On Music Genius

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Someone You Should Know

ON THE TOPIC OF MUSICAL GENIUS - "Genius" isn't one of those terms that should just be bandied-about, carefree and reckless. It carries a certain, quite intentional, cache. But we live in an age of exclamation points (!!!!!!!) and hyperbole. The internet, reality television and the next generation of anti-depressants are surely factors in our great, but excited, artistic de-motivation. And that's what makes Genius different and certainly what makes it better.

(WHY IT SHOULD BE DEBATED) - We must strive for what's Genius (to create and/to be near) but what does that mean? And how do you recognize? We can say, "look at what that guy did!" and "this group makes music that makes you feel great" - and really mean those things when we say them - but I would argue even the best of these isn't "Genius." Problem is, another critic who doesn't quite care for 'your guy' as much as you, comes up with a dozen or more reasons (some valid) why 'the genius' band' is quite good but doesn't deserve this hypothetical enshrinement just yet.. This is the infinite loop that persisted for years in record store conversations by music nerds. This spirited debate is still carried on today, but with far more snark, in online messageboards & chatrooms.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS - I first saw Matthew Houck play in 2008. It was an enthralling performance, one of quality. But it rather infuriated me that Houck wouldn't turn and play guitar facing the audience. Some of the band's decisions were questionable* artistically (PHOSPHORESCENT is Houck, as it turns out, he selects his band for each album/project/tour) although it all sounded great.   [Editor's note: * Critics can be unfair assholes, but this was my mental memory... that the music was great but the performance and some songs off-putting.] This means little now, other than serving as an anecdotal treasure. The important thing is that Phosphorescent made an impression - something that's so hard to do these days. Well Houck never stopped making an impression.

MEET MR. HOUCK - In 2010, we profiled him for the first time. By 2011, the music coming out of his studios has been some of the most emotionally stirring I've heard from anyone. Artistically, he bobs and weaves and changes as an artist but regardless of the initial reviews, the material is great. Just about everything Houck produces is worthy of this discussion. The new record, Muchacho, won't be released until March. Here's some classic Phosphorescent to hold you over.

{music geek alert: if you dig Matt Houck / Phosphorescent,
I recommend checking out Chris Portfield / FIELD REPORT.
not the same artistically, but both are pretty genius.}

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Anonymous said…
Just to tack on to your first impressions...I saw him play a few years back at Johnny Brenda's in Philly (a small rock venue with multiple bars, by no means a quiet folk venue). We're watching from a balcony adjacent to the stage, and some folks behind us are talking. No big deal right? Well, Houck proceeds to stop singing in the middle of a song, extend his arm, and point the mic directly at us and hold it there for 10+ seconds in protest of the talking. It's a real bummer, because every time I hear his music I can't stop thinking about how much of a turd he is.

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