clap clap blog: we have moved

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Everybody's always talking about critical authority. Who has it, who doesn't, if it should exist, if it's reinforcing prejudice. What gives you the right to blah, and who decides that this is good or bad bloo. Well, I have come upon a solution to this problem, and I would like to share it with you today. Who has critical authority?


That's right, me. Doesn't that make things easier? So from now on, if you have a question about something, if you need a critical issue resolved (i.e., the second Sponge album: sucks or rocks?), just come to me and I will resolve it, and it will be definitive, because why? Because I have critical authority! Isn't that easy?

So for my first proclamation, I offer this: no one is allowed to pretend anymore like the Pixies invented the concept of dynamics. OK, that's a bit unfair. Let's put it more generously: no one is allowed to say that the Pixies invented the concept of a sudden dynamic shift between the sections of a pop/rock song, i.e. you are no longer allowed to say "the Pixies soft verse-loud chorus shift" or any variant thereof. (In a correlary, you will also stop taking Cobain seriously in his joke that he ripped off "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from the Pixies.)

As evidence of this, I give you, first, the "Jailhouse Rock" entry below. (If they could have turned But I will also give you, because I am a just dispensor of critical authority, another example, which revealed itself to me at breakfast this morning. It is, of course, "Feel Like Makin' Love." I've always liked this song, I suppose, at least in the sense that if it was mentioned I would go in my head "dah-duhn, DAH!" Plus, being a young'un, my only exposure to it had really been via TV ads for best-of-the-70s (or "Guitar Rock!") compilations, where they'd play a little snippet of the chorus. And, you know, I liked it enough.

But in much the same way that Grand Funk Railroad's "Some Kind of Wonderful" does, upon full inspection the song reveals itself as something really great. Because the damn thing's two songs in one! And both are totally great pop hits! Now that's efficiency, my friend. And actually, now that I think about it, if this was an obscurity Tenacious D could drop it into their set and easily pass it off as a new track, although, no offense to Jack or Kyle, this is much better than what they come up with. It's passed through self-parody and came out the other side, covered in a kind of sleazy goo that smells musky but appealing, and you are drawn to it like unto a busted leather mama with saggy tits and wrinkly tatoos. Wait, wasn't I saying something about metaphors? Damn.

But so yes (oops! Two straight paragraphs starting with "but," sorry dad), the first song (aka "the verse") is this great pretty little acoustic white-boy loverman number with sort of 70s SoCal harmonies, and then there's a transition not that far removed from the "snhick-snhick" muted distorted guitar whangs that introduce the chorus in another quiet/loud masterpiece, Radiohead's "Creep," and then all of a sudden we're in the midst of this great Southern boogie-rock number, all whump-whump-SCREEEE! And it's great. And and and, the beginning of this riff is basically a half step added to the "Jailhouse Rock" hook, and then you throw the "SCREEEEE!" in afterwards because it's the LOUD part of the song and so it has to be DENSER. (Someone talked about the way AC/DC inverted this sparse-quiet/dense-loud dichotomy at one point, but I can't remember who, or what the point was, so I'm just going to mention it and move on.) And then--woo!--back to the quiet part, i.e. "an entirely different song." But they make it work, and they make it sound good, even though I'm not sure how much that sounding good has to do with the juxtoposition; I think it's more that each individual part is great, and they switch between them just as each is starting to get boring. Plus, the lead guitar in the chorus is fantastic--"totally killer!" report 14-year-old boys. Although I guess it is veeeeeeery similar to the Guess Who's "American Woman," but I don't know the chronology and quite frankly am too lazy to find out. Incidentally, the Guess Who are the source of a great family moment. We're driving by the casino near our town and my dad reads the sign and says, "Hey, the Guess Who are playing." My mom says, "Who?" My dad says, "the Guess Who." My mom says, "No, tell me!" Ah, hilarity.

Finally, a brief note to Life Cafe 983: folks, Q104 was killing it this morning! I mean, "Don't Fear the Reaper"? You gotta be kidding me! The bleary 70s rock was totally going with the rain-soaked ("cats and dogs!" as a guy passing me on the way to breakfast said) day outside. So why'd you have to put on some grating techno CD, huh? If you wanted electro, you could at least put on Phoenix or something. I mean jeez.