June 10th, 2003

OK, so my question of the moment is who had kidnapped the real Scott Brodeur and replaced him with an evil elf? I mean, that’s the only explanation I can come up with for the stuff that’s been showing up on Scott’s blog the last couple of days. Well, not all the stuff. Actually not even most of it. Most of Scott’s many posts over the last few days have consisted of the usual bits of wit and wisdom paired with some rather interesting links. But, and this is a big but, there have been a couple of posts that have simply left me scratching my head.

A little background for those who don’t know him: Scott’s a guy who knows an awful lot about music. Has worked as a critic (for at least one major newspaper). Plays in a terrific local band. Digs all the good, good indie rock. He was one of the first Josh Rouse fans I ever knew. (I remember a conversation back when he was working upstairs from me where he kept wanting to talk about Josh and I kept wanting to talk about Lambchop — the two acts are related and have recorded together — and we never quite got on the same track, but I walked away thinking, “Damn. I like Josh OK, but if Scott’s this into him, I’ve gotta listen closer.” I did. And he was right. The guy’s amazing.)

Anyhow, the first clue I got that something was amiss with Scott came yesterday, when his blog led me to some extremely exciting news about a pending Whiskeytown reunion. (Actually, his post about the reunion came just in time for me to sneak a line about it into a feature I was writing on Kathleen Edwards, who’s a big Whiskeytown fan, as you already know if you’ve heard her record “Failer.”) Scott and I have long had different opinions of Ryan Adams’ solo work. Specifically, Scott’s a huge fan of Adams’ records, while I think they’ve been largely mediocre with a few moments of brilliance overbalanced by a number of moments of utter awfulness (“Sylvia Plath” has to be one of the worst songs ever committed to tape — and I think Adams knows it). In fact, comparing the quality of Adams’ solo stuff with the quality of the stuff that’s been produced by his once and future Whiskeytown bandmate Caitlin Cary, I’ve concluded that she must have been the real genius of that band (or, at the very least, that the band was a case of the whole being far greater than the sum of its parts).

I was certain, though, that while we disagreed on Ryan Adams solo stuff, Scott and I shared the belief that it wasn’t up to the level of what he did in Whiskeytown. Then Scott says this: “Actually, while I always liked Whiskeytown … I have enjoyed Adams’ recorded solo music more.” Reading that, I couldn’t help think, what the hell is with this guy? Come on, Scott. I know you dig the guy, but do you really think any of his solo output is even half as good as “Strangers Almanac”? Can you really believe that? My conclusion yesterday was, OK, so I think Scott’s got this one wrong. But he knows his stuff, so he must be hearing something in Adams that I’m not. Either that or I’ve started to believe Whiskeytown was better than they were. Either way, I figured I needed to go back and relisten to something just to see what’s going on.

Today I’m thinking not so much. Here’s why. Today, Scott comes in with a post regarding Evanescence, perhaps the most godawful band I’ve ever heard. Only Scott isn’t so sure. He points to the band’s incredible popularity and wonders what’s driving it. “Is it the music?” he asks. “Is it the fairy-like persona of beautiful lead singer Amy Lee? Is it the power of major-label marketing?” And now I know we’re not dealing with the real Scott anymore. I know for certain that the real Scott would never need to ask if this band’s popularity has to do with it’s music. Music? Music? What music? This band wouldn’t know music if it fell on it from out of a tree. This band only qualifies as a band because it has managed to put a record out. This band is as pure a construct of music industry marketing as NSync or Britney or April. It has not one single damned thing going for it outside of the fact that Amy Lee is indeed gorgeous and major labels know how to package gorgeous.

Look, I’m certainly not one to overestimate the intelligence of the American record buying public. People are rubes. If you can buy the support of the radio stations and MTV and the right magazines (which, of course, you can) you can get Americans to accept just about any half-talented band as an artistic force to be reckoned with. But I refuse to believe that anyone, anywhere who has an functioning ear, could possibly be stupid enough to truly believe Evanescence has anything whatsoever going on musically.

And, yeah, Scott never argues that this band is talented. In fact, by not answering his question, he may well be expressing the same opinion I am, only with less invective and without giving himself a heart attack in the process. But, I’m nonplussed by the mere fact that he’d pose the question. And, combine this with the Whiskeytown thing, and I can only conclude that something horrible must have befallen the real Scott. Whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, set things right soon, please. Give us the real Scott back, the one who’s disappointed with the new Liz Phair record and loves Josh Rouse. The one who shouldn’t give half a crap what anyone thinks about Evanescence.

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