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 Something I've Noticed

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cooljayhu
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PostSubject: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:01 am

So it's been about a month since the release and I've noticed something. Or I guess the lack of something bad/mediocre reviews. Now I'm suggesting this album is bad by any means. It is quite good. However I've seen exactly one review that had it less than 8/10 (by a youtube music reviewer who gave, what I feel, is the most honest take on the album out there (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZA29cQNoQc). (There was also a Rolling Stone review at 3.5/5 but they suck at reviewing music, especially punk music. I mean they gave SFAFC 3/5 for fuck's sake.)

To be fair, this is a good album. However, there are some notable and obvious problems with it. While I enjoy the stripped-down production in a general sense, the production just isn't that great. The more I listen the more I hear subtle things like guitars fading in and out and poor sound mixing. The bass on "Dead Friend" is seriously non-existent. And you can't argue this was the intent based on LGJ's answers in her recent Reddit AMA. To put it simply, this album is flawed in a few notable aspects and that is without even addressing my issues with some of the songwriting and lyrics.

Despite this, I keep seeing LJG retweeting rave review after rave review. It's honestly getting on my nerves at this point and I had to express my feelings. I've seen numerous 5/5 reviews. This album, in no way, shape, or form, can honestly be assessed a 5/5. It's just not. It has too many fundamental problems with its production and mixing to even be considered at that level. So that left me wondering "Why?". Why are there so many rave reviews despite it's obvious and glaring flaws?

I'm willing to admit that perhaps my deep-seeded love of Against Me!'s older catalog is clouding my judgement. However I'm a "post-New Wave" fan. I came into this following well after AM! was established as punk rock icons (side-note: I love New Wave). So, I do not think that can explain it entirely.

I believe it comes down to the fact that reviewers are letting the message of the album cloud their judgement. It's like Macklemore winning best hip hop album. Sure, it was a good album but I think the message of it (especially in "One Love") is leading to people propping it up more than it should. The music industry is generally a pretty liberal place (except maybe country). Especially the punk community. No one wants to come out opposed to this album because of the message it espouses.

Maybe I'm wrong and I'm completely willing to be proven so. However, I think at the very least it's something to ponder. Are we all so wrapped up in supporting Laura's journey that we aren't willing to admit she made an average album about a terrific message?
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:35 am

This. all this.

I've pretty much thought all of this and couldn't have articulated it better myself. It's like no one wants to say anything negative about the album for fear of it being perceived as an attack on what the album is about. Cool message an all, but it's really a pretty mediocre album. Whether you take that in terms of AM!'s catalog or albums in general, I believe it is true.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:39 pm

Some people have no problem with the production levels at all.
Like me. I think it sounds great.
I also think it sonically sounds better than New Wave, Axl Rose (obviously), and Eternal Cowboy.
I absolutely love every song on it. I've listened to it every day since it leaked (Jan. 12th), and am nowhere near being sick of it.
It gets a 10/10 score from me... no fucking doubt about it.

I don't know why you even care what other people think of it. It's just music.
Getting mad or irritated at someone's preference/opinion of music is, to me, as dumb as someone else being upset that my favorite color is pink.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:11 pm

telegraphrocks wrote:
Some people have no problem with the production levels at all.
Like me.  I think it sounds great.
I also think it sonically sounds better than New Wave, Axl Rose (obviously), and Eternal Cowboy.
I absolutely love every song on it.  I've listened to it every day since it leaked (Jan. 12th), and am nowhere near being sick of it.
It gets a 10/10 score from me... no fucking doubt about it.

I don't know why you even care what other people think of it.  It's just music.
Getting mad or irritated at someone's preference/opinion of music is, to me, as dumb as someone else being upset that my favorite color is pink.  

But it's not about preferences at all. It's about quality of work as well. Somebody who loves Katy Perry could give her a 10/10 and I can't really argue that much because it's not really my taste. However, I absolutely know her production value would be off the chart. It would a well put-together album full of songs I hate.

I don't often say this, usually I'd go with "I disagree but..." or "I see your point but...". You are wrong about the production on this record. It's not just that I disagree but you have a valid point I think you're flat out wrong. It is not good. The song-writing and lyrics aside, this album sounds bad in some places. Honestly listen Dead Friend and tell me the sound mixing is good. There are parts on other songs where the volume of the guitars changes. Parts of the album are so hollow and echoey it's like they were recorded either in an empty gym or underwater. These are the hallmarks of someone who lacks the ability to produce a top-notch or hell even an average recording.

Honestly, it's quality is even worse than White Crosses. I dislike the production on WC more than this for numerous reasons I have expounded upon previously. But I can at least see that the Vig knew what he was doing. The album sounds professional. It's the same way I feel about the Katy Perry album. I don't like it but I can appreciate the skill of the producer and sound mixer. I can't in good faith say that about TGDB.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:56 pm

Well, for this album, "Dead Friend" is the only song, I think, that sounds iffy in places.  The intro, and the verses.  The choruses sound fine.  It's obvious that "Dead Friend" was recorded at a different studio than the others that made the album.

Also, I absolutely love the production levels of White Crosses.  I think it's their best album, both song-wise, and sonically.
I've been a huge punk fan since the early 90's, and I'm not going to pretend that shit doesn't sound better because it has a bigger budget.  10 or 15 years ago, I'd say White Crosses sounds like shit, but I've grown up.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:32 pm

That last part about being "grown up" sounded conceited / insulting.
Not a slant on you at all.

Basically, the jist of what I was saying is that I love punk rock, but could give a shit about something being punk rock.

I don't know. Nevermind. I'm retarded.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:25 pm

telegraphrocks wrote:
... White Crosses.  I think it's their best album, both song-wise, and sonically.

This continues to boggle my mind.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:45 pm

Bum, bum, buuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:04 pm

telegraphrocks wrote:
Bum, bum, buuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!

This is me when you say things like that:


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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:27 am

Hahahahaha!

High-five!
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:27 am

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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:41 am

plenty of reviews have pointed out flaws, but an album is more than just the sum of its parts. the general consensus i'm seeing is that there are problems, but the good parts outweigh the bad to make a better than average album. or even a great one. subject matter isn't something that can be ignored, it's all part of the whole. at the end of the day, this shit's 100% subjective, so who cares? i'm glad the great reviews are going to a great band instead of a shitty one.

and macklemore is the worst.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:40 pm

Cooljayhu... using a Liz Lemon gif automatically makes me love you no matter what.

R.I.P. 30 Rock.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:45 pm

telegraphrocks wrote:
Cooljayhu... using a Liz Lemon gif automatically makes me love you no matter what.

R.I.P. 30 Rock.






Side note: I think I'm just going to reply with gifs from now on. So much easier than coming with words and thoughts and stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:49 am

The production in this album is just sub par when compared to new wave or white crosses. I like the raw production of their pre butch vig days too, but TDB seems to be halfway in between the two. Which I dislike more than the production on others.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:16 am

cooljayhu wrote:
Are we all so wrapped up in supporting Laura's journey that we aren't willing to admit she made an average album about a terrific message?

I don't think I am, but the media at large? Almost definitley.

I think it's like when a great actor gets an oscar for a mediocre role. It's their previous efforts that are being considered.

Long answer:
 
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:09 pm

Various Artists wrote:
cooljayhu wrote:
Are we all so wrapped up in supporting Laura's journey that we aren't willing to admit she made an average album about a terrific message?

I don't think I am, but the media at large? Almost definitley.

I think it's like when a great actor gets an oscar for a mediocre role. It's their previous efforts that are being considered.

Against Me! are (and I don't know if this opinion of mine will ever change) the greatest musicians in recent history. It's hard to talk about their genuine excellence without seeming like a idiot 'punk', but I really believe there's something so fucking superb about their music.

Honestly, I love their early catalogue but everything they have released has been fucking incredible. Except Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Why? I think you're spot on about the production. It's not good. To mention only one: Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ could have been truly anthemic, but it seemed to fall short.

That said, I don't think the songs have declined in quality. It's hard to describe but I look at every Against Me! album as 'whole'. The b-sides and the demos are all part of my consideration when I say a particular album is my favourite. New Wave was so fucking good in my eyes, but didn't the b-sides make it better?

Transgender Dysphoria Blues was full of great songs, of which only about a half met their potential.

So yeah, it's an overly praised ablum, but maybe it has to do with the realtively unrecognised brilliance of Against Me!





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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:43 pm

I'm loving these gif responses.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:19 pm

telegraphrocks wrote:
I'm loving these gif responses.


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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:29 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:34 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:19 pm

cooljayhu wrote:
Various Artists wrote:
cooljayhu wrote:
Are we all so wrapped up in supporting Laura's journey that we aren't willing to admit she made an average album about a terrific message?

I don't think I am, but the media at large? Almost definitley.

I think it's like when a great actor gets an oscar for a mediocre role. It's their previous efforts that are being considered.

Against Me! are (and I don't know if this opinion of mine will ever change) the greatest musicians in recent history. It's hard to talk about their genuine excellence without seeming like a idiot 'punk', but I really believe there's something so fucking superb about their music.

Honestly, I love their early catalogue but everything they have released has been fucking incredible. Except Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Why? I think you're spot on about the production. It's not good. To mention only one: Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ could have been truly anthemic, but it seemed to fall short.

That said, I don't think the songs have declined in quality. It's hard to describe but I look at every Against Me! album as 'whole'. The b-sides and the demos are all part of my consideration when I say a particular album is my favourite. New Wave was so fucking good in my eyes, but didn't the b-sides make it better?

Transgender Dysphoria Blues was full of great songs, of which only about a half met their potential.

So yeah, it's an overly praised ablum, but maybe it has to do with the realtively unrecognised brilliance of Against Me!






I think you're probably partially right about people wanting to be supportive of Laura and thus being a little more forgiving of the lesser songs (Paralytic States... ugh). But to me that's fine. Honestly, if this record sucked, I think people would come right out and say it. Since Laura came out I've said I don't even really care what her gender is, I just don't want her to make shitty records. And I was very happy to finally get the record and listen to it over and over again (even after knowing most of the songs by heart from bootlegged acoustic versions) and see that yes, they're still making good music.

I think the view that the record "should" be getting a 6.89 instead of an 8.46 out of 10 because you can hear the volume on a guitar change in a certain track is just a flawed way of thinking about music, because it assumes that the artist is just trying to earn a gold star on their report card from critics with their album, and that proper evaluations of the music must be based on specific criteria ensuring that the record meets some industry standard of what records need to sound like. With punk music especially, these arbitrary standards just mean so little to me. Look at Disco Before the Breakdown-- a sloppy, slapdash recording. And yet I'd give the EP a perfect score. Beginning in an Ending is so fucking powerful, and it sounds like it's recorded on a TalkBoy in a cafeteria. New Wave has "perfect" production, and I'm pretty lukewarm on that album. Technically it's beautifully executed, but it just doesn't have the same magic as their best releases, which to me just highlights the fact that production quality has never really dictated whether or not I connect with an AM! record.

VA is right on the money with everything they being part of a whole. And in the case of TDB, the backstory and historical context of the band is incredibly important to the actual experience of the record and absolutely has an impact on how good or bad people are going to rate the music. Saying that the record shouldn't be so highly regarded because of the production, on the other hand... I'm not seeing it, man. The songs that sound bad to have problems that are way more rooted in arrangement than production. Just my opinion.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:49 pm

I was really only pointing out the flaws in production because I thought that was something most people could hear and agree on. I actually have more problems with this record than that. It has some good songs and it has some subpar songs. The lyrics on Dead Friend and Drinking With The Jocks make me cringe and are especially horrendous after Laura's previous efforts on songs off of RAR, ATEC, and the first 3 EPs.

I just feel that the intent has to be considered when reviewing an album. How was the album intended to sound? Does it sound like that? And does the production undercut the album in any way? For me the production is distracting at best and awful at worst. That being said, even if it was a beautifully produced masterpiece I would still have a hard time getting it above a 7 or 8 out of ten. However, I would then have less of a problem with a perfect score being given because with those issues aside it then comes to matter of taste. It would be subjective (do you like this music?) rather than being objective (does the album sound good?)
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:20 pm

your mistake is in thinking there's anything objective about judging music. it's all subjective. off key singing works in some bands. mistakes fit in perfectly on some records. unintentional sounds make their way onto records. some of it sounds horrible and distracting to some, others love it. it's 100% subjective. some people really love this record. some don't. life goes on.
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PostSubject: Re: Something I've Noticed   Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:44 pm

doctoracula wrote:
your mistake is in thinking there's anything objective about judging music.  it's all subjective.  off key singing works in some bands.  mistakes fit in perfectly on some records.  unintentional sounds make their way onto records.  some of it sounds horrible and distracting to some, others love it.  it's 100% subjective. some people really love this record.  some don't.  life goes on.

I'm not making that mistake. There is nothing subjective about production. It's either good or it isn't. When the bass drops out in the middle of the song or the sound mixing is all over the place that is bad. Period. Whether it ruins your experience with the album is where it enters the subjective territory.
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