Welcome back to Rock Critic Roundtable, a quarterly-ish get-together for music critics. Each contributor gets their opening salvo, and then gets two follow-up responses to what everyone else wrote (3 rounds). We’ll run responses from today through next Tuesday (and beyond if there’s any interest).
Very excited to see pieces by lots of awesome Tumblrers later this week by old online friends (Jonathan, Alex, Sabina) and people I’ve met more recently (RGR through her amazing Blink-182 OWOB). Might be interesting in the context of the It’s Complicated project, which I haven’t read any of yet but certainly sets my contrarian red flags at the ready. In their defense, this is usually my problem. Had similar red flags about the collection Madonna and Me, only to skim the one piece whose title furrowed my brow (“Before Beyonce, Tween Thongs, and Baby Tiaras” by Courtney E. Martin) and find it smart, funny, touching, and, er, complicated.
In my opening piece, I’m pretty clear that I’m not talking about sexist or anti-female work, though that might come up. Rather:
As I moved out of literal [Ashlee Simpson] Autobiography territory — late teens to mid-20s, which for me meant nervous breakdowns and moving and marriage and jobs and “careers” — I kept finding woman after woman telling my story, speaking to my visceral, intellectual, and emotional needs as a listener.
And speaking of “No Children” (in the second It’s Complicated issue), the only male (or male-led) #1 album I’ve had since 2005, aside from The-Dream (who’s really a three-way tie with Rihanna and Shakira) is Mountain Goats Sunset Tree. On my visceral—emotional—intellectual spectrum (which is only three out of a lot of other possible responses, mind, and they get all mixed up anyway) Sunset Tree hits all three in a way other albums of his tend not to as much. I get the intellectual, and occasionally the emotional, but I don’t feel it like I do when I listen to Sunset Tree, probably through no fault of the music, might just be a time/place thing. (I feel similarly ambivalent about the Against Me song (“The Ocean”) that people have quoted since Laura Jane Grace was interviewed by Rolling Stone — it looks great on paper, and in theory it’s very emotionally affecting — I identify with the fantasy — but I don’t connect to it in the guts when I actually listen.)
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