Monday, November 17, 2008

Mission Statement for reviews

Local bands beware. No longer are you going to be coddled by the hometown writers. No longer will smoke be blown up your cracks. No longer will we use the phrase “they are pretty good, for a local band.” The Utah music scene is as big as it has ever been, but as good as it should be? I’ve always thought not. The abundance of talent in these here rocky mountain hills is overwhelming; this has never been the issue. Our issue has always been the lack of ambition. We have become a scene of musicians who want to start a “local band” like the “real” bands that the musician ultimately obsesses over. This is a common problem. Now aiming at a specific genre is one thing, but we need to be ambitious, we need imagination, entertainment. We need to create music, not local music. We as a scene in SLC, and across the front, have the talent, we have the venues, the eager listeners and audience, we have the recording studios and engineers, or even 4 tracks and computers to hammer out our opus’ in our garages and basements and bedrooms. “Close the garage, It’s an espionage!” We have to take things to state lines, buy our high point kegs, regardless of the time and price and effort and inconvenience and then we revel in the glory and goodness it provides over selling out for a 30 pack of Utah grade Keystone Light from Smith’s; and we need come back angry and on a war path. Creating art is not easy, or convenient it takes everything.

Now after hopefully lighting a fire under all you wannabes and cronies of the local scene allow me to give you my oath as a music writer. I will call out unimaginative, boring, horrible bands; I will slice you up small enough to feed the brine shrimp out in the great lake. I am not shy about criticism, and will not boost a bad scene for the good of the whole. I will stay honest. I know I can come off as arrogant and egotistical; my reviews may at times or at all time, read like self absorbed banter. But in a music writer we need honesty, our scene has always been full of boosters, well that time is now passed, I call you out, you boosters who call yourselves critics, I have to call you out, I owe it to the supporters of local music to support the music that deserves the support, and I especially owe it you the musicians. Can we be better? Yes. Can Utah be to rock music what Seattle once was? Sure, I can see the white light, but there is no white heat. Good bands usually just need the musical ambition and not more talent to become great bands. Bad bands usually are full of talent but lack direction or cohesion.

This being said I will not bash a band that is short on talent but huge on ambition and creativity. I will not bash a band whose brilliance is mottled by 4-track tones and bad garage acoustics. If a singer is ghastly but still reaches out with honestly and soul, I will give praise. As a critic I will not hate on an artist who bares it all in an self sacrificing intensity, but can barely hold his tune, that disgust is left for the drummers with 28 piece sets that overwhelm the melodies and bands with showiness and overdone cliché musical devices, just to show they are devastatingly talented at their craft. However, without being backed by carefully chosen musical devices and tones, musical ambition, and without delving into the depths of rock and pop culture and not just skimming the top mind you, our scene will not flourish to match the talent it is full of. We need the knowledge of those who built, molded and then tore down just to change it all up, every preconception of what an individual calls good music; instinct, it’s all due to what you chose, and choose not to hear. I am ready to be hated and abuse for my honesty, I can take it, give it to me straight. I will do the same, and in the process, entertain.

Arrogance and ego will get you everywhere in Rock and Roll. I believe this whole heartedly, Rock and Roll is not for the weary, the weak, or the kind mannered, it is debauchery and struggle, it is epic but simple, it is angry yet touching, it is it’s own opposition at all times, it can become our obsession and yet it can be just a big joke. I have tasted the wine in both the lonely cellars of our local scene and I have been drunk from the orgy of tongue-in-cheek praise, but now this is my Rock and Roll ambition, written in the form of a review, this is my soul laid out to you. I will be listening for yours.

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