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In the name of progress, stop this nonsense!

Fingertight: In the Name of Progress (Sony)

Stereomud: Every Given Moment (Sony)

Anyone familiar with my writing probably knows by now that I do not make a point of grounding my opinions with any kind of research. Well, those people may be surprised to hear that I listened to these Fingertight and Stereomud albums (nearly) all the way through. In fact, just to reassure my readers that I am as jaded as ever, I must add that it was probably the most musically arid experience of my life, alleviated only by taking periodic solace in a few minutes of the amazing first Lightning Bolt album. Those who think that being a rock critic is a walk in the park are obviously not critic material themselves, because they would not understand that we have extremely sensitive ears and fanatically refined taste. Because of these biological advancements, it becomes a physically painful experience when, for dedication to the craft, we must subject ourselves to trash like Stereomud and Fingertight.

In the name of economy, I will continue this review under the assumption that these two bands, essentially identical, are actually one, a group with a moniker no more ridiculous, Fingermud. If I were capable of writing anything beyond the scope of a record review, than this text would simply serve as an introduction to a bible-length work concerned with how this sort of music is typical of the second-string groups who adopt the rhetoric of alienation and independence in order to prevent losing their audience to truly underground music. Fingermud makes the ultimate insult, to itself as well as its own potential audience, by presenting itself as an alternative to the rock mainstream, a mainstream that is comprised, for the most part, of slightly more accomplished versions of itself. Obviously, such a technique is being used as an attempt to catch those strays who are near the point of giving up on mainstream music altogether and discovering a more satisfying scene among underground music.

The worst effect that the late 1990s have had on rock music is that the bad mainstream rock bands don’t even play guitar solos anymore, insisting, through their lack of flair, that they are actually something other than bad mainstream rock bands. In the past, terrible faux-metal bands from Van Halen through Load-era Metallica have at least had enough wailing solos to provide the listener with some incentive to make it through an otherwise worthless song. These days, the guitar solo is history and the modern nu-metal acts have nothing but their “heaviness,” completely insufficient as it is, to help them carry the weight of their hype.

Possibly the only thing, aside from the Lightning Bolt, that kept me sane through this experience was the knowledge that I would soon be able to throw these CDs out my apartment window onto Southeast 11th Avenue, put on Of Montreal’s Nickee Coco and the Invisibility Tree, and dance gleefully around my apartment as cars, trucks and buses smashed the offending discs into oblivion, which is exactly what I did. To be honest, some nu-metal fanatic probably dived from their vehicle at some point to rescue the discs and is currently nursing them back to health. With any luck, they are listening to Fingermud right now and wondering for how long the record industry will expect them to continually purchase the same pretentious, overblown recording by a group who can’t even think up a decent name or rock a real guitar solo.