Wednesday, August 03, 2005

your diction is off the wall

For those of you who don't know, Pitchfork sank its teeth yesterday into the new Dressy Bessy album. Click here to read the review. Of course, I highly disagree with the review and am disgusted with how their songwriting was compared to that of Veruca Salt. I'm sure the members of Veruca Salt wish they could still write anything that measures up to Dressy Bessy.

I read on allmusic a couple of years ago that Veruca Salt's American Thighs was a concept album about child abuse. I actually had that CD in high school and never suspected it. Of course, I also didn't realize that "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by the Crash Test Dummies was about child abuse, either. I thought the lyrics were just nonsense. Anyway, I guess I should also mention that I envy Veruca Salt for their guitar solo on "Seether". I just love that guitar tone they have. I'd love to know how they got the lead guitar to sound like that.


Oh, wait... dig this quote from the Pitchfork review: "Ealom almost reconciles these influences on the standout title track, with her coy gasps ("you're six feet tall, electrified!") and riot grrrl 'tude ("Suspicion, don't push me down/ Your diction is off the wall") establishing a brusque female libido that would've been squelched on earlier albums. No way Ealom's sultry overemphasis on the first syllable of "dic-tion" passes on the fluffy Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons."

Um... yeah... okay... I didn't notice any special emphasis on the "dic" in "diction" when I listened to that song before, and I just went back to check it again. I could imagine the reviewer thinking (and imagine this being said in the voice of Butthead from "Beavis and Butthead", "Huh huh huh, she said 'dick'!" and pretentiously deciding to attempt to pass off this Freudian observation as a profound insight to impress the Pitchfork hipster-slave-master editors.

And how about this? "Sure, on 2003's self-titled effort the band spit out their bubblegum sound and assumed a more grown-up persona, but frontwoman Tammy Ealom's miffed sexuality felt like playacting." Miffed sexuality? I've never gotten the feeling that Tammy is trying to be some sort of riot grrrl or whatever, and I certainly didn't catch any sort of "woman scorned" mentality or whatever the fuck this reviewer is getting at when I listened to their self-titled CD.

Oh, and the real kicker is this: "Fortunately the dry spots here aren't egregious, save for some cutesy Saddle Creek moments speckled throughout."

I would love to know what he means by "Saddle Creek moments". And "cutesy"? Saddle Creek's stuff isn't that cutesy? Unless you count Tilly and the Wall, who are not on Saddle Creek, but are on Conor Oberst's Team Love label.

Okay, one more and then I'll stop: "Unfortunately when Ealom sticks her neck out, no one's got her back. Electrified's rife with cardboard power chord progressions that should've been buried with all the other Nirvana aftermath opportunists."


Seriously, Dressy Bessy sounds nothing like Bush (the ultimate post-Nirvana opportunist band). Dressy Bessy draws too much of their influence from the late '60s/early '70s to fall into that trap. They're just reconciling their need to rock with their cute, twee nature. Even if Tammy hates being called twee.

Well... perhaps this was a waste of time. When I saw the link to the Dressy Bessy review on Pitchfork's review, I certainly wasn't expecting anything better than what was there. Dressy Bessy isn't profound or ironic, they're just fun and cute. Pitchfork doesn't understand the appeal of that. It's just a fact of life and I've come to accept it. Still, I'd rather have them not review Dressy Bessy at all than publish the jaded Freudian bullshit that I've just addressed.

Edit: Dressy Bessy is going to be on Conan O'Brien Thursday night! Yay!

I'm going to ramble a bit. Or a lot.

Mr. Moerder seems to be the type of self righteous, failed-musician, pseudo-jaded critic that has been plaguing rock since the late sixties. The kind of guy who wouldn't know a good time if it walked up and kissed him on the cheek. He's too concerned with dissecting and analyzing songs into the bite sized bits that his limited intellect can digest in order to compare them to whatever volume or obscurity of music he'd like to prove that he's heard in an attempt to justify his job. It appears that he's looking for sublime enlightenment through some droning sound of loss and an inflated sense of purpose, often known as pomposity. Well, sorry. Dressy Bessy has little of that to offer.

Their poignant moments are as deep as any well executed art. If you have the emotional depth to go out on that limb with them you will be richly rewarded. But they never announce their intentions and/or beat you over the head with it. The infectious hooks and driving rhythms seep into one's soul until the booty attached to said soul just starts shakin'. And then somewhere between "Just Like Henry" and "Baby Six String" one realizes that there is not only sublime loss, but sublime redemption as well. Lesson learned: life goes on. Enjoy it!

If he's attempting to focus his criticism solely on the latest album, I still find his review lacking. Granted, there is precious little competition for bands of Dressy Bessy's caliber, but does he really think that Electrified is "new wave" or "suburbia-friendly"? The last time I checked, suburban kids were more likely to quote Snoop Dogg than The Cars or Bon Jovi. And the last time I checked was the late Nineties!

My humble opinion is that Dressy Bessy is fighting to reawaken the long lost sense of joy that music can convey. Ask Beethoven about it (btw, he had some good hooks, too). Sure, the world we know today is in turmoil. But when hasn't it been? The clich├ęd human condition is ever present. It's up to each individual to deal with that condition and the world around them. What do you care to do about it?

To me, music is about expressing feelings and impressions that words alone can't describe. Shoot, all good art does. Dressy Bessy delivers. If you can't hear it, check your value system. If nothing else, go to a live show. You just might dance.

This post may be very unfair to Mr. Moerder. However, if he's so concerned about power chords, I'd like to read his reviews of Mozart or Beethoven. I bet he'd miss the point there, as well.

(Completely random side note: Are modern American politics about obtaining power more than what one does once they have it?)
Wow. I started off with a point and ended up drunk.

The next time you go to the supermarket, say please and thank you. You'll make the cashier's day.

Thank you very much for the spirited reply! It sounded much more intelligent than my actual post. I just sound like a teenage fanzine writer, and I make no apologies for that.

Do you have your own blog or other mode of expression? I'd love to read it, if you do. Post a link!

I think I forgot to voice my main objection to the review, or didn't voice it as well as I wanted to, and that objection is that the reviewer clearly doesn't know tweepop. This review reminds me a lot of Kiddo's review on They brought up Veruca Salt as well.

I'd say more, but I'm in a hurry. Thanks again for commenting!
Are modern American politics about obtaining power more than what one does once they have it?

Politics has always placed the obtaining (and maintaining) of power at the same level of importance as the actual wielding of power. The PR side (obtaining/maintaining) just seems to have more importance because of the 24-hour news cycle and spin machines. Politicians and the pundits who support them have to make lots of appearances just so they can keep up with each other in the public awareness. I hope that makes sense.
don't sweat pitchfork. it's their job to hate. without hate, they wouldn't exist. I don't know why, but it's what kids like nowdays. maybe because they're not allowed to hate the government anymore, they have to hate music? I hear ghandi had some pretty bad breath.
Heh. Mentos for Ghandi. Sounds like a college dorm band name on talent night.
No blog or anything like that. I couldn't be that angry (or drunk) every day.

I agree, the recurring references to post-grunge bands are disturbing. I have theories, but I don't feel like retrieving them from my haunches at the moment.

I thought your post was very insightful. It's what inspired my rant, in fact. I particularly liked your criticism of his "diction" comment. I mean, c'mon. The guy only has a three song attention span, so he latches onto one word? Of course Tammy is going to overpronounce the word "diction"! I don't know if it counts as irony, but it at least shows that she's conscious of her own lyrics and performance in the song. Perhaps he missed the "Got 'em wiggin'" in Side 2. Maybe he's required to listen to so much new music every week that he can't account for subtle things like concept, vision and movement. Much less be bothered to read the liner notes. Bah! I'm tired a bitchin' 'bout dat dood.

So how about DB on Conan? I thought they were great. Sure, it wasn't as fun as seeing them in a small to mid-sized club, but how could it ever be?

Does this mean that DB is mainstream now? The message board was somewhat abuzz after the show. Do I have to find another under-rated Indie band to maintain my own sense of righteous coolness?

Speaking of which, is Kiddo coming back to town soon? I missed their last visit due to a particularly vicious case of food poisoning.

~ Rhetorically yours,
Steve (surprise!)
... 8/04/2005 09:39:22 PM...

Wait. Who was that? Could it have been?
the Pitchfork review was lame and off the mark. Jennifer Li of Kittymagik gives a nice review. click reviews and scroll down!
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