The Snob’s Speech

Wow, what a year, huh? Is it just me or have the last few years ended with “wow that was a terrible year let’s never do that again” and then we as a collective species just keep topping ourselves? I don’t mean in the fandom specifically – in general, it’s been a difficult and trying year. Hell, just choosing a Top 5 Most Depressing Things That Happened This Year would be extremely difficult, and you pretty much already know the basics, so I won’t waste your time or mine retreading depressing shit, but suffice it to say – this year sucked.

And while it’s hardly the national-level news that most of the worst stories from this year have been, no small part of what made this such a shit year were the revelations that came out this spring about how some of the most beloved and respected wizard rockstars had been abusing not just their position and power, but abusing women and girls. This came at a time when it was hard to deny that the fandom was winding down, and it felt like such a kick in the teeth. I’m sure I’m not the only one who questioned if wizard rock was worth it. If it was ever worth it.

For someone who was not actually a wizard rocker, I put an inordinate amount of my time, passion, and energy into this fandom for a good chunk of years, and it was hard not to think – what was the point? Everything from the hours I spent obsessively updating the long-dead Wizrocklopedia wiki, to the money spent, to starting a blog and writing thousands upon thousands of words (some of which were spelled correctly!) seemed pointless. The fandom died anyway, and then we found out that some of the people I respected most as musicians and artists were manipulative, abusive, frankly evil little shits. A large bulk of my life had been centered around this community, and I had inadvertently ended up spending not-insignificant portions of my resources supporting people I now find morally repugnant.

So yeah, wizard rock was a pointless crock of shit, and we should all feel like assholes for ever thinking it was anything more, and for recklessly bringing other people into this swirling maelstrom of feces and horse semen.

The end.

Except…

That way of thinking misses one very important point – wizard rock was never really about the rock stars. This is something I’ve only recently come to realize. And it is true that there is an overwhelming perception that wrock is all about the Wizard Rock Heart Throbs, a perception that led to the kind of instances where girls and women in our fandom were manipulated and abused. This is a perception we all had a hand in creating, and we are all to blame for it. But that perception wasn’t reality. Because wizard rock was never really truly about the rockstars. It certainly wasn’t about the indie wrockers. It wasn’t even about the books or the music.

Wizard rock was – no, wizard rock is about the people, the stories they have, and the lives that were changed.

Wizard rock is about the woman who was 12 when the book series ended, but still goes to every show she can, and takes her little sister with her too.

Wizard rock is about the girl who realized she could sing, and the boy who realized he could play.

Wizard rock is about the friends made at cons and only occasionally contacted on Facebook.

Wizard rock is about the friends made at cons and eventually married.

Wizard rock is about the relatively conservative girl who not only had her views changed, but realized that she’s bi.

Wizard rock is about the woman who never really had friends, even on the internet, who is now involved in 35 different fandoms, some of which you’ve probably never heard of, and has close connections in all of them.

Wizard rock is about the embarrassed boy who always had trouble with reading but loved stories and loved music and found friends who didn’t shame him for preferring the audiobooks.

Wizard rock is about the trans man who found his true voice, and found some true friends.

Wizard rock is about the girl who organized local shows who became the woman that organizes international charity work.

Wizard rock is about the father who raises his children on this glorious, terrible, wonderful, awful, unique music.

Wizard rock is about waking up at Wrockstock in the wrong cabin, and people you’ve never met offering you a blanket. And some rum.

Wizard rock is about the girl who sneakily (and sometimes guiltily) made friends and connections online against the wishes of her parents, and ended up having a safe space to come to and arms and couches to run to when she came out.

Wizard rock is about the person who rediscovered a passion for writing, for critiquing, and for getting into fights on the internet.

Wizard rock is about the girl stuck in a melancholy haze after the end of Deathly Hallows who decided to put her feelings to music, and learned valuable coping mechanisms in the process.

Wizard rock is about the kid with the shitty acoustic guitar, an on-board laptop microphone, and some poorly-thought-out lyrics sitting in their room, about to take a step that will change their life forever.

Wizard rock is about the friends and the brothers and the kids and the lovers and the heartbreak and the loss and the joy and the births and the deaths and the mistakes and the consequences and the lucky breaks and the dead ends and the new opportunities and the experiences you wish you could forget and the experiences you never will.

Wizard rock is about taking bad experiences and not letting them break you, and taking crazy ideas and letting them make your life so much better.

Wizard rock is about you. Wizard rock is about us.

That’s what wizard rock is all about, Charlie Brown.

See you next year.

Extended Thoughts: NOM and Albatross

Hell0, and welcome back as Fishboy Week continues! No, this is not a review of NOM, nor is it a review of Albatross. Instead, this article will basically be a written thought exercise as I get really nerdy and try to figure out where the songs of NOM fit in the context of Albatross. For the uninitiated, NOM was a unique album in that the only part of it that was Fishboy’s were the lyrics and vocals. You see, in the creation of Albatross, multiple different plot paths were explored, with whole songs being written, but then Eric decided that he had written himself into a corner plot-wise, or that included the song would interrupt the flow of the album, or whatever. A couple years after releasing Albatross, he went to his friends The Om Nom Noms and gave them his accapella recordings of these songs, and gave them complete freedom to do anything they wanted with them, with absolute no oversight – he just gave them his vocals, and after a couple months got a shiny finished album.

The result is a very good album that brings a new sound into the usual Fishboy repertoire while making sure things still sound undeniably Fishboy. But as stated above, I’m not here to review the album – instead, I’m going to list my guesses for each song of where in the general plot of Albatross that song would have originally fit in. Be warned – if you don’t have an intimate knowledge of both Albatross and NOM, then this review will largely not make much sense to you. Hey, I told you guys this week was going to be “maddeningly self-indulgent” – so self-indulgent I just threw in a Giant Squidstravaganza reference for no real reason.

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Extended Thoughts: Ministry of Magic

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

[This is an interesting little hobbit of an article, and the only Extended Thoughts in my big Drafts folder.  It’s all original writing (the last revision of which was on 1/1/11, if you can believe WordPress, but I think I must have started writing this before then, because by that point Magic Is Might had been released) until you hit another one of these bracketed sections.]

Ministry of Magic.  What is the big fucking deal?

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Extended Thoughts: Infinitus

It has been a long damn time for Extended Thoughts, hasn’t it? Welcome back, buddy, welcome back.  Anyways, here’s an article that might have been relevant three months ago! Yay!

 

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Extended Thoughts-ish: Three Years. Damn.

So, this post will be sappy, weird, and incoherent, since I am physcially and mentally exhausted, and yet I’m typing away at eleven triddy pm. Also, this will be the closest this site will ever get to having a true blog post – this is less a reasoned explanation of my thoughts on an album or issue or summat, and more a rush of my thoughts and feelings spewed at the reader – though I fortunately don’t have a ton to say, and will try to excercise some editorial control.  And yes, I will edit the spelling and grammar and shit of this shit later – too tired to do that right now, and afraid that if I stop writing even for a moment, my momentum will disappear, and this blog posting will be more doomed than all of my NaNoWriMo attempts.

So, as you could probably tell from the title, this post is about how it’s been THREE FREAKIN YEARS since DH came out, and the community – both the larger HP fandom, and the wizard rock community – as done nothing but thrived. I mean, there’s been ups and downs and Steve Vander Ark, but still, for the most part, it’s been surprisingly solid.

This is what immediately came into my mind when thinking about today, but I realized something almost immediately after that – I don’t believe it.  I mean, up until this year, things have been pretty fucking solid, and I think the overall HP community is still trucking along, though I really don’t check in with it that much – I’m pretty much firmly entrenched in the wizard rock community.  But it really seems to me that wizard rock is falling apart and dying, and fast.  I was so excited last year, because I believed we were about to see the first great wizard rock Renaissance.  Even though I didn’t love any of the full-length albums released last year (or at the time thought they weren’t even meta-wrock) [and granted, I didn’t listen to a lot of full-length albums last year, because things cost money], the EP scene was very solid, and it looked like wrock was giving birth to its first great, large, subgenre – wizard rap.

But not only has there been not a single interesting wizard rap song released all year, the heavy hitters in wiz-rap and wiz-hop have had no new releases.  And the same could be said for almost all the heavy hitters in the whole of wizard rock! Whompy released Wizards Will Party And Abuse Punctuation Marks Forever, and… and that’s about it.  I can’t think of a single other new album released this year from a 1st-2nd tier wrock band (and very quickly, a general rule thumb for how I define tiers or ranks or whatever you want to call it, is bands that play the main stage at Wrockstock – that’s the general level of popularity, though there are of course a few outliers).  And while I may not like it, the top two tiers of bands are the life-blood of the wizard rock community, despite all my rosy-eyed opinions of The Whompum Willows and the wizard rock “underground”.  The big names are what keep people going to shows, and bringing their friends along, and bringing more people into the community, and easing them in with the “safer” stuff – with either really blatantly HP lyrics that drip in self-amusement or high quality production values and sounds that are similar to those heard on the Billboard top whatever.  Then once we got them hooked, they’ll naturally start to explore the harder stuff, and… and did I really just make an analogy between wizard rock and recreational drug use?

I’m more awesome than I thought.

Anywho, at this point, I will still go to any wizard rock concert that comes my way, regardless of who’s playing or if the people playing have released a new album that I can purchase (because wizard rock seems surprisingly hesitant to use iTunes – maybe it’s the cost of entry?), but a lot of that is because I live in a part of the country where I can count on one tour in the summer, and Whomp the House in the Fall, and that’s about it.  But for people who live closer to the geographical “heart” of wizard rock – i.e. NorthEast coast – I would not be surprised that they are less likely to show up to see “the same damn set for those kids again” if there are not new tunes, and especially no new album to buy, and thus, if they don’t show up, they won’t bring any muggle/squib friends, and that’s a few more people that could have become vibrant members of this community that never will.

I want to say that I’m not blaming the wizard rock bands for this, but I also sort of am.  After all, the onus of making music ultimately rests on the creators, and it would be trite to insinuate otherwise in order to spare some feelings.  But I’m really not harshly judging, and I’m not trying to shame anyone into suddenly just cranking out an album.  Unimaginative, unnecessary dross that fails to move wizard rock forward in any way hurts the genre a lot worse than a breathing period.

And a huge caveat to all of this is that despite any major new releases besides Whompy Hates Decency and Proper Grammar, The Final Battle, which Lena says will probably never be released as a recorded, non-live version (and I can understand why – that would be hell on wheels to coordinate), and A Very Potter Sequel, which I’ve heard musically isn’t as good as the first one, there are a CRAP LOAD of bands touring.  Seriously, it’s quite amazing and inspiring, and I think that this large amount of varying styles of wizard rock roaming the country will help counteract the lack of new musical releases – for a short while.  But there better be a frenzy of album releases at or before Wrockstock, because otherwise… Well, let’s just say that next year’s WRPCAs could be severely depressing.

Also, even the smaller bands have not released much this year, and the year is already halfway done!  I mean, I think that at the most, there have been twenty to thirty new wizard rock albums released this year. TOTAL.  Considering the number of wrock bands bandied about this days is, what, 700-summat? – that’s pretty damn scary.  And that 20-30 number is an extremely liberal estimate.

And maybe this is all just growing pains.  While non-band mainstays, like the ‘Pedia are, and I say this with a lot of love and respect for anyone who has ever worked on that site, quite frankly floundering (and I will be doing a more reasoned Extended Thoughts soon on the history of the ‘Pedia), new, nifty sites like WrockWay are popping up to fill the gap.  Also, while I am severely disappointed at the fact that today’s wiz-rap scene is exactly the same as the wiz-rap scene of 7 months ago, except more dusty, there have been some really cool things going on with wizard-folk.  Is it possible that we are just running out of ideas?  Is it maybe true that, regardless of a lack of book and soon, movie releases, wizard rock came with an expiration date at the very beginning, set by the limits of ingenuity?  I don’t believe that that’s the case.  I really don’t know why there has been a drought of new wrock this year, but I don’t believe that the possible vision of the future of wizard rock heralded by the ROFLCOPTOUR is the right direction.  And now I’m touching on things that I really want to save for later, in-depth discussion – more specifically, the aforementioned tour, and the (gulp) inevitable “death” of wizard rock, and what we can do to prolong/save it, but… well, I actually don’t think I have much more to say.

So, yeah.  Trust me, Extended Thoughts Wednesdays will not be like this all the time now, but I just really wanted to express what I was thinking about before sleep dulled my feelings.  I am so tired right now that I can barely remember what I’ve said, but don’t let that stop you from telling me what you thing of it… whatever “it” is.  In summary, the last three years have been a blast, and I hope for three more, and then some, but I’m frankly very worried about that.

Wrock Snob out.

Extended Thoughts: Meta-Wrock

Hooy-boy. This one has been a long time comin’.  If you aren’t aware, the post with the most comments on this site is currently my review of Demons at the Helm (a review I intend to edit someday, trim down all of that unnecessary OH WAIT THIS IS WHAT I AM DOING NOW PLEASE LOOK AT MY THOUGHT PROCESS CAN YOU TELL I HAVE ADHD YET?), which weighs in at a whopping 134 comments, most of which are between Whompy and myself.  Somewhere in there, I promised to write an in-depth article explaining my thoughts on meta-wrock, as well as discussing Demons at the Helm specifically.  Again.  Let’s get right to it, shall we?

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Extended Thoughts: My Grading System

First of all, this is the first of two updates today.  A review will posted this evening, but for now, I’d like to talk about my grading system.  I don’t want to take up more of your World Cup-watching time than is necessary, so I’ll cut to the chase: I am switching to the Harry Potter O.W.L.s (and presumably N.E.W.Ts, as well as the W.O.M.B.A.T.s) grading system.  The reasons for this switch mostly revolve around how I perceive the grades, and how others perceive them, and the fact that even if I laid out and explained what each letter meant to me (which is, by the way, the traditional grading system – a C is average, and thus a perfectly good grade, that album is deserving of your money, though not highest on your list of priorities), and linked to that explanation in every review article, there are still people who are going to misconstrue what I mean by the letter.  So, I have decided to use a grading system that has only the most perfunctory of definitions, and no hidden or “real” meanings, because I basically get to define them as I see fit.  So, without further ado, my new grading system!

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Extended Thoughts: MySpace

I do not think it would be far-fetched of me to say that nothing has been as inexorably linked to the success and proliferation of Wizard Rock as MySpace, the first really big social networking website of its kind.  I mean, yeah, there’s Friendster, but they were started at pretty much the same time, and MySpace was “the” social networking site, the one uninformed politicians and news anchors would bandy about when trying to appear hip.  Anywho.  Without MySpace, there is no doubt that wizard rock as we know it today would not exist.  However, many bands, especially the top-tier* ones, have stated that “MySpace is dead.  Long live the Facebook, I mean the Twitter, I mean the Tumblr, I mean the Google Buzz, ha, just kidding about that last one.”

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Extended Thoughts: Let’s Talk About ME!

So, today’s extended thoughts are going to be all about ME! Yaaaaaaaay!  Basically, there are a few things I want to get out in the clear, and since I’ve been having trouble coming up with new and interesting ideas for Wednesday posts, I decided to go the hilariously narcissistic route.  Yes, I do feel a little skeevy about this, but almost all of the following is in response to questions people have asked.

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Extended Thoughts: Women in Wrock, Part 1 – In Defense Of Men

Well, that is a needlessly long title.  Before I jump right in, let me thank everyone who read my first article, and especially everyone who commented – I really enjoyed reading all your responses.  I hope you continue to read and give me your thoughts and opinions.  Music is an intensely personal experience, and I always find it fascinating to hear how different things, including things I might not be a fan of, can deeply effect other people.  For example, I’m not a huge jazz fan, I’ve got nothing against it, and I like some old ballads and such – stuff with lyrics speaks to me the most – but my Dad absolutely adores jazz, especially the instrumental stuff.  It’s always amazing for me to see how much these sounds that don’t mean much to my ears cause this incredible catharsis in him.  I think the same goes for everybody, and let me say, just because I might have opposite tastes in music than you doesn’t mean that either of our tastes and/or opinions are less valid than the other.  I’d like to reiterate that this blog’s sole purpose is not to take wizard rock down a few pegs, or being mean for the sake of being mean, because that would be too easy.  But I really care about wizard rock, and see potential in almost all of the stuff I don’t like, and so I try to point out ways to maximize that potential, and become something really awesome.

I’d also like to give big thanks to the Wizrocklopedia, for posting about this humble site and starting a really great conversation that’s gotten insanely large and in-depth.  I’d also like to give big thanks to the people who noticed my slip-up and saw through my impenetrable disguise (so impenetrable that at least a couple people figured out who I am before I accidentally told everyone), and are keeping it a secret.  My anonymity is important, because as I said over on the ‘pedia, it helps to keep people from being distracted by my “real” internet self, and also, the more anonymous I am, the freer I feel to be honest – not necessarily in regards to backlash, but just in general, in keeping things here divorced from outside relationships and such, and giving my unfettered opinion, such as it is.

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