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Friday, January 25, 2008

Slint meets Kool and the Gang

Whenever I see a certain way of describing bands I've never heard, I get rather cagey. More specifically, when there's the "RIYL" (recommended-if-you-like) or the "You like? You'll like" tactic and three or four bands that sound very similar to one another are listed. For example, "if you like Strung Out, NOFX and the Vandals, you'll dig the Shipping Wrecks." As I've blogged before on this topic, I'm more likely to pull out my copies of Twisted By Design and Punk in Drublic than be fooled into thinking the Shipping Wrecks will rock my world as much.

I'll put it like this, substituting music for ice cream. "If you like fudge, coffee and dark chocolate, you'll like dark fudge chocolate." Thanks, but I think I can get my chocolate fix with just chocolate.

My point is, I don't think there's much variation in the ingredients to make me think, "Hey, I should check this out."

When I think about the kinds of descriptions that made me very curious about bands, they definitely weren't delivered this way. Be it Aaron's brief description of the Get Up Kids as a poppy hardcore band or Travis Morrison's description of the Dismemberment Plan as "Slint meets Kool and the Gang," I'm hearing about elements that are rather random and unconventional being put together.

These days, when I tell people about the kinds of music I dig, I try to avoid making the aforementioned descriptions. For people who've never heard the Dillinger Escape Plan and dislike most metal music, I say they sound like a raging fit. For people who've never heard Scott Walker's early solo work, I start off by saying it sounds like crooner music that's actually really good.

I think it would be a disservice to people I don't know to say, "Hey kids, if you like Jens Lekman, you'll dig Scott Walker!" (Though I should mention Ryan suggested I check out Lekman after I played him Walker's "Montague Terrace." Needless to say, I'm now a huge fan of "I Remember Every Kiss." But the key difference was, this was a personal recommendation by a friend who wasn't trying to shove Lekman down my throat.)

Maybe it's just me or maybe I'm misinterpreting the intent here. Maybe just the recognizable name mention is supposed to catch more attention. To me, that makes me want to listen and see if the band is as good, if not better. Rarely does that benefit anybody for me.

2 comments:

Eric said...

Hmmm... I make both crazy this vs. that comparisons and your standard RIYL type stuff on my blog. Hmmm...

Super Team! said...

On my site I use a slightly different system. Similar... but different.

After much scientific analysis, I have concluded the most accurate way to describe a band is labeling it the "love child" of two other bands.

For example, to me, The Dismemberment Plan sounds a quite a bit like the love child of Controlling the Famous and Fugzai.

Is this really more informative? No. But sex sells.