August 23, 2005

CD Review, pt 1

Munuvia's resident drummer CD and his buddy Ryan have put together a new collection of songs that they've been working on over the summer. He's inviting any and all critiques so, naturally, as a third-rate musician myself, I've decided to give it a go.

The opening track is called Chainsaw. The lyric can be found here, and the download of the mp3 can be found here. I'm going to review the 7 songs one-by-one. The first is tonight; the second tomorrow night and the third Thursday night. As I'll be away for the weekend to attend the funeral wedding of my cousin Andy, the remaining tracks will be downloaded and reviewed Monday through next Thursday.

Since CD is one of my favorite bloggers (when he blogs **shakes fist**), I've wondered if I should be as brutally honest as I would be about the music of an anonymous stranger. (Of course, CD and I are strangers -- we've never met -- but, still, the blogosphere has a way of making everyone semi-familiar. Or as Ted said at our first luncheon meeting a couple o'weeks ago [paraphrasing]: "It's strange to meet a familiar blogger and be so surprised. You know how they think, but you don't know who they are.")

Before I begin blathering my opinion all over this album let me tell ya where I am, musically.

In high school I listened to the Sex Pistols, Ramones, the Clash, the Stranglers, X, the Dickies, etc etc. And
I had a wide range of records by bands that I guarantee you've never heard of. Some time in college I went looking for something else. This about the time that Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Bad Brains were all the rage among those who insisted the punk would never die.

Since college I've been drawn more to Brian Wilson's music and the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading (pre-The Key) and, for laughs, King Missile.

When Nirvana came along, I thought there was hopr for "alternative" music. I still think there is and, if a young guy was in fluenced by Nirvana, that's a good thing as far as I can tell.

The worst band in the world, in my opinion, was Weezer. They played power-pop songs to a grunge-punk instrumentation. I suppose they thought they were uniting the best of both words. All they did was piss off three sets of music fans. You're either power-pop or you're punk. The two don't mix on my board.

Anywho, on to CD Review, Pt 1: Chainsaw

CD singled out this one several times in his (above linked) post as the one to give the most elbow room. The microphones on the drums were lacking; vocals were out of his range in the chorus; etc, etc. I think he actually sounded better in the chorus then he did in the verses. Shouting seems to inspire a young man to perfection it seems. CD's vocal performance in the verses is less than a bit...... um.... stellar (to which he admits). While acknowledging no vocal training can excuse the tambre of a voice, it can't excuse to pitch control.

But let me say this: CD has excellent tambre -- his performance in the chorus proves it. I wish I had a voice that could get that much intestinal fortitude behind it. The problem is his tunefullness -- his ability to hit the notes. There's an almost tone-deaf sloppiness to his singing that he can, probably (like I did), get behind him through practice. But, as is, CD ain't no lead singer -- and he readily admits it and asks us to focus the lyric itself, not the sound. So, I will.

The thing that strikes me most about Chainsaw is that it's so non-specific to anything. It's an angry lyric about idiotarianism that doesn't mention one single idiotarian position. There's no anchor to this song other than frustration with not being able to get your own point across to someone who's unable to get their point across to you because you are too insistent on getting your point across to them. This is a song about an impasse -- due to a stubborn I'm-right-and-why-can't-you-see-it-ness -- that doesn't even realixe it.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Granted, it's good to be angry when you can explain why -- as CD does so well on his blog.
It's not so great to be angry when you can't be bothered to articulate the reason(s) why. All-in-all, I think that this song is a shadow of what it could have been. It chooses an emotion, yet neglects to anchor it in anything specific.

I suppose some might call that a virtue; That the listener -- from all sides of the political spectrum -- can hear their own voice in that universal feeling. That partisan philosophical anger. I'll grant that that was what they were going for even though they prob'ly weren't. ;)

I like to think that I am my own worst critic. As an "artist", I know that that's usually not true, though. But, at least, I do try to listen to those who know that I want honest feedback. Maybe they don't underdstand my work; but I'll assume that they understand my need to communicate the best way I can.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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