Inland Territory REVIEWS

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murlough23
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Re: Inland Territory

Postby murlough23 » Fri May 15, 2009 6:17 am

mishii247 wrote:Trying too hard for the sake of "art".


I find it interesting when people say things like this. It seems to imply that the artist is a slave to a master that expects them to make their music difficult for the sake of some imaginary intelligentsia out there who frown on anything that can be easily grasped by mortal men. But Vienna just seems more down-to-earth than that to me - not out to prove that she is the most artsy or has the most indie cred or whatever, but some who tries to think outside the box simply because that's what she enjoys.

mishii247 wrote:Take away the clever and wonderful production and you are left with (again my opinion) not very strong songs.


This is also interesting to me, because I don't hear a lot in the way of production on several of this album's more intimate tracks. I definitely hear it on "White Light" and "Radio" and "St. Stephen's Cross", but on other tracks like "Kansas" and "Antebellum" and "Grandmother Song", I just hear a few musicians in a room playing and that sound being captured without too much fussing around with it after the fact.

Regardless of how over or underproduced it might be, though, I'm still pretty sure that the songs are the core of it, not the nuances of the sound. The production is icing. Maybe you'd prefer to scrape it off the cake and just enjoy the cake, but the point is that the cake isn't all icing and no substance. Most of the songs on IT, I think they wouldn't sound like they were missing crucial elements if they were played live with just Vienna and her piano.

mishii247 wrote:But even on her last album, there are songs like Whatever You Want, City Hall, Nothing Without You, and Recessional that balance out the more adventurous songs.


Interesting. I thought "Whatever You Want" was complexity trying to deceive us into thinking it was simple. (Just listen to those interlocking, disparate rhythms during the chorus. Not straightforward stuff at all.) "Recessional" struck me as one of the more experimental and abstract songs in her catalogue. I'll grant that "Nothing Without You" and "City Hall" are comparatively easy-going, but I don't think that mode of songwriting and recording is completely absent on IT.

None of this is an attempt to invalidate your dislike of the album, but I do feel kind of like your perception of it's being hurt because you see it as a case of an artist trying to be something that she's not. Sometimes understanding an artist's intentions can help us to better understand the work that they do.

mishii247
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Postby mishii247 » Fri May 15, 2009 3:09 pm

murlough23, First, I would respectfully ask that you not take sentences out of someone's post and comment on them individually. This should be a conversation and not an analysis. I guess I should have just limited my comments to each song and not (in your opinion) question her artistic integrity (which I didn't, and don't question). But as an example: Who here can honestly say Alex singing in Antebellum really hits you emotionally? When you first heard it, what was your first reaction? Mine was, "What?" Then, "OK, I understand but...not for me." But No Gringo is a strong song, production or not.

I appreciate artists like Vienna who put albums like Inland Territory out there. It's not about the latest pop song for the radio, and I will continue to buy her music because of this. For me though, this isn't the album I'm going to go back and listen to year after year.

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Postby murlough23 » Fri May 15, 2009 7:41 pm

mishii247 wrote:murlough23, First, I would respectfully ask that you not take sentences out of someone's post and comment on them individually.


Sorry. I was attempting to consider your post as a whole but respond to specific statements as I went through it (and also to not waste space - I know it bugs people on message boards when someone quotes really long sections of someone else's post only to respond to one small part of it). You can assume that whatever I didn't quote or comment on specifically, I didn't disagree with.

mishii247 wrote:This should be a conversation and not an analysis.


We heard different things on this album. That made me curious. It's more of an exploration. It's not an attempt to make us think alike.

mishii247 wrote:I guess I should have just limited my comments to each song and not (in your opinion) question her artistic integrity (which I didn't, and don't question).


It struck me more as questioning her motivation, her reasons for making the music the way that she did. That's not a bad question to ask - I always want to know what makes songwriters tick. I just feel that if you've liked an artist's work before, then it's usually worth giving them the benefit of the doubt on this sort of thing.

Perhaps I reacted the way I did because I've heard similar comments from others who were intending to be highly critical of her music. So I just misunderstood where you were coming from.

mishii247 wrote:But as an example: Who here can honestly say Alex singing in Antebellum really hits you emotionally? When you first heard it, what was your first reaction? Mine was, "What?" Then, "OK, I understand but...not for me."


What I read into the way he sings those lines is resignation. "OK, fine. I guess you'll go home and I'll stay here, and that's just the way it's gonna be." He's trying to be stoic, but there's a sadness underneath it.

That said, his vocals did strike me as a bit weak at first... but only because he was a guest vocalist on a Vienna Teng album, which is something I wasn't used to at all. Having taken the time to consider it in context, I think it works well.

mishii247 wrote:But No Gringo is a strong song, production or not.


No argument there! Perhaps if we could divorce more of the songs from the production and hear them in more of a "raw" form, they might reveal more of their charms to you.

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Re: Inland Territory

Postby Fred » Fri May 15, 2009 10:46 pm

mishii247 wrote:I listened once. Put it away, figuring this is one of those albums that will "grow" with repeated listening. I listened again, and again. Unfortunately, this album never grew on me. My opinion: Trying too hard for the sake of "art". Take away the clever and wonderful production and you are left with (again my opinion) not very strong songs. I've been a fan since her first interview on NPR and for me, it's not the same. I guess that is the point. You don't want to just recreate the same music over and over. I understand this. But even on her last album, there are songs like Whatever You Want, City Hall, Nothing Without You, and Recessional that balance out the more adventurous songs.

So I say this with regret, but for this listener, I'm putting Inland Territory high on ambition and production but not one that i feel compelled to listen to again.

I'm kind of the opposite, as some of my earlier posts have indicated (sorry for redundancy, then). I look forward to the complex, highly produced songs on what would have been the "flip side" of the LP, if CD's had flip sides. Songs like Pontchartrain (above all), No Gringo, Radio. But I would be the first to admit that if Vienna only did songs like that she probably wouldn't have enough of an audience to sustain her. And if I ever succeed in my Quixotic campaign to get her music played somewhat regularly on WFUV, it will be based on songs like City Hall, or Antebellum, not Pontchartrain (altho they played it once--not for me, either). So, I'm glad you prefer Vienna's more straightforward, less produced songs. Vienna's output is so diverse that there is something in it for all of us. If that means making iTunes playlists that suit you better than whole CDs, there's nothing wrong with that. Celebrate diversity! :D

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Postby Fred » Sat May 16, 2009 2:27 am

murlough23 wrote:
mishii247 wrote:But No Gringo is a strong song, production or not.


No argument there!


Me three! In one of Vienna's online interviews (I forget which) she said she wanted to be compared to folksingers rather than pop singers, essentially because of the greater gravitas of the former. Fair enough. In this song she makes her case for that comparison, in my view. Take away the production, and reduce it to a set of lyrics and a melody. Compare it to a song on the same subject by Richard Shindell (in my view, the best contemporary folk-oriented songwriter): Fishing, from his album Blue Divide. I think No Gringo holds its own. That is saying one heck of a lot.

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Another Inland Territory Review

Postby Folkfan » Sun May 17, 2009 4:34 pm

I found another review in the May/June issue of American Songwriter. The author, Lizza Connor Bowen, gives it three and a half stars, which equals, "swell", just a half step away from "exceptional".....the same grade as U2's new CD.
Check it out for yourself, at:

www.Americansongwriter.com/2009/05/Vien ... territory/

I'd like to add another comment on forum members writing their own reviews, either in blogs, or other sites, such as Amazon.com....
Yes, we may not be professional reviewers, or even unbiased in our viewpoint, but who is?(totally unbiased)
As a music consumer, I do look through Amazon and similar sites at reviews of various artists....With only 11 reviews of I.T. vs 61 of Warm Strangers, it seems to me less interest, less popularity of the CD, vs. seeing 173 reviews of the latest Regina Spektor CD...it may deter me, as a consumer to purchase some music if there seems to be little interest in it's review.....again, this is just my opinion, but I still encourage posting reviews, just as us forum members would talk someone's ear off, to encourage a person unfamiliar with VT's music, to listen to the CD's, or see Vienna in concert.

murlough23
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Re: Another Inland Territory Review

Postby murlough23 » Sun May 17, 2009 6:38 pm

Folkfan wrote:I found another review in the May/June issue of American Songwriter. The author, Lizza Connor Bowen, gives it three and a half stars, which equals, "swell", just a half step away from "exceptional".....the same grade as U2's new CD.


U2's new CD is overrated. I like it - and I've been a U2 fan longer than I've been a Vienna fan - but it's not one of their best.

Folkfan wrote:Yes, we may not be professional reviewers, or even unbiased in our viewpoint, but who is?(totally unbiased)


I think a good reviewer can go beyond their biases to some degree and show how an artist has earned the rating they're getting instead of just resting on past laurels. Others might still disagree with the reasons for it, and that's fine, but a good critic will show their work, demonstrate why they believe a new album was artfully crafted, etc., rather than just gushing about how they're Vienna's biggest fan (which usually involves a lot of caps and exclamation points) and everything Vienna does is awesome just because it's Vienna.

It's also worth pointing out that whatever biases we might have towards Vienna's music were earned at some point. There was a point in time at which I had not heard of her and she was merely the other artist performing at some small gig I attended, and I was like, "OK, impress me." And then she did.

Folkfan wrote:again, this is just my opinion, but I still encourage posting reviews, just as us forum members would talk someone's ear off, to encourage a person unfamiliar with VT's music, to listen to the CD's, or see Vienna in concert.


I encourage posting reviews, too, but I think people should put a little work into 'em so that it shows they've thought out their position. If people go to Amazon and see 100 5-star reviews that just amount to fanboy/fangirl gushing, that could actually deter them. It's going to depend more on the "whys" than the "whats". (Not that I think this is really going to be an issue; Vienna appears to have an intelligent fanbase judging from the interactions I've had with folks here - and that even includes some of the folks who liked her before but are struggling with the new album. They know their reasons and can articulate 'em just as well as I can articulate my reasons for loving it.)

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Postby mishii247 » Sat May 23, 2009 11:55 pm

I will add two more songs in addition to No Gringo:
Kansas. This song will definitely make it into a future "Best of" collection.
Antebellum (Acoustic version, without the singing of Alex) is also a keeper.

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Postby Fred » Sun May 24, 2009 3:16 am

mishii247 wrote:I will add two more songs in addition to No Gringo:
Kansas. This song will definitely make it into a future "Best of" collection.
Antebellum (Acoustic version, without the singing of Alex) is also a keeper.


In Another Life?
Radio?

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Postby mishii247 » Sun May 24, 2009 7:52 pm

Nope.

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Yet, another glowing review of Inland Territory

Postby Folkfan » Sat May 30, 2009 6:44 pm

Here's a very nice review of I.T.:

http://highermusic.wordpress.com/2009/0 ... ry-review/




The author sums up the CD with the following:

"Inland Territory is a self assured fantastic album from an artist on top form and comfortable with herself and her style. By just moving her styles and sounds around slightly, Vienna is able to keep everything fresh whilst not alienating her core fans by being stale. Without doubt its in my top three releases of 2009 and just continues to grow upon each listen. A treat for all."

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Postby Jonathan Sanders » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:58 am

I posted this in another forum, but figured this thread needed a link too:

http://www.stereosubversion.com/reviews ... 5-27-2009/

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Postby Jonathan Sanders » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:59 am

Jonathan Sanders wrote:I posted this in another forum, but figured this thread needed a link too:

http://www.stereosubversion.com/reviews ... 5-27-2009/


And here's a brief interview I did with her last summer:

http://www.stereosubversion.com/feature ... 6-26-2008/

Folkfan
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interview

Postby Folkfan » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:56 pm

Hello Jonathan,

I just wanted to thank you for posting your interview with Vienna. Great stuff.

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Re: interview

Postby Jonathan Sanders » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:27 am

Folkfan wrote:Hello Jonathan,

I just wanted to thank you for posting your interview with Vienna. Great stuff.


You're welcome ... I actually spoke to her for about twenty more minutes beyond that, but had a recorder malfunction ... I can't quote something if I can't do it accurately. So a lot got lost. But I'm sure I'll speak to her again in the future and try to draw out more :)


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