Thursday, January 27, 2011

Welcome to the blog!

Hello, and welcome to "Living in a Rock and Roll Fantasy," my blog dedicated to analyzing, reviewing, and occasionally writing loving odes to various rock albums by various significant (and not-so-significant) artists from the last 50 or so years. Since when reading reviews by anybody, I like to have somewhat of an idea of what they're tastes are, and how they are in sync with mine, I have provided this IAQ (infrequently asked questions) page where you can learn more about me, my musical tastes, which artists you can expect to be reviewed here, and the formats for the blog. Once the blog becomes "established" and people occasionally actually ask questions, instead of me just envisioning questions readers might have, I'll update this page and get rid of the stupid joke.


  • SO, DO YOU HAVE ANY QUALIFICATIONS FOR THIS JOB OTHER THAN AN INTERNET CONNECTION AND TOO MUCH FREE TIME? Quite frankly, no I don't. I am not a musician (I took classical piano five years ago, but I've forgotten most of what I learned by now, I'm sure, plus that's not the type of music that will be reviewed here), and I don't think that I have better insight onto what makes a certain piece of music objectively great than any dude on the street. What I do have, however, is a love of rock music that I want to share with the world, through reviewing what I think are great (and crappy) albums, and hopefully can help people discover some great new music. Anyone can be a music reviewer, as long as you have the requisite interest and time to create a blog
  • WHAT ARE YOUR MUSICAL TASTES? Well, I'm open to anything, as long as it's good. My main area of interest is in rock music, or more specifically progressive rock and hard rock, along with some of the less rockin' 60s-style pop that still has amazing melody/lyrics and some psychedelic stuff. I also have a burgeoning interest in some 90s alternative, as well as some metal and punk, although my knowledge in these areas is limited, and my interest in them is more individual-band related than entire genre related. I'm also beginning to collect some of the more highly recommended indie albums, although these won't be reviewed for awhile as they are outside of my area of expertise, and I usually only have one or two albums by an artist. Oh, and I'm also a pretty big country fan, and will probably review some country album eventually, but with country being primarily a singles genre it is hard to make reviewing anybody's discography worthwhile, as a good greatest hits comp can often make the albums unnecessary (a choice cut or two excepted, of course). Genres I don't particularly care for are teen pop (although hopefully my exposure to it will decrease dramatically when I graduate from high school in May) and rap/hip-hop, although there are a few exceptions to the latter. One thing I should mention is that I am entirely in favor of music for the sake of music itself--how big a douchebag sellout the performer might be, if they perform a good song I will enjoy it. I don't care if it's the top-selling album of all time or some dude with an acoustic guitar playing for six people on open mic night, good music is good music. If you're curious, my top five favorite bands would be, more or less in order, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Kinks, Yes, and Led Zeppelin.
  • HOW DOES YOUR RATING SYSTEM WORK? I have considered various numerically-based rating systems, but unfortunately often fell back onto the same problem--my mind is just too goddamn numerically based, and rating an album 7/10 would make me think of it as a 70%, or a D-. Thus, I settled upon a 15-point system, as I do not think of the associated percent as regularly as I would on a 5 or 10 point scale. Here's a breakdown of how it works:
    • 15--absolutely amazing. Doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, but has to be relatively close. This grade will be relatively rare--a 15 album is, for now, in my mythical top20-25 or so (although this is subject to expand provided I haven't run out of all the great music in the world). There is no limit to the number of 15's a band can receive, but there are very few bands I can think of that will get more than one--Pink Floyd, The Who, and maybe Yes are the only ones that spring to mind* (this is subject to change as I write more reviews). A 15 will not have any songs I actively dislike, but I might still say that a certain song is slightly overlong, the vocals are slightly poor, etc.
    • 14--a damn awesome album. Basically an almost 15-worthy album that I'm not quite as fond of, and since I don't want to give too many albums the top score (or it would become essentially meaningless), a 14 it is. Many bands I quite like will have their highest rated album score a 14. A 14 album can have at most one (short--probably less than four minutes) song I somewhat dislike, but is easily forgettable amidst the greatness of the rest of the songs
    • 13--just a simply great album. Doesn't hold that special place in my heart the 14 and 15-rated albums do, but every time I listen to it I'm still reminded of how great it is. These albums either have consistently great songs, but not enough stellar ones to push them over the top, or the stellar songs are balanced out by songs I'm not fond of at all (Hotel California)
    • 12--very good, but not great. Maybe the musicianship or the songwriting isn't always there, maybe the second half drags, maybe there's nothing really stellar, or maybe they stuck an unholy piece of shit on here, but enjoy a 12 as much as I might, I can't call it a great album. I'd still recommend it, though.
    • 11--good. May contain a few bad songs, and there won't be more than one absolutely stellar number without at least one piece of putrid shit to balance it out, but the album is still enjoyable, but I'd only recommend it to established fans of a band.
    • 10--decent. This is the lowest score for an album I'd feel good recommending to anybody but the most hardcore fans of a band. Either one great song and a bunch that don't do anything for me, or consistent songs in the mediocre-to-good mode where nothing really stands out as good or bad.
    • 9--mediocre. Hardcore fans will want this, as it probably contains at least one song that adds something to a band's repertoire, and there might be a hidden gem or two, but overall not recommended, but not outright bad, either.
    • 8--not good. Not terrible, but the bad is outweighing the good by this point and will probably have one song worth using iTunes to find, but this isn't an album I would listen to regularly
    • 7--bad. But ordinary badness, usually. If the majority of the songs suck hard enough, there may be one great song on an album I give a 7 to, but if there isn't a song I consider great, the majority of the songs aren't shit-terrible, either. They're just ordinary badness. Which might be even worse than the truly terrible ones, which at least have some bile fascination going on.
    • 6--really bad. Maybe the songs have some good moments (the singer or an instrumentalist for the most part does a good job, the productions is good, or a decent, if not really good song shows up), but even the good ones aren’t worth wasting your time for by now
    • 5--why the fuck is this still on my hard drive? Because I NEVER delete anything from iTunes, that's why. Because if I did, this would be gone in a second. Hardly any redeeming qualities, and those that exist are negligible.
    • 4 and below--unthinkable. As of right now I'm reviewing artists I like as a whole (even though I may dislike some of their albums), and I can't think of any artist I like that released an album shit terrible enough to get this low of a score. Getting a score this low would probably require being a bad album in a genre I don't enjoy (i.e., someone doing really bad teen pop, as opposed to a normal teen pop album that would likely score in the 5-7 range were I to waste my time listening and reviewing something I don't like and have no interest in). Seriously, hearing an electric guitar is probably enough to give an album a 5. I'm a relatively easy grader, there won't be a plethora of albums under 10 and even fewer under 8. Maybe one day I'll seek out something bad enough just so I can say I gave a score this low, but until then, just ignore these ratings. And yes, I know a system where I ignore a third of the numbers at my disposal is far from perfect, but most personal review sites are at least somewhat top-heavy, because really, who wants to waste time from their hobby reviewing entire discographies they hate with a passion?
  • WHAT'S UP WITH THE RED AND BLUE TITLES IN THE TRACK LISTINGS? This is a concept I'm ripping off from George Starostin's Only Solitaire site (see below and the links page), but the songs on an album I really love will be in red, songs I dislike will be in blue, and the rest won't be highlighted at all. An unhighlighted song should be taken in regards to the ranking--something a didn't highlight on a 13 or 14 album is a very good song, just not a highlight of the album (but might even be in red on a 7 or 8 album), but one on a 7 album actually stands out as better than the dreck around it enough that I don't hate it that much while it's on, even though if it were on a better album I would probably spend a paragraph bitching about how its suckitude is bringing the album down. A red song is truly good, and a blue song is truly bad, however, no matter what the ranking (not as good/bad as one on a higher/lower ranked album, but not just "good/bad comparatively")
  • WHO ARE SOME OF THE INFLUENCES ON THIS SITE? I spend a lot of time reading other amateur web critics. There a lot of great ones out there (although sadly few update anymore, and many were condemned to the archives of the Internet when Yahoo! Geocities shut down), but my three favorites, and the biggest influences, would have to be George Starostin, Mark Prindle, and John McFerrin. For a more comprehensive list, see the links page.
  • SO WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU, ANYWAY? Just a high school senior from Omaha, Nebraska with a passion for both music and finding something to do when I should be doing my homework. My favorite TV shows are The Simpsons, Futurama, and South Park, my favorite books are The Stand, Lonesome Dove, and the Harry Potter series, I don't really have a set favorite movie, and I'm planning on going to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln next year, as an engineering major. My dream job (excluding rock musician /songwriter and quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs) is to be a city planner. Yeah, I'm kind of a nerd, but I love it. That's pretty much it. Go Huskers!
  • WHAT ARE YOU REFERENCING WITH THE BLOG TITLE? The song "Rock and Roll Fantasy" by The Kinks from their 1978 album Misfits. Specifically this verse (music and lyrics written by Ray Davies, under copyright, etc.):

There's a guy in my block, he lives for rock

He plays records day and night

And when he feels down, he puts some rock 'n' roll on

And it makes him feel alright

And when he feels the world is closing in

He turns his stereo way up high

He just spends his life, living in a rock 'n' roll fantasy

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