Critiquing the Critics

The Air We Breathe

Defeating: Thank you for printing the story "A Quiet Hell" [by Chris Vogel, December 17]. It is sad and a shame that more is not done to control the chemical releases they spew into our air that we breathe.

This has been an ignored problem since these plants were built. Talk to anyone who has worked for any one of them, and they will tell you what the companies get away with.

Ask any doctor in our area and they will tell you that the respiratory and asthma incidents are higher in Houston.

I thought some strides were going to be made by the mayor's office in Houston and the federal government to control this problem. Seems like they pay attention for a little while, and then have a short attention span when it comes to enforcement.

It is deflating that more isn't done to put a cap on the horrible chemicals that are in the air we breathe.

Guess folks forget that air is one of the basic human needs for survival.

Nancy Lauritsen

Critiquing the Critics

Online readers respond to "The AP's Year-End Album List Proves What We Already Knew: Rock Critics Are Assholes," By John Seaborn Gray, Rocks Off blog, December 15:

Wow, you are retarded: Animal Collective is quiet and whimsical? I don't think you listened to the album. And really nice to brush aside the entire continent of Africa's contributions to music.


No presence: I have never heard of any of these bands, except Wilco (and have not listened to it). To rock, you must have presence, and none of these bands have that, obviously.

And the Animal Collective ­album is freaking my eyeballs out.


Rock out: Let's all imagine for a ­moment that the word "rock" doesn't appear in the title of the AP's year-end best-of list. Now this article has no reason to exist.


Am I missing something? Why don't you put your list up instead of (or in addition to) slamming other people's?

Jason Smith

Lazy word: Am I the only one who thinks the overuse of the adjective "fucking" quickly becomes tiresome? To me, it's a crutch used by lazy writers to show how much they really mean it, maaaan. I get it: You're fucking upset that these fucking nonrock albums are on some fucking AP List that nobody fucking cares about. Fucking fuckfuck, boo hoo hoo.

Jim Cotter

Good article: I enjoyed it. The cover art from these albums alone is enough to turn me away from these bands. This must be the shit that pretentious assholes listen to in Starbucks while writing their novel on their MacBook.


Go elsewhere: I have very little to complain about this list. Although I don't like most of the records on it, I understand that it's not my list to curate, and if it were, none of those who seem to garner so much enjoyment out of guffawing at it would be nearly as interested in doing so.

As a piece of satire, this article does well pointing out that the AP should not be the place anyone goes to for information about music.

Fuck. Fucking. Fucked.


Excellent piece: I hate this neo-easy listening garbage. But I'd like to make fun of Animal Collective whilst not hearing more of Animal Collective — where's your list of top albums so I can go buy them?


Dad rock? While in some cases there is probably a bit too much whining and less simple explanation of why the AP clearly doesn't know what the genre of "rock music" should include, I still believe the article definitely gets its point across quite clearly. Someone used the term "dad rock." If that is what is being deemed what I have long since known as "rock," then what is wrong with the world and how can I find it again?

There is so much genre confusion these days. I go to a record store and I see things listed in rock that clearly aren't; things listed in jazz that are pop-vocalist crap that isn't jazz at all, etc. There's so many people trying to be a certain genre and failing. No one knows what the genres are anymore!


Wow: This has to be one of the worst year-end lists I have read so far. So, why don't you let us know what albums you think "rock"? Before you do that, please define the word "rock." It appears that you think rock music is something you can easily define with a few choice words. That seems pretty restricting when you are discussing an art form. Not that I agree with granting every unique sound its own subgenre, but with your restrictions on what can be considered rock music, it seems like we may need them.

Some of these albums may not be a start-to-finish, in-your-face assault of aggressive tunes, but who really needs that all the time? Let's take a look at a quote from Trent Reznor (I think he makes/made music you would consider rock), discussing Grizzly Bear: "The band Grizzly Bear, I think they're excellent. There's a beauty and a musicality there that I wish would have been in vogue in the late '80s, when I was forming bands. The aesthetic I was tuned into was a more dumbed-down kind of thing. Sometimes listening to stuff like they're doing makes me feel irrelevant. That's a nice, healthy kick in the ass. And it's interesting to see there's room for that in what's considered hip these days."

Notice his use of "dumbed-down" describing the late-'80s rock aesthetic, but "beauty" and "musicality" when describing Grizzly Bear making him feel irrelevant? Why is this important? Well, Mr. Gray, because you are a journalist, just like the AP guys you rip on. I doubt you are an actual longstanding, successful musician who is humble and enough of a realist to notice the music he made is no longer relevant to where rock music is headed. That the art form has evolved to include other characteristics. Which is why you write about music, and others make it.


No good rock: I haven't heard a good new song on the radio in over a decade. All the music that gets promoted by the record industry is trendy, poppy crap that I will never listen to. I'm really lost in the music world. I've been exploring hip-hop because as far as I can tell, rock is dead. Either that, or the record industry is doing a piss-poor job promoting anything resembling good rock music.


Interesting article: I don't understand the problem, though. The music you prefer still sounds the same regardless of what the reviews say about it or whether it's on a year-end list. If it sounds good to you, enjoy. If it doesn't, then try something else.

I don't really dig heavy/hard rock; the National's Boxer is about as rockish as I get (and that's not saying much). Mellow music just appeals to me, whereas more energetic stuff doesn't. It's all about taste. You have yours, I have mine, each critic has their own and every commenter has theirs.


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