This also means that reviews of the disc are showing up, which, unfortunately, are now regrettably timed way ahead of schedule (which, i suppose we could be waiting to post the reviews on our pages until release time, but whatever). So far, the reviews have generally stayed true to the form of our last albums' worth of reviews: in short, people who "get it" like it (like Playground Misnomer or PopMatters), people who have no frame of reference for what we're doing don't.
I know how pretentious that sounds--"ooh, if someone doesn't like our record, they just don't get it, is all." Here's the thing--i really don't think our brand of pop-flavored noise rock is that difficult to comprehend. I mean, when compared to some of the more abrasive, esoteric, or just plain weird stuff in my collection, IfIHadAHiFi sounds, to my objective ears, pretty simplistic. Bands like Ho-Ag, Melt-Banana, and HEALTH are doing variations of what we've been trying to do for years, and all of them are doing it way better. So in a way, i'm often surprised when people outside our insular bubble of weirdo spazz-rock can't find anything in our songs to latch onto.
Which leads me to this review of Nada Surf over on Rockfreaks.net. It's overwhelmingly negative, which is fine--not the first time that's happened. But portions of the review, a cursory check into the dude's general music tastes, and the fact that he ended up reviewing us twice (because he thought he was going to be reviewing a Nada Surf record, ha) made me realize a few things about us, or more accurately, remind me about some things i already knew and had apparently forgotten through some sort of slowly narrowing perspective.
Hilariously, the dude provides a great pull-quote when taken out of context:
Forget how the word 'punk' is mostly used these days. You'll find no buzzy yet warm guitar melodies here, nor any raw yet sentimental vocals or nostalgic songs about hometowns, best friends, ex-girlfriends etc. What you'll get is a truck load of noisy feedback, distortion and discord, crashing drums and tuneless yelling, delivered with no hint of relent or compromise whatsoever.
It also provided a peek into what the dude primarily listens to, and sure enough, when checking out his profile page on the site, his "favorite bands" list includes low-rent mallpunk fare like Fall Out Boy and Jimmy Eat World. As i skimmed through the rest of the writer profiles, i started to realize that it was fairly unlikely that anyone on the site, except for maybe the editor-in-chief (who posted in the comments to both of our reviews on the site saying that he liked the music just fine, even going so far as to essentially tell the writer that, yes, he probably just doesn't "get it"), was going to find any common ground with us at all. It led to an interesting string of comments on the review in which a number of our influences were thrown at the reviewer and he confessed to zero percent knowledge of 100% of the bands listed. The thread was spurred by Chris from Police Teeth and myself, which, yes, i know that commenting on your own band's reviews is pretty sad pool, but i was honestly drawn to post more through the exasperated disbelief that this kid had never even heard Archers of Loaf or The Jesus Lizard, much less Brainiac or Poster Children, and the hope that maybe he'd check out those bands and find something he liked.
When co-workers ask me what kind of band i play in, i generally tell them "noisy punk rock," and leave it at that, knowing and being ok with the fact that those words probably mean a wildly different sound in their heads than what's encoded on our CDs. What this whole exchange with Rockfreaks.net reminded me of (and depressed me to remember) is that even in the subculture of independent bands and internet music publications, the stuff that we fell in love with in our teens and 20s and are emulating now is, in many corners of the internet, becoming completely forgotten. And while it's freeing to know that, since large slices of the population won't ever like what we're doing, we can just not worry about it and do what we will to our heart's content (which also means, of course, that we're never making any money from this stuff), it's kind of a shame to know that even so-called music reviewers could go their entire lives without hearing a Brainiac song. I know that real hipsters are supposed to treat their favorite bands like secrets to protect, hoard, and lament when they become popular, but that's just not me.