Monday, February 21, 2005



We’re at the point in my CD collection where I know some of the people involved- in this case, my pal Tyler, who used to play for the Control Group. I’ve been thinking about the approach for a little while. The other night at the Model, Ed suggested that I just come right out and mention that I can’t be objective. Good call. So, for future reference, any bands/records in all caps are being reviewed in a biased manner (or, to be fair, a more biased manner than usual. At the heart of criticism of any kind is a certain amount of bias, pulled together by a series of first impressions, stepping stones and thrown rocks.)

About the record: there are certain functions inherent to genre. The function of a good eighties metal record, for example, is to sound good in a parking lot on a Friday while you dig around in the cooler for more of the beer your brother bought for you. I read years ago (in Maximum Rock N Roll if memory serves- I believe it was a Revered Norb column) that the function of a good pop song is to get in your head and stick there, bouncing around until finally you go nuts and buy the damn slab so you can listen to the little pop gem and get it out of your head. The whole nature of good pop songs, though, is very derivative- with very few exceptions, it’s all a formula, an equation that you plug different parts into. Despite the seeming paint-by-numbers scenario I’m spinning here, there’s something intangible, some x factor, to writing good pop songs- something in brackets outside of the regular variables of the equation. The x factor is the reason why rock critics get packages in the mail and roll their eyes and go “Another fucking pop record.” So many bands just don’t get the x factor and wind up sounding like grade Z Cheap Trick or whatever.

I listened to this CD for the first time in a few years last Thursday, and ever since I’ve had “I’m going to come and rescue/even if you don’t want me to” in my head.

Converge- Petitioning The Empty Sky
Converge- Jane Doe

If I hadn’t been to a few (later) shows, I’d marvel that the kids all love Converge (on a separate note, I have been noticing my use of the phrase ‘The Kids’ is not anywhere near as self-inclusive as it used to be. Damn.) It’s amazing stuff, well-played, but not the easiest music to get into- as I alluded to in my reviews of the Cave In records a little while ago, it all sounds like a bunch of riff soup initially (though, to be fair, ‘Jane Doe’ feels a lot more focused than ‘Petitioning’ does- the former is a proper album, all performed and recorded at the same time, whereas the latter consists of a bunch of sessions all tossed together on one disc.) It was the power of the live show that did it, does it. The reason I like Converge as much as I do is because of friends putting records on and saying “Dude, listen to this:” BeeeentbeeeentbeeneeneeACKACKACK. ACKACKACK. ACKACKACK. ACKACK (metal breakdown.)

Pretty silly, right? Actually, no. Pretty awesome- learning like the air drums, time changes made me feel like I was part of a secret club, and it was one I joined with like two other people in my living room! I can’t imagine the feeling of being uninitiated and going to see the band play for the first time, witnessing five hundred kids swirling around in a circle pit, fists waving, stopping in time when new parts came in, a human maelstrom of black hoodies and good-natured fury all controlled and conducted by a screeching tattooed man and his evil calculus-playing backing band. It’s no wonder.


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