I’ve been on a music buying spree the past week, picking up a whole bunch of Tom Waits CDs and a couple of other untried, unheard artists. I like doing that, as there are damned few kinds of music I don’t appreciate, and it’s the best way to beat the corporate pop blues.
It’s even more interesting when one of the new artists is someone you “know” online, as in the case of The Vincent Van Go Go CD, You Are Here. The VVGG is Hoopty‘s band, and over the last few months we’ve read about his work putting the disc together. (Well, we’ve occasionally read about it, in between the general fun, frivolity, and boobies which make up the bulk of the site.) I have a huge amount of respect for someone who will put together something like this, particularly when it isn’t a full-time gig. God knows I am unlikely to ever find the energy to take on a task like this. Because of this I admit that I popped in the disc predisposed to enjoy it, and I was not disappointed.
[Warning: pseudo-intellectual pop-crit. Take appropriate precautions.]
The disc is divided in two parts: the first seven tracks are the “pop tunes”, while the final six are music from the film The Clandestine Mudslinging Endeavor. The tracks in the initial section have a light feel to them, sort of a 60s-retro-samba thing, but without descending into pastiche. The songs themselves are quite good, with a unique flavor and an ample helping of surrealism, particularly in “Sandy Toes.” There are some solid hooks here, and I’ve already found myself humming “I Want My Mama.” (Note to self: just hum if you are around other people, don’t sing out loud.)
The film music is strongly influenced by Ennio Morricone, especially the last track. It’s well-produced, and seems to fit the purpose, but it is hard to tell without seeing the film. It is enjoyable, if a bit out of place following the catchy melodies on the first half of the disc.
All in all it’s quite an enjoyable CD, well worth the $15. If you can scrape up the bucks, buy a copy and help support Hoopty. I’m looking forward to hearing his next project.
[End of pseudo-intellectual pop-crit. We now return to our regular pseudo-intellectualism.]
So, with that out of the way, here’s today’s question. If you are reviewing the efforts of a not-quite-professional artist, where do you draw the line for criticism? If the vocalists are a touch off-key, but just in a couple of places, do you let it slide, or do you mention it in the spirit of “constructive criticism”? If you are discussing an illustrator, and their perspective is occasionally out of whack, do you bring it up? Does it make a difference if they are performing for fun, as opposed to waiting for a break? What if the artist is a friend, do you soft-pedal the comments to avoid hurt feelings?