A Critical Look at Criticism: It’s our FIFTH anniversary! That’s five seasons at fifty episodes a piece, covering nearly that many albums, topics, as well as debates over what many would consider a trifling corner of cultural discourse. Five years has taught us that music truly is a boundless medium. And so, in our album discussions—incorporating everything from literary analogies to politics, psychology, sociology, life, love, pain, sorrow, and ever more complex conditions—we strive to honor artists’ hard labor by (at the very least) participating in combined acts of analysis, brainstorming, ruthless criticism, and garrulous adulation. It’s a mixed bag, but we hope, a fruitful one.
In this episode, we will be:
• Reflecting on the project;
• Discussing the barriers between criticism and analysis;
• Championing the merits of fact-checking;
• Discussing logical fallacies, laws, and rhetorical gibberish;
• Citing examples of specific critics and critical works, from Glenn Gould, to Pitchfork, to Yahtzee, and RedLetterMedia, where language, rhetoric, and satire have all aided the work, for good and for ill;
• Coming to terms with our own fallacies, clichés, and internet nonsense.
Day 4! It’s our last episode of the season, before our anniversary episode, and the project is Migration by Bonobo, the one-man project of British DJ Simon Green. Green describes Migration as “a study of people and spaces”; we’ll briefly touch on that, but we’re also interested in the artist’s crafty use of texture and soundscapes. Let’s have some analysis, some debate, and finally take a look at the idea of a cathartic experience vs. an antidotal experience.
(More like summersault, am I right?) Known as Beach Fossils, the unassuming Brooklyn-based low-fi indie rock band’s latest release is a head-scratcher alright — enjoyable, catchy, yet difficult to explain apart from our, admittedly, singularly-minded compulsion to conform it to the summer season. Let’s kick off the episode with a discussion on the ambiguous “summer album” before diving into Somersault itself by the Beach Fossils.
Day 2! While it might seem that the word “folk” gets applied to just about everything these days, English songwriter Richard Dawson has the apparent distinction of existing both at the primeval and pioneering fronts of that genre. With his unusual cracked vocals crooning over a broken (yes, literally broken) guitar, Dawson gives us Peasant, transplanting us to a Britain of very long ago, where not everything is as it appears and where coarseness and beauty are one and the same. Let’s unpack this project together and share its most attractive (and its most contentious) qualities. Also, what warped or broken instrument would you care to play? We’ve got ours, let’s hear yours!
And we’re back! It’s time to play catch-up as we post some episodes from lost weeks and proceed to count down to our 250th episode, our 5th anniversary spectacular! Expect an episode of the Crash Chords each day ’til Saturday 7/22 — that’s five episodes for five years. Today’s episode gets a bit on the ‘trippy’ side as we explore All Them Witches’ 2015 release, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, a work of neo-psychedelic proportions with a blues heart. You know the drill: let’s break it down, build it up, tear it down again, and have some fun.
After a six-year hiatus, the Celtic Rock staple of many-a merry pub crawler, Flogging Molly, has returned with a new album called Life is Good. (Isn’t it though?) Let’s spend an inordinate amount of time answering that particular question without answering it at all. Also, let’s talk about the music. Then, after all the ‘weighing ins’ and ‘reflecting upons’, let’s ponder the question of musical self-honesty.
Funneled through the gates of Footwork and IDM are the sounds of Black Origami, a confluence of rhythmic theses, footnotes, and diatribes produced by composer/DJ Jerrilynn Patton (Jlin). Though only her second album, Black Origami is born of a collaboration with Indian dance & movement artist Avril Stormy Unger, and of a kind of artistic freedom she has long been seeking. Let’s explore the album together and then return to a fond old subject: objectifying the subjective—or vice-a-versa!
Where were you in September 2012? We were fumbling through the Flobots’ last album, The Circle in the Square. And now, after many moons, we’re tackling them again, hopefully with steadier hands and heads. Jonny 5, Brer Rabbit, KennyO, and company are back at it, releasing their first album in that timespan, Noenemies. We’ll discuss the current state of Flobots, the new album and its content, while touching briefly on “having your back against the wall” so to speak—confronting the ‘thens’ and ‘nows’ of critical consideration.
Make way for K.Flay, the indie pop & rap artist whose introspective approach to songwriting and blend of singing styles warrant some proper dissection. Tackling her most recent LP, Every Where Is Some Where, we invite you to join us as we inspect the highlights and mull over a variety of details. With plenty of praise and plenty of debate, where do you stand in the track-by-track? Also stick around for a discussion on the fine line between comfort and propaganda.
It’s time for everyone’s favorite (and perhaps only) virtual band! Although we’ve inspected the work of Damon Albarn before, this is our first chance to take on the Gorillaz, an unrelated ensemble of animated musicians — 2-D, Mudoc, Noodle, and Russel — who, as far as we’re concerned, are behind the music we’re hearing. On their latest album, Humanz, the Gorillaz introduce a bevy of artists, both old and new, to help with the project and take on its variety of subjects. Let’s follow along! And save room for a brief discussion on the subjectivity and flexibility of rating criteria where art is concerned.