Critical Backlash #6 + Alanis Morissette Bashing

Pitchfork bashing first.

Mitchum’s ridiculous review of New Buffalo’s The Last Beautiful Day ran today. If you haven’t heard it yet – it’s spreading through the blogosphere pretty quickly now, and CMG reviewed it last year – it’s a gorgeous addition to the contemporary female singer-songwriter catalogue, easily the best one I’ve heard in years. It destroys the Feist album, and I love Feist.

Anyway, my gripe with the review is not the score – Rob offers no reason for the rating whatsoever, floundering around between comparing the album to Cat Power, then to The Postal Service (Rob, how about doing some research and mentioning The Avalanches?) and Broken Social Scene’s “Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl.” A comparison to Feist or Stars would’ve been more apt, if we’re talking Arts & Crafts Records – “Anthems” is built around a fuzzy, distorted voice, while New Buffalo’s heart is Sally’s extraordinarily clear singing. Then there’s the unmentioned coffee shop jazz sax playing all over the record, which Mitchum willfully ignores.

Speaking of Canada, my gripe with their recent Chad VanGaalen review is the score. The review is pretty on, although it goes for the easy “Canadian music sounds cold!” extended metaphor. At least in this case, Deusner makes a good case for his score, but anybody who gives this album under an 8.5 is out of their mind.

We covered Kanye yesterday, right? Good. TIME magazine ran a nice article on him the other day, if you’d like to read something more substantive.

I don’t know what Starbucks is thinking. They’ve already cornered the market on Mocha Frappuccinos.

I finally got sat down with the Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, and I’m pretty (ok, really) disappointed. I’ve always had a Love/Ignore relationship with her – there are a few great songs, “Unsent” and “Head Over Feet” being at the top of the list, but other than that I’m not familiar with her discography. I know the JLP singles, of course – how could you not? Being unfamiliar with the album tracks, I don’t have the attachment to the originals which is bound to affect most people’s judgement, but even I can tell that this version seems pointless. Glen Ballard is “producing,” which means it’s an “acoustic” record with about 20 overdubs a song, plus the drumming sounds like a guy hitting a cardboard box. You’d think in ten years, someone would get more tasteful, but Alanis over-sings the shit out of it. There are some truly gruesome moments – my favorite/the worst one is in “Ironic,” which arrangement-wise, is pretty much the same as the original version. “Head Over Feet” sounds really nice, except for a couple gag-inducing Whitney Houston-isms.

Anyway, there’s my rant. Hopefully Big Coffee fares better with that Bob Dylan Gaslight Sessions thing.


Critical Backlash is a column where I complain about things.