.

This is intentionally bad, and it overdoes it. Music is instinctual at its base. Give four elementary school children kazoos, and in an hour you have a better performance. Is there a point? I can't tell. So to me at least, it's badness for the sake of badness, and I don't have the time for that.

* (Kronos Quartet: Howl USA)
** (Dialogues of the Carmelites need to get a copy.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:51 PM on November 18, 2008


This is intentionally bad, and it overdoes it.
This is arguably bad, but I don't think for a minute it is intentionally bad. Steve Albini (et al) might be lionizing it because it is bad (my meter for gauging that sort of thing is unreliable) but the people who made this believed it. That is, for me, the redeeming thing about it.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:49 PM on November 18, 2008


Here's the thing: Albini doesn't say he thinks people should "like" Beautiful Sunrises. He says that he thinks you ought to "appreciate "Beautiful Sunrises" as a unique and untempered piece of genuine expression." That is, I think, quite different from actually liking it, or even thinking that it is good or worth listening to.

To pass Steve Albini's litmus test, as stated, you must only answer in the affirmative the following quesitons:

1. Is Beautiful Sunrises unique?

2. Is Beautiful Sunrises untempered?

3. Is Beautiful Sunrises a piece of genuine expression?

If you answered yes to all three, then congratulations! You survive until the next round of Steve Albini Decides Arbitrarily Why You Suck. Admittedly, the whole thing is a trick, designed to get you thinking that he actually likes the song as beautiful music. But then, tricking you is the whole point of Steve Albini Decides Arbitrarily Why You Suck.

Even if I pass this particular litmus test, I'm eventually going to fail when the game gets to "which Pavement album is best." (It's Terror Twilight, fyi.)
posted by The World Famous at 6:08 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anytime you like something just to make a point, you lose.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:48 PM on November 18, 2008


anytime you like something, someone gets a point against you
posted by grobstein at 10:42 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


everytime you make a point, god kills a kitten
posted by pyramid termite at 6:31 AM on November 19, 2008


The first person to mention Bizzaro Hitler in an internet discussion wins the argument.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:56 AM on November 19, 2008


I have listened to this a few times now and while I will grant the enormous purity of the singer's commitment to the endeavor I feel the overall integrity of the musical-artistic fabric is badly compromised by the bass player's terribly insincere hat.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:44 AM on November 19, 2008


every time you masturbate, god kills a person
posted by grobstein at 12:36 PM on November 19, 2008


Can we arrange for it to be Steve Albini every time?
posted by Wolfdog at 12:49 PM on November 19, 2008


Steve Albini will be glad to know you're in favor of his resurrection.
posted by grobstein at 3:41 PM on November 19, 2008


/derail/ Hey, KirkJobSluder, I suggest you try Bartok's 4th String Quartet. Really, all of them are decent, but the 4th is the, ah...bacon layer* in the meta-sandwich of his quartets.

* - Bacon - it's the gateway meat. /derail/

posted by Minus215Cee at 5:11 PM on November 19, 2008


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