The following is something I wrote up a few months ago while trying to consolidate my thoughts on what to tell more-novice writers when they ask “But why can’t I write about every track?” Keep in mind this shows me trying to speak for Sputnik as a whole, but is also my personal opinion, so feel free to chime in as well as discussing my own reasons. Enjoy.
Track-by-track reviews are frowned upon on Sputnikmusic. Why? Because, at best, the site tries to be “professional.” And, obviously, there are different definitions on what makes a review that way, but the one generally agreed-upon rule is that explicitly track-by-track reviews don’t look good, especially beside full paragraph-by-paragraph album analyses. There are a number of explanations for this, and I’ll include a few here. First, track-by-track reviews typically have really, really short paragraphs. Which can be fine, but in almost all types of critical writing paragraphs should have at least a few sentences. We all probably learned this in elementary school: intro sentence, three body sentences, concluding sentence. And that’s probably the bare minimum, and usually even that’s not enough – typically, my paragraphs are about 8-12 sentences, which I think is a pretty good length as it’s beefy but not threateningly long. To reiterate: track-by-track reviews lead to too-short paragraphs, which really doesn’t look well-written and complete.
Second, track-by-track reviews are almost always incredibly disjointed. A review should have some sort of coherent structure (and no, brief intro…
The band members: Lynn Gunn, Alex Babinski, and Brian MacDonald
I like to believe that thanks in some part to the small but dedicated PVRIS fanbase here on Sputnikmusic, the young post-hardcore band’s music has gained serious traction in the alternative music world and signed to Rise Records as a direct result. Obviously, the chances of the four or five people who still actively comment on my gushing (if somewhat incompetent) review of their debut self-titled EP as a significant cause of label A&R picking up on the electric energy of the group’s distorted guitar wails and penchant for catchy songwriting is pretty slim. That being said, the band deserves credit where credit is due, and their focused live energy translates well to recording. When their inevitable first full-length comes out (soon, hopefully!), it promises to be a good’un. We got the chance to have a quick chat with lead singer Lynn Gunn following the band’s Warped Tour set in Mansfield, MA about the upcoming release, new musical directions, and performing through a medium like Warped.
We’re here with Lynn of the now eminently Google-able PVRIS with a V, as opposed to the original, eminently un-google-able Paris with an A. How are you doing?
I’m good! How are you?
I’m good, thanks! Tiring day, but, you know…
(laughs) I feel that.
Your album has been looming on the horizon for…
Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist: Q2 Edition
No KISS featured on this list, unfortunately
Welcome to Sputnikmusic’s first Infinite Playlist of 2014. Confusingly, this is also based in Q2 – there was no Q1 playlist due to the author’s laziness. This also marks our first Infinite Playlist since SowingSeason (the originator of the list’s idea) went Emeritus, making it especially fitting since he has returned to the fold. Welcome back, Sowing. On this list are some of the finest tracks of the past three months from all over the world, as chosen and written about by the Sputnik userbase. We’ve got some great music to promote, from black metal to fuzzy, scuzzy stoner rock to sublime electronic. Enjoy.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Click on the track titles while holding down the CTRL key, and the song will open in a new tab. Clicking without the CTRL key will cause your browser to leave this page and make reading the blurbs mighty difficult.
This issue’s contributors are as follows:
Artuma / Arcade / Passive Madman / TheSupernatural / silentstar / dimsim3478 / Brostep / RogueNine / RivalSkoomaDealer / ExplosiveOranges / PitchforkArms / cmaitland421 / ScuroFantasma / Judio! / laughingman22 / Azn. / Rhyme …
Over the past few days, there’s been a bit of a hullabaloo on Sputnik regarding what, exactly, constitutes evidence in a review. In the comment thread for contributor Josh Fountain’s review for the new Powerman 5000 album, there have been a few people attacking the review itself for, among other things, its “lack [of] basic argumentation.” At the risk of pulling some comments out of context, users have described it as a review “chock-filled with “cheap insults,” one that is “extremely annoying” and “filled with animosity.” While for every user who complained, there were about five or six supporting the reviewer (which, to an extent, I approve of), the thread still devolved into a trainwreck of “this review sucks/you suck/Powerman 5000 sucks/this thread sucks.”
I’ve already voiced most of my thoughts about the review itself in the first few pages of comments, but for those of you unwilling to read a few extra paragraphs of me blathering on about writing about writing about music I basically argued that evidence in the traditional sense is moot in terms of writing reviews. Of course it’s possible to describe a song down to the timbre of an instrument and utilize that as evidence as to why it’s an objectively brilliant and/or stupid piece of art, but for the near-total majority of the general Sputnik-reading-and-writing populace such criticism is undesirable and usually too dense and pedantic to read. If an author wants to argue that the reason such-and-such a song is…
“Shallow house. It’s not quite deep.”
It’s easy to write off something with a name as silly as “shallow house” as a stupid idea. And, in many respects, it is. The term was created “as a joke” a few days ago on the nigh-omnipotent hydra-like centralized collection of websites that is Reddit, intending to poke fun at the current comment war between people calling artists like Tchami and Oliver Heldens “deep house” and people for whom “deep house” means more than just groovy, bass-centric 4×4 music. Both sides have an understandable position, of course. Most of those in the former camp are dissidents from the big-room house movement which is currently exerting significant control over the global dance scene, disenchanted with the uncreative, poorly-produced slop they’ve heard for too long. They’re enchanted with the infective, funky bass and shocked at the relative sparsity of the compositions, and seeing Beatport and various ill-informed music blogs refer to the music as “deep house” (a phenomenon which I don’t entirely understand) they take it to be the correct term. In the latter group, of course, are the veteran house-heads. They’ve seen the primarily gay and black house sound of the Chicago and New York days appropriated and desecrated for profit by major-label execs eager to promote the easy-to-swallow house of everyone associated with labels like Spinnin’ and Revealed (including Heldens and Tchami), and having their soulful, colorful deep house reinterpreted by a bunch of young white guys (and yes, most of the new…
The other day, I stumbled upon a most brilliant piece of satire: The Chainsmokers’ new single “#SELFIE (out now on typically straight-faced Dim Mak Records). Every single element of the track scoffs at what we’ve taken to be the norm nowadays in the #PLUR region of the musical map, and it does so exquisitely. The satire is so prevalent, in fact, that you’d be hard-pressed to find a single part of “#SELFIE” which doesn’t poke fun at something. The vocal sample is clearly the focal point of this satire – an extended cut from the voice of a woman, most likely drunk and wearing a shirt that says “EAT SLEEP EDM” or “KEEP CALM AND RAVE ON,” as she lauds the hedonistic life of sleazy guys, Instagram filters, Internet stars/models, and clubbin’ in America in the year 2014 (sample anti-poetic gem: “Did you see her? She’s so short, and her dress is so tacky. Who wears cheetah?). And, of course, at the song’s climax, she delivers the clincher, everything The Chainsmokers take to be wrong with today’s scene distilled into five beautiful words: “Let me take a selfie.”
Beyond that wonderful verbal commentary, though, lies an ocean of mouthwatering deceit. Take the song itself, for example: it’s as generic as they come, with two low-register notes repeated over and over again pre-drop and the exact same synth texture post-drop, the standard snare/clap doubling over and over again until a drop that can only be described as “#EPIC,” and repetitive, grating…