A Note to Music Reviewers: A Rant

A quick note to music reviewers: Stop comparing bands to other bands.

I've been doing a lot of new music hunting lately, and my go to source for information is Amazon. I realize that these people are not professional music reviewers, therefore, I don't expect a lot. For instance, I don't expect them to go into what time signature the band is playing in and why it's super creative (even when the band is a math rock band, in which case, that's kind of the point), or how much an album is depressing because the entire thing has been written in a menagerie of minor keys, or anything, really, that goes into much depth about the music itself. I do expect reviewers to say what feelings this album evoked in them, or when is a good time to listen to this band, or how much better this album is from an earlier one, or even as simple as what type of music the band plays. Sometimes a 30 second clip can't tell you all that. Sometimes you need more.

What I've noticed recently is how often people compare the band you want to know about to other bands. And it is wearing on me. I've noticed that three things will happen with a fair amount of consistency:

1 - I will have never heard of the band with which they are making the comparison. So, now, what I'm reading is, "this obscure band has guitars that sound like other obscure band, but the singer used to be the singer from a completely different obscure band, so there's that, but they're a lot more poppy, you know, like this other band that I think might be less obscure because they have a poppy sound, but I can't be sure because I'VE NEVER HEARD OF THEM!" Thank you. You've been helpful. Aaaaaand now I've closed that window and moved on to the next band of interest.

2 - I will hate the band with which they are making the comparison. This might get me even angrier. Half the time I say "eh, what do they know," and listen to the band anyway. And half of those times, the reviewer was wrong. But the other half, they're right, and I have a new band to hate. So, given that there's a fifty-fifty chance of the reviewer being right, I never know what to do. It's a waste of time. (Recently, a friend recommended Abe Vigoda to me. So I gave them a shot because I trust her judgement. But then I went to trusty Amazon and people compared them to Vampire Weekend, and I wanted to cut someone because I hate Vampire Weekend and trust my friends judgement with equal intensity. Turns out, their early albums sound awful, like Vampire Weekend (i.e. uh… kind of a calypso feel mixed with rock and just bad vocals), but their newest album is very new wave and belongs in the 80s. Which I approve of.) Headaches all over the place.

3 - I'll like the band with which they are making the comparison. So, y'know, that's cool, I guess. Except, I hardly ever listen to anything that I think is "okay." Everything I listen to, I love, or at one point in my life have loved. So when you fill me with that sort of anticipation, I should know by know that it will only mean let down. That's like… Well, it's kind of like this:


Your dog is hit by a car so your dad gives you a replacement that LOOKS exactly the same. You're so excited because you were certain he was dead, and yet, here he is! Returned to you by some magical force of awesome. But very soon you find out that it's not the same, not at all. The dog actually has rabies, or is possessed by a demon, or is simply NOT YOUR DOG.

That's what I feel like when someone tells me that band A is exactly like band B and I'll totally love band B because of it. Well, you know what? No one, no band, no dog, no one, can be exactly like something else. It just can't. Even a band can't be exactly like itself. Bands change all the time. Shut up and stop telling me that this band is like that band. They're not.

So please, learn some new adjectives, brush up on your music terminology if you have to, but whatever you do, stop comparing bands to the ones you're reviewing. Thank you for your time.

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