Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just make sure my petard has a safety line attatched

So a couple months ago, I was all set to pen a snarky post about people who say they can't like The Hold Steady because, well, Craig Finn doesn't exactly have a voice like a nightingale. Or even a bar-band singer, really. His vocals (let's call them "distinctive") are such that one acquaintance referred to The Hold Steady as "that band with the guy who kind of rants instead of sings."

Grr. Much like Jackson Pollock is that guy who just throws paint at the canvas instead of paints, I guess.

The post was going to be a towering display of sarcasm. It was going to feature some out-loud musings about these people. Are they the same ones who refuse to read James Joyce because, I'm sorry, but I need real quote marks OK? Or if they would shake their heads and cluck their tongues at all those bendy curves that Eero Saarinen used. Seriously, buy a ruler, dude. I even was going to slip in a crack about how they were the spritual heirs of all the people who disdained Benny Friedman because he just loved to throw the ball forward all the time when everyone knows real men twirl in the backfield and hand it off.

I think you get the point.

But then a friend _ and reader _ recommended several songs by Pavement, a band I have long been interested in, but never enough to give them a real listen (save your comments; I didn't see Return of the Jedi until college, either and am well aware of my status as That Guy). As soon as I started listening to some of their stuff, I immediately remembered that post I had scratched out notes for, but never gotten around to writing.

Yeah, about that. I'm worried I might have a problem with their lead singer's voice. It's just ... so high and reedy, I guess. Also, it reminds me of a friend of mine from freshman year in college, who eventually turned into an obnoxious hipster egotist whose company I couldn't stand. He loved Pavement, and he always sang along in that same register. So it'll take a while before I can start enjoying Pavement on my own terms. I think from what I've heard and what I know about myself, I'm going to eventually end up liking them to some degree. But while I'm getting over all my silly little hangups, I'm also going to have to be swallowing a decent amount of pride.


Jaime said...

My problem with the Craig Finn singing isn't that it's 'weird' or 'bad,' but that I think his voice is boring. (I do think he's got a bar band voice, if maybe on the less-nightingale end of that spectrum.) I borrowed my roommate's iPod on a train, recently, to have a listen to this band that so many people (who love other bands I love) were loving, but after a few songs I realized that I just didn't want to listen more. There are some folks I like who have normal, "good" voices, but most of my favorite bands tend to feature weird singers - Belle & Sebastian, Dar Williams, The Shins, The Decemberists, all that punk I loved in junior high, and yes, Pavement (if I'm allowed to count the one CD of theirs I have, bought in 8th grade and still dearly loved). I've never been one to discount a band because the singer's not "good" - there's something else going on with The Hold Steady that turned me off. Part of it is that the bar band thing isn't really my thing, but it did also have to do with his voice. Not "good," but also, to me, not interesting.

(Curious what Pavement album your Pavement-loving friend pointed you towards, if that sort of direction happened - I love the CD of theirs I have, but don't know where to start with trying of other, less-ancient, stuff.)

Flop said...

Jaime, it wasn't a CD so much as specific songs (including, yes, "Cut Your Hair"). And I hear you _ you can be listening to something, and know that it's good, but at the same time, you really just want to hit the skip button. (I haven't done that with Pavement; am just saying).

This is why nobody likes the "music snobs." Because they treat subjective tastes objectively, and dust off their best Comic Book Guy-like scoffs when your tastes don't match up against yours, and get all defensive when they encounter another of their kind who scoffs first at them. It's like being around wine snobs, but you can't get sloshed on their $85 "Cali-Cab while they debate AOCs and DOCGs.

(While I'm being totally confessional about my hypocrisy, now would be a great time to mention that I was precisely that music snob in high school.)