By CHARLES ANDREWS
REVIEWING ALBUMS SUCKS
As anyone who has done more than a few dozen knows.
It can be tedious, should be exacting, you search for the right words to express that most ethereal of art forms, and by the time you’re done you may not want to listen any more to that album you started out loving. You have to research extensively.
You have to listen a bunch of times for familiarity, a couple more times for detail, again to parts to reference what you’re writing about, then more times to see what the long-term judgement is.
Often something that sounds great at first is something that will drive you screaming from the room the fifth time around.
(Glad you didn’t tell people to get that one.) And it’s out there forever for anyone to listen for themselves and decide you are a gifted critic or a tone-deaf dipstick. And they will tell you.
Everyone has an opinion. And everyone is a music expert.
So why would anyone want to do this?
The record labels will start sending you a ton o’ discs (or downloads) for free, and if you’re a music junkie, that’s heaven. I’m over that, having realized long ago that I would need more than a cat’s lifetimes to listen to everything I already have. And I like all of what I already have. What you get sent for review is at least 50 percent crummy.
Why would you go from listening to what you love to listening to junk, because you have to?
You are on a mission to turn the world on to great music that might otherwise go unheard.
The Johnny Appleseed of tunes. That’s me, since college.
But in this jukebox-again age
of singles, streaming, Spotify, this week’s megastar-for-the-ages, one and done, album? — what’s an album? what’s a CD? — that paradigm is gone and dusty. People now find great music through their friends.
Well, people of a certain age do. For those of us over 40, reliable advice might still be worth something.
The variation on reason two is much more common: you are sure you know more about music than anyone and certainly have better taste and are here to educate the unwashed masses.
That’s not me, but it is too many music journalists that I’ve known. I’ve known some great ones too, some normal, humble, sensitive, tuned-in souls, excellent writers and true artists, but generally as a subspecies they’re reclusive, arrogant, angry, defensive, grody, toady, no social skills — which of course leads them to conclude they are God’s gift, a superior being.
I’ve thought a few times about throwing a party for only music reviewers.
They would fight for a corner to huddle in (and there’s only four), and fight to control the music being played. The first note of every tune would be drowned out by a chorus of “that sucks!” “Here!” “Let me put on something good!” And of course the place would empty out the moment the food and booze were gone.
MOVIES TAKE SO MUCH LONGER TO REVIEW
Than albums, and it’s much harder, I once had an editor tell me, after he had done a couple of each. (His argument as to why he wanted to pay me less than his film reviewer.) Ha.
You go to the screening, take copious notes in the dark (which you later can’t decipher), mull it over and write. A daunting task, no question, in the spotlight, done poorly by many and well by only a few.
(But they often get well compensated, whereas the music critics…) Compare that to the long process to review an album, that I outlined at the top.
Now of course film reviewers have to bring years or decades of knowledge and analytical movie watching, not to mention critical skills to bear before they write the first word. But longer, harder, nah.
So along with other music notes and some other arts, I will review some albums. For you dinosaurs. Maybe next Thursday. Right now I’m exhausted just thinking and writing about the whole thing.
HOW CAN I MISS YOU (when you won’t go away — Dan Hicks): As of Wed. morning, The Sound, 100.3 FM, was still fading away with no firm indication of the moment of its demise into “Christian contemporary” programing (new owners).
Still playing good rock but too bad they couldn’t have gone out with their A-to-Z Top 2000 rockers. That was fun. They should have just started it over.
RECOMMENDED: This Saturday evening, at that gorgeous club I mentioned last week, Vibrato, in Beverly Glen, the George Kahn Quintet, 6:30 (no cover) and 9:00 ($20).
Vibrato has a new music director, Shawn Amos, and here’s what they say about their Saturday nights now: “Saturdays are the centerpiece of the Vibrato supper club experience.
We present a carefully curated evening in which customers can enjoy five-star American cuisine alongside classic jazz, a celebration of an era when Sunset Strip rooms like Ciro’s, The Mocambo and Café Trocadero were the epitome of
Hollywood elegance and nightlife.”
About Kahn: “Kahn’s music has been featured on many TV shows and ads, including Lexus, ‘ER,’ ‘The Young and the Restless’ and ‘How William Shatner Changed the World.’ He has released eight self-produced CDs. In December 2012, George received a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles for his dedication to helping end homelessness in Los Angeles.”
That last part I didn’t know about Kahn, surprisingly, because, full disclosure, we have been friends for more than a decade.
Quite the musical family he has, with his wife Diana a well-respected vocalist and teacher, performing with the LA Master Chorale, for many years teaching at SMC (rave student evaluations) and now a vocal coach at Samohi, in Jeffe Huls’ notoriously excellent choir program.
George’s son Evan (Samohi grad) is a ridiculously talented, rising star cellist. Music parties in their home beat almost anything else you’d find in town.
RECOMMENDED: Fri. and Sat., Nuart Theatre, in-person Q&A with “Bill Nye: Science Guy,” at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. screenings.
LYRIC OF THE WEEK: “Ain’t nothing but a stranger in this world, I’m nothing but a stranger in this world, I got a home on high, in another land, so far away, so far away, way up in the heaven, we are goin’ up to heaven, we are goin’ to heaven, in another time, in another place, in another face.” — Catholic mystic and scat man Van Morrison (“Astral Weeks”).
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com