Elevate Difference

Between 10 and 2

How do you solve a problem like TyLean? Perhaps it is her pre-occupation with nihilism, an ethos that I give about as much credit to as what Walter does in The Big Lebowski. I mean, seriously? She really believes in the ultimate worthlessness of everything? Why wake up, eat breakfast, or do something creative like write music if you truly believe that there is no worth or purpose to life? TyLean’s obsession with despair, child abuse, and insanity is just about as fun as watching Schindler’s List on repeat.

I’m not trying to imply that music needs to have some redemptive happiness in order for it to be good. For instance, I would be hard-pressed to find a single “joyful” moment in any song by Joy Division, but I don’t know anyone who would argue that their music isn’t completely amazing and worth listening to. However, music needs to have a hook, a carrot at the end of a stick, something that sets it apart and makes it interesting in order for it to be worth listening to—and TyLean's music is just missing something.

TyLean, for her part, seems to be taking the Fiona Apple approach of “I write for me not you,” and appears to be rather proud that some of her songs verge on the unlistenable. “Rosalyn,” for instance, chronicles a dream in which children at an orphanage are tortured, and (ahem!) separated from their skin. TyLean doesn’t seem concerned that some may be unwilling to listen to the song, and states on her own MySpace page that “If ‘Rosalyn’ got to them so much that they had to turn it off, then I have successfully recreated the dream, because I couldn't take any more or [sic] it either. 'Rosalyn' is my proudest accomplishment to date.” (If you are a nihilist who believes there is no purpose to anything, then why try to ascertain purpose from a dream, or even be proud of an accomplishment?)

Frankly, I’m not against music that is creepy, disturbing, sad, depressing, headache inducing, or otherwise nauseating. Peaches? Yes! Jesus Lizard? One of my favorite bands! AIDS Wolf? Bring it ON! The problem here is that TyLean just isn’t interesting enough.

TyLean has the right idea with a lot of great influences. She sounds a lot like a mash-up of Tori Amos and Rasputina—but she’s just not quite there. Her voice is great and she has interesting ideas with both cello and piano, but the ultimate problem is that she spoon-feeds her message to the audience too much of the time. Her video for “Corner of My Eye” is about a descent into insanity complete with images of her flapping about in a straight jacket inside a dark, dungeon-like, London tunnel while dry humping a dusty piano and being strangled by a dude who looks like a cross between Andre the Giant and Robert Plant.

TyLean’s kind of what would happen if the kids from “Goth Talk” on SNL formed a band. There is simply too much contrived freak show camp, and not enough true simmering terror. She rings inauthentic because she tells us what we should be thinking and heaps it on in dollops too big to swallow. Leave just a little bit to the imagination, TyLean; you don’t always need to proclaim it from the mountain.

Written by: Emily S. Dunster, March 17th 2010

My heart still palpitates when I see the "Bull in the Heather" video. I feel like I'm 13 all over again.

And yes, I did know that Joy Division's name was intentionally ironic and also aptly a depressing one ;)

We should all swap notes! God, I just watched the Bull in the Heather video and it brought back great memories. My best friend and I would lose our shit everytime it came on, that and Doll Parts by Hole.

I just came home after watching The Runaways movie and I'm all of a sudden feeling so nostalgic. Music used to feel so BIG, now I'm old and boring and worry about paying bills.

While I do appreciate your outstanding sense of humor in this review, I just thought I'd point out that Joy Division's name was an intentionally ironic one, and suitably depressing.

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

"[T]he band renamed themselves Joy Division in early 1978, borrowing their new name from the prostitution wing of a Nazi concentration camp mentioned in the 1955 novel The House of Dolls.'"

/end huge music nerd-dom

Whew. Ok. Sorry.

Thanks for the review! Definitely gave me a chuckle. :)

  • Fellow reviewer M. Brianna Stallings

Indeed, I ran my college station :P But I wasn't cool enough to be listening to Sonic Youth (and no, I don't know why, but I wasn't; I think I was listening to Fugazi and some weird synthpop instead). That said, I'm enough of a snob to swap with the best of the college radio set, and I will swap music notes (ha) with y'all any freaking time.

Good lord, what feminist who came of age in the '90s didn't? LOL! I taped the Bull in the Heather vid off MTV (when they actually played music instead of trash reality TV) and absolutely wore that shit out! We should totally swap notes on our music collections! (And Brittany too, who was a DJ at her college radio station.)

I just found my first gray hair this week, so enjoy this blast from the past: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2v47r_sonic-youth-bull-in-the-heather_music

Mandy, you make me laugh! I had a huge thing for Kathleen Hanna and Kim Gordon.

I know, right? Are we showing our age on this though? I mean, I was in love w/ Shirley Manson when I was in middle school and that shit was soooo contrived!

I love this review, btw!

Peaches and Jesus Lizard? A girl after my own heart!

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