Thursday, September 27, 2007

Review: D'Edwin - No Prognosis

Label: Action Rezults Records (Available from CD Baby)

Released: 2007

To some extent, D'Edwin can get away with his unabashed mimicking of Morrissey, because he hasn't graduated into the big leagues yet, but there has to be some substance to his music beyond a good Morrissey impression. On No Prognosis, that substance is erratic at best.

The opening track, "Secret Assassin," does have some of that substance with an Eastern influence and wind instruments providing an ambient backdrop. However, even this, the album's best song, falls into the trap that so many find themselves in when artists work alone in these days of inexpensive electronic effects. (It's the same trap that D'Edwin falls into as a graphic artist when he committed his Photoshop sins on the album cover.) If you're bothered by the double-tracked vocals, that's nothing compared to the birds singing in "I Don't Recall." The bottom line is that you can't fill out your sound with effects in lieu of a band. If in doubt, err on the side of simplicity and D'Edwin, albeit far from the worst offender, errs on the side of over-processing. He takes a decent song like the opener or the EP's more organic final track, "I Abhor," and makes it sound more amateur than it is.

However, most of the songs do remain listenable if you have any affinity for 80s alternative music and you're willing to grant D'Edwin a few indulgences for inexperience, lack of funds or any other excuse that seems plausible. There is one track though that cannot be excused. Anyone with any ear at all can recognize that "Lazy Train" should never have seen the light of day. D'Edwin's small foray into techno, the song displays a book knowledge of how techno songs are built and absolutely no ability to actually build one.

All that being said, I actually enjoyed this album on some level, partly because I like the Smiths and partly because it reminds me of some of the underground post-punk experimentation of the 80s. Plus, D'Edwin isn't without talent. The first and last tracks have real potential and assuming that his well isn't dry so much as it isn't fully tapped for a consistent flow, he certainly could grow. Still, none of these things actually make No Prognosis good.

Rating: 4/10



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Blogger taotechuck said...

The liner notes of No Prognosis state that D'Edwin is a "misunderstood satirist, a lyrical wizard" whose "songs disclose the distain (sic) for the difficult things in life..."

Distain, eh? If D'Edwin were just another Smiths fan with a strong affinity for multi-tracked, off-pitch vocal harmonies and a lack of discernible talent, I might go easy on him. But D'Edwin is a Lyrical Wizard. Apparently, he was playing hooky from Hogwarts on the day they taught the Proofreadius Goodum spell.

His Wizardness also wrote something about "...rhythmatic beats and tones, the improvisional..." Rhythmatic? Is that like being Asthmatic? And does improvision come in high-def?

D'Edwin? More like D'Erivative and D'Umb. And his D'elusions of grandeur fill me with D'istain.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rhytmatic" was Bushism humor (not a mis-type), but I guess you wouldn't get it. Further, you certainly have proved my point in "I Abhor" (my distain only grows).

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:36 PM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

D'earie, we all get confused and abused and used and bruised. Some of us learn how to deal with it. It takes a strong person to look at the boss who fires him and say, "Why did this happen? Was I fired unjustly, or was I fired because my performance was inadequate? Perhaps I can learn from this unfortunate event."

Your lyrics don't have the wit or romance of Morrissey (who is, in my worthless opinion, probably the greatest rock lyricist ever), but they do contain a slightly sociopathic anger. Your words suggest that, rather than learning from an unfortunate event, you might be the type of person who will walk into your boss' office and blow his brains all over the cheap wood paneling over some imagined slight.

It sucks when people use and abuse and bruise you, and despite my irreverent dismissal of your mediocre music, I'm sorry for the bad things that have happened to you. Perhaps one day you'll be able to look at your own misfortunes and still count your blessings instead of bitching about bosses and bullies and broken hearts. Something tells me that, when you compare your personal tragedies to those of the majority of the people in the world, your woes are fairly menial and self-centered.

And for what it's worth, Morrissey would never have rhymed "abhor" with "adore." It's too obvious. If you're going to try and walk in his shoes, you might want to grow some bigger feet.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about, taotechuck is a D'ick?

5:30 PM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

Oh my. An anonymous insult. Whatever shall I do? I think I'll go write mediocre lyrics and record an album about it.

You called me a dick
I feel so sick
You don't adore me,
So you must abhor me.


7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OOOOOOO. Must have hit a nerve.

4:07 PM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

Anon, you're not giving me anything to work with here. Your "D'ick" comment was funny, and gave me plenty of material for a snarky comeback. But this? It's like trying to make fun of a brick wall. Or a guy in a wheelchair. Or a Morrissey clone with an over-inflated sense of talent. Or a Morrissey clone in a wheelchair who just ran into a brick wall.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too bad that an idiot like you couldn't run into a brick wall. Now THAT would be funny!

7:47 PM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

What a perplexing statement. Why would it be funny if an idiot like me ran into a brick wall? I could see it being funny if I ran into a brick wall... hell, even I'd laugh at that one. But an idiot like me? That's kind of mean-spirited of you.

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right. I'm sorry. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Have a good day.

8:39 AM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

Well, I'm sad to see this exchange come to an end. Your D'ick comment really was pretty funny. You have a nice day, too.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

usually people who write reviews are frustrated assholes because they are talentless and lacking in any type of artistry of their own so all they can do is pull apart the work of someone else who has put their heart and soul into something and rip it apart.

2:29 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Anon, so you came here to read about me venting my frustrations? That seems like an odd thing to do.

I wonder why you believe that an "artist" should be exempt from criticism when they pour their heart and soul right out in public to be picked through. Unless the artist is a complete narcissist, criticism should be what they actually want. How can they grow if all they hear is "Great! Great! Great!" from fans and never a word of criticism.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry,i had no idea that an artist puts their "heart and soul" out there to be picked apart and criticized by people like you!Didn't realize your criticism was meant to help them "grow" as artists.How kind of you.

9:19 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

If an artist can't take criticism, it would be foolish to expose himself to such. D'Edwin has exposed himself publicly and has graciously accepted what comes (at least regarding the review itself). Is he doing this to grow as an artist and/or person or is he doing this to gather the accolades of mindless fans?

Art is a two way street. It goes in the direction of the creator and also the interpreter. Music doesn't have much meaning if no one's listening at anything other than a superficial level. Criticism is one of the ways an artist can interact with an interpreter.

I still think it's quite funny that you seek to dismiss my opinion of the album as an expression of my own frustrations and then follow it up with a dismissal of the very nature of criticism, yet you are the one who searched for and found the review of your own volition. Answer this for me: Who participates more intimately with the art, the critic who spends time understanding the work's strengths and weaknesses and bothers to actually offer an opinion on it or the fan who likes what he likes without any stated rhyme or reason?

Face it, you're just angry because I wrote a negative review of something you liked for a reason you have not even bothered to state. Instead, you make generalized statements about the character of critics.

Now that I've dignified your comments with a fair number of words, it would seem contradictory to simply dismiss you as was my initial inclination. However, I'm hoping that you'll give a little bit of thought to the nature of criticism and its relationship to art. Just like so most artists, most critics work in relative anonymity. There's no money, no fame, no ego. It's a labor of love even for albums that aren't all that good.

If you have a complaint beyond simply disagreeing, give me something I can work with. If you're just a disgruntled fan, that I guess we've both wasted too much time already.

9:58 PM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

Throughout the course of this thread, I've expressed my opinion in a very antagonistic way. I'm going to put that aside and try not to be an ass for a moment. This is new ground for me, so be gentle.

bob_vinyl is probably one of the most fair critics I've ever known. I'm not saying this to blow smoke up his ass -- the truth is, I'd much rather rip him to shreds in a public forum than pay him a compliment.

He tries very hard to find the good in everything he reviews, provided it wasn't recorded by Queensryche. In my opinion, he's often much too willing to forgive "bad" music, especially when it's released by a young and/or independent artist. Even when he gives a CD a low rating, he almost always tries to find the good in the music and highlight it.

While what Anon says about many critics being failed/frustrated musicians is true, Bob is an exception. The man has no delusions of musical talent or ability. He is one of the few people I've met who loves being a listener and strives for nothing more. He doesn't get paid for his reviews, he spends a great deal of time writing them, and he focuses almost exclusively on small bands with virtually no other media outlet.

Finally, D'Edwin willingly sent his CD to Bob, knowing it would be reviewed. Bob's biggest criticisms of D'Edwin's CD were that (a) D'Edwin would probably sound better if he worked with a band instead of trying to do everything himself, and (b) D'Edwin and techno maybe aren't a match made in heaven. I don't see how that could possibly be considered as "pulling apart" someone else's work.

Okay, I'm done with this line of thought. A few months ago, I had to publicly fess up to the fact that Appetite for Destruction isn't the worst album ever recorded, and now I am forced to defend Bob. If this crap continues, my days with the World Wide Internets are numbered.

11:36 AM  

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