Rolling Music Writers' Thread

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Since there's no longer (and hardly ever was) an I Love Writing board, and since there are a quite a few pro and amateur hacks here, I thought it might be worth starting a general purpose thread for the dark art.

I don't really consider myself a journo, having only had a couple of things published here and there (mostly for free might I add), but it would be good to get more stuff in print I admit. It would be interesting to hear more from people who've been doing it for longer than I have.

To get things rolling, I thought I'd ask a staple question that I think may have been toiled over before on ILX, regarding use of the first person in gig and LP reviews. Is this generally considered unacceptable in anything less than the most stylistic circumstances? Or does it really not matter too much? What about the use of "this writer" (don't really like this myself, I'd rather use "I/me" than "this writer", but that's just a personal thing).

Anyway, feel free to discuss whatever you like about music writing and journalism here.

dog latin, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:04 (eleven years ago) link

I've said before about how I always hated that "The NME was told by Morrissey'" which is fine on the news page, but when it's "Morrissey bought the NME a drink and began .." on an interview, it's dumb.

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:08 (eleven years ago) link

Wrt first person: depends on who you're writing for and what kind of piece it is. Personally speaking, I've often had issues with the idea of "objective" criticism, so pretty much everything I've written, music-wise, has used the "I." But I've also avoided writing album reviews for publication, preferring to keep to autobiographical essays, short takes on singles, and blog posts, and in those contexts, no one's had an issue with it.

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:14 (eleven years ago) link

I often use first person, though rarely in a particularly deliberate way. It doesn't seem like that big a deal to me.

Tim F, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:17 (eleven years ago) link

Something I've noticed that crops up in features like that, something that isn't necessarily wrong per se, but I feel is one helluva boring way to start one of these goes along the lines of: "It is 3:17pm on a rainy Monday afternoon. The NME sits in a Harringey spit'n'sawdust boozer sipping a pint of Timothy Landlord..." etc. What I mean here is that the intro seems to tell you more about the time and weather and location of the actual interview than about who is being interviewed. Whenever I read features like this I tend to stop reading much past the first paragraph.

dog latin, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:19 (eleven years ago) link

3:17pm on a rainy Monday afternoon. The NME sits in a Harringey spit'n'sawdust boozer sipping a pint of Timothy Landlord

^ very accurate summary of state of british indie rock in the 09, though

thomp, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:22 (eleven years ago) link

"It is 3:17pm on a rainy Monday afternoon. The NME sits in a Harringey spit'n'sawdust boozer sipping a pint of Timothy Landlord..."

if you're gonna "set the scene" like this the best way to do it is to say "[the artist] sits by the swimming pool sipping a mojito" - the i/v is about them after all

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:26 (eleven years ago) link

i mean all obv dependent on what kind of feature, which publication &c &c &c

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:27 (eleven years ago) link

"[the artist] sits by the swimming pool sipping a mojito"

The Lex interviews Raygun.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:45 (eleven years ago) link

I tend to use first person if my experience is an important part of the total picture. If I'm writing a piece that's based on a phone interview and three listens to the album, I don't do it; but if the publicist has flown me to Ireland to spend three or four days with the band, fuck yes I'm gonna inject myself into the story because I am then part of the story. I never use first person in CD reviews.

unperson, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:52 (eleven years ago) link

there's no i love writing board per se but consider this thread. a not-just-music writers' discussion might be fun.

New: "I Love Writing"

the first person thing is tricky. back when I wrote for the village voice many many years ago it was practically required in music reviews. as time went on many publications took the opposite tack, pretty much banning the "I" these days in the NY Times reporters are required to don this pseudo anonymity which I think reads terribly. instead of "so and so told me that..." it's "so and so told a reporter" waht? was it YOU or just some other random journalist who happened to be in the room?

m coleman, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:03 (eleven years ago) link

ha, you *are* the room!

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:06 (eleven years ago) link

Maybe 5% of music writing in the first person isn't hacky. I see it as a huge red flag. Unless it's absolutely necessary to the story, don't do it, imo.

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:08 (eleven years ago) link

How is it "hacky"?

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:12 (eleven years ago) link

Maybe 5% of music writing in the first person isn't hacky.

Hoot Smalley, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:13 (eleven years ago) link

On second thought:

Maybe 5% of music writing in the first person isn't hacky.

Hoot Smalley, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:14 (eleven years ago) link

o here we are slagging off writers again, that didn't take long at all

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:17 (eleven years ago) link

there are different kinds of first-person usage. the kind i can't stand is the showy first-person narrative, where the writer becomes some kind of presence. but there's also just the casual "i" where it can be sensible and unobstrusive. "i love the first two tracks" doesn't seem more objectionable to me than "the first two tracks are great" -- they're both obviously subjective statements of personal preference. but i know some editors who will reflexively remove every "I" from copy, so it's good to know the standards you're writing to.

flying squid attack (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:18 (eleven years ago) link

Just slagging off the hacks. If you'd like to defend bad writing, have at it.

Hoot Smalley, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:18 (eleven years ago) link

My favourite one, (iirc)

"Kirk Brandon formed Theatre of Hate around the same time as I joined the NME. At the time, we were both unknown..."

(Can't remember the writer)

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:20 (eleven years ago) link

(many xposts)

I mean, I get into this argument all the time. Generally, I don't CARE about the writer. If the writer was an interesting person, I'd be reading an article on THEM, not the artist I care about. Like wow, the Jesus And Mary Chain helped you get through high school. You and America, buddy.

Generally if a piece of music writing has the word "I" in the first sentence, I usually stop reading, real talk. Save it for your dream journal.

The sad shit is now most mag writing is indistinguishable from internet writing because rates are so low.

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:21 (eleven years ago) link

Not that there isn't exceptions blah blah blah strawman lol flame etc

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:22 (eleven years ago) link

What about "I don't know about you but I'm fucking sick of this indie-lite electrodribble that permeates every airwave within earshot"?

dog latin, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:38 (eleven years ago) link

Whiney, you do realize you just used the first person yourself five times in two sentences yourself, right?

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:41 (eleven years ago) link

I'm posting on a message board, not writing for a paycheck!

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:42 (eleven years ago) link

the mark richardson thing about lovely music in stylus is pretty much verbatim all the first person objections ur spoutin btw but imo its top5 great but I suppose its kinda like how it used to be pretty awesome when Buffy had to make some inspirational speech but in the last series she did it every episode and it was really tiresome?

❊❁❄❆❇❃✴❈plaxico❈✴❃❇❆❄❁❊ (I know, right?), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:44 (eleven years ago) link

xp (And I just used "yourself" twice in one sentence, duh.)

Anyway, first person is a tool, like any other tool. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. (As an editor at the Voice, I was frequently known to edit sentences from pitch emails back into submitted reviews in part because the emails did use the first person, and sounded less stiff and stilted and more conversational in the process. I.e., sometimes it helps make for better writing just because that's how people talk. So I've never bought the idea that "writing for a paycheck" required "detaching yourself from the subject.")

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:47 (eleven years ago) link

Again, i'm not saying that it's always bad, but there's not a lot of writers who can pull it off without sounding like My First Fanzine

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:49 (eleven years ago) link

"The first time I saw Spoon..."

wooden shjipley (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:49 (eleven years ago) link

So why would print them (unless it was a really good fanzine?)

Still, especially when space on the page is at a premium -- which it was even when wordcounts could get away with being ten times higher than they are now -- wasted words are wasted words, "I" included. (Though at least "I" is a fairly short word.)

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:50 (eleven years ago) link

the mark richardson thing about lovely music in stylus

Think you mean Mike Powell, but Mark Richardson is a good example of someone who uses the first person to excellent effect in his Resonant Frequency column.

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:52 (eleven years ago) link

oops yeah

❊❁❄❆❇❃✴❈plaxico❈✴❃❇❆❄❁❊ (I know, right?), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:53 (eleven years ago) link

If you can write entertainingly, I forgive your first person narrative.

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:54 (eleven years ago) link

xhuxk on point

max, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:59 (eleven years ago) link

xp "So why would print them?", I meant.

Anyway, bottom line is, no fucking way does the the detached pseudo-objective tone used in most glossies and daily newspapers make for better music writing than what I was printing week in and week out in the Voice for ten years (though sure, a few pieces I published may have sounded "Internetty" or whatever. Point was to have lots of different voices, so it'd be a miracle if anybody approved of all of them. I didn't want to ban Internetty writing -- which can be good too, sometimes -- either.)

On the other hand, I like the creativity with which guys like Sanneh at the Times have managed to get around the limitations against first person and swear words. A smart writer can work within those perimeters, too, and make it entertaining anyway.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:02 (eleven years ago) link

its funny you mention sanneh--his profile of michael savage in the nyer from a couple weeks ago was very careful about not using "i" (which i think is generally a no-go in the nyer, except in the personal essays they publish every once in a while) but still managed to tell a set of interesting stories about sanneh's own encounters w/ savage that sort of hinged on sannehs own specific experiences trying to set up an interview... in the end, though, i thought it would have been a better piece if they had let him use an authorial I

max, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:06 (eleven years ago) link

wow that got convoluted

max, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:06 (eleven years ago) link

I thought about that, too.

Over the years, Savage has noticed that his disdain for the mainstream media is widely reciprocated ... So when he received an e-mail from a journalist asking for an interview, he was deeply suspicious. He read the e-mail on the air — he kept the writer anonymous, and didn’t mention that the request came from The New Yorker — and then asked his listeners, “Should I do the interview or not?”…

About a week later, Savage revisited the topic — “my continuing correspondence with a big-shot magazine writer.” He quoted the latest exchanges, along with his tart response, in which he asked, “Why must all of you in the extreme media paint everyone you disagree with as demonic? Why is the homosexual agenda so important to the midstream media?”

...

When he invited the journalist into one of his undisclosed locations, he proved to be a first-rate host, chatty and solicitous. A steady supply of beer refills lubricated the conversation (one of his earliest books was “The Taster’s Guide to Beer,” which was published in 1977), and as the temperature dropped and the sky above Berkeley started to turn orange, he seemed to be working hard to stay suspicious, despite himself. On his next show the next day, a caller asked how the interview had gone, and Savage described his interlocutor: "If I told you he looked like Obama, I wouldn't be far from the truth." Coming from him, this sounded like a deeply twisted compliment.

Sanneh has to resort to speaking of himself in the third person ("the journalist," "his interlocutor") but otherwise does a decent job with passive-ish phrases like "a steady supply of beer refills lubricated the conversation."

jaymc, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:22 (eleven years ago) link

no i think you're OTM, that NYer piece was convoluted. it read to me like sanneh had a personal 1 on 1 reaction to savage that was quite different than what he expected and the resulting article would have been more effective and immediate using the "I" but the NYer has always employed a certain lofty distance from its subjects, even in the 70s it wasn't really into the personal/new journalism thing. well apart from pauline kael I guess.

but journalists do have to meet readers half-way. my problem with a lot of the vintage village voice stuff is that it's so personal to the point of being impenetrable or off-putting.

m coleman, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:24 (eleven years ago) link

the best first person stuff illustrates how the subject of an interview interacts with other people, rather than "setting the scene"

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:25 (eleven years ago) link

i'm guessing whiney's not big on fiction as a rule.

strongohulkingtonsghost, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:26 (eleven years ago) link

I'm not big on fiction as a rule either, and one of the principles that was drilled into me when I started writing was that first-person is something you have to earn--expecting the reader who's never heard of you before to go along with I-I-I-me-me-me instead of saying "So what?" and moving to the next item is not generally a good idea--but I love first person writing even if (despite whatever reputation I may have for it due to the 33 1/3 book) I don't use it all that often professionally.

Matos W.K., Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:30 (eleven years ago) link

matos if you don't mind me asking: you're not big on fiction as a journalistic device or (gasp) you don't like reading novels?

m coleman, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:36 (eleven years ago) link

I don't write fiction or about music, but first-person is the default in my area of writing (analytic philosophy). Sometimes we resort to the royal "we" if we're feeling nervous about first-person. But it was made clear to me that third-person is to be avoided, as is passive voice.

deep olives (Euler), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:37 (eleven years ago) link

hang on, you're not big on reading fiction...at all?!

xp!

lex pretend, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:37 (eleven years ago) link

xp I don't buy the "have to earn" thing. I'm not even sure what it means. If I listen to a song sung in the first person, I might be able to relate to, and be moved by, the song even if I'm unaware of the singer's specific biography. Not sure why reviews are necessarily different. You don't have to be a famous writer to have a life that creates a context.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:37 (eleven years ago) link

i thought he meant less that you have to earn it in the sense of being already famous or noteworthy, but in the sense that you have to earn it through your writing--i.e. you have to justify use of the first person in the piece itself, not necc explicitly, but at least in making your "I" of interest to the reader

max, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:39 (eleven years ago) link

When it's well done - and it does have to be superbly well done, and yes, generally (but not always) "earnt" - first-person music writing is my favourite of all music writing. (And when it's pointlessly done, the reverse holds true.)

For my own part, I avoid it at least 95% of the time - but then I come from a personal-blogging background, and taking "myself" out of the equation was a deliberate, sought objective.

mike t-diva, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:40 (eleven years ago) link

My first piece at the Voice (when no reader could've had any idea who I was) and a couple soon after were in the first person, fwiw. I seriously doubt they would have improved if the "I"'s had been edited out. (Whether they stunk regardless is another question, but they wouldn't have stunk less.)

Editorial "we" -- first person plural -- bugs the hell out of me no matter what, though. I never buy it, and I've fought editors to keep it out of my own writing (which usually they've been open to).

And btw, I've also edited at Billboard, where first person is almost never allowed. So it's not like I don't know that drill. I just don't like it much.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:45 (eleven years ago) link

Of course, at Billboard, the writing tended to be more news and less review-oriented. (So first person would have probably have made no sense anyway.)

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:47 (eleven years ago) link

it’s a terrible time and brad deserves better. and so do brad’s potential readers

maura, Monday, 12 November 2018 19:51 (two years ago) link

but there are horrible young men getting covered by tmz who happen to release music in between photo ops and court dates, and they appeal to “millennial males” so...

maura, Monday, 12 November 2018 19:52 (two years ago) link

Brad if you hide your light under a bushel I will drive to where you are and shake you so hard

Your writing brings me great joy & your interests & passions & life experience make yours a unique voice. I hate that the industry is bringing you low <3

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 17 November 2018 05:51 (two years ago) link

Brad, I get where you are coming from. You do indeed have idiosyncratic tastes, which I sometimes don't relate to, and I can imagine how that plays out at a professional level, where it's always about hyping the next big thing, or jumping on one bandwagon or another. But even when I don't get a particular band that you are championing, I always admire your passion and eloquence, and I believe the world needs more space for talented writers with unique perspectives.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Saturday, 17 November 2018 06:31 (two years ago) link

that's a real shame to hear, I've always enjoyed your writing and taste Brad, so best of luck with whatever you do next

ufo, Saturday, 17 November 2018 06:39 (two years ago) link

Brad i literally did a dramatic reading of some parts of your Love Deluxe review to my friend and they were like "holy shit"

but yeah, i totally get it if the way things are in the industry have beaten you down, and i hope you find a bit more peace in what you end up deciding to do. i just wanted to chime in and say your writing voice (and your taste profile) is probably one of the biggest inspirations for me both as a listener and a writer, and i know a few other young writers who'd say the same. thanks for being a great critic.

austinb, Saturday, 17 November 2018 06:51 (two years ago) link

I can’t say I don’t completely relate. Idiosyncratic taste is the only thing worth anything, taste forward writing is the only honest kind

ILX’s bad boy (D-40), Saturday, 17 November 2018 08:32 (two years ago) link

Brad, let's start an email newsletter or something about awesome rock bands. fill an unfilled niche, enjoy writing again. maybe someone who has had some success with the newsletter format (which seems to be a thing?) can provide some guidance?

alpine static, Saturday, 17 November 2018 11:06 (two years ago) link

Bandcamp is looking for a writer/editor to take the spot of Marcus Moore who is leaving to finish a book on Kendrick Lamar. Bandcamp wants someone who knows hiphop and jazz and more.

LA Times is hiring a music editor

https://www.journalismjobs.com/1649049-music-editor-los-angeles-times

curmudgeon, Saturday, 17 November 2018 13:55 (two years ago) link

thanks y'all, it is especially heartening to read these things from some of my favorite posters here <3

i tried doing a newsletter a few years ago but couldn't really keep up with it, but that was more a vehicle for mixes and maybe if i took that side work out of the equation i could just focus on the writing. it def wouldn't be about new emo or rock music bc... idk, it gets harder and harder for me to write anything substantial about music i haven't lived with for a while. thinking about it still

princess of hell (BradNelson), Saturday, 17 November 2018 14:11 (two years ago) link

very sad to hear this brad :( :(

mark s, Saturday, 17 November 2018 14:19 (two years ago) link

"Quitting pursuits that are decreasing in personal enjoyment levels and/or compensation/sustainability is a super underrated move even if it feels shitty at the time so I can't help but support this decision."

Having sacked music journalism for similar reasons, I'd say this is wise. Good luck with whatever you do next.

djh, Monday, 19 November 2018 18:14 (two years ago) link

Only just saw this, sorry for that (full week last week). Wish I had more concrete advice to offer but ultimately I'd say you'd want to find your best balance in what is ever more increasingly a shifting-sands landscape. And I've long since concluded that there is absolutely no one sure way to do that.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 19 November 2018 18:56 (two years ago) link

Brad, nooooooooooooooooooooooooo

I know, man. I KNOW. I have had very real frustrations in the last 2-3 years and felt myself close to walking away, too. But you're too smart and knowledgeable and insightful to leave this profession. So stay.

Groove(box) Denied (Raymond Cummings), Monday, 19 November 2018 23:56 (two years ago) link

(Your review of the last Green Day album was deeply on point. Did I mention that?)

Groove(box) Denied (Raymond Cummings), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 00:02 (two years ago) link

nine months pass...

https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8530075/spin-stereogum-vibe-layoffs

Lay-offs at Spin, Stereogum, and Vibe. Includes an ilxor or maybe several.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 17 September 2019 14:05 (one year ago) link

Several friends posted updates on social media yesterday. Ugh.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 17 September 2019 15:01 (one year ago) link

Bezos shut down on 1 day notice the Express, a free Washington Post published paper that employed some arts writers

https://www.washingtonian.com/2019/09/13/the-washington-post-killed-express-in-such-a-shabby-way/

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 17 September 2019 15:38 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

Owner of the OC Weekly suddenly shut down that Orange County , California publication

curmudgeon, Saturday, 30 November 2019 23:00 (eleven months ago) link

Jeff Weiss tweet excerpt: LA Weekly, OC Weekly, East Bay Express, and San Diego City Beat destroyed by greedy mayonnaise brained ghouls in the last 2 years alone. That’s basically four of the five biggest markets in California. Can’t stress how deep the impact is.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 30 November 2019 23:04 (eleven months ago) link

two months pass...

Greg Kot took a buyout at the Chicago Tribune, which is currently capitulating to new corporate overlord Alden Global Capital. He was always great to me, and a boon to the beleaguered major city paper beat.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 6 February 2020 02:40 (nine months ago) link

https://www.robertfeder.com/2020/02/05/music-critic-greg-kot-leaving-chicago-tribune/

Kot taking a buyout and retiring as Chicago Tribume music critic at age 62.

Still gonna do radio show

curmudgeon, Thursday, 6 February 2020 04:13 (nine months ago) link

I liked his book Ripped.

clemenza, Friday, 7 February 2020 03:10 (nine months ago) link

I wonder if Chicago Tribune will hire a replacement

curmudgeon, Friday, 7 February 2020 18:17 (nine months ago) link

My guess is they will appoint a nominal replacement, but everything I hear I hear out of there is dire. DeRogatis's wife worked in the arts section, and she just took a buyout, too. Budgets (and assignments) have been decimated.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 7 February 2020 18:30 (nine months ago) link

Chicago Tribune has done itself no favors. Just running itself into the ground for the last decade plus. Endorsed Gary Johnson ffs. Best wishes to Kot who is by all accounts an incredibly good human.

Indexed, Friday, 7 February 2020 19:20 (nine months ago) link

A friend tweeted "I honestly don't remember a time when Kot wasn't the pop music critic of the Trib," which is the same for me. He'd been in that role since 1990. I haven't read his Trib reviews in a while, but I'm a longtime Sound Opinions listener, and I've always been super-impressed with his thoughtfulness and the range of music he's open to (including jazz and international stuff).

jaymc, Friday, 7 February 2020 19:31 (nine months ago) link

In other news , the Ringer that has some music coverage, has unionized, but it also got bought by Spotify.

curmudgeon, Friday, 7 February 2020 19:54 (nine months ago) link

one month passes...

This applies to any kind of online writing.

I'm sure most do already, but if you have any kind of writing on a blog or a web page, I'd start backing it up on a flash drive or something. I was thinking that some of these platforms just aren't going to survive this. You would hope they'd give notice, but you never know. I've had a homepage on Tripod (true!) for 20+ years, so--always figuring they'd disappear overnight one day--I've already done this, and also with a couple of WordPress-related things.

clemenza, Wednesday, 1 April 2020 21:54 (seven months ago) link

three weeks pass...

I should do that Clemenza. A few publications I have written for , changed how the archived material, so the articles are now gone , although the publications are holding on.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 25 April 2020 15:12 (six months ago) link

The Austin-American Statesman has eliminated the music/arts writer position of Joe Gross who had been there full time for 18 plus years, and writing for them for nearly 20. Joe also wrote a 33 & 1/3 on Fugazi ‘s In on the Killtaker

curmudgeon, Saturday, 25 April 2020 15:15 (six months ago) link

I haven't had contact with Joe for 25 years, but he contributed to a couple of issues of a fanzine I put out in the '90s--hasn't he been with Rolling Stone, too?

clemenza, Saturday, 25 April 2020 16:23 (six months ago) link

yes.

curmudgeon, Monday, 27 April 2020 05:50 (six months ago) link

have been more or less continuously burnt out since 2013 but lately it seems particularly bad (not helping: all the opportunities I've squandered that might have improved outcomes for me)

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Monday, 4 May 2020 16:31 (six months ago) link

Sorry about that. It's rough out there

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 6 May 2020 04:29 (six months ago) link

there just seems to be no winning. either you write a lukewarm-to-negative review and are yelled at for years (I'm still hearing from j*hn m*yer fans) from stans, or you write a positive review and are yelled at because you couldn't force yourself to dislike an album by an artist the internet has deemed a "plant" (a label that seems to be applied incredibly selectively, out of the pool of people it could be applied to). and that too has no statute of limitations

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Wednesday, 6 May 2020 14:20 (six months ago) link

(or you don't write a review and then are yelled at because you aren't approaching it the right way and aren't "grounded in music," as we have seen)

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Wednesday, 6 May 2020 14:21 (six months ago) link

The internet is full of idiots who will yell at you regardless. The only person you need to please as a critic is yourself (and obviously your commissioning editor).

A shitty Britpop band started a hate thread about me on their official Twitter page last week in response to an NME review I wrote 21 years ago. The thread was full of people saying horrible, shitty things about me that bore no relationship to reality, and a few of these numbnuts started posting messages on my personal website. It was annoying, but it died out a couple of days later, and it doesn't matter. Don't let these assholes get you down, Katherine - you can't win with them, and they don't deserve your concern or attention. Just write the review that aligns closest with how you feel in that moment. That's all you can do. If they don't like it they can choke on it.

Pinche Cumbion Bien Loco (stevie), Wednesday, 6 May 2020 14:34 (six months ago) link

that's awful, I'm really sorry

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Wednesday, 6 May 2020 14:36 (six months ago) link

(that said, in the latter case, it isn't coming from "idiots" but colleagues I respect. and yet I cannot force myself to dislike the artists in question or think their music is bad. shaming has not accomplished it.)

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Wednesday, 6 May 2020 14:51 (six months ago) link

You shouldn't! And if those colleagues aren't idiots then they'll respect that you won't dislike those artists just because they won't. I know this sort of thing can be rough, especially as a freelancer. But in the end, the only thing you can do is be true to yourself and let the chips fall when they may. You have to believe other people will respect your fidelity to your own beliefs, and if they don't, well, you could never have won them over anyway.

The Shed Seven thing was more bizarrely amusing and a depressing index on how thick huge swathes of people can be, really. The thing that bummed me out was this insinuation that, even 21 years ago, I was some kind of cynical hack out to take bands down and be cruel, when actually I've spent most of my career championing lost causes and leftfield artists. (Also, the review they were pilloring me for was legit awful, so I didn't even want to defend myself). But at the end of the week I had a conversation with one of my favourite artists who told me that a question I'd asked him and his bandmate in an interview a year before had helped them confront issues in their relationship, and led to them making music together again. It's that sort of thing that really matters, not the yelling from people who don't like what you like.

Pinche Cumbion Bien Loco (stevie), Wednesday, 6 May 2020 15:28 (six months ago) link

five months pass...

https://www.startribune.com/city-pages-is-closing-ending-the-era-of-alternative-weeklies-in-twin-cities/572897771/

City Pages is being shut down in Minneapolis. Occasional ilxor Ke*th H*rris was an editor there. Bad decision, partially Covid driven.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 28 October 2020 17:39 (three weeks ago) link

this sucks all around but yeah keith is one of the best living music writers and it sucks to see him out of the job

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 17:43 (three weeks ago) link

sorry should've google-proofed

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 17:43 (three weeks ago) link

The biggest of bummers.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 18:27 (three weeks ago) link

I don’t think anyone should publish a year-end list in 2020. The plague has completely fucked the musical ecosystem. Artists who can't tour are out the money they'd have spent publicizing their albums, which skews critics' attention even more heavily than usual toward the shit that bigger labels can afford to push their way. If you *must* run a list this year, run it like a mutual aid society. Draw attention to artists who really, really need the spotlight to shine on them for just a minute. Pop acts already have all the money and most of the attention; do they really deserve the critical love, too? In my heart of hearts I believe that if more than 25% of your year-end list is made up of major label releases, you're a lazy hack and should get out of the game, because you're not helping artists.

but also fuck you (unperson), Monday, 2 November 2020 14:09 (three weeks ago) link

That doesn’t really work in the pop/r&b space, where majors sign cool/interesting/offbeat artists pretty quickly these days.

Tim Simms (morrisp), Monday, 2 November 2020 15:00 (three weeks ago) link

https://memecrunch.com/meme/C3S7I/guess-whos-back-back-again/image.jpg

"I’m not going to say we’re retarded, or slow, although both things have definitely been said about us and, sadly, more than once, but we just haven’t grown up much."

https://www.spin.com/2020/11/times-flies-when-youre-having-fun-spin-is-35/

Frozen CD, Monday, 2 November 2020 15:32 (three weeks ago) link

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/arts/music/minneapolis-city-pages-music.html

Keith H in NY Times on legacy of music critic writing in the now shut down City Pages in Minneapolis

curmudgeon, Monday, 2 November 2020 19:42 (three weeks ago) link

Cool.

Meet the Anti-Monks! (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 3 November 2020 03:31 (three weeks ago) link


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