Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Verdict Is In.....

i’ve been putting off… not reviewing, but voicing my opinion of Cardinology. i was waiting for receipt of the vinyl, but during the wait, i acquired the mp3’s. Also in that time, i read way too many reviews to be completely objective. The best treatment i came across was this one suggesting that somewhere there's a Ryan Adams Album Review Generator, pumping out cookie-cutter anecdotes with the same words said in different ways. He goes on to statistically dissect a multitude of published reviews, citing many of these generic standpoints. Bravo.

Here are some scattered thoughts and lyrical samples, but i'm left with many questions. Maybe a discussion could help me sort this out.


Around here, the general consensus has been substandard, and that's been echoed plenty. But the most surprising thing is that the people that like it... really like it.

Rolling Stone gave it a 4 out of 5 and said "it's one of the best things he's ever done," and that he "defines a genre here."

I asked myself how they could actually think that, and I came up with this: the first thing people do when convincing themselves they like something is forget about lyrics. i will say this can be an important part of the listening process at times, but not when reviewing –and reviews are what Rolling Stone does. Maybe Ryan is suffering from the same ailment. He says "the stuff we do communally is 10 times greater than the stuff I come up with."

So sure - sonically - Cardinology is pleasing, even really good (thanks Tom Schick), but Ryan has lost his previously razor sharp edge. i've mentioned how Easy Tiger was pretty disappointing as well. But one mediocre record (plus an EP) isn't enough to get me worried. With the onset of this one, however, i'm beginning to think that maybe The Cardinals have worn out their welcome. They obviously have a large influence on Ryan, and that has worked great in the past (2005), but i feel like their general direction has been skewed. People say it’s the sound of a band working well together, finding their groove, confident in their sound, blah, blah. This is just a veiled way to say it’s predictable.

He’s just as self-deprecating as ever before - he actually says “if I fall will you pity me?” But with sobriety comes self-awareness. It's like Ryan is completely cognizant to the fact that he's a sad-bastard and has come to terms with it. We do find out Ryan isn’t habitless - “The trees outside are still. I take a sleeping pill… and feel a little less pain.” Thphhphphphh (fart noise with thumb up).

The first two tracks, minus the initial 3 second guitar riff, are just boring. "Fit It" has absolutely nothing new to offer - we know you've been left and hurt, Ryan. "Magick" begins well enough with a ferocity reminiscent of something like "Shallow" and as spiteful as "What Sin". But then they blow it under in the chorus with what sounds like a song heard at a junior high dance on Lifetime“let your body move, let your body sway, listen to the music play.”

"Let Us Down..." may have been a better fit on ET, but it's not bad. Unfortunately, "Crossed Out Name" sits on the top of the heap, beginning what you hope will be a rebound on Side B... not even close. "Natural Ghost" is basically easy listening. "Sink Ships" starts with an inviting acoustic lead, but wanders off-course.

And what kind of metaphors are these? “This position is not open now… the application forms got shredded, there was faulty wording in the documents.” Come on. Where's the guy that said "you ain't but a fire on my sad estate, burnin' my house to the ground" or "i felt the news through the floorboards. Like a long sufferin' moan. Like a wreck on the road. Like a joining of hands?"

Where’s the guy that said “the trains run like snakes through the Pentecostal pines?" Oh, that’s right… Jacksonville. But that was only 3 years ago. He’d been city-jaded for years by then. There's the ubiquitous, NYC reference in "Cobwebs" that becomes cliché mentioning 5th Ave… ooh, Ryan’s big time – what happened to Chelsea?

A breezy interlude recalling "Rosebud", "Evergreen" is a bit of a relief, but not enough to turn me around. For the first time, i've become completely disinterested in the middle of a Ryan Adams album.

As i said, i waited until i got the vinyl to do this. The collector’s package has completely new artwork by Leah Hayes, including a comic book/set of liner notes. In presenting the lyrics, she forms a frame-by-frame story with children's book-style drawings. This interestingly works well for this album. Although she's definitely talented, it couldn’t have been very hard to work the names of the songs into the page. Ryan broke the record for repeating the song titles on Cardinology (go ahead, count 'em). i’m just not so sure that’s a desirable feat.

Some more pathetic lines: “Keep the faith, keep moving to the music rolling in your mind.” & “Be your own best friend, have confidence and keep the faith.” Oh, and those aren’t from the same song.

i guess you can say that he’s maturing with this 'suicide hotline' advice, which is somewhat true, but his youthful defiance is what has defined much of Ryan up to ‘06. At some point he has to make another statement. It doesn’t have to be berating fans/critics, tapes and tapes of studio sessions, or speedballs for breakfast, but SOMETHING.

Bottom Line: The Cardinals let us down, but at least they let us down easy... whatever that means.

i know i've focused on the faults of the album, but there are pieces to enjoy. Just not enough. i don't have to express what i like about Ryan, i've done plenty of that, and hopefully i will get to again someday.

Crossed Out Name (live 9-30-2008 - Palace Theatre)


  1. The length of time between the release and your commentary made me sense this was coming, but I was surprised at the level of your disappointment. I have been listening quite a bit while on the road and think I am coming down (slightly) on the other side--hope to try to write that out next week--as like 23/7 says, "Keep the faith and stick with it."

  2. I think you think about his music more than he does. I think he just writes, and what comes out comes out.

    People seem to criticize Ryan Adams WAY to harshly. Its like every album has to be masterpiece, and if its not, people cite how underachieving and inconsistent he is. Maybe if these people could actually pick up an instrument and write a fucking song, we would see how masterful their work would turn out!

    People seem to nitpick every single goddamn song, every single goddamn lyric. Come on its just music, people. There are only about 678 trillion other bands that put out albums that have more "just so-so" songs than any single ryan adams release, and I dont hear people bitching about how inconsistent those records are. If anything Mr. Adams is EXTREMELY CONSISTENT. The reality is all of his albums are pretty good, and cardinology is no exception.

    I honestly don't know how some one can like one Ryan Adams album, and not the others. Come on, do they REALLY sound THAT different? It all sounds like ryan adams to me. Im personally glad he moved way past heartbreaker If he put out 8 albums that all sound like that we would all be bored to death by know. At this point, Cardinology to me his actually a lot more interesting than heartbreaker.

  3. If the proprietor of this site does indeed think about the music more than the artist himself, the critique should be directed at the artist. Critics do as critics do: We call people (like Adams) on their weak shit, when they take the day off, knowing full damn well that he has legions of fans who blindly buy his latest album.
    Ryan Adams is many things, but consistent he is not. I assure you, the man has released trash in the past, just not to this magnitude or to this amount of unwarranted acclaim.
    And no, it's not just music. It's supposed to be art, and the minute we allow musicians to forget that point, we get Cardinology.

  4. Anon1 - Are you kidding me??
    If i think about Ryan's music more than he does, that's a damn shame.

    Look, Ryan is good at what he does, but it doesn't just come to him. If you really think he writes one draft of a song and goes with it, whatever it may sound like, you have no idea what you're talking about. The guy is a perfectionist. He takes his job very seriously. He may write a shite song in one draft, but that one will not make the album. He's got plenty of backups.

    The only thing consistent about Ryan is his output. Gold is worlds away from Rock N Roll which is worlds away from JCN . And if you think something like Love is Hell or Cold Roses is only pretty good, why even take the time to defend him??

    If it was just music, i wouldn't be here doing this, which means you wouldn't have this forum to have said that, which, in theory, makes your point moot.

    i hate to jump at you like that, but you showed up here. And by all means, continue with said discussion.

  5. You're right, I guess I have no idea what I was talking about. Ive only been playing actual musical instruments for over 15 years. What the fuck do I know about music and art?

    Listen the point I was trying to make is I think Cardinology was written like this (as most of the cardinals work was probably done) :

    1. Ryan writes a zillion songs.
    2. The cardinals jam out a bunch of them.
    3. the band and ryan decide which ones they want on the records

    No doubt he is a perfectionist in his CRAFTSMANSHIP, but I dont think he really cares if Cardinology is the most perfect thing in the universe. I think HE digs the record. Besides they are JUST SONGS. there will be more.

    I think people who actually played in bands & stuff know what it is like to think like that. But I guess the people who can call other artists out "on their weak shit" can write such more amazing songs

    Music is an art. But its a pretty fucking subjective art form. And what you may not like and call weak shit is actually a lot of other people favorite stuff. That is one of the most fascinating things about Ryan Adams' music. (and in music in general)

    I have this same exact converstion with a friend of mine who is a "cirtic". You can overanalyse any song, any album, any fucking band and find fault if you want. Music is not always perfect, nor does it need to be to enjoy it. But Becoming too much of a critic takes a lot of the fun out of ENJOYING music. Even Dylan wrote plenty of stinkers and just "so-so" songs.

    Its like when pitchfork gave my morning jacket new record a 4.7. Are you kidding me? Go see my morning jacket live and ask jim james if he cares how pitchfork rated his record.

  6. This blogger deserves defense. It's idolatry if a person puts an artist on a pedestal and fails to ever hold the artist to any sort of standard. Ryan is far more talented than he is intelligent. His albums went from being brilliant Americana to hapless wallpaper. That's a fact, which is well supported in the blogger's review. Did anyone who bought 'Heartbreaker' back when it was released really believe there would be a possibility of a Ryan release date that would feel irrelevant? Amazingly his slip has been so steep that the impossible has become a reality. Reviews like those of this blogger do a service. Maybe there's the off-chance that a compadre of Ryan's, or even Ryan himself, will read this and see that the attack isn't personal, that the tone isn't mendacious, and that even the finest of talents need some discipline.

  7. I guess he is not intelligent because he doesn't use words like "idolatry" and "mendacious" in his songs. Gimme a freaking break.

    "His albums went from being brilliant Americana to hapless wallpaper. That's a fact, which is well supported in the blogger's review."

    Who's checking the "facts"? The - I can't talk to girls so I'm gonna stay at home and listen to ultra obscure 7" and check the reviews on pitchfork media crowd? Yeah, they know everything about what makes music good or bad.

    Im sure ryan is really gonna read this blog and see the " error of his ways" .

    Meanwhile, Im going to continue enjoying the new record.

  8. i'll admit i did over analyze the album, but in a sense, that was what i was trying to do. If you've read anything else here on Ryan, you'd know that. Too many reviews these days under-analyze. He's by far my favorite artist, but i'm just saying this is my least favorite record, while explaining why. I never called the effort 'weak shit' - just sub-par. And to occasionally criticize his material is what keeps this fun and helps me ENJOY the music.

    You are right on your hypothesis of how Cardinology was recorded - that's how every Cardinals record has been made. But it doesn't support your original point(s).

    If you want me to believe that you have any sort of credibility by being a veteran musician, why comment 'anonymous'?

    By the way, Heartbreaker is a masterpiece.

  9. Ok, lots of points to address. First, Anon1, just so you know, everyone I know who reads this blog thinks very highly of Ryan Adams, and Payton is something of an authority on his work. So be careful when you lump us all in with the Pitchfork readership.
    Frankly, no reviewer worth his weight gives a rat's ass what Adams or any other artist would say in defense of his work. Doesn't change the fact that the album is lyrically trite. And yes, Dylan had some bad albums (about a decade's worth), and reviewers most certainly called him on it. Not all reviews can be good, and Cardinology does not warrant positive remarks.
    Sure, this album might be someone's favorite. We don't debate that for a second. It's simply a matter of taste. Lots of people hated Rock N Roll (which, btw, is one of the records that sounds nothing like Cardinology), but we think of it as something of a masterpiece. So we don't have it out for the guy, just the music he's been making lately.
    I don't quibble with your description of the album-making process; it likely did go down like that. The problem we have is with the selection of songs for this album that they chose. Doesn't matter what else they recorded, since we can't possibly judge that. What we can do is weigh Cardinology, on its own merits, and the result is overwhelmingly negative.

  10. Allright fine! no anonymity, My name is Kyle.

    Peyton, i do appreciate your blog and your opinions. Its its not like there's anything wrong with critiquing music on a certain level. People aren't robots, everybody is going to respond differently to different music

    My comments stem from just a general frustration on a lot of these so called critics. Its just that I know what its like to be in bands and try to write music that connects with you on a certain level, and there's always some "holier than thou" dipshit that has to shit on anything that doesn't live up to his elite standards (i,e: music that only 7 other people in the world has listened to). And critics always have to point out somebody's influences, and usually they are way off. Thanks critic, apparently anyone who ever wants to use a delay pedal in band sounds like U2. wow, that was insightful.

    Like the person above who said he has a right to call Ryan adams out on his "weak shit". What the fuck does he know? I bet he couldn't write a song to save his life thats as good as anything off cardinology.

    I've been an RA fan for quite a while and maybe he shot himself in the foot by releasing Heartbreaker as his FIRST solo record, but this is what a lot of the critic consensus seems like: Gold was too commercial. Love is hell was too mopey and slow, needed to be more commercial. Rock n Roll was then TOO commercial, he needs to go back to country Heartbreaker sound. Then he put out Cold Roses, JCN and 29 in one year, and people bitched that it was too much and wanted him to put out one condensed record. Then he put out Easy tiger, and people bitched that it was TOO focused. Uggh! Really, what are these people expecting? what do they want him to sound like?

    Meanwhile, Ive pretty much dug all of his records and appreciated his experiments. Thats what I like about him. He casts a wide net. Every one has a favorite record, but I think his true fans kinda appreciate all of it. Cardinology is my wife's favorite record so far. Mine is JCN (but really all of the cardinals records for that matter). Some of the tracks off rock n roll sound AMAZING live. pretty much all of his stuff sounds AMAZING live, and often hearing a lot of these songs live for the first time give you new appreciation for those songs.

    The bottom line is his worst record is still more interesting, to me, than almost anything on the Pitchfork Top 50 recordings of bleeps, blurps, and Xylophone static.

  11. "Like the person above who said he has a right to call Ryan adams out on his "weak shit". What the fuck does he know? I bet he couldn't write a song to save his life thats as good as anything off cardinology."

    So should we reduce critical response to those who are talented enough to write great songs?

    And Ryan's intelligence would HAVE to come into question with his inability to see the lyrical slide referred to here:

    "And what kind of metaphors are these? “This position is not open now… the application forms got shredded, there was faulty wording in the documents.” Come on. Where's the guy that said "you ain't but a fire on my sad estate, burnin' my house to the ground" or "i felt the news through the floorboards. Like a long sufferin' moan. Like a wreck on the road. Like a joining of hands?""

    "Im sure ryan is really gonna read this blog and see the " error of his ways""

    The point was that artists engage the public and their work through critical review. Of course Ryan wants everything to be received as brilliant. And of course all of his fans wish for genius albums to come one after another. But critical reception is actually healthy when it's not against the man. I don't even know who Ryan is. I've never met him. I don't care that he seems to a publicity whore or whatever. I do know that his talent is through the roof, and that it would be far better served if he were actually engaged by someone in his camp. But it's probably all fawning and etc, which allows him to write sub-par soft-rock hits. The facts are apparent. If you can't tell the difference in quality between Heartbreaker and Cardinology, then you're just another fawning fanatic.

    "Meanwhile, Im going to continue enjoying the new record."

    Which proves your idolatry. (A joke. Enjoy all you want. Just allow some of us bitch in hope that he changes his direction.)

  12. Oh Im sorry, Anon2 your majesty, I didnt realize that my quality detector is as nicely refined as yours. You're right, turns out Ive been listening to shit music this entire time, and I guess I cant tell because Im a fawning fanatic. I guess ryan can't tell that the new album sucks either because all of the audience seemed to cheer loudly after he played the new songs live when I saw him in NYC on Halloween, and it seems he's not spending enough time reading these blogs.

    I don't care if you don't particularly like the record. Im sure you're a nice enough guy and you're most certainly entitled to our own opinion. Its just I have been reading these same exact arguments from critics for every album after heartbreaker, and it gets a little old.

    The difference is between you and I, is I can tell EXACTLY the difference in quality between cardinology and heartbreaker as well, and you know what, I think they are both great! Does that mean me or my wife are stupid fanatics. I doubt it. Im just showing you a different side of the coin. Music is really FUCKING SUBJECTIVE.

    Believe me, I enjoy discussing and debating and critiquing music just as much as you do. If not, I wouldn't be on here. But I do think if you are over-inherently looking to analyse something to critque it, you become a bit blind to simply enjoying it or not.

    For example, what's this argument with lyrics being too trite. I dont know, I think Ryan Adams lyrics have always been a little on the trite side. By that I mean he has never been a overly deep introspective lyricist, like say Dylan. In fact I really think he's more of a modern day Bruce Springsteen-type songwriter, someone that can really write substantial varied songs with mass-appeal and succinct lyrics that a lot of people can relate too.

    He's never catered to the indier-than-thou crowd, and you cant fault him for that. He's always had a little mainstream in his diet. To me thats what I like about his music. its a nice middle ground. I can put it on in my car at almost any given time, and chill the fuck out.

    "Which proves your idolatry. (A joke. Enjoy all you want. Just allow some of us bitch in hope that he changes his direction)"

    Don't you realize all he DOES his change his direction, so youre really bitching that hes not staying the same.

    This is probably going to be my last comment on this because it is ending up like a useless political debate, and I like payton's blog and want him to post more B-sides and cool shit in the future. Thanks Payton!

  13. "He's never catered to the indier-than-thou crowd, and you cant fault him for that. He's always had a little mainstream in his diet. To me thats what I like about his music. its a nice middle ground. I can put it on in my car at almost any given time, and chill the fuck out."

    "Don't you realize all he DOES his change his direction, so youre really bitching that hes not staying the same."

    Both good points. I meant direction in the way of improving, and not so much his variety. But still....

    All I'm trying to say is this: I feel he'd be better served by a filter. I know he's capable of writing a song I'd probably listen to every day of his life. He's that naturally talented. And that there's some argument to hearing those songs. But I don't know that he has the Ginsberg around him that Dylan did. And that the critical process, when it isn't ugly and personal (which is what I meant when I said against the man) but instead more engaged with the music, (which is what Payton gave us), the results can be positive.

    And I didn't mean to piss you or anybody off by challenging tastes. If his last two albums serve your tastes, then fine. But when you feel he's capable of the next 'Blonde on Blonde,' it's hard to hear some of these really casual attempts with his albums. No, he doesn't owe us any greater effort and; yes, he can do as he pleases. I'm just hoping a response LIKE Payton's lands either directly or indirectly into his lap and maybe makes him rethink the process.

  14. One topic to discuss, is that it will be interesting to see what he does now that he is out of his record contract with Lost Highway, a major label. You KNOW they played a huge part in what he released as a final product. Gold was obviously a shot at big time commercial success. They hated love is hell, which actually turned out to be a quite good. Then they weren't big on the multiple records per year idea, and were more in favor for the Easy Tiger style "focused & condensed" concept.

    Im personally a fan into the multiple records per year idea. Dylan released multiple albums per year, so did the Beatles. It gives you better platform to experiment. Why is it common thought that ideally an artist has to put out one record every 2-3 years? Who sold the public on that bullshit?

    As much as I like Cardinology and will defend it, I have to admit I AM ready for him to get a little more edgy & fucked up on the next album. We could all use another sick dark rock record. I heard he wanted to put out a record last year called "Blackhole" which he described as "sexy damaged tunes" Where the hell was that record? Then I read somewhere he wanted to put out a jam heavy double disc out called Cardinals III/IV. I would be totally on board for that idea as well. We will see.

  15. Good point, i meant to say something about Cardinology fulfilling his contract.

    While i do think that leaving Lost Highway will produce a better product in the future, i'm not so sure we will ever get the 'old' Ryan back. That is, unless he reverts back to hard drugs/drinking. The question becomes whether we would rather have another spurt of heavily influenced writing, or get to keep Ryan around longer.

  16. Payton, Kyle, Anonymous,
    Great thread! We are all clearly passionate about Ryan's music or else we wouldn't all have congregated here. Certainly, you can argue that Ryan can put out whatever he wants, after all he is the artist, he has a legal contract that he needs to honor. One point that seems to have been missing and it is something that has bothered me about Ryan's "work(s)" is that if you have had the fortune to listen to some of his unreleased work(s) from Whiskeytown through Cardinology, the YOU KNOW what this guy is capable of releasing, YOU KNOW that talent is there. Then an album comes out like Cardinology (I for one appreciate it), but it DOES fall short of what the Cardinals COULD put out. Kyles point about the live tracks is spot on! I almost prefer the Cardinals live, they are mind-blowing! So what gives with the studio work? I happen to agree with you all that it must come down to his "erratic" personality or it is the fault of his label or possibly a combination of the two. I have a feeling there has been a tug-of-war going on between Ryan and his label. See unreleased 4CD box set as an example. I actually was one of the original street teamers for Lost Highway and I remember thess box set rumors from as far back as the Demolition/Rock-n-Roll era....Is it Ryan that doesn't want these tracks out? Don't know.

    I am not a musician (I wish I was), I am not an artist in any capacity. So, I cannot know how an artist thinks. I guess I could see how someone wouldn't want to be pigeonholed into a certain "type" of artist. You hear this all of the time with bands/artists...they want to take the next journey, the next step. I cannot imagine how success at an early stage effects you. In Ryan's case, he was lifted up so quickly. Who in there right mind could envision writing and playing on a masterpiece at the tender age of 23? I think that is one of the demons that Ryan has faced instead of embracing.

    So what the hell is my point? The frustration is simple. Ryan is a tremendously talented singer-songwriter a la TVZ. Is that type of talent sustainable? I'm guessing not. To harness those demons must be a slippery slope. But it doesn't keep us all from wanting to hear that depth, that level of sorrow, passion, love, hate, heartbreak, hurt, and beauty in each album he kicks out. And because he CAN strike that kind of passion in his music is why so many fans are left feeling let down at times. Is it right? No, but when you are touched as deeply as his past work(s) have to many, it is hard to NOT look back and compare/contrast and feel amiss. It is the irony of his success.

  17. Ryan is trying to go stadium-rock, he's been wanting that his whole life, almost got his wishes a few years ago... The new album is mediocre. I listened the other day to Tom Petty's Mudcrutch album, it achieves all the things Ryan's album fails to...

  18. I don't know, that Mudcrutch statement is a bit stretching it to me.

    Although it brings up an interesting topic: Are you a Genius Songwriter or not?

    I noticed I seem to find myself, for better or worse, gravitate more toward the "genius" talents that are out there. Or people who could reasonably considered as musical geniuses.

    Lets face it, Tom Petty is one of the greatest singles writers of all time, but he has never really wrote a masterpiece album. He has always made the most out the talent he has, which is considerable. But he always has come across as Dylan-Lite (the true genius). Some artists are like that. Dave Grohl is like that to me. He's an amazingly talented & accomplished musician, but some of dave grohl's ballads and general filler stuff is god awful. Dave grohl does not have the vocal range or intropsectiveness no make the slower moments sizzle on a record.

    Ryan Adams, for all his eccentricity and imperfections, IS a musical genius. He can pretty much do it all. Few can match his combination of vocal range, songwriting abilities, and skill and musicianship (especially on guitar).

    You know one Dylan record I remember that I was not fond of at first was New Mornng. It didn't sound like the "dylan I had grown to love" in it. But now it is one of my "overlooked" favorites. Thats a great thing about Dylan, you keep finding new ways to enjoy him

    Maybe this is why I dig Cardinology more than some you of guys.
    Upon first listen it seems it seemed to be a little "off" and wierd compared to the traditional ryan album experience. But thats what I kind of like about it. I see the risk in that. Now Cardinology actually comes across as a brave record to me. There is a lot of skill demonstrated here. I actually think Born into a light, Fix it, Natural Ghost, and Stop are some of the best songs he has ever wrote. I hated Go Easy at first. Now I kind of love it.

    Who knows maybe I just naturally focus on the positives more than you negative bastards :) Writing a good song is fucking hard to do. Ryan still writes a lot of them.

    Another young folk musical genius-type is Conor Oberst. He ALSO gets a lot of mixed response too from critics. Some say hes a genius, others say he's disappointing. Any correlation?

  19. I agree with you on the musical genius thing - for both Ryan and Conor. The only difference is, this year, Conor blew Ryan out of the water.

    "Born into a light, Fix it, Natural Ghost, and Stop are some of the best songs he ever wrote"

    I'm trying to respect your opinion here, but with each comment, you fall further down the ladder - racking your face on the way down.

  20. Im sorry, but Born into the light is a sick jam. If that song was on Cold Roses you would of loved it. Natural ghost has some of the sickest 2nd guitar licks and slide guitar parts that they have laid down on record. Even most critics have acknowledged Stop as being a great song.

    Payton, if you consider yourself to have an deep appreciation of music, and you feel "Im racking my face down the ladder" with each of my comments, then that just may be a good indication of how shortsighted you may actually be.

    Let me ask you this. Can you play any instruments?

  21. Again, let me count the ways you are wrong:

    I've already expressed how i think that Cardinology sounds great - as in the musicianship. So i can somewhat agree with you there. But as i wrote in the post (about a mile northward by now), you can't judge on album on the musicianship alone. If you forgo attention to lyricism, you automatically lose half the battle.

    Stop is one of the better songs on the record, but decent in the company of bland isn't that great. Moreover, these 'most critics' you refer to and their positive reviews are the exact reason i wrote this post in the first place - to give an alternate opinion. Your sole reason for commenting here has been to defend Cardinology and attack anyone that doesn't think it's great. To cite other reviews that feel favorable toward songs like Stop is to nullify your reason for being here and to undermine the entire critiquing process by "shortsightedly" accepting only one side of the argument.

    Although your question is completely irrelevant, I'll humor you. No I do not play an instrument.... well. I have a fiddle I mess around with but will not go so far as to say I can play one with any proficiency. If you're trying to make the point I think you are, again you are wrong - NO, you do not have to play an instrument to appreciate the talent and dedication that goes into doing so each and every night. You do not have to play an instrument to hear the subtle nuances that The Cardinals so expertly add to their records. I respect musicians for what they do. It's just not for me - at least at this point in my life. Would you tell me I couldn’t find flaws in a shotty foundation job just because I don’t build houses??

    But we’re all soooo proud of you and your talent, Kyle.

  22. What a WHINE ASS your are being. A critic that cant take an once of criticism. what a surprise.

    I wasn't trying to prove I am right or that I am superior because I play instrument and you don't. Just trying to show that deciding what is a makes a great song or a great album is really fucking subjective, and people who play instruments may react and feel differently in terms of what constitutes great music, than someone who is just views it from a purely critical standpoint.

    But obviously you KNOW EXACTLY WHAT MAKES MUSIC GREAT, and you determinedly must "Again, count the ways I am wrong", meanwhile despite the fact you have never written a single song in your entire life.

    But again, I know my point must be completely irrelevant, so please wax intellectual at one more time and tell me just how my "point is moot"

  23. being a musician does not grant you leverage. appreciating music, taking it seriously, and holding artists to high standards in their works, these are the things that count. if you know anything, you know that this man approaches this site seriously and generously. his opinion still stands for something.
    look kyle, i'm not saying anything about ryan personally; this isn't about all that. and he and the cardinals do put on badass jam shows, i'd never deny him that.

    but this album is weak. lyrically, if we're gonna make that leap and call this man a genius, the songs on cardinology should show a certain complexity, a sign of artistic maturation if you will, that it just does not have. i think payton gives the album too much credit. i don't think its instrumentation forgives even one moment of the intellectual insult that is listening to "fix it" or "born."

  24. i'm whining, yet since your first comment, you continually remind us of your musical fortitude. let it go, man - or give us myspace page so we can decide for ourselves.

  25. I'm the anonymous who mistakenly pissed someone off with the hapless wallpaper comment. To leave the current thread and touch a little on the idea of these artists seemingly having to release music every eighteen months or so... that's something like a song every forty days. How many people in the history of the world could pull off something unique and complete every forty days? (Didn't T.S. Eliot write something in the area of 52 poems in his life?) And then there's the issue of keeping up with the melodies that obviously come so easy to Ryan. What if the metaphors or language can't keep up? Someone earlier mentioned Conor Oberst, who is nowhere near as talented a musician (guitar player/ singer) but inarguably a far more consistent original lyricist. Different problem; same result. Somewhat watered down albums that can't help but leave an avid listener down. If this thread has shown me anything it's that the commercial process of making music is a pretty harsh setting for creating good 'art' projects. Only a few musicians seem to possess that discipline to keep most of what they create in the vault. Would we as music fans want that? The relationship to poetry is interesting. Poetry basically has to be unique and complete to garner any audience. Music can be passingly serviceable and still work to make a drive nice or set a mood to an afternoon. I guess you have to pick your poison. Two or three albums a decade, or a whole lot of easy listening and some great songs interspersed.

  26. Good points Eric. And you also kinda proved my point: Music is SUBJECTIVE. You think Conor Oberst is watered down & disappointing, Payton though it "blew Cardionolgy out of the water".

    I like them both. Are they Masterpieces? Of course not. But I don't really expect a musician to have to put out a musical masterpiece everytime for me to consider it good, bad,or great, or whatever. Masterpieces are pretty hard to come by, You're lucky if you get to write one in your entire lifetime. Maybe its the Anit-critic in me talking, But I just dont buy into this idea that we need to "hold artists to high standards" for good music to exist. I think there is and will be plenty of good music, regardless of what the fuck any of us has to say about it. And you don't certainly do not need to have pitchfork, rolling stone, this mornin, or any other critics opinion to validate or un-validate they way YOU FEEL about something.

    Warts and all, both Conor and Ryan will continue to do what they do, and Im glad they exist, rather than not exist.

  27. So...what would the word be for a critic of a critic? It seems as though our Anon 1/ Kyle critic thinks that criticism is way overdone and much to intrusive to be effective, however he has done much of the same to a tasteful critic on this site. Now I'm not much for irony but this is just too much for me to pass up. And Kyle, I'm glad to hear the praises of an accomplished artist such as yourself, although it appears that 15 years next to a stack has weakened your ear.

  28. This is an interesting thread. If anyone still cares, I'm going to respond first to a comment about Tom Petty a half-mile or so up there. No masterpiece albums? I would throw "The Last DJ" out there as proof, but "Damn The Torpedoes" is another one. Good point, but I'm not buying it completely.

    Kyle -- I see your point. I love "Cardinology." However, I'm trying to get my friend into Ryan Adams. We were at a closing Virgin Records and then at a Circuit City. Even at 60% percent off, I was hesitant to push the new album on him. I love it, but what if that was my first RA experience?

    I might not have come back for more. I'm listening to "Cherry Lane" right now, and it is seriously better than anything on Cardinology. The lyrics are deeper "You think no one can read you, but I can" "... it was written in a language that was meant to fuck you up." the music is amazing (light electric twangy picking layered with typical RA acoustic background rhythm strumming, a moment of silence and a timing curve ball make for a hell of a ride).

    Yes, this is subjective, but where would you rank the new album in Ryan's catalog? It's your wife's favorite, but is she as a big a fan as you are?

    I convinced my friend to get "Heartbreaker" and he picked up "Easy Tiger" on my recommendation.

    By the way, whether or not you play an instrument has nothing to do with the discussion.