Even the Hangman Has Friends

Found a remarkable song thanks to this wonderfully short review on the Onion’s A.V. Club site.

“Hangman,” Fire On Fire (download)

I’m in the somewhat paradoxical position of loving music and writing and the Internet, but loathing the vast majority of music writing found on the Internet. Take Pitchfork, for example: I feel like the bad beat on PF is almost entirely on their flag-planting tendencies and perhaps a certain aesthetic narrowness. Sure, those things are annoying. But it doesn’t even begin to touch the profound contempt that the in-house writing style seems to designed to provoke in any sentient reader. And because PF is so prominent, I feel like that site’s execrable, reader-abusing style filters out into music blogs, which I also largely detest.

There are few exceptions to my general loathing, and for the most part these are websites that leave space for the reader to form his or her own judgement as a listener and basically refrain from aggressively trying to impress upon anyone the specialness or worthiness of the critic’s own taste. A prime example, for me, is the music writing found on the A.V. Club. I can see how someone with aspirations to be a music writer could be off-put by the almost Consumer Reports-brevity of AVC’s capsule reviews, but for my purposes they’re just about all I ever want. I know AVC appears in print, but I’m reading on the Internet — a pressing fact that most music blogs forget. I want a critic to frame whatever band or album is under review, helping me to gauge if it’s something I might like to investigate for myself, taking the brief measure of the output under review, a bit of background on the band, etc. But remember: I’m reading on the freaking Internet. After providing a bit of context and evaluation, the music writer can gracefully step out of the way and allow me to hear for myself. The band’s MySpace page is just a URL away. Stop trying to impress me with your precious ability to spot every reference contained in every new album, you Pitchfuckers.

And this, by and large, is what the folks writing on music for AVC tend to do. I’ve already praised their “Permanent Records” feature, which is to me the most interesting recurring series of music writing around right now. Jason Heller’s brief and non-assholish ability to turn me on to Fire On Fire is just another example of why I love AVC’s music writing. I also count Paper Thin Walls in this reader-friendly category — where the “Hangman” track also met with a critic’s succinct appreciation in their excellently useful “Single Files” feature — as well as the aggregator blog Brooklyn Vegan.

I haven’t downloaded Fire On Fire’s entire EP yet. But if it sounds as much like tripped-out backcountry Beach Boys as the “Hangman” track embedded above does, then I think I’ll love it. Expect another report when I’ve heard the whole thing.

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