One of the things I've noticed in Toronto is the prevalence of, "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all" when it comes to local music criticism. I was discussing this with another journalist on Sunday night, and he put it down to the simple fact that you really don't want to deal with someone you slagged off giving you the evil eye from the other side of the bar every time you go out. Nobody wants to name names, except in private.
While I can understand this sentiment, it seems to me a bit of honest criticism can go a long way towards leveling an uneven playing field. Marketing will give mediocre (or even bad) bands enough exposure to generate the sales and tour support for them to make it (Mobile, Pilate, Metric, Alexisonfire, etc.), while most local journalists run circles around saying any of them are crap. Of course, not everyone listens to reviews, but there are a hell of a lot of people who do, and one can argue that these are the very people who are buying records based around heavy rotation on MuchMusic and The Edge (which is bought, not earned).
If Emily Haines or Amy Millan wants to call you an asshole for saying their new albums are poor, tell them to write something better so you can give them the critical acclaim they want. I mean, why isn't there more local media pointing out that Live It Out is bad, and Bedouin Soundclash are not much better than Bootsauce? It seems to be the consensus elsewhere.
Although they've already toured with Weird War (ex-The Makeup) and !!!, San Francisco's Seahorse Liberation Army have yet to make a name for themselves outside their local scene. The lack of front-page exposure is surprising, considering they took responsibility for being the source of Paris Hilton's cell-phone leak (which, I suppose, is on the risky scale somewhere between claiming to be an Al Qaeda operative, and drinking a box of expired grape juice). Anyone know what a "conceptual art outlaw" is?
Regardless, take a bit of the aforementioned Weird War, mix in some of that !!!, add self-mocking socio-political commentary, wrap it up in Franco-synth-pop (with English lyrics), and you have Seahorse Liberation Army. I hear their six-member live show is impressive.
Thanks to ESB for the tip on this one.
Seahorse Liberation Army - Stockhousen For Little Girls That Wish [...]
Seahorse Liberation Army - Play Play Play
Seahorse Liberation Army - We Set Paris On Fire (Radio Edit)
Astute readers might notice Shout Out Out Out Out's full-length album has appeared in our "Best of 2006" sidebar.