Someone tried to explain art to me once, and they used the analogy of “craft” vs. “art” in terms of woodcarving—a craftsman can be a very, very good woodcarver, and crank out some very exquisitely-made pieces, but they’ll all lack some kind of special flair, or energy. An artist, on the other hand, might take three times as long to carve a similar piece, and might not do it absolutely correctly, but there’s a passion there that the craftsman just can’t copy. It’s why not everybody can be John Lennon, even if they learn to play their guitar the same way, or learn to sing the same way. I guess it’s just what separates ‘okay’ from ‘good,’ and isn’t quantifiable any more than that.
That “craft” vs. “art” analogy describes this disc; this isn’t bad, by any means, but it’s not particularly necessary. The music Sharks Keep Moving makes is actually pretty interesting, particularly their nice use of viola, and the “break” bit in “Cashmere, Washington”. However, there’s no feeling of any real purpose behind this 4-song EP, if that makes any sense. The music is good, yes, and the lyrics, what there are of them, aren’t out-right horrible, but that’s part of the problem, because there’s just nothing to really get a reaction of ANY kind, good or bad. It’s all just there, beautifully played, nicely put-together; heck, even the cover art’s kinda interesting, in an arty sort of way—the whole thing feels like an exercise, like something they give you to put together at the end of music school, when you’re almost to receiving your degree. Well-crafted, but not art.
sigh. Actually, I feel really bad for doing this, because I’m singling out Sharks Keep Moving and slamming them all on their own, when there’s a whole movement of folks like this out there. I don’t know who started it, but there’s a whole crew of bands out there churning out pretty, intellectually-interesting slow-rock, and it’s all basically interchangeable. For what it’s worth, SKM are among the best I’ve heard in this little stylistic cul-de-sac; it’s just too bad, to my mind, that they seem content to stay there.