Construct Your Own Music Review
Choose from the following introductory paragraph ideas:
a) A treatise on `one man’s focus is another man’s side project,’ delving into the dichotomy of the career paths of Iran’s main songwriter, Aaron Aites, and guitarist Kyp Malone, more famously from TV on the Radio. One must mention the seven-year absence of Iran from the indie music scene, and thus make unapt comparisons to My Bloody Valentine or Portishead. In this introduction, the writer focuses so much on TVOTR, mentioning not only Malone, but the presence of producer Dave Sitek, that the reader becomes confused and repeatedly looks at the review’s header to reestablish direction.
b) A short study of obscurity, in which one can quote the press sheet’s references to David Berman and Jeff Mangum, while also deconstructing the band’s name, itself a fairly hip and obscure reference to Rick Deckard’s wife’s name from his novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a novel later to become the film, Blade Runner. One could then muse upon the ideas of making art vs. becoming famous, indie vs. major, bouncing back and forth between philosophies and real life examples of artists vs. entertainers and those who may toe the line. This quickly becomes a lengthy study of what entails the state of “cool” and must contain ironically ultra-self-aware nods to Swedish vampire films, Italo Calvino novels and a post-ironic love affair with reality shows.
c) If one is really ambitious, one could combine both of the above. Of course, this would make for a three-page review, of the kind only people like Terrance Terich would write. And we all know how much he likes to hear himself type.
Choose from the following review body concepts:
a) An essay on change. This kind of discussion could skew either way, for or against. The positivist will certainly remark upon the cleaner sound of Iran, celebrating the newfound pop sensibilities while still maintaining some lo-fi cred. Comparisons can be made to Pavement, Stephen Malkmus’ solo jam excursions and the aforementioned David Berman. One would also have to point out the hypocrisy of those who champion change post facto, such as with Dylan’s electric controversy and Radiohead’s Kid A experimentation. Those who would come down on the side against this change would have to reverentially talk about 2000’s self-titled album from Iran, and their 2002 follow-up, The Moon Boys, religiously writing about how no one liked them but you. The writer would also have to completely ignore the fact that change is inevitable after seven years.
b) The writer goes on an exhaustive and misguided hunt for songs that sound like TV on the Radio, merely because of the presence of Kyp Malone and producer Dave Sitek. Pointed out in particular are the fading riffs from “Buddy,” the falsetto closing “Baby Let’s Get High,” the fuzzed out overlapping feel of “Where I’m Going,” the vocal timbre of “I Already Know You’re Wrong,” but especially the textured depth of “Can I Feel What?” In this scenario, the writer fails to recognize the influences of other artists including the overt Bowie-ness of standout “Airport 79.”
c) A glowing song-by-song look at Dissolver, seven years in the waiting, in which one hits the touchstones above, yet also concentrates on how the extended guitar jams of “Baby Let’s Get High One Last Time Together,” the outright wankery of “Digital Clock and Phone” and Aites’ vocal style are a perfect amalgamation of the two sides of Stephen Malkmus, one the lo-fi pioneer with rock sensibilities, and the other a Dead-like jam songwriter prone to excessive improvisation and overlong codas.
Select a closing paragraph:
a) Discuss the seeming indecisiveness of Aaron Aites. Another visit to the well of “art vs. fame” might be appropriate, but the main focus of the paragraph should be on the noise rock of Aites’ past, the seven-year absence, and the opposite but equal pulls toward clean and tight production vs. discordant jams.
b) Herald the return of a rock god as if Elvis himself had risen from the grave, jammed with Hendrix and had Brian Eno producing. Be careful with this one, you can only use this type of hyperbole in a maximum of maybe 200 reviews per year.
c)Decry the death of irony and of rock and roll itself. This is nearly the opposite of the last paragraph, yet can be used in far more reviews. Declare that with Iran’s “Cape Canaveral / Buddy (Reprise),” Aites’ use of a recorded live audience and a later Beatles-type freak-out, he has single-handedly driven the final stake in the heart of all that was once good and pure in independent music. One must not waver in this, what I like to call, the “douchebag scenario.”
d) Refuse to take a stance on anything in particular, stating all of the above, yet culminating with the idea that Dissolver is simply put, a well-constructed pop-rock effort. In the end, it’s a record that respects the artist’s lo-fi roots while also progressing into more accessible territories. Everybody wins.