collective consciousness

Posted in criticism, music by eddie on January 26, 2009



It was both unsettling and self-validating: OMG THE NEW YORK TIMES STOLE MY LEAD PARAGRAPH IDEA. Or I stole theirs, as the date of this article is clearly stamped January 16th and my review of the new Animal Collective in the Phoenix was dated January 21st. It’s pretty much a non-issue since the story we reference speaks for itself and I most CERTAINLY DID NOT read their article first, but I figured I might as well bring it to attention and simultaneously make a half-assed attempt to clear my name.  Because here at the Phoenix, accountability matters™. Read that article, by the way.

It’s interesting because it broaches the subject of how one should approach music reviews, or kind of any arts criticism: Do you willfully avoid reading others’ pieces on the same album (or whatever) before your writing to ensure no subconscious plagiarism of ideas? Or do you frantically browse as many reviews as you can to make sure your ideas are original and, if not, change them as such, or to use others’ ideas as a base for your own?

More after the jump.

Pardon me for getting a little Inside the Critics’ Studio for a moment: For Merriweather, I took the former method (avoidance, per usual), and after finally reading a bunch of other critics’ takes it’d be natural for a reader to envision weekly meetings in a cave to come to a conspiratorial consensus on every major music release. This unconscious groupthink, wherever it stems from, could be a reason why so few people give two shits about music reviews in the Internet era; the age-old “Duuuuude, where’s the Lester Bangs of our generation, MAAAAN?” card. There’s just only so many words to describe how Animal Collective’s synths sound or how choir-like Panda Bear sounds or whatever, and it’s discouraging when everyone comes to the same boring ends.  And I’m just as implicit in this, by the way.

In other HOLY FUCKING SHIT ANIMAL COLLECTIVE news, their legions of anonymous, snarky bloggerati/ fans fascinate me just as much as the music itself. People go on about how Obama was the first presidential candidate to properly utilize the internet as a marketing tool; it’ll be interesting to see who arts historians (that’d be a funny job) place as the poster-act for mastering the Internet.  It’s probably safe to say no one has mastered it yet (though I’d argue that screamo bands, Kanye and Taylor Swift are frontrunners).

In some warped way, the voracious hipster blogger/message board community feels like our generation’s answer to fanatic teenyboppers of the 60’s and 90’s, where blogs are the new Tiger Beat rags.  And in the disjointed, web-fueled mainstream, Animal Collective just might become *NSYNC.

Before I go, some hyperbolic food for thought: A friend (and Phoenix writer) threw out the idea that AC’s “Daily Routine” channeled The Beatles “A Day In the Life.”  He wasn’t implying anything heretical, though many Internet fans would make that claim without batting an eye.  ANYWAY, I was listening to Sgt. Pepper yesterday and decided that in that vein I’d throw out that “Chores” is Panda Bear’s “Fixing a Hole.”  DISCUSS AMONGST YASELVES.


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