Lose the reverb: an open letter to rock and roll


Hello, rock and roll. Gimme Noise here. It's been a while since we talked face to face. But we saw you briefly stop by the Turf Club last night for Pterodactyls' set, and we just had to talk to you today.

We know we've been disagreeing a lot lately. And we don't want to sound like we're henpecking you, but we really have to make a request of you-- please. Turn down your reverb.

You don't have to turn it down all the way. We'd never ask that of you. But this trend must be stopped, and God knows we don't have the gusto for it. We're just lowly ink-stained wretches-- what can tiny creatures like us do, cowering in our dungeon, hacking out criticism?

Here's our case, rock and roll-- in the last five years, the reverb pedal has become an obnoxious shorthand for straightforward rock bands looking to give their sound a cheap twist-- a cop-out for musicians who, deep down, probably aren't very good at playing you. Only know a few chords and a handful of scales? Not confident in your soloing? Never fear. Crank that reverb pedal to 11. Who'll be the wiser?

Pterodactyls was't much of an exception-- when our heads weren''t swimming with vast washes of reverbed guitars last night at the Turf Club, we had no choice but to notice that the music being played was solid, unusually melodic, rather uninventive rock and roll.

The Brooklyn three-piece managed soaring and pitch-perfect harmonies in three parts, the drummer was excedingly kinetic and capable.But in a flood of reverb, which robbed every note of accent and texture, which turned perfectly good sounds into a hopeless aural soup, all their beauty was spoiled.

And consequently, rock and roll's, all yours too.

Come on, rock and roll-- aren't you the boss here? Are you just going to sit there and let these wimpy little pedals do all the heavy lifting? We know the 21st century hasn't been kind to you. But my God,  haven't you still got some fight in you. Stand up for yourself. Turn down the reverb.