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on Monday, April 12th, 2010 at 7:46 pm and is filed under dyson posts, random thoughts.
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Ok, Mr. SmartyPants, you’ve hit my bugabear! This is maybe the worst thing about music blogging and music crit. People feel compelled to compare music to some commonly known sound or band just to tell the reader what the hell they’re writing on sounds like. It’s either this or you have to stick to a purely genre-specific description and not many of us feel confident enough to do that. So, the easy way out is to pull out the handful of bands or albums that everyone knows and line up the comparisons. It’s dreadful and boring and thoughtless. And as you say, often wrong.
On the other hand, how do we know what inspired what? Just because someone can’t name every song on the album and their music might not have the sound you’d expect it to, doesn’t mean it’s not influenced or inspired, eh? xo
Interesting – not sure whether this is ultimately a Beach Boys piece or an editorial that uses the Beach Boys as Exhibit A…
For conversation’s sake, I want to think about the record for a second – but only based on it’s pulling factor (like the wind on a sail) both past and present. Pet Sounds was an iconic release – a polarizing one for popular music, for sure. But you can make the clear argument that Pet Sounds period of influence came before the album came out (most pronounced in the efforts of the Beatles who were going tit-for-tat with The Beach Boys at the time – whether McCartney readily admits it or not..) and now long after – in sweet, perfect, reflection.
Now is when we can return to the aspects of your piece that were far more editorial. I don’t completely disagree with you on the “bullshit” meter when bands list 14 prominent influences. This means different things to different people. I tend to take these things seriously; if someone is an influence, they have changed me in some way. I suspect that’s your perspective as well.
But that’s not the way everyone thinks. There are lot of people making music out there today who couldn’t make the records they are making in 2008, 2009, 2010 that wouldn’t have the license or perception to do what they do without bands like The Beach Boys and albums like Pet Sounds. Most of these kids probably never heard the albums straight through but they can appreciate where they are – and recognize, that the road was blazed by someone else. Ultimately, you and I can’t understand their seemingly vacant devotion to someone they don’t seem to appreciate it – but there are many ways to do the things we do.
Ironically, the selection of the Beach Boys may have not been the best example to prove your point since this esoteric album of exploration on Pet Sounds, and Smiley Smile – evidence that the music was really self indulgent and meant for artistic minds. If the public got “it,” then it was fine – but it was going to be a happy accident at best. Maybe that’s how the best art gets made, you know – by divine accident influenced by a number of factors…. Just ask the kid that doesn’t know any songs from Pet Sounds. He likes it. He just can’t tell you why.
It’s such a terrible album to LISTEN TO, though. You know, LISTEN TO with your EARS. With the exception of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Pet Sounds”, there’s barely a decent melody on it. It goes on and on and on and on. I don’t remember wanting an album to end so badly since “Sgt. Pepper’s…” and, recently, “Yeezus.” I’ll take “Surfin’ U.S.A.” or “All Summer Long” any day. Or even “Beach Boys Party.”
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