Newsletter:
 
by on Jan 29, 2016

ace and the gulls, new york, 2016, lopie, lo pie, lo pie music Ace and the Gulls // Ace and the Gulls
Self-Released

Recommended Track(s): Hey Julia

It’s no secret that most things “60s garage” agitate me to the point of wanton violence. So I can only imagine it’s me surviving the worst flu I’ve ever had in my life that has me somewhat okay with Ace and The Gulls’ self-titled debut. The bass is simple & understated. The drums actually respect the vocal mix, which, however amateurish the production, is better than some suburban moron bashing away at his set in front of an overblown Tascam. The guitars, though shamefully low in the mix, take on the strange tone of a glass jar filled with metal filings rolled down the halls of an empty museum. The most charming aspect however, are the unified voices of Sobelsohn, Linton and Bishow.

Something about Ace & The Gulls reminds me of The Toys or maybe The Spiders, but stripped way down, naked and forced to walk home with heads held high while being sprayed with Super Soakers filled with Green Ink. There’s a quiet dignity in how almost-completely-without-merit this offering is. For all of their cute little quirks, it’s still a fairly derivative record. But something tells me that these three dudes probably don’t know any better and it’s such an interesting mix of genres/players that I can’t really bring myself to hate it completely. Even though, I really, really want to. Oh my god, how I want to.

The album does have a moment or two. “Hey, Julia” sounds like something playing out of a Technicolor café behind you while Squiggle Vision Speed Levitch is in the middle of the street screaming about “Salsa dancing with his confusion” à la Linklater’s Waking Life. There’s a lounged-out simplistic air to the song, one part bouncy (almost plodding) bassline, one part backyard barbershop tandem swooning. “Make You Sore” has a guitar solo that I know is still guitar but morphs into surf-Xylophone. There. Like I said: two moments.

Summing up the way I feel about this record: imagine me with my hand out (palms down) and it’s teetering like a shitty hang-glider in turbulent winds. And I’m saying: “Eh.” But! I am also smiling. But! I could *easily* turn it to that gesture one does when they want the waiter to return a severely undercooked steak. I like it, but I’m not going to give it a total free pass because Ace and the Gulls are getting by on pure awkward charm and my own restored health-vibes. Most parts of the record are still very High School Talent Show and they need to just straight up “Be Better At This” all across the board.

My advice, boys? Get weirder. You like the 90s? Listen to Unwound. Listen to Slint. Drop LSD, drink GHB, then run up into the house with a trash can lid and blast your father’s dumb ol’ face with it. Date a woman like Tilda Swinton’s character in Young Adam. Join a Fight Club and break every rule except the 3rd and the last three and just…I don’t know…see what fucking happens! Do something! Anything to get rid of the gee-golly and aw-shucks-we’re-just-tryin’ I hear on this record. Sure, staying traditionally garage will probably ensure you play all your friends’ parties where only the lowest of the common denominators are invited…but we have enough bands like that sucking it up all across our gross nation.

Don’t stop playing though.

 

17 Comments

  1. wow
    February 9, 2016

    Jesus this writer needs to get out of their ass. This band sucks but this writing is worse. To the writer, yr here to review, not give advice (you as an inanimate object that is the written word have no authority to do so)–esp when that advice is as objectifying as “date a woman like…”

    Reply
  2. The Writer
    February 9, 2016

    First of all: Please shut the fuck up, forever. Secondly: The only thing worse than me writing this review is your horseshit review of my review. I exist. As a gift. For you. From God. Do you understand? Having to share reality with you is the literal worst so I should naturally have the authority shit or throw monoatomic gold upon anything that graces my senses. And the best part? There is 100% nothing you ever possibly do about it. P fucking S – There is no “objectifying” going on here you all-day dummy. Not only are women people but shock-horror they are *different kinds of people who can impact your life*. But wait? Why am I explaining this to an irradiated shit-slurper like you? The only reason you offered up this fuckwitted Pavlovian response to brilliance is because you didn’t get the reference. “Young Adam” is a pretentious piece of trash film about male narcissism and Tilda Swinton – the unbridled angel she is – saved it and also me at the same time somehow! Every breath you take should be filled with ash for not knowing that AND not knowing to not fuck with me. Hare Krishna, Merry Christmas & Fuck You.

    Reply
  3. ok
    February 10, 2016

    So how is saying “a woman like” a fictional character not objectifying actual women?

    I have no issue sharing reality with you and your writing (which is in fact inanimate). I think it’s nice to see personality come through, but it’s ineffective to write as if your word holds any weight if all you can do is relate back to yourself and shitty movies that may have affected YOU.

    Your wanna-be-gonzo-style review is honestly just a small portion of what is wrong with music writing in general. And in that light, it was unfair to criticize you so aggressively.

    Go ahead and say no to the traditional conditioning of a proper review and innovate, but that’s not what you are doing here. I understand my words were mean-spirited and hurt your feelings and I feel some modicum of regret for hitting a nerve so hard. I know its hard to even make the effort to write this stuff and receiving faceless comments is hardly any help. Keep at it and all.

    Reply
    • Mariana Timony
      February 10, 2016

      “traditional conditioning of a proper review and innovate”

      brb just got PSTD’d back to grad school

      Reply
    • The Writer
      February 10, 2016

      If you think the written word is (“in fact”) inanimate, then we do not share the same reality and I’d take bets that our immortal souls are different shapes and different hues with entirely different purposes. The odds favor me: Clearly, I’m somehow genetically predisposed to taking your tepid little grad-school premises by ankles and swinging them into the nearest angry God’s asshole.

      Music is personal. Personal experience shapes art. Great art takes risks. If you weren’t a piece of sub-cognitive trash, my comment on dating a dangerous Tilda Swinton character from a 3-star movie wouldn’t have triggered you. My word doesn’t have to hold any weight because you can’t put lightning or heartache or bliss on a scale. You weren’t aggressive, mean-spirited or any of that because, well, you really can’t upset a hurricane, can you? Don’t flatter yourself: You’re a gazelle neck complaining about a lion’s mouth. And I’m not going to grow hooves and antlers to make you feel safe. In my eyes, you’re not even a fool – you’re food.

      Reply
    • kevin
      February 10, 2016

      Might want to raise your trigger threshold a little bit.

      Good review by the way

      Reply
      • kevin
        February 10, 2016

        (this is in response to @ok and @wow)

        Reply
  4. reader/listener
    February 10, 2016

    I liked both the review and the record. I’m of the opinion that criticism is in itself worthy to be held up as an art form. Lester Bangs still resonates because he was an interesting and articulate cat. Likewise to the reviewer. Additionally, having the gumption to say what you want without fear is both the third rail and necessary to means of expression.

    I dug this record for the same reasons that the reviewer did not. The simplicity, earnestness, and love of the genre however saturated reverberated with me. Too much of anything is perhaps not good for you, in this case the lo-fi psychedelic pop. But like with ice cream, I’ll forever remain an addict.

    Reply
  5. Kind of Confused
    February 12, 2016

    To Sim:

    Not knocking your writing whatsoever, but I’m scratching my head why you chose to poorly review an album that was released over a year ago (from what I see on their Bandcamp page). Why not, ya know, just NOT review it? Maybe choose to review something that you enjoyed or something new (or both) instead?

    I love coming to this website to learn about new artists that you guys are all really excited about, and ever since you eliminated your album scoring system–which was an awesome move–I’ve assumed almost all content would be centered around music you all dig.

    My impression of most freelance music critics is that they only really choose to pan an album they don’t like (instead of just not reviewing it) if it’s already a large topic of discussion (eg. some artist who has made great music in the past and/or is decently popular). Why even bother tearing apart a band with only 500 likes on Facebook? Seems pretty futile to deflate balloons that were never really inflated to begin with.

    I appreciate music criticism, positive or negative, and I don’t think anyone reviews an album because they “need to”, but I’m curious about your thought process on this one.

    Reply
    • The Writer
      February 12, 2016

      Kind of Confused,

      Don’t be confused. Just think.

      Asking why we don’t cover only the things we “dig” is literally like asking why isn’t there -just- a south pole, why magnetic polarity isn’t just one force going one way or why LIGO needed TWO black holes to discover gravity waves. Or more to the point: Why is there a good AND evil? I can’t appear in your meditations to answer these questions definitively but I can definitely tell you that a duality exists in reality and above all else: Lo-Pie keeps it real.

      Mariana can stop me if I’m a wrong, but Lo-Pie isn’t here to reflect an all-sunny disposition or what some PR retard, or “duh industry” or what “the scene” or the band themselves wants people to think. We reflect reality. Warts and all. Sheaf and Wheat. And the reality is, if you did your fucking homework you’d see that when comes to me, personally, I write a higher percentage of posi-reviews than negative. (though that is rapidly changing)

      Regardless, it really isn’t our problem that you made some baseless assumption about what people who aren’t you would/should do in a situation you’ve never been in (writing for a music publication). The better question is why do you think it’s okay to try and control us and not just start your own thing? Because I definitely don’t want to adopt your single-minded, myopic way of thinking. What bugs me is this self-righteous air you have in thinking your way is so objectively right that this is the way everyone should be.

      Reply
      • Kind of Confused
        February 14, 2016

        To the Writer:

        My post was clearly written very poorly because what I meant was not at all how it was received on your end. Trust me–I just wanted some light shed on how you chose which albums to review and when. I enjoy your writing and this might be my favorite website for music discovery and music criticism. I don’t have a “way” and nothing I wrote was self-righteous, or at least I didn’t intend it to come off that way. There was no expectation I held which wasn’t met by this review and isn’t met by this website. I’m on your side.

        I am absolutely not advocating you should refrain from writing negative reviews. That would be ludicrous and I’ll help you take down that straw man all day if you like. I apologize that what I wrote came off that way. I agree that the same good-bad, enjoyable-distasteful scale exists regardless of an artist’s level of popularity and I only used “Facebook Likes” as a proxy for popularity, which is subjective regardless, I know. My curiosity was more or less in how you chose which music to review in general.

        I’m not coming to you with an idea of how things “should be”, asking you condescendingly why you don’t fit that mold. I’m coming to you with a blank slate and an open mind so I can better see things from your perspective. And I’m here in the first place because I respect you and value your opinions most.

        Reply
        • Kind of Confused
          February 14, 2016

          I will defend myself a little though. Just because you don’t find my impressions to be true doesn’t mean they are also “baseless”. The argument “you need to be x to form an intelligent opinion about x” is not valid a huge amount of the time.

          My opinion is definitely less educated on the matter of music criticism than yours, since you are a critic and I am not, but it’s nonetheless informed by the writings of music critics, often about their experiences and processes of criticism.

          I do like that you are demonstrably taken aback by my impressions of when people write negative music reviews. To me, it shows you are on a very different page than most of the critics and websites that shaped my opinion and speaks even more to the integrity of this site and why I appreciate it.

          And yeah, I will admit my post was lazy although I do know the general trends / level of positivity of your writing, at least here. I guess I see message boards like this as a medium for direct, informal conversation where a smaller degree of research is required, at least if your true end goal is posing a question and not self-righteously pushing your own agenda….although that’s apparently exactly how my post come off ;)

          Reply
          • The Writer
            February 16, 2016

            Let’s start with a lie: I’m going to keep this short.

            Then truth: I don’t give a single fuck about you and the one your parent did give, clearly wasn’t sufficient because you’re on here doing this trite, attention seeking bullshit. You’re having this “conversation” with an ideal, a monument, the pacific ocean, a place on earth that you’d like to vacation to one day but know in your heart you will never see, an ex that wants to have nothing to do with you, a friend who one day got tired of your bullshit and refuses to ever text you back. Reading this is like over hearing someone tell a stranger about the time they had a dream about more boring dream. And the only reason I’m “listening” (though, to be sure, I’ve been talking past you the entire time) is out of boredom: To continue timing a spinning mind. To say I’m “taken aback” is a statement designed to soothe your ego. So what if I am? I am never not. I was born “taken aback”. Taken aback by the human body. Human relationships. Taken aback by being dropped from high on low. In this flesh husk. This tired, hungover, fluid squirting, always-decaying animal-thing. I sit on the bus, stare out the window, caught between two planes, like a ghost who missed its tunnel & light, I am and have always been in such a state of absolute, innate “otherness” that this entire “thing” you’re doing? Might as well be the sound of a first modems. The clicks and chirps and the static of the phone line. I only am capable of understating & appreciating the function & purpose, not the mechanism. At this point? It’s like: “Cool. You think this.” But also: Either mentally square up and out-do me through example or cease this paltry-as-shit effort at engaging or affecting change or offering some alternative perspective. Come back when this actually matters. You know? “For all the marbles.”? Stop trying to cage mountain air in one of your glass jars. You’re starting to look crazier than I actually am.

    • Not The Writer
      February 12, 2016

      Hi Kind of Confused:

      I’m surprised that you would consider this a poor album review given that The Writer’s conclusion was that the album —in spite of its derivative ’60s garage sound— was lauded for its vocal harmonization (“The most charming aspect however, are the unified voices of Sobelsohn, Linton and Bishow.”) and musical potential. (“But something tells me that these three dudes probably don’t know any better and it’s such an interesting mix of genres/players that I can’t really bring myself to hate it completely.”)

      Withholding honest criticism or downright ignoring their existence is not only patronizing —especially if you are taking their 500 Facebook likes into account— but ultimately a greater disservice to the band, the critic, the publication, and the musical scenes they inhabit and contribute to. This isn’t a situation where The Writer made offensive and baseless remarks, so I don’t understand why this is a problem?

      If you thought it was awesome when Lo-Pie abolished the rating system, because numbers could never signify the depth of attention and appreciation a critic gave an album, then why are you adamant to conclude this as a wholly positive or negative review when it very clearly is both and neither?

      Reply
      • Kind of Confused
        February 14, 2016

        “Withholding honest criticism or downright ignoring their existence is not only patronizing —especially if you are taking their 500 Facebook likes into account— but ultimately a greater disservice to the band, the critic, the publication, and the musical scenes they inhabit and contribute to.”

        I really am not advocating withholding honest criticism–it would be great if honest feedback could exist for any given piece of music, no matter how positive or negative its content. I don’t have an opinion on the matter but I did want to explore the impact of a negative review versus the absence of a review. I think we agree that a degree of writing integrity is sacrificed if someone chooses to cherry-pick their reviews, only publishing the positive (as humanistic as that might be). What a horrible representation of music, and moreover, reality.

        But back to the part of your comment about withholding commentary being a disservice to the band…Is it? That’s really what piques my curiosity most and the conversation I really wanted to drive (and at this point, I’m not specifically talking about Ace and the Gulls). My impression is that any person, regardless of their profession, is responsible for taking feedback about the quality of their work. And taking feedback is paramount for musicians since music, just like any other form of art, is created and presented with the knowledge of its inevitable criticism. Any band should be able to take a negative review–they shouldn’t need it to be candy-coated or non-existent.

        I was just wondering how the next artistic endeavor by a band might differ if its previous work was met with negative criticism versus no criticism at all. All I wanted was someone’s take on this. (And I did an awful job saying it!)

        One thing is for sure though–I like this Ace and the Gulls LP and I most likely wouldn’t have been introduced to it without Slim Jackson’s review. If I hypothetically go on over to Bandcamp and buy the album for $10, in a ridiculously small way, I’m helping their ability to stay a band longer, fueling their artistic creativity (right?), and it’s thanks to this review. So right there I see even more merit in critiquing and writing about the music you hear, regardless of your sentiment towards it. Because either way, you’re perpetuating the artform.

        Reply
  6. Kind of Confused
    February 16, 2016

    “Let’s start with a lie: …….. Stop trying to cage mountain air in one of your glass jars. You’re starting to look crazier than I actually am.”

    Why are you defending yourself when no one is even attacking you? Talking about “trite, attention seeking bullshit”? If you’re “talking past me”, then your post is the goddamned textbook definition of it. Of course you’re speaking past me. You referenced a very small part of what I said, so your message wasn’t a response, but an opportunity to hop on a soapbox and talk about yourself. You’re a contributor for a small, awesome online publication, not some angelic voice on high. You’re taking yourself far too seriously, man.

    Your lines about “being taken aback”, the one part of my post you did reference, sounds so self-congratulatory. What are you justifying? How you live your life? How you process thoughts? Who the fuck cares. You’re not unique there, as profound as those thoughts my feel to you. If you’re going to go on a tangent about the phrase “taken aback” then you must not understand its use in a relative sense. No fucking shit everything in life can take one aback…What isn’t surprising in life? But cool, just another opportunity to obscure a comment so you can belittle someone and pat yourself on the back.

    I guess when I first posted, I looked past your firebrand status on this website as a writer and musician and thought I’d maybe get your opinion on something that wasn’t even that important of a question to me. Casual fucking conversation on a lo-key website. But if you’re going to denounce someone for using your comments sections, then why do you even have a comments section??

    I realize now that you’re a person with an enormously large ego and some serious mental instability, although I guess you see that yourself too. Maybe I should have taken your other comments here as a clue to this amazing irony: you doll out criticism of art but you can’t calmly handle any type of criticism yourself without a knee-jerk reaction. Life is chaos but for you, it seems like every moment is a battle.

    Hope you sort things out, pal.

    Reply
    • The Writer
      February 16, 2016

      1. Google: “Psychological Projection”

      2. Google: “Worked Shoot”

      3. Stop allowing yourself to be a part of a bored writer’s creative exercise.

      Reply

Leave a Reply