Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Is it just me?

I got a mass mailout from a P.R the other day, full of praise and blah blah, as is their wont. It was designed to draw attention to the latest single from Grammatics. Anyone who has ever had any dealings with P.R companies will no doubt have come to expect the unctuous descriptions which seek to disguise the mediocrity of their subject. I get that part; just doing their job etc, etc. The punchline in this instance came from the pull quotes (“Grammatics bowl you over with washes of high-IQ indie. Great stuff.” and “Bone Fide Genius”.) about previous Grammatics releases which were attributed to the The Sunday Times and The NME respectively. The NME quote I understand, they have an agenda to create new musical heroes whether they actually happen to exist or not, The Sunday Times though…It is meant to employ critical thinking and judgement right? Not, presumably, to spunk-out praise for any old tosh that comes along. Believing this to be true I was swayed by its opinion and sought out as much Grammatics music as I could find on myspace/youtube, only to be distinctly underwhelmed. Grammatics aren’t a bad band exactly, but there isn’t a lot more I could bring myself to say in their favour. They sounded anaemic and unsure of themselves, like a dilution of ground already covered to baffling acclaim by Block Party and Foals.

Often when finding myself in the minority, I question whether I am in fact the one who is wrong, so much of my subsequent listening that morning was spent revisiting bands I had written off after a few listens, but who had still made it into the indie firmament, if such a thing can be said to exist. Grammatics look well set to join this motley crew, meeting as they do the sole entry requirement of being eminently forgettable. Their best song was ‘Inkjet Lakes’, which featured Blue Roses, and had a genuinely interesting see-saw riff at the hinterland of its final third, however Blue Roses is several leagues to good to need moribund projects like these. But like I said, I had to double check my antipathy, so Block Party, Foals, Snow Patrol and Newton Faulkner all came and went. I sat vindicated. Who buys this stuff? Why aren’t the critics and music lovers rejecting it as the garbage it is? The nadir came with Reverend & The Makers, not only a terrible band name, but musically so unfailingly boring that they make The Bluetones sound like Sonic Youth.

Why is everyone so easily impressed? While we’re at it, why am I seemingly one of the few people in the western world who thought ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ was a 7/10 album at best? Everyone lost it for that record while failing to notice ‘Glory Hope Mountain’ was a work of real genius which occupied similar musical dimensions to greater effect. Are critics too soft on mediocre albums out of fear that there is nothing better to hype up? Are the record-buying public prepared to eat any old shit that is shovelled their way? I welcome your views, comments and opprobrium.


  1. If you ask me it's a matter of not wanting to "get it wrong". Especially if the likes of Pitchfork are championing a record.

    Reviews should be subjective; describe the music/band while passing an educated opinion of its quality. They should be used to pique a readers interest, not make up their mind for them without even hearing the album in question.

    If you (the royal you) are lucky you'll find a website, mag or review that operates on your own musical barometer.

  2. I have to say that I agree with everything written in this post as I seem to suffer with the 'is it just me who doesn't get it' syndrome every time I listen to most new, highly praised acts these days!!!