Paste has become a terrible magazine

Over my 3 year subscription to Paste Magazine, this year I’ve watched it fall from its status of an enlightened Entertainment Weekly  to becoming as vapid as Entertainment Weekly, but without the topicality or access. They also now take about 8 minutes to read cover-to-cover.

First, there was the layout change. If used to be staid, at least it made sense. Now it looks like the half-assed product of a coked-up student-run high school newspaper that hasn’t yet learned exactly to use its new layout program.

Second, there’s what they said about Cormac McCarthy.

Nihilism is now so universally confused with profundity that even the serious literary establishment can’t see that Cormac McCarthy is really just Stephen King without the entertainment value.

What!?! This is more wrongheaded than calling Marcel Proust just a scribomanic shut-in or Moby Dick just an unfocused travelogue.

And now, its annual top 25 list. Strike 3, I’m done.

My Mourning Jacket’s Evil Urges at 16? Of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping at 12! Hold Steady’s Stay Positive at 11!?! Okkervil River’s The Stand Ins at 5???

These are all great bands and decent albums, but these are not their best efforts. And compared to best efforts that don’t even rank (Frightened Rabbit! The Kills! Thao! King Kahn! Wolf Parade! The Ruby Suns! Vivian Girls! Lambchop! Black Mountain! The Dodos! Mount Eerie!) makes it all the more apparent the Paste staff got lazy and gave out some easy passes to these typical end-of-the-year listmakers.

And Girl Talk at 7!!! Is some kind of statement? Do these people even like music?

Even though I hate it, I’m expecting high rankings for the Jar Jar Binks of Indie Rock. So no surprise they show up at 3. Whatever.

Then, She and Him…the album of the year?!!? Sure, it’s easily likeable, so maybe it was easy to build consensus. But they’re the Alan Thicke of Indie Rock: blandly handsome. Try not getting bored after 4 spins. Compare with Bon Iver (#4) or Deerhunter (#10) and it’s not even in the same league. And shouldn’t Zooey Deschanel pay for the The Happening?

Plus, the Reigning Sound may still put out an album this year. No accounting for that possibility whatsoever.

I throw up my hands, Paste. If I can still name my price for a subscription, I want all my exclamation points back.

Advertisements

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #7: April-July (Part 5)

So I pretty much blew my self-imposed deadline to document all the albums I have bought through July by the end of July. Maybe that had a little something to do with getting the band ready to open for freaking Eef Barzelay this past Thursday, which turned out to be totally awesome…but for my tuner going out mid-gig (a moment that will haunt me probably forever).

  • The Kills – Midnight Boom This is this year’s awesome-cool driving record of the summer. It makes me and my ’96 Camry feel really unworthy. This album should come with white rim sunglasses.
  • Shearwater – Rook He’s got a great voice, but sometimes it can come across a little snooty. This one’s not for the hard hats.  Not really catchy, but it’s not aiming for that. It’s ponderous, slow, and pretty. A lot of birds, too. They should get with Jason Molina and open aviary. Write birdsongs all the day long.
  • Eef Barzelay – Lose Big This is very much an Eef Barzelay record. It’s got the wry sensibility, the great catchy refrains, the offbeat conceits, the quirky earnestness. “Girls Don’t Care” may become my new songwriting guide. But I could be biased. Did you hear that my band opened for him in Madison? Nonetheless, it’s excellent. But don’t take my word for it.
  • Port O’Brien – All We Could Do Was Sing Ecstatic rickety stuff from these West coasters. A lot of stuff on fishing. Grandpa would like that, if Grandpa is 28. At their live show, they hand out pots and pans for the audience to beat along to “Woke Up Today”, which is about right.
  • The Black Angels – Directions To See A Ghost The Black Angels are becoming to me equated with The Sea and Cake. Whereas The Sea and Cake put out samey but excellent suave loungy rock, The Black Angels are putting out samey but excellent tripped out psychedelia. I may not be able to differentiate the albums, but I’ll get every single one. Nonetheless, “Mission District” stands out for its killer opening.  
  • Jay-Z – American Gangster This purchase belongs properly to the January-February area. But since I kind of forgot about it and that it has spent the last 6 months under my car seat, I will speak of it now. “Roc Boys” is pretty good. And there are some pretty excellent beats with “Brooklyn” (not that I’m a connoisseur). But I find it hard to care about Zed’s problems. I know he’s rich and can kill me, but I don’t care. And I maybe cynical, listening to Beyonce pray makes me giggle.
  • Portishead – Third Also bought this one a while ago and I keep forgetting I have it. So it doesn’t make a grand impression like the hype surrounding it promised. Still, it’s worthwhile enough. I love how it refuses to be what anyone wants it to be. Not the grand return everyone wanted.  Song #5 sounds like a washing machine is off balanced. So I keep getting up to check even though I know I don’t have washing machine anywhere nearby. So that’s a little frustrating. Maybe that’s why I don’t listen too much.
  • Pinback – Autumn of the Seraphs I could imagine these guys on commercial radio. They have many of the elements that would put them there (catchy, guitar heavy, seriousness) but it’s their sophistication in all these areas that saves them from radio airplay. And is that the Blonde Redhead lady on backup?
  • The Eternals – Heavy International This is the album you might here if you walk into the coolest comic book shop in the world. It’s very hip, but also not afraid to be a little goofy and a lot strange.
  • Bodies Of Water – A Certain Feeling I have a certain feeling that one day, the Bodies of Water may sit around and ask themselves “So what are we doing exactly?” The band may not survive that question. Not too sure why I think this particular thought about this band, when I’m sure it is widely applicable. Maybe because I think they’re special and worthwhile in ways they may not realize. The new album is a vast improvement on their debut, which was no stinker. The dude singer is sounding more like Bowie, I think (my Bowie knowledge is limited to Labyrinth and TV guest appearances).

Well there it is. I’m a little behind schedule but about halfway through the year. And already, it’s piling up for August. Plants and Animals, the Bowerbirds, Brendan Canning and I can’t believe I got the new Conor Oberst. Why am I doing this?