Trying To Get To You

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Avant Garde Is French For Bullshit

Reviews of TV On The Radio's new record, Return From Cookie Mountain have been absolutely glowing. I had moderately enjoyed their last record, and I'm often skeptical of indie-blogger raves, but with reviews this strong, I rushed out and got the new one.

Uh, is it just me? Cause I don't get it.

I've listened to the record several times, and I think it's pretty good piece of work, but it's "good" in that way that you admire more than you listen to, and it's "interesting" in that way that one describes avant-garde work. The last straw for me was reading Salon (my favorite online magazine) this morning and reading "Audiofile" by Thomas Bartlett, and reading words like "magnificent" and "U2-like grandeur" attached to this record (and band). It is definitely neither of those things (and I'm not even a particularly big U2 fan anymore).

It reminds me of a great John Lennon quote from an interview in 1970.

Q: What do you think Rock and Roll will become?

A: Whatever we make it. If we want to go bullshiting off into intellectualism with rock n' roll, then we are going to get bullshitting rock n' roll intellectualism.

This record is bullshit rock n' roll intellectualism personified.


Anonymous said...

Have you actually LISTENED to this record? You're totally missing the point...this isn't avant's just a great record.

Soupercollider said...

"This record is bullshit rock n' roll intellectualism personified."

So is everything Lennon did post-Beatles.

TV ON THE RADIO have released an exciting recording. Forget accessibility. Or rock n roll. It was on these pages that praise was sung for Christina Aguilera. I am sure that if she can get away with "whatever it is" she is trying to accomplish, TV ON THE RADIO, with their unique production and fresh attack on pop music, deserves more than the under-the-rug sweeping that you are handing them. Avant-garde? Not even close.

Ben Lazar said...

Regarding your opinion about TV On The Radio, fine. You dig it, I don't hate it, but am not at all moved by it and do not believe it at all worthy of the praise it's getting. It's good, not great. (And yes, I'd take the Christina single happily over the TV On The Radio record any day of the week. It's just a hell of a lot more enjoyable to listen to.)

Regarding Lennon, well, you're just wrong. "Plastic Ono Band" is bullshit rock n' roll intellectualism??? Sure, it was inspired by Janov's primal scream therapy, but that made the record PRIMAL and totally anti-intellectual. It's spew and venom and rage and sadness and anger. (Some would also say self-pity, but I've never thought that.) There ain't nothin' all that intellectual about "Imagine," "Rock N Roll" "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" or "Double Fantasy" either. "Sometime In New York City," I'll grant you. Terrible record.