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Wednesday Morning Roundup

by Stephen Becker 8 May 2013 8:00 AM

Today in the roundup: Which local album nearly tops a hefty USA Today list? Plus thoughts on local criticism and words with Michelle Williams.


DESPERATELY SEEKING CRITICS: Regular readers of critics know that if there’s one thing critics really enjoy writing about, it’s criticism itself. But it’s not without good reason. Criticism is a field that’s often misunderstood, and there are plenty of writers who fancy themselves “critics” who don’t quite grasp how critical writing fits into the larger conversation. Front Row’s Peter Simek takes a stab at explaining that role and also points out what he sees as a flaw in the local media. “Creativity is celebrated, creative enthusiasm is embraced as an end in itself,” he writes. “We want to ‘support’ art and artists like we would a child in a youth sporting event, in which the effort and the fun is the point and the game is of no consequence. Thus there is a tendency to champion anything that is merely presented, anyone who slaps a painting on a wall, or locks themselves in a box, or declares the fruit of their solitary doodling ‘art.'” So are the local critics too easy on their subjects? Discuss.

LISTEN UP: We all like lists, right? But here’s the dirty little secret about them – sometimes we in the media put them together during slow news cycles just to have something to talk about. No real harm with that, right? With that in mind, USA Today‘s Whitney Matheson has been hard at work knocking out lists of her favorite movies and TV Shows of the last 25 years. And now she presents her favorite albums from the period. Many of the usual suspects are on there (Nevermind, Achtung Baby, Doolittle) But topping all of those – way up there at No. 2 – Matheson lists Too Far to Care by our own Old 97’s. “Let me tell you, it was a very close call between Too Far to Care and my No. 1 pick (R.E.M.’s Time out of Mind),” she writes. “Rhett Miller and the guys put everything into these songs, and it certainly shows. Lyrically, musically, emotionally — each track hits every nerve, and I can honestly say I’ll never tire of hearing them.”

QUOTABLE: “This role might be one of the smallest roles that I’ve played, but there’s so much energy I have to exude for it to be meaningful. If you’re on stage for three minutes, you better make it the best three minutes, to where that’s all people talk about after the show.”

– Michelle Williams, on her role in Fela!, currently at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. More of her conversation can be found at