Ian Cohen’s review of Andrew WK’s I Get Wet went to repetitious lengths to qualify the album as not capital-A Art but the most confounding part was his admission that he “can’t remember what the title track sounds like.” This bothered me so much that in the past two weeks I’ve listened to “I Get Wet” about a hundred times, several of which took place in the shower, ‘cos in the absence of true companionship ya got nuffin’ but self-amusement.
Most of the week has been spent in the purgatory of self-tech support, testing my recall of the days in high school where before I’d discovered music I spent most of my free time tinkering with the private school-loaned Toshiba and browsing warez forums, doing shit which would earn the awe and then ire of kids markedly less pallid. As one might predict in any two-year relationship my Mac was not eager to share me with Windows, so installing Boot Camp, a process which should’ve been a harmless afternoon at most, became so arduous that it almost reduced me to tears. I’ve known nerds to speak soothingly to their devices as they watch that monochromatic progress bar while a new image boots, hoping to compel it with empathy. I spoke nothing but seething abuse and vitriol and even now I suspect it plans its revenge.
I’ve written and read enough rallying manifestos on music criticism to be wary of them. Darren’s was no different. A few months ago Everett messaged me on twitter saying I could write for Collapse Board whenever I wanted and an interview with the new champion of Australian music journalism seemed appropriate given that nobody but CB has published so many words attempting to articulate an ethos for music criticism. I don’t think FasterLouder can succeed with its frankly pretty nebulous goal as long as it refuses to pay its contributors. As I see it there are two kinds of music site: passion projects, which generate ferocious loyalty with strong voices and everyone who contributes does so because they can’t not, and businesses, which focus on expansive music coverage and broad appeal. Pitchfork straddles the line because it started as a passion project and grew into a business. FasterLouder is trying to make the opposite transition but while they continue to pride themselves on pageviews, as anyone can see with the counter at the top of every article right next to the name of the author, writers are going to know that the site’s audience is overwhelmingly indifferent to thoughtful criticism. When I brought this up in the interview Darren said he’s confident that the audience will slowly adjust but until they do, the site’s one aspect of value for potential writers - its massive audience - is essentially negated, as their voices are lost in the tide of Soundwave-targeted pieces like this baffling, unnecessary defence of a critically-hailed touchstone of early-aughts pop-punk. Darren’s endeavour to accompany the site’s regular stream of coverage with greater opinion is totally commendable but as long as the site’s content is evaluated by the literally glaring pageview counter, those longer pieces are always going to seem like second citizens.
All these folks who’ve submitted themselves to the death of the album must be oblivious to the virtues of playing an MMO. When your iTunes library is locked behind something so engrossing and addictive, compelling you with singular focus to the next 1up, you learn to love the format by osmosis. I’ve been trying to draw this out into a post of its own for a while but I can’t think of anything more to say than that, because I don’t properly understand people who prefer disparate playlists over cohesive albums. I mean I get it, but I can’t empathise at all. It’s not a coincidence that the dude who wrote my favourite album this year spoke of it in relation to my favourite album of last year: while Celebration Rock is dumb-as-fun and David Comes To Life has at least the ambition of being high-minded even if it doesn’t quite accomplish it, they’re both especially album-y albums.
And finally, Shallow Rewards fucking died for a second time! Redirect your RSS feeds to gerardvsbear.blogspot.com.au, meanwhile I’ll be over here pouring some out for the recently deceased. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GROUUUUUUND :(