“The Believer” Music Issue: Celebrating Information Underload

Jul 16th, 2008 // 10 Comments

3425.jpgOne of the best pieces in The Believer‘s 2008 Music Issue is Douglas Wolk’s short detailing of his repeated encounters with a phantom. Well, not a phantom–a CD track listing that he put onto iTunes a while back for a 30-song Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns compilation that he’s never seen another copy of. Apparently, no one else has either: Wolk finds the track listing popping up over and over, always with the same typo (Wolk’s) on one of the titles. Which makes us wonder: has this ever happened to you? Not so much the CD (though given the seemingly evanescent nature of titles produced early on for compact disc only to never be seen again, that certainly counts) as finding your own handiwork reappearing in front of you in a different guise. (No “that famous person stole my song I sent him a copy of seeking advice when I was a naive teenager” stories, please.) [The Believer]

  1. Ned Raggett

    I gather there’s arguments in some corners to this day that boil down indirectly to whether or not I switched the track titles for Disco Inferno’s “From the Devil to the Deep Blue Sea”/”A Rock to Cling To” single when I submitted The Five EPs‘s tracklisting to CDDB. (I did, as it happened.)

    Then there’s all my AMG reviews mysteriously recopied onto various rar sites…

  2. the rich girls are weeping

    Oh yeah! I can’t think of any specific ones off the top of my head, but in the heyday of my mp3 posting, it happened A LOT. Because I was usually labeling tracks at like 6:30 am on no sleep and no coffee.

    Can we find the douche who labeled The Gourds’ cover of “Gin & Juice” as attributed to Phish and give them a rap on the knuckles or something?

  3. Captain Wrong

    Yep. In ’97 I started a site (long since gone) dedicated to weird thrift store records that I loved. At the time, I had an ok by late 90s standards digital camera that I tried to take pictures of the covers with. I still stumble across sites that have “borrowed” these frankly bad images. Anytime you see a slightly low res picture of an album cover on an atomic ranch style kitchen table leaning up against a white tile wall, it’s probably mine. (Soul Strut was one of the worst offenders, IIRC.)

    Also, I discovered one particular entry, Popcorn by Hot Butter, seemed to get ripped off a lot. Not only have I seen my words about that record on several different sites (one guy actually asked me for permission though,) there’s even a trivia site which credits me as having written the song Popcorn probably because some intern glanced at my site and cribbed the first name they saw, which I guess was mine.

    And, like anyone else who has written any reviews for actual publications, I’ve seen some of my freelance work appearing in places it shouldn’t. Really though, I don’t care as much about that. Once I got my $20 or $50 or whatever for finishing the piece, I was done with it anyway.

  4. iantenna

    i love it when “writers” get paid to rearrange one sheets i’ve written, happens all the damn time (i’m sure none of the writers who read this site do that, right? right?). seriously, you used the exact same adjectives and the exact same band references? really?

  5. Ned Raggett

    This is why I try not to read onesheets. (Try != always succeed.)

  6. iantenna

    @Ned Raggett: i really like that move. especially since so many asshole label people just name drop any one (or more) of the following:

    beatles
    kinks
    beach boys
    nick drake
    rolling stones
    velvet underground
    jonathan richman
    etc.

    really? i thought it just sounded like a half baked oasis but what do i know?

  7. Anonymous

    This may be irrelevant to the discussion, but I have a feeling that the author of this review has never seen a copy of this album himself. Either he is playing a trick on us, or someone was playing a trick on him. The label name that he cites “hron” is taken out of the Borges story “Tlon, Uqbar and Orbius Tertius”. I cant remember exactly how it goes, but a hron is basically an object (often an artifact) that is conjured through the power of suggestion. Given Borges’ fondness for reviews of non-existent books, I suspect that this reviewer is playing at a bit of Borges-style trickery.

  8. the rich girls are weeping

    Speaking of one sheets (and this is totally a general statement, and not specifically aimed at you, iantenna), I’d be a lot happier if there were less flowery, useless prose and more USEFUL factoids and other FAQs (who’s in the band, when/how founded, etc) in bullet points, canned responses to common questions (fave records, best show you’ve ever been to, etc). A big, clear picture of the band, album art, and other aesthetic materials are good. Because, frankly, if you think that I decide to listen to something based on the text “describing” the music, you’d be very wrong. A better arbiter of overall quality, for me at least, is the look and feel of the press materials, album art, etc. I’m sure that no one wants to hear that evaluations are that shallow — but come on. It’s true. And yes, I don’t like to read one sheets because I’m afraid I’ll unintentionally crib the text.

  9. iantenna

    @the rich girls are weeping: i agree completely. no made up stories about the band (“so and so escaped from a fundamentalist mormon cult in utah and met the bass player hitchiking near the continental divide.”), and no bullshit like this one sheet for the new m’s record (which is what i immediately thought of when reading your comment, as it pissed me off so much at the radio station the other day that i didn’t listen to the record after reading it):

    The M’s formed in early 21st century Chicago. Things progressed quickly then, and some accolades followed for tunes that started as simply as a hum in a head and flowered into a shared scheme. The M’s operated in extremes. Whether clunking along in their doomed shuttle bus, recording in the swampy air of an abandoned cafeteria, or later in their frozen Andersonville studio, the Salvation Ice-box; hardship and levity came and went with the seasons.

    Now, The M’s find themselves in a new neighborhood with new history and new faces. These new faces exist in the songs on Real Close Ones, born from the band’s passage through the world as musicians, men, fathers, husbands, sons, friends, baseball fans, carpenters, drummers, guitar players, producers, authors, real estate moguls, and whatever else they are. The faces in these songs are as real as any, and they are as familiar or as unfamiliar as we are to ourselves.

    well, ok, fine. but what the fuck does it sound like?

  10. Anonymous

    I found my interview with Robert Smith of the Cure from 1985 for Boston Rock on a Cure fansite, uncredited. It was kinda cringe inducing. I even fell for the ‘this will probably be our last album’ attention ploy. But then I was a young’un at the time. I wrote the guy to tell him I wrote the article. I bet he just thought I was just more Cure-obsessed than he was.

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