Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crowdsourcing the Tears for Fears Covers

Perhaps because they came at the expense of some of the writing I really should be doing instead, I was wondering somewhat about the wisdom of my dual music-related maunderings over the weekend -- James Murphy here, Ted Leo here. And I guess I sort of still am, given that I don't really want to be a music critic and am under no illusions in re: my qualifications for that gig -- it was not always thus, but at some point certain things have to fall away/be dropped -- and yet spent some time kind of wandering the edges of that territory. The question was how to get back on track.

You'd think the answer would involve actually doing some of the writing I'm supposed to do. This post should serve as proof that I've rejected that shortsighted course of action, and instead opted to do my best to listen to various Ted Leo albums again (while doing other things, because I'm not that serious about this sort of thing). It's just easier than finishing a novel, you know? Like, a lot easier? Because you're feeling a faintly meh-type feeling instead of excruciating anxiety and self-doubt? So easier in that regard. But also illuminating, in the sense that it confirmed the ambivalence I described in my previous post. It is suddenly occurring to me that I'm not sure ambivalence is the sort of thing that can be confirmed. Let's just get on to the next paragraph.

An email from the very intelligent and much more musically accomplished Jeff Ciprioni helped put this in perspective -- where I would have said that the records just didn't sound that good and were kind of monochromatic and dullish, Jeff heard not-that-great production. Which is actually a very good call. "They have the sound of being recorded cheaply and quickly, without any of the inventiveness of randomly pleasing 'mistakes' of the lo-fi records we know and love," Jeff writes, and I think that's right-on enough for me to risk the gray ethics of quoting from a personal email. Jeff's suggestion that Ted (or Matador) pay up for a record with Steve Albini is also just a really excellent idea: the band is so good (thus the excellent live experiences and the fucking awesome Tears for Fears cover above) that it's really ridiculous how many albums -- three, that I listened to -- they've managed to sound flat and unremarkable on. As someone who knows very little about how music gets made -- I think of it as delicious sausage for my ears! -- it's not surprising that I'd overlook the production thing.

See, situations like this are why Wired keeps telling me that crowdsourcing is going to cure the nation's economic woes, climate change and sleep apnea -- all these minds out there, just thinking and doing things. How couldn't it lead to a solution for global warming, when it so easily and swiftly identified why Ted Leo's studio albums are dull? Harness the power of the Internet, America. Harness the power!

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