Music News

Reviewing the Reviews

Like an imaginative, hyperactive kid let loose amid the instruments in an elementary school music room, Minneapolis native Andrew Broder spent his first couple of albums under the Fog moniker crafting charming, headphones-paradise tunes out of turntables, guitars, strangely affecting vocals, found noises, and lots more sonic oddities. Yet Fog concerts — with a full band backing Broder — began evolving into somewhat more straightforward, guitar-centric indie-rock experiences that had little in common with the records. And so, feeling he'd outgrown the bedroom-pop aesthetic, Broder decided to bring the sound of Fog's fifth full-length, the recently released Ditherer, in line with the now-trio's live vibe, without sacrificing too much of that quirky charm. We caught up with Broder at a laundromat in Buffalo, New York, during an off day on Fog's current tour, and as he waited for his clothes to dry, we read him excerpts from some Ditherer reviews and asked him to comment:

"Broder seems to take a perverse pleasure in toying with our expectations . . . in much the same way I imagine David Lynch smirks to himself while giving direction to a gaggle of Polish prostitutes doing the Locomotion." (Tiny Mix Tapes)

You know, I mean . . . I like David Lynch, I guess. Yeah, I dunno if it's a perverse pleasure, and I don't know if there's that much thought going into the "subverting expectations" element of it. There's a little of that, but then you're sorta getting into Frank Zappa territory, where you're like, "Heh heh heh, what am I gonna think up next?!" And that can get a little bit on the contrived side. So, yeah, the element of surprise is one that I appreciate in music quite a bit, so the goal is to figure out a way to keep that without it seeming like you're playing a joke on people.

"Dude uses an Arcade Fire’s worth of instruments and sings surrealist lyrics with a kind of deflated Charlie Brown lilt, but his jams manage to mirror/mock/satirize our modern American hustle and flow." (The Village Voice)

That's all right. That's okay. Except for the Charlie Brown part. Because I will say that with this record, I really wanted to do the singing differently. When I go back and listen to the old records, I really don't like the singing 'cause it sounds like I don't enjoy singing, which I didn't. It sorta sounds like I have a gun to my head.

I didn't really have a concept of how to do it for a while, so I made up my mind that on this record, it was time to get into it and try to sing well and sing as though I wanted to be singing. So the Charlie Brown thing definitely applies to the previous work, but I dunno about this record.

"The remarkable aspect of Ditherer is that all of this seemingly impenetrable mass of ideas has been streamlined into 11 relatively concise and surprisingly accessible pop songs." (All Music Guide)

Hmm. That's cool. Yeah, that's decent. I think they're pop songs; I would agree with that. When I think of pop songs, I just think of a song that you can sing and hum along with. That, to me, is a pop song and that can be anything. A pop song is just a big musical idea condensed into a smaller amount of time with a structure and a form of some sort. So, yeah, I don't have any problem with them being called pop songs. I love pop songs. I mean, we listened to Paul Simon in the van last night, so it's all good.

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Michael Alan Goldberg