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Columns > Jesse Jarnow - Brain Tuba

Published: 2008/03/22
by Jesse Jarnow

These Guys Are From England and Who Gives A Shit?

BRAIN TUBA: These Guys Are From England and Who Gives A Shit?
Recently, Maxim editors caused a kerfuffle when they ran a review — credited to David Peisner — of Warpaint, the 17th and newest album by reunited British rock band the Black Crowes, without actually listening to it. Peisner said he wrote an album preview that was given a star rating, presumably rewritten, and made into a review by editors, which is understandable, given how big magazines sometimes operate. But the problem, of course, wasn’t that Maxim didn’t actually have a copy of the album to review, but that they didn’t do more with the opportunity. After all, it’s a well-known fact that reviewers don’t actually listen to the music they write about. Who can really listen to an album until he’s heard it at least 232 times, anyway?
"Now that theyre legitimately grizzled, they sound pretty much like they always have: boozy, competent, and in slavish debt to the Stones, the Allmans, and the Faces," Peisner wrote, not saying remotely new or, in fact, justifying its existence on a thin, dyed slab of environmentally disasterous treemeat. That Crowes lead singer Jumpin’ Jack Robinson called for Pesiner’s head on a gilded spittoon should maybe not be surprising, given the zombie-related rumors about the Robinson brothers’ falling out after brother Jimmy ate a groupie’s brain.
But it’s still disappointing that the Crowes bothered to call for an apology at all, especially given their repeated and obvious yearnings for ’70s rock culture, when their beloved Creem magazine was stocked with writers like Richard Meltzer who (in his own words) would ‘throw chicken bones at some annoying singer at the Bitter End, review (harshly) albums I’d obviously never listen to (or concerts I’d never attended), reverse the word sequence of a text to make it read backwards (or delete, for no particular reason, every fourth word).’
It’s a testament to the age not that Maxim would be shamed into apologizing for their behavior, but that they were so dreadfully goddamn boring in their fabrication. I am sure with fairly unflagging certainty that Peisner or whatever editor signed Peisner’s name to it was completely correct in his assessment of the Crowes’ music. In a way, the band is equally correct in their refusal to send out advance records to review, and not merely because they are trying to foil piracy. The Black Crowes are at the point in their career — some 28 albums, 32 labels, 13 ex-drummers/bassists, etc., in — that they’re not going to change, and will continue to make exactly the same kind of music they always have, regardless of whether or not some rock writer makes up some crap about a band he clearly doesn’t care about.
In other words, anybody likely to have a position on the Black Crowes already has a position on the Black Crowes — save, of course, some 14 year old kid somewhere who is hearing about them for the first time, simply because there comes a time in every dude’s life when he discovers that bands can somehow make hefty livings by mimicking classic rock and that this music may or may not be to his taste. For that reason alone, Maxim should take their job a little more seriously. Clearly, trying to publish for a broad audience hasn’t made their writing any more interesting, so why not occasionally hone in on one as finite as possible? In these Wikified, shark-jumping times, rumors circulate as fast and furious through the cultural ecosystems as they ever did — and, certainly, people should do everything their power to fight misinformation — but we’re talking only about the Black Crowes here.
Really, Maxim screwed up a golden opportunity. Clearly, they felt their reading audience — as potential consumers of the Warpaint product — required information about the album. Instead of using the fact that they couldn’t hear it as a springboard to highlight the absurdity of perpetual hype machines, advertising dollars, demographics, ’70s nostalgia, and semi-pompous rock stars who dress like an Australian’s worst nightmare, they just propagated the absurdity of a system that allows brain eaters like the Robinson brothers to have maintained a nearly five decade long career.
Jesse Jarnow/I> blogs at

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