Since working at WLFM I’ve experienced a very strange phenomenon: I can’t distinguish between good and bad anymore. Ok, so maybe that’s a little bit extreme – I can definitely tell that chocolate cookies are way superior to any kind of cookie with fruit in it, and I also can tell that Keanu Reeves is a bad actor and Daniel Day Lewis is a rather good actor. But when it comes to music…lately I’ve been confused.
Why is this? You would think that working at WLFM would give me exactly the tools I need to become a supreme music snob of the snobbiest variety. It all seems very simple: You put the CD in, it plays, if you like it, it gets added to the ever-growing WLFM archives, if you don’t, it gets tossed in the pile with the other rejects. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. And, it is not as simple as it sounds. For awhile I felt like more of the stuff that came into the station was getting thrown into the ‘reject’ pile, regardless of whether it was ‘good’ or not. I think it has something to do with the caliber of music we get into the station on a day-to-day basis. The majority of it is crap on a stick. Crap in a jewel case. Whatever you prefer to call it, it’s crap. If I get one more singer-songwriter by the name of Kary Leslie Casy Marie or something or other, I think I might just take a crap. Potty mouth aside, this is the kind of stuff we get into WLFM Every. Single. Day. And, there are definitely indications as to whether an album will be good or not. We usually have some clues- the promoter we got it from, the record label, whether or not there is a cheesy Photoshop job on the cover of the album – all kinds of things. I should be able to distinguish between good and bad easy as cake….or in my case, cookies. But for some reason, when I put on an album in the office, it automatically just sounds like crap in a jewel case.
Seriously…I have rejected albums that I have seen later on top review sites. For example, I didn’t add Thee Oh Sees new album “Carrion Crawler” when it first came out. Then, about two weeks ago I saw it on Tiny Mix Tapes’ Top 50 Albums of the Year List…at like number 25. Of course I automatically went back into the digital .zip files and added it into SAM, but the whole time I was thinking, where did I suddenly get the authority to just throw a CD into the physical or digital reject pile? I mean, for the most part, I trust my taste. I have made a point to try and seek out the rare, the beautiful, the meaningful, the underground, and, dare I say it, the ‘good’ music of the world. I try to listen to all kinds of music, blah blah blah, [insert ‘I have diverse tastes’ claim here]. Point is, I know a lot about music and I think I have a good sense of when something has artistic merit or not. But I guess I have lost my touch recently. Maybe it is a matter of context, and I have just come to associate the WLFM office with the mediocre. I think I just need to open up my eyes, take a look at the walls around me that are covered in the remnants of posters of top-notch bands, and realize that not everything I get in is junk. With that said, recently, I haven’t been as tough. I would say I’ve gone from ‘music Nazi’ to ‘music Glinda the Good Witch’ in the last couple of weeks, adding everything that comes in, even if I know nobody would ever listen to it if they were being held down and tortured by Kary Leslie Casy Marie herself.
I think I just need to find the middle ground. To trust myself. To use my ears again instead of just using my throw-away powers. To realize that this is why I got the job in the first place: because I know that chocolate cookies are good and fruit cookies are bad.