Both of these, mostly I'm disappointed because I hoped for so much better. Because I was cheering for them to succeed.
Two years ago I read Sloane Crosley's first collection of essays, "I Was Told There'd Be Cake" and I really liked it, I think all but two stories really did it for me so I was really looking forward to this second collection. Well, I hate to say it but this book just isn't ready for prime time. If I were her editor I'd say, "Listen, kid—I like you, I like your spunk, you give great interviews . . . but this new book, well, the last essay can stay—that one's good, that one's got heart—but the rest, 1/2 of them need to be totally rewritten and 1/2 of them just have to go."
Ms. Crosley's stories asked me to connect dots that I couldn't find any way of connecting, asked me to be interested in situations by virtue of being told that they were interesting by their very nature, jumped between tones jarringly, and you know how you need to stick a little moral or closing thought on the end of the essay so people know it's an essay and not just an anectdote? Yeah, just about all of those were bolted on really awkwardly. Also, and I have to say this and excuse me for using the roughest language ever found on this blog, but some of the word choice was so distracting to me, and I admit I say this as a guy very prone to being hung up on word choice. Case in Point: In a story involving a building on the Bowery that was once a turn of hte century house of ill-repute she calls the prostitutes "sluts" and to me there is a definite difference between the two words, they aren't synonyms.
Anyway, as a big fan of "I Was Told There'd Be Cake", it hurts me to have to say these things about this book.
I've happened to see the Smith Westerns open for other bands twice now and I liked them, I liked their young, capable, mildly-garagey fuzzed out sound, so I was keen on checking out this record. Yeah . . . unfortunately this record is, err, unlistenably bad. I mean the music might actually be good, I wouldn't know, because the whole thing is produced so poorly—and probably they were going for a low-fi sound but this thing sounds like a recording of their record being played from the bottom of a well. Listen, I've heard low-fi, I am not afraid of static or distortion, but this thing is just a muffled, muddled mess and that's a terrible shame. Gents, please make this record again, please record those songs I've heard you play on stage and make it loud and clear because I think you're a good band.