Despite spending roughly the first ten years of my writing career doing them, I’ve decided that album reviews are now pointless. After reading a few about Title Fight’s new LP on Anti- Records, Hyperview and getting a headache from the meandering sentences, arbitrary comparisons, and mosh-pit mentions, I came to my senses.
OK, until the era of free (wink, wink) digital tunes, reading a review gave you actual insight into what an album sounded like before you actually purchased it. Since no one really buys anything, and would rather give money to Spotify than the actual artists, you’ve probably heard an album, before some kook wrote 800 telling you about it.
If you can decipher what said reviewer is getting at instead of just skipping to the rating, you probably haven’t gained anything. So rather than bore you with whatever my weird brain thinks about Hyperview, I asked an actual member of the band about what influenced their album.
So here’s my talk with the PA band’s singer/bassist Ned Russin, who recently talked to GQ Magazine about hardcore shirts of all things, and did so very eloquently I may ad. Maybe you’ll learn something, maybe you’ll buy a physical copy of the album, but you wont’ read any music journo cliches or metaphors about the album’s “sonic assault,” so you can thank me later for that.
Here’s Ned Russin on Title Fight:
My brother the musicologist (alright, musicologist in training) told me that an artist’s vision of him/herself is often short sided due to their inability to have an objective or even simply a second opinion. Despite his warnings, I will try to compile a list of things that I found to be most important to my contributions to Hyperview. This list can never be taken for fact but it surely isn’t fiction. This is a quarter of a band’s influences. In alphabetical order:
The Beach Boys Pet Sounds
In doing press for the record, I gave a quote about “chasing the energy of The Beach Boys and Dinosaur Jr.” or something. This quote has been use to define the ambitions of the record, which wasn’t my intent. (sidebar: just received an email now with an NME review with the actual first words being “The Beach Boys”…) Of that group of bands though, The Beach Boys were one my first CDs (how dated) and Pet Sounds became an integral album for me later in life. For going into “softer” territory, it is impossible for me to view the world of harmonies and instrumental breaks without first discussing how Brian Wilson did it better than anyone.
The Beatles Please Please Me
Another of the “classics” here, but The Beatles for me have to do more with reconciliation. My parents are both big fans of and proponents for music, and also both very talented singers. But their relationship with music is strange to me. I just found out my dad didn’t hear new music for ten years because the family car stereo was broken and his father refused to let him buy a household stereo for himself. So my dad’s taste of modern music began and ended with The Beatles, literally.
Growing up, I remember hearing those Beatles greatest hits CDs all the time. When I got into my own musical tastes, I wrote off the Beatles as being old and outdated, and only years later did I actually give some records a chance. Yeah, they’re good of course. I was dabbling in later Beatles stuff, but I got Please Please Me more recently and remember not only how much I liked this record but how important these songs were in forming my idea of how music should sound. I would like to think every chord change I’ve ever written was directly influenced by the Fab Four’s early days.
Early 20th Century Modernism
The biggest lyrical influence for Hyperview was the batch of books I had been reading. I was just trying to wrestle with the greats and really connected with Steinbeck, Faulkner, Salinger, O’Connor (not so much with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, though) and wanted to try and revamp my lyrical output somewhat. There are some obvious allusions to this, like “Rose of Sharon,” but overall I thought the idea of writing colloquially yet grappling with casual human awareness in a poetic fashion was my goal. I was trying out more conceptual ideas and more thematic tools as well.
Fugazi The Argument
Putting Fugazi on an influence list is daunting. I think it’s arguable that Fugazi is one of the actual best bands of all time. They were evolving, they were prolific, they were thoughtful, they were ethical, but their music all the while was just extremely well written. As we drifted towards a certain simpler sound in our practice space, I couldn’t help but try and bring in some elements from The Argument, Fugazi’s “simplest” and most melodic release. The bass line to “Hypernight“ is my impression of Joe Lally. Their is a quiet energy to “The Argument” that retains the power of their previous releases but somehow creates an introspective aura. I’d like to think we had a similar goal.
Morrissey Viva Hate
An ongoing fascination for me has been peoples’ fascination with Morrissey. I think he is a really great lyricist and all around “interesting” guy, but the fact that people follow him like their lives depend on it is actually… I don’t know, wild. Morrissey’s first solo album Viva Hate though is damn near a perfect album if it isn’t just that. And in discussing Viva Hate’s influence I’m not talking lyrically here because I think anyone that is ripping on Morrissey is going to either fail or succeed and be just a carbon copy. The musical accompaniment for Morrissey is just the backdrop for Morrissey to flex his tongue, but I think this is one of the rare examples of Morrissey solo that the music itself can stand on its own.
Hyperview is available now on Anti- Records. It would be cool if you actually bought it.