Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A press release from Planet Alt

I just got a PR email that went like this:
"Painting a layered and hazy, John Fahey-indebted landscape, the Lambchop and Silver Jews associate comes across as travel-weary cartographer and six-string virtuoso all at once." —SPIN
Recorded and mixed at Beech House in Nashville and co-produced by Tyler and Mark Nevers, Impossible Truth features guest appearances from Chris Scruggs, Luke Schneider, Roy Agee, and Lambchop compatriot Scott Martin. 2010’s Behold the Spirit, William Tyler’s first album under his own name, was celebrated by Pitchfork as “the most vital, energized album by an American solo guitarist in a decade or more” and established him as a critical favorite, the picker who, according to his friend and tour mate M.C. Taylor from Hiss Golden Messenger, “connects the dots between Sandy Bull, Richard Thompson, Bruce Langhorne, and Reggie Young.”
Of the album, Uncut raves: “This terrific record feels less like an exploratory folk session, more like a virtuoso guitarist and arranger using the tools of a folk musician to reconsider and deconstruct rock music.” And Pitchfork writes: “Without pandering in the slightest, Tyler wields his staggering fingerpicking technique as a means of presenting something accessible and lyrical.” Popmatters included the album in their "Listening Ahead" feature, while Spin chose William as one of their "5 Artists to Watch" in February. 
It struck me that this may be one of the most pseudy unsolicited communications I've received from a PR. Nowadays they have more namechecks than a stud book. The line "connects the dots between Sandy Bull, Richard Thompson, Bruce Langhorne and Reggie Young", which is borrowed from M.C. Taylor from Hiss Golden Messenger (with whom we are all obviously familiar) is a particular beaut.

I know far too much about music and even I would have to go and look up most of those names.

It's a classic of its kind: quotes within quotes, references within references, reviews within reviews, talk of reconsidering and deconstructing and all, one suspects, pointing you towards music which is essentially about other and probably better music. It makes you wonder whether so much of the music produced by the "alt" industry aspires only to be a footnote to music made long ago.


  1. Tiring, isn't it? But that's marketing for you. It's often a great mystery who it's supposed to appeal to. You can be sure, however, that someone, somewhere is getting a pat on the back because his press release has attracted your attention and been re-publicised, and we all know have an awareness, good or bad, of William Tyler. Tick in the box, job done...

  2. Presumably it says something that his music is placed firmly within the context of other, similar music.

    If anyone had tried to put, say, the first Roxy Music album within a "context", the list, apart from a range of musical genres, might also have contained designers, cars, models, artists, writers...

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  5. Removed it once for spelling and then for grammar, 3rd time's charm:

    I'm not sure whether I feel sorry for the people who have to churn out promotional-guff or whether it's the equivalent of having to births, deaths & marriages at the local newspaper. However, I received this in a record company email this morning and it made me be a little sick in my mouth:

    "...used insular emotional devastation to rip through an ambient, natural world into pure post-rock heaven. Sad and beautiful, "Soft Light Rush (ii)" is the first new material released by Nicholas Principe since then, and it truly encapsulates what's stunning about the album with its circular rhythms, tension-breaking horn parts, languid hypnosis and a falsetto strong enough to shatter your chest cavity."

  6. Reggie Young is one name I do immediately recognise - he plays the iconic guitar intro on "Son of a Preacher Man" among many, many other recordings.

  7. Tough sell, mind, 'bloke who plays very nice guitar, but doesn't really have songs and tunes as such'.

    They might be better off pitching it to the 'chill out' crowd, but of course that would be at least mildly-devastating to his existing fans (and the man himself, probably).

    For what it's worth, I really like his first album (not heard the new one), but I'd struggle to sell it.