Musical Notation

While this blog is called Rants, there are some praiseworthy items to speak about here and there, but there is also no shortage of annoyances, especially in modern music.  However, I won’t subject you all to my disdain for the flourishing careers of Deadmau5 and Skrillex (since they already get more attention than they deserve), but I will point out two items I’ve take issue with recently.

I really like Halestorm.  I bought their self-titled release and Believe by Orianthi on the same day in February 2010 and I instantly became excited for a new crop of guitar players to step up and show what they can do, especially women, who are, all too often, not given the same credit as their male counterparts.  Last year, the band digitally released an EP of cover songs which were overall great (I only bought individual songs, knowing I couldn’t, in good conscience, give Lady Gaga any of my money).  Fast forward to this past January and the band released a four track digital EP as what I assumed was a teaser for their next album.  All four songs were badass and found their way into heavy rotation on my iPod.  Just over two months later, the band’s new album came out, appropriately titled The Strange Case of… I’m sorry to say the album did not live up to my expectations.  Well, technically, two thirds of it didn’t live up to them.

Granted, I don’t know whose decision it was to release the digital EP in such close proximity to the album release, but it’s really disheartening when a band tries to milk their audience by making them buy the same material twice (or more).  The best songs on the album were on the EP I’d already bought, yet I still bought the CD when it came out in April.  The album was a letdown, yes, but I was pissed after it sunk in that I’d been sold the same songs twice.  Maybe I could have poked around in January to see if all the songs on the EP would be on the album, but you would think maybe one or two of the songs would be exclusive to that release.  Also, because I’m a sucker with music collector’s OCD, I bought the deluxe edition with three bonus songs which, you guessed it, sucked.  When I am going to learn bonus tracks usually don’t make it on to a standard album because they’re not very good?

Switching gears to pomposity, Beck is being hailed for his unique plan to release his next album by…not recording it.  20 unrecorded songs are being released strictly as sheet music, which, for an innovator like Beck, keeps him on the cutting edge…of the 19th century.  I can take any of the loads of songs I’ve written, pay a transcriber to turn them into notated music (or probably feed them into some computer software) and BOOM!, I’ll have an album to bind and sell to suckers who love their music to be self-indulgent.  I love how this plan means people can buy the music and record it themselves, as long as they know how to read sheet music.  It’s as laughable as how publishing companies still print Ozzy and Metallica books with notation when they must know all guitar players are going to learn to play the songs using tablature.  So maybe Beck’s audience is different from those guys, but the idea of releasing sheet music without recordings in the 21st century as a way to involve your audience seems like more of a publicity stunt than an artistic statement.  Let’s hope this kerfuffle is officially confirmed as a joke sometime soon.

That’s right, I said “kerfuffle.”  I like that word so I elbowed it in.