Letters: January 2017

Airmail
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The Lonely Parade

Re: “Album Review: The Lonely Parade – No Shade”

David Tough’s review on Lonely Parade’s newest album hardly discusses the genuine and artistic attributes that actually makes Lonely Parade interesting. The lyrics, music, or musicians are not discussed in a way that is interesting, thoughtful or informative. Oddly, most of the statements made about Lonely Parade have nothing to do with the band itself, but are instead grand, unprofessional and frankly bizarre statements about Lonely Parade in relation to the rest of the Peterborough music scene.

It is confidently declared that “[Lonely Parade is] undeniably the product of extensive practice and thoughtful planning such as no other group of Peterborough musicians has ever submitted themselves to.” How, I must ask, could you possibly make such a claim? There is no way you could ever say this and know in your heart and mind that it is true. There are hundreds of people in this city who never stop thinking about music, who are so intensely involved with the music scene and their own art – how can you possibly say they are not as dedicated as Lonely Parade? Did you figure out the math? A secret scientific formula that measures passion? And since when is passion a contest anyways? Everyone’s art is significant because they care about it.

I want people to feel confident enough to express themselves – it’s incredibly important to feel like you can put yourself out there and that you might even be received well. But articles like this, articles that put down every band in a community just to bring one band up hurts my heart. Think about how it would feel to read your article if you were both passionate and not a member of Lonely Parade. I very much hope not to see this from your magazine in the future.

Name withheld at writer’s request

 

Author response:

Thanks for your letter. I don’t consider myself a natural reviewer, so I appreciate feedback on my work. I’ve written about the Lonely Parade before, and in those instances I definitely described what makes their music interesting. There’s only so many ways you can say ‘uncanny rapport’ and ‘rhythmic complexity,’ though, and in a little over a hundred words I thought it important to make a bold evaluative statement than get bogged down in details. Perhaps that was an error.

As for your more general point, I frankly don’t agree that everyone’s art is equally significant. Some people are better at music than other people, and some people work harder at music than other people. Some people’s music reaches a wider audience, or is more influential in a particular genre, or is more thematically or technically ground-breaking, and therefore more significant. Are you going to say that anybody who has ever written a song is as good at writing songs or as influential as Joni Mitchell? That strikes me as nonsense, however well-meaning.

I imagine what you really mean is that everyone in Peterborough, regardless of the quality of the work they produce, deserves to be praised for making art. I think that’s a dangerous demand. Many Peterborough musicians are excellent, but a very common problem is that people put minimal effort into making music because they’re not self-critical. They don’t ask themselves, “Is this an interesting idea?” or “Does it come across well?” or “Have we rehearsed enough to pull this off live?” By not being self-critical, they do themselves and their work a disservice, and they overtax their audience’s generosity, all because they presume the audience will support them simply because they’re doing something.

How do I know they’re not self-critical? I can hear it in the music, just as I can hear in the music that the Lonely Parade is self-critical, even if they’re not aware they are. That is why they’re such a good band, and other bands are not as good.

David Tough

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