I think that in general rock critics aren't nearly as good at their job as I am at my job. I think that in general rock critics are ignorant of the history of rock music and have no respect for it, or understanding of it , as an art. I think that in general rock critics are lazy and have not thought out what they are doing.
A critic, it seems to me, needs years of application to know what he's talking about in regard to a subject matter. He needs to study the history of the subject, the history of criticism in the subject and be informed of any number of aesthetical issues - all in order to engage in grounded, informed analysis. Otherwise, what is the value of the critique beyond that of: "Gee, that's good" / "Gee, that's no good"?
Consider your analysis of Texas Overture later in this interview which is that the song's subtext is a sideswipe at everything Texan. Nothing could be further from the truth. As is common with criticism, you have overlaid your own agenda on another's work. To do so required you to ignore the inner sleeve's declaration that the album is "irony-free." A declaration, in fact, inserted in anticipation of the very thing you did.
So, much / most criticism - praise or disparaging - is suspect. The first thing to be done when reading criticism, then, is to identify the capability of the critic - to critique the critic. This is time-consuming. There are a handful of critics whose credentials are solid. But, of course, that doesn't make them infallible. Criticism especially from an unverified source must raise the question, What is its value?
If you, as an artist, lap up praise then you are obligated to / susceptible to being overcome by ("bad") criticism. As a consequence you are liable to become a neurotic yo-yo. Up and down, up and down. You love me! Why don't you love me? You love me! Why don't you love me? Etc. You are a slave to every passing whim and fashion. You are a slave to time. There's an important idea to be found in Tom Wolfe's book, "The Right Stuff." The test pilots talk about "maintaining an even strain." If your job is to ride the moment, like a surfer, it's counter-productive to indulge in emotional roller coasters - a dangerous distraction from "working the problem," another astronaut / test pilot expression. Riding the moment there is no time to get emotional. Time has expanded into blocks of precious nanoseconds. Every nanosecond wasted on a gratuitous emotional response (elation or depression, fear or hope, anxiety or anticipation) is one nanosecond fewer that you have to work the problem.
An artist who seeks approval and/or validation is onto a loser. Any scheme which encourages this way of thinking is damaging. This is the Oprah Winfrey Effect foisted on a generation of men who, consequently, have no spine. Screw the audience. Ars Longa, audience brevis. If you create a product they want, they buy it. That's the end of the transaction. It's not friendship. It's not family. It's the marketplace - which is one of the few places left where a man can stand stand free and upright in the light.
When Dub Housing came out we played a show in Cleveland to mark the event. A guy from a band called The Human Switchboard came up to me and wanted to deliver a critique of the album. I said "I'm not interested. I don't care." He went into a tizzy. He wouldn't give it up. He followed me into the parking lot, out onto the street as I tried to get away. "How can you not care what I think?!" "Because you're not in the band. Because I KNOW what the strengths and weaknesses are and I'm not interested in anyone else's opinion."
Making independent music means saying Screw You! to everyone who is NOT in your band. If there had been a REAL punk movement that would have been the enduring message. But the avatar of the punk movement, as I've said endlessly and fruitlessly, was Oprah Winfrey. Everyone is creative. Everyone has a (valid) opinion. Let's all be cozy together and respect each other. "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." Blah-blah-blah. Well, that kind of harmony makes my flesh crawl.