Recent comments

  • Recently Seen Movies - With Comments, But No Spoilers   14 years 13 weeks ago

    We've both been fairly absent lately - good to see your're still checking in from time to time! So you went and saw The World is not Enough despite my dire warnings, huh?

  • 0011: Steven Spielberg's Ten Best Films   14 years 13 weeks ago

    Tell me about Duel; should I add it to my "to see" list?

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 13 weeks ago

    Hey hey . . . So I have on my "to do" list to reply to the "best vs. favorite" thread from another list. But as you know, I haven't. Every time I sit down to try, I realize that my own thoughts on the subject aren't clear enough to verbalize them. Also, I'm painting the outside of our house (a large, hellish job (even worse because I'm afraid of ladders)), and my Listology time has been sharply curtailed (I think I've whined about that before).

    However, while I haven't posted much lately, I try to read everything, and I have found this discussion to be fascinating. It's hard to be passionate AND articulate, but you're both doing an admirable job so far. I hope you see it through; I'll feel deprived if you choose to continue it via e-mail instead of here. I'm sure I'm not the only one finding this educational. Of course, if you feel it's gotten too personal, I'd understand not wanted to continue the discussion publicly, so that's entirely up to you. I'll shut up now.

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 13 weeks ago

    I hope that you are not truly going to let this discussion go; I believe it has been interesting to debate and explore our criteria for evaluation. Of course, you don't have to respond to this post, but I want to make a couple of points in response to your last post and would value your response.

    First of all, I feel that you have rebutted minor points instead of answering my core points. If i use the words "impulse" and "taste" interchangably, I apologize; however, i was simply trying to vary word choice and there is no ideological assumption lurking in my choice of words. Likewise, I obviously think there are more ways to enjoy a work than merely to explore it over and over; you must think me a moron if this is my only way to enjoy things. For brevity's sake, I only listed one way. Also, you know me well enough to know that I believe that the sum of an album can transcend its parts; I do not believe that VU&N is great because of a laundry list of the qualities that go into "greatness." I was merely listing some of the reasons I think it is a great album; if I didn't list any reasons, I would seem to be talking about something I have no knowledge of.

    Second, I feel that it is wrong for you to keep putting me in an either/or pigeonhole. In your first paragraph you say that you don't like the idea of calling an album great "simply because it follows 'standards of criticism.'" This misrepresents me because I NEVER said this was the reason to determine an album's greatness; it is a part of the process but not an overriding consideration. You also make statements to the effect that either the standards or the taste judgment comes first. Why must either come first? What I have been advocating is that the critic's job is, to the best of his or her ability, combine the two in attempting to separate the wheat from the chaff; the two complement each other, not set themselves up naturally into a hierarchy. You say even earlier that the historian and critic are distinctly different; this is a false dichotomy. The Historian judges what elements deserve telling and from what viewpoint to present: he or she is as interpretive and subjective in most cases as any critic (in fact, the historian IS a critic). It is impossible to completely separate the two.

    Next, in the post you made before this last one, you say that a critic shouldn't review something if it is in a field the critic has no taste for. Which field is the Velvet Underground in that I have no taste for? Underground music? Proto-Punk? Experimental? I think I have a taste for any field that VU could be placed in. Now admittedly, because I don't care as much for them, i probably have no business waxing eloquently in a book about how brilliant the album is; however, because i am familiar with it, I do have the right to place it in an essential list, which does not call for the same indepth analysis that an article or book might.

    The question is this: in your opinion, can a critic admire and believe a work is great without personally embracing it? I think he or she can, without "blindly taking others' words for it."

    What makes the critic's job so difficult is not that they must disregard all outside standards but that he or she must strive to integrate the two sides of the personality: taste and objectivity. You're right in saying that certain works are villified because they go against prevailing standards, but there are always far-sighted critics willing to hold up the new works and artists as great, e.g. Ruskin with the Pre-Raphaelites. And just because the critical mainstream sometimes gets it wrong, does that justify chucking the whole system? Absolutely not; that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    To sum up: the essential lists attempt to combine historical and objective understanding with personal taste; if a novice to trip-hop buys the albums on this list, they will be able to explore all facets and stages of the genre while at the same time hearing quality music. Shadow and Presage show the experimental side, while Sneaker Pimps and Morcheeba show the pop side. Tricky, Portishead, and Massive Attack demonstrate the origins and pinnacle, while Enigma is one example of non-trip-hop music that demonstrates certain traits later developed in the genre proper. I have combined taste and objectivity to produce an excellent, enjoyable, and well-rounded look at the genre of trip-hop.

    I don't wish to see this discussion become acrimonious, but I think I have clearly explained my points so that there can be no more misrepresentation. I would appreciate feedback from anyone, especially lbangs, a critic I honestly have the utmost respect for.

    Johnny Waco

  • 0007. L. Bangs' Great Lyric Challenge   14 years 13 weeks ago

    Put in a country song for me. Nothing to old!!

    thanks,

    Tate

  • 0007: My Ten Favorite 2000 Films   14 years 13 weeks ago

    lbangs this is your brother, I enjoy your lists very much and I have gone through most of them although my knowlegdge of movies is limited. I as you might guess, I would put gladiator in that grouping but thats just me. Another good movie of this year is the whole nine yards with bruce willis.

    See ya, Tate

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 13 weeks ago

    I always forget various artist compilations! Headz is not only rather important, but also quite good. It could easily replace numbers 1, 6, 8, or 9 above.

    Oh, Dr. Nut, I thought you believed Tricky "sucks"?

    Ah, always ahead of my time... Hurry and catch up. ;)

    Shalom, y'all!

    L. Bangs

  • Pearls of Wisdom from Joni Mitchell Lyrics   14 years 13 weeks ago

    yo frida...this is barbieOONA...sorry for my pseudo-abusive post previously....aaargh. ok that's all i wanted to say....yes you are dangerously obsessed with joni AND latin american men....heehee. love, k

  • Songs I've Gotten Stuck in My Head While Being a Meter Maid this Summer   14 years 13 weeks ago

    jen man!!! i wanna hear all about your gig as a meter maid....email me or write soon, love your private screening, partner in crime....katherine

    ps. the thong song is stuck in my head too!! have any tips for banishing songs from one's head? besides replacing one song with another....:)

  • Alltime Sweatiest Movies   14 years 13 weeks ago

    I have four words for you: A TIME TO KILL. Dude! Those people were sweating rivers. Cool list idea, by the way!

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 13 weeks ago

    Johnny Waco,

    While your post is fairly complete, I feel there is one album you've neglected to mention that is a cornerstone of the genre. The "Headz" compilation released in '94 on MoWax not only showcases many of the genre's sylistic signatures, but also "endtroduced" us to one of the people on your list, DJ Shadow. Seeing that Tricky is on the list in some capacity 3 times, I feel you could easily dispense with his "Premillenial Tension" and replace it with "Headz", which 1) would not diminish his contribution to Trip Hop in the least and 2) give a very influential record its proper due.

    Also, I was pleased to see the unconventional choice of "Outer Perimeter" on the list. Like Company Flow's "Little Johnny From The Hospital", this probably leans a bit more towards Experimental Hip Hop, but the distinction between this style and Trip Hop from an instrumentation standpoint is a whole other discussion altogether.

    All in all, a pretty solid list. But with people such as yourself and Lester Bangs on this site, I would expect nothing less.

    The Vanguard of Taste and Decency,

    Dr. Nut

  • Favorite Movies with a Disability Focus/Storyline   14 years 13 weeks ago

    I haven't actually seen it, but it seems that The Other Sister would fit into this list.

  • Science And Philosophy   14 years 13 weeks ago

    Dr Nut, am I right in thinking "Bertie's right out" is a typo and you meant to write "Bertie's right about"?

    Nadine, existentialism has a fascinating history and it's well worth trying the various versions on for size, but it's only one of many Philosophy of Life alternatives you should investigate. (Btw, I'm still working on the addition).

  • Songs I've Gotten Stuck in My Head While Being a Meter Maid this Summer   14 years 13 weeks ago

    Evidently, the secret to removing a song from one's head is to sing it (in your head) all the way through to the end, so there is some sort of closure. You'll notice that it usually isn't the whole song thats stuck, just a part. It has worked for me when I can remember the whole song, but sometimes requires research into the complete lyrics.

  • Favorite Movies with a Disability Focus/Storyline   14 years 13 weeks ago

    I recently rented it...definitely fits in with subject matter...still deciding if i can list it as a fave. :0 hmmmm, probably will. thanks for the reminder.

  • ROCKSTARS i'd like to meet...   14 years 13 weeks ago

    I actually think she even more recently went back in the closet, or decided she wasn't gay. I vaguely remember seeing something on E! where she was saying that she had had only 2 lesbian relationships, one in college, and the one she was in while she was interviewed for the article you spoke of. After she broke up with this woman, she said that she really said that she was a lebian because she didn't want to hurt the feelings of the woman she ws with at the time. Pretty strange?!

  • Songs I've Gotten Stuck in My Head While Being a Meter Maid this Summer   14 years 14 weeks ago

    Hey dude! I keep intending to write you postcards! In fact, I already have one written and addressed. How much do I suck? Answer: Lots and lots. Oh well I'll save all this for the e-mail or postcard I owe you. In the meantime I have not forsaken you and I am reading (at your suggestion) An Unquiet Mind. And it is good. Maybe good reading for our support group.

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 14 weeks ago

    Perhaps you did not read my post very carefully. You seem to have defined 'taste' as "impulses" and the desire to listen to an album repeatedly. However, the idea of calling an album great simply because it follows "standards of criticism," is entirely too much of a "cookie-cutter" approach for me. Some (but only some) of the greatest works of art frankly tore apart the "standards of criticism" at the time, and many critics criticized the work because it did not adhere to those standards. A work must be viewed as a whole, and the total effect is much more important than the individual parts. An album can have excellent lyrics, good melodies, and stunning production, and yet still be incredibly mediocre. On the other hand, an album can lack most of these components and still be great.

    In the end, VU&N can have all the elements you state above and still be a bad album.

    As for enjoyment, well, I'll simply say that if you mean an album you enjoy greatly is one you wish to listen to over and over, I must be using a broader definition of the word than you. I enjoyed Life is Beautiful, but I have no desire to watch it every month.

    In the end, these standards of criticism should be used to examine why an album does or doesn't work AFTER a quality assessment has been made. These standards should be servants to quality, not the other way around. Most standards work well most of the time, but almost all need occasional tweaking. These will never happen unless these value calls are made apart (or, at least, largely independent) from the ruler of standards. Most standards are great most of the time, but none are perfect all of the time.

    As for DC Talk and Amy Grant, whom you associate with fond memories, I have always made the exception for 'sentimental' attachments to work due to associating them to specific times or places. A critic tries to discard these when evaluating a work, but these are real forces that can lead us to enjoy a particular album. How can we escape these forces? Not by resorting to standards, but by listening with fresh ears when reviewing.

    While these standards are usually true, this is not a science. There is magic involved with art, and there is no way to 'prove' an album is great. There is always room for debate, and no decision is final. We would like there to be convincing proofs when championing a specific album as great, but one's opinion is still a major factor in these decisions. We fool ourselves to believe otherwise.

    I was only disappointed in that I misunderstodd your criteria for selection for another criteria I prefer. My disappointment was in my own misunderstanding, not in you.

    I'm sorry if you feel me arrogant. I state my beliefs firmly, but I did not intend to offend as much as disagree. I'll let this topic go; your friendship is certainly worth more than debate. Feel free to email me off list if you wish further response from me on this issue.

    Shalom, y'all!

    L. Bangs

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 14 weeks ago

    Lester, I'm saddened by your arrogant tone and the fact that you have not carefully read my post, only lumped it in with modes of thinking that you have encountered previously and that you disagree with. Unless one wants to embrace postmodernity with a open-lipped kiss, then there must be agreement that there are some objective standards when it comes to evaluating any piece of art. For instance, I am not "blindly taking the words of others" when I acknowledge that an album like "The Velvet Underground and Nico" is a great piece of art; I also have never confused the idea of "groundbreaking" with that of quality and I resent the implication that I have. I believe the VU album to be an incredible one because of the evocative, imagist lyrics, the embrace of distortion (which you know I love in later bands), and the simple musicality and integration of outside musical influences into their art. Despite my admiration of the album, which I came to respect because I actually listened to it, not read the words of critics and decided to align myself with their school of thought, I have never found it to be an albukm that I want to listen to over and over. This is the point where a critic can say that using generally agreed upon standards of criticism, the work does merit the distiction of quality and it is quite obvious why others would embrace the work, from a taste standpoint, this critic cannot embrace it. Absolute enjoyment is not, nor has it ever been, the end-all, be-all of critical judgment. Now I will acknowledge that some critics run the risk of separating their taste completely from their judgments, and in so doing, have betrayed their own impulses, but this is not an either/or situation; the careful critic can follow his impulses while at the same time acknowledging an objective set of standards of criticism. Because we are human beings, extremely subjective impulses will taint or color our enjoyment of certain works; for example, i like DC Talk because I grew up listening to them and have many fond memories associated with their music, but in no way could I ever equate their albums with those of David Bowie or The Byrds, artists whose works I also admire and associate fond memories with; an acknowledgement of some outside standards and an attempt to separate some (but not all) of myself from the judgment process leads me to believe that the latter two artists are far superior to DC Talk. I don't "blindly" go by what others but neither do i naively confuse every facet of my taste with quality.

    Secondly, I also did not say that if every critic likes something it must be included in this essential list. I see that you wish to see things in an either/or state and therefore think that I must include the White Album because I have repudiated my own tastes and gone solely by critical consenses. this is not the case, these lists reflect objective standards interpreted by my own knowledge and tastes (just not interpreted to an extreme degree). So I am not required to include any album, nor do I see any reason why you should feel "disappointed."

    Johnny Waco

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 14 weeks ago

    Johnny, Johnny, Johnny

    Being a critic is like an artform. Onc must always recognize one's limitations, and one must constantly work to expand one's taste if one wishes to work in that field. If a piece of music is in a field you know you have no taste for, you don't review it. I enjoy some classical music, but I don't review it. My taste is still too narrow. On the other hand, if you don't like dig The Velvet Underground's first album, you are only blindly taking the word of others or confusing 'groundbreaking' work or well-crafted songs for quality work. if you recommend it, you've given your authority over to others. A critic must be trusted to be worth much at all (especially if anyone is to act on his or her recommendations), and if you lose your authority, you lose your trust. Royal Trux's Double Infinitives might be the most ground-breaking work of the 90s, but I ain't going to give it a good review just because of that fact. It's not that great of an album, despite the doors it opened, and I don't want somebody buying it thinking that I adore the album.

    As for your essential definition, that's your thing. However, if that is truly your standard, I'm a bit disappointed, and The Beatle's White Album most certainly should be on your double album list.

    Shalom, y'all!

    L. Bangs

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 14 weeks ago

    i would also like to point out that for most of my lists, with the notable exception of the rockabilly one, I have attempted to only include albums by single artists. Compilations and greatest hits albums are not added unless there is a dearth of albums by single artists. Why did I make up this rule? Because I wanted to, and also because ten is a limited number and I prefer to have few limits to enable me to more easily pick selections without feeling that I've excluded too too much. I didn't think about the Headz comp when making this list, and it probably deserves inclusion, but i think you'll find that this list is consistent with the others I've posted.

    Johnny Waco

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 14 weeks ago

    Furthermore, lester and iggy, let me explain what I mean by this list and its "essential" title. I think that the albums listed represent a good sampling of the different strains of the genre, as well as the ones that are the most pioneering. I did not say "best." Now, in most cases, I am fortunate that what I believe is "essential" and "best" coincide. However, even though i am confident enough in my musical tastes to say that a critically-loved album is actually not that high of quality, or vice versa, I also realize that personal taste is not always a sure-fire way to decide what is truly "best." For example, I can tell that the Velvet Underground is a groundbreaking and innovative band, and that their music and lyrics are excellent; however, my personal taste doesn't lie with their music. I think it would be highly presumptive and arrogant for me to dismiss them as low-quality music because i don't care for them. Similarly, despite my fondness for Amy Grant or DC Talk, I will never hold them up as paragons of quality; I simply recognize that at times, quality and taste are NOT going to coincide. So although I agree with you mostly lester, I think that you go a little too far with your equating of quality and taste. I'm sure there is music you enjoy that you recognize isn't of the highest quality, nut it does connect with you on some level. Likewise, surely there is some music that you don't love, but still recognize its inherent quality. I believe only a robot programmed with agreed upon taste/quality standards would find that these two coincide in EVERY SINGLE instance.

    Johnny Waco

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 14 weeks ago

    It was simply my opinion, Johnny, and says more about how good I believe Headz to be than about any of the other albums being poor. Except for the initial comment admitting my lack of excitement over Presage, I'm not making a negative comment on any of your choices. It seems you choose the number 10 as a limit for the list, being such a round number that many lists use as a limit, rather than created a list that just happened to have 10 albums on it. If you simply wish to add Headz and make it 11, cool. If you don't want to add Headz, cool. In my opinion, it is much better than the numbers I listed, but I'm not saying those entries are rotten albums.

    As for Portishead, true, they haven't come near the quality of their debut, but their live album did work some new ground with the orchestra added. I'm not sure they're in a rut because they're not trying to expand. They may just be having difficulty creating new material; they are starting to explore a bit.

    If the word easily bothers you, you have my permission to ignore it. ;)

    Shalom, y'all!

    L. Bangs

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 14 weeks ago

    Lester, I have to take issue with something you've just said; I find the use of the word "easily" to describe the way "Headz" could replace some of my choices to be a bit too dismissive. Maybe I'm being a little too sensitive, but although it COULD replace Enigma (a controversial and perhaps inappropriate choice anyway) and The Sneaker Pimps ("Pop-Trip-Hop"?), I disagree that it would "easily replace" Presage or Morcheeba. Maybe it should be added, yes, but not as though it were criminal that these later two would be here to the exclusion of "Headz." I think Morcheeba especially is an underrated band that has sought to expand the parameters of trip-hop in some interesting directions; their attempts to merge rootsier elements to their music, whether it be a country slide guitar or more soulful vocals (rather than house diva or breathy) is quite impressive. When it comes down to it, Morcheeba has shown a willingness to grow and not get stuck in a rut, the way that a band like Portishead, unfortuneately, has.

    Johnny Waco

  • Essential Albums: Trip-Hop   14 years 14 weeks ago

    Ooohhhh. We're just going to have to agree to disagree here. If a critic wishes to point out important albums in the development of a genre, he or she should make a list for that. If a critic wants to praise great or essential albums, that's another list. I do not agree that a critic should factor in historical importance or influence when making quality assessments of an album. That's the historian's job, not the critic. Of course, one can be both, but one should also not confuse the two or try magically to mix the two in the same list. The two factors are entirely too often unconnected, and many critics use historical knowledge as a crutch when critical prowess fails them.

    "Critical objectivity" is too often bowing to history rather than quality or giving too much wieght to the critical mainstream. The tempering you speak of is usually simply watering down one's personal assessments with the majority, and that serves little purpose. There are enough places to discover the critical mainstream, including my very own CC lists. A critic's job is much braver and tougher than that, and a critic should be learned and confident enough in his or her own skills not to rely on safety catches such as the critical mainstream or history.

    Shalom, y'all!

    L. Bangs