do not consult your congressional digest, it will clear its throat and look away.

hese are the two worst songs i can think of right now. don’t ask me why i’m posting them, but here they are and here is exactly why they are so heinous.

R Dean Taylor is straitlaced. You can tell he only became a singer because someone offered him a monthly stipend and health benefits. You know he never went home with anyone after any concerts, never got in a fight with the soundman, never did anything but stumble a bit after hecklers. His voice sounds like the voice of a thousand autodialers, all somehow singing, not because they want to but because they were programmed to. This song caught my attention because it has Indiana in its title, and almost any song that mentions Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, or Rhode Island piques my interest. But the fact is, this song is supposed to be a murder ballad, and having someone who sounds like they would faint at the sound of gunshots singing it doesn’t help. The fact that Taylor killed someone for stealing his girl is even more perposterous, because he would never get the girl, never get a girl worth killing someone over, would never think of killing someone over that girl, and even if he thought of it, he would never follow through, he’d crack halfway through the application for a gun lisence. Even the police siren that comes in at the end sounds more like something off a 1920s radio drama than it does something really menacing. Taylor was one of the first white artists to record for Motown records. Not surprising, it was a trend that did not pick up much steam.

Indiana Wants Me” is an R Dean Taylor song that can be found on The Essential Collection: R Dean Taylor.

Pansy Divison do the exact opposite. This song is so real and so good, right up until the dinosaurs come in and Jerry Bruckheimer takes over. It is a song about a real moment we have all lived through (Coming upon something which unexpectedly stirs up intense memories of a past event or time), and for most of its length, it’s just guitarist Jon Ginoli recounting finding the name of a town where an intense love affair had occured on the back of a bottle of mustard. The song sinks into the past as the memory gets fleshed out. and then, because someone stupidly though this song needed a musical flourish, the string come in, and the keep coming and piling and building until there is really nothing of value left in this song. This songs austere lyrics are trampled by the 10 ton crescendo, when really the words had said it well enough.

Glenview” is from Pansy Division’s 2001 album Absurd Pop Song Romance.

(and)

I mean this in about as negative a fashion as i can say it; The Dodos are a clever band. They’re the guys who get paid to think up taglines for bad horror movies because they couldn’t write their own screenplay. They’ve got a good joke or two to tell, but when they try to tell stories, everything falls flat. The band can write a chorus decent enough to hold the song together and occasionally they do the repeated section really well (“this is my crutch, you had me at the face and the touch, but i can only give you so much before it goes away” from Jodi), but the rest of their songs’ lyrics seems like they found a rhyming dictionary and built the lines backwards. There’s no feeling in these songs besides the musical sway (which is powerful enough to carry these songs and then some). The lyrics are there because someone spent an afternoon writing them, not because they feel essential to the songs. This isn’t something new. A lot of bands write songs for the chorus, and it doesn’t bother me so much. It really gets to me when the Dodos do it for two reasons. First, the band seems to be reaching for personal stuff in the written words, naming several of their songs after people(“Joe’s Waltz”, “Jodi,” “Ashley”) or places (“Park Song,” a tame and uninteresting send up of Park Slope), and it seems unfortunate that none of the relationships feel original or even losely defined. More importantly, its because the band sounds like they’re riding a boogie board down a mudslide into a volcano, and for a band to sound so intellegent and excited musically and be so uninspiried lyrically is twice as dissapointing.

Jody” is from the Dodos’ 2008 album Visiter.

And no, i still don’t have internet in my house, so it might be another week before another post. sorry about the delay, but every time i move i forget exactly how arduous it can be.

3 comments

  1. Marcus

    Who posts songs just to trash them? What a completely rude thing to do. I dont know or care about the other bands, but personally i dont think you could be more wrong about The Dodos. No, its true their singer doesnt stuff his the emotion hes trying to convey down your throat, but as a whole – the music as one does well to convey an emotion (“God?” off of the Visiter album?). The singer doesnt dominate the song emotionally, but its not totally about him and its not totally about the lyrics, its about the music as a whole. “Ashley” off of the Visiter album couldnt be a better example. The singer is exactly as emotive as he needs to be, and the true sense of forlornment in the music comes from the guitar mixed and the GENIUS drums work *through the whole album*…ok im ranting. but basically, i think your a jerk for posting someones work who they put their heart and soul into for the sole purpose of saying why you dont like it. Jerk.

  2. songssavelives

    not like you’re going to read this reply, but I think we agree about more than you think, marcus. Meric Long, the Dodos’ singer (yeah, i had to wikipedia that), does put an admirable emotional weight into his delivery in most of his songs (i’ve only heard their album Visiter, so that’s what i’m basing this off of), and i was by no means critiquing his singing. My problem with the band (who i like, and spend a bunch of time heaping praise upon, btw) is one of lyrics. The musical compositions show them to be smart and creative people, and lyrically i don’t think the songs match up to that potential.

    and as per the whole “jerk” thing, i certainly don’t think you’re a jerk, even though you engage in exactly what you criticize me for doing (blanket negative statements ), so i guess you win that one.

  3. Marcus

    You underestimate my narcissism. I would totally come back to revel in the blow back of one of the very few negative comments i’ve ever really left. Everyones entitled to their opinion about the lyrics I suppose, although i think their simplicity serves them quite well. I enjoy your writing, and I may even agree with some of your points, but I have a big ideological problem when i search hypemachine for a band, and the first post that comes up tells me why i shouldnt like them. I wonder how many people youve discouraged from discovering an album that I’d call the best of 2008 so far. Blogging is more or less about criticism, yes, but I feel it should always be constructive and something that encourages the artists. Flaming is for commenters like me, not bloggers like you.

    oh, and their first album, in case anyones wondering, just as genius as the second.

    But keep it up. Not enough people in this business pay enough attention to making their writings poignant and coherent like you do. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s