the usefulness of disliking music, as a writer or as a listener etc.

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I don't mean the kneejerk "ugh this is awful" that means you'll simply avoid something, but the conscious "this isn't what I'm looking for in music, although it's in a similar genre or style, and fails for me on those terms" type hating

like, i think p much everyone on ilx uses this to some degree, because part of what defines the music you gravitate to is the music you avoid, esp in a time saturated with media channels, and as we get older & the internet starts to play more of a presence in where we discover music

like, as an example specific to me, main attrakionz were EVERYWHERE in certain online channels that I read, but their music never really did it for me. I don't have a problem w/ them existing, nor do I think their music is actively abrasive or unlikeable, it's just kind of there, and after continually seeing them mentioned i start to just dislike them actively, on the basis that it's stuff that doesn't really stand up to scrutiny -- scrutiny they wouldn't have if it didn't seem like they were getting lots of attention in whatever channels I happen to be looking at

you can say "well look in different channels" but there's also something of a media-herd mentality; i mean, everywhere from Vibe to Complex to Fader to Pitchfork covers / discusses the phenomenon of ASAP Rocky. I like a few AR songs but found a pretty big discrepency between his work & the constant mentions of him online, and so i found myself beginning to dislike the weaker tracks even more, to find them more objectionable

a flip of this is freddie gibbs, who i've long found dry & somewhat dull, but i thought he did a nice job w/in his limitations; not year-end worthy for me, but it's still a really solid record, and there was a receeding of attention paid to him, it felt easier to review the record on its own terms.

am i being too attuned to the whims of media context? is "hating" (really by this i just mean expressing negative critical opinions about an artist) a reasonable response to this? If not, if I'm just supposed to push the artists I like in a positive way, how does one ever get an idea of the values that i do like unless there is a negative contrast? doesn't too much positivity just come off as PR?

idk something i've been thinking about lately

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 19:52 (ten years ago) link

" was a receeding of attention paid "

sorry for not doing any editing to this before posting it but i hope you'll forgive the the deejesque turns of phrase in here

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 19:53 (ten years ago) link

we've been over this elsewhere but year you are too attuned to the media herd mentality. given that most of what i value in music is at odds with what 90% of current critics value, i see absolutely no point in giving a shit what they like or dislike - after all it's not like they seem to give a shit what i like or dislike! the feeling is mutual.

i would think if i prioritised keeping up with media hype (which, yes, is so PR-driven it actually depresses me a bit), i would swiftly find this a very unfun job.

lex pretend, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:03 (ten years ago) link

year? *yeah

lex pretend, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:04 (ten years ago) link

it sounds like most of what you're defending is more "legitimacy" than "usefulness." and on that front, i totally agree--it bugs the shit out of me when i get accused of being somehow disingenuous or even strategic when i don't like an artist that is super popular in my "channels." i'm not sure i think of those instances as 'useful,' though, if only because i kinda wish i liked everything. if the asap album really did it for me in a way that corresponded with his (internet) popularity, well that would be fucking great because there's another record i like (of course it can't work like that, but from a theoretical standpoint).

smh mang fusion, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:09 (ten years ago) link

i guess the idea is that when you break from the herd mentality you have time and energy to get into some undiscovered shit, and people who do that are obviously really vital to the conversation in general, but (maybe because i'm not an actual critic and don't think of myself as one) i just don't really have that ethic. i like being part of a hivemind.

smh mang fusion, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:14 (ten years ago) link

are Main Attraczions and ASAP Rocky real bands or are you surmounter and this thread is DreamboatGorilla 2011?

rusty flathead screwdriver, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:18 (ten years ago) link

i like being in touching distance of the hivemind but being part of it is entirely antithetical to being a professional critic imo. it really depresses me how a lot of my fellow critics (not talking about anyone here) don't even disguise it. they lap so much PR shit up.

lex pretend, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:19 (ten years ago) link

"year you are too attuned to the media herd mentality"

this wasnt a question I asked dude! its not about being 'attuned' to it -- first off, at a certain level of success (like ASAP's) being aware of it as a name is unavoidable, and considering I'm writing for people for whom it will also soon be unavoidable (i.e. irl people saying "so you like rap ... what do you think of asap rocky??") it becomes a part of the context in which under-appreciated artists i cover are going to be received in. so you can't just divorce it completely from your consciousness, imo.

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:27 (ten years ago) link

ASAP Rocky was Doug Boatgorrilla's guitar tech.

rusty flathead screwdriver, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:29 (ten years ago) link

An even-handed article imho is some 90% observation/relevant anecdotes/good writing/insight and 10% opinion. Whether or not you like the thing/artist need not be the focus, I guess?

oPal, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:34 (ten years ago) link

That doesn't wash for me. 10% of what? If I spend one line saying "this act is wack bullshit" in a 500 word piece, thats still a fairly powerful part of the argument i'm probably making overall, right? It doesn't really break down into numbers like that

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:48 (ten years ago) link

i have a bunch of sorta disconnected thoughts on this, but i dont think useful is really the right word, and i think its probably often a lot less abt the music than abt sorta positioning yourself, the stuff you care abt, 'in the marketplace' or w/e? i think this is probably p worthwhile if done intelligently simply because it does play a big part in how music is received. at the same time i think its easy to get backed into a corner where youre over exaggerating both yr own feelings towards a record and the importance/prevalence of the 'counternarrative'.

like: i thought laurel halo's 'hour logic' was ok to mediocre, but i liked a bunch of other things she did this year more its annoying to see 'hour logic' get press/eoy love instead of stuff i think is superior. but its not really impt, and i dont have anything interesting to say abt why 'hour logic' is inferior so i just rmde and move on. otoh i think the attention and thought put towards 'science of the sea' is shameful and have a bunch of (imo) thoughtful problems w/ how it gets written abt instead of like jana winderen's 'energy field' record or w/e

i guess my point is that you have to distinguish btw cases - youre always going to out of step w/ what you perceive to be the dominant narrative - and its only 'useful' if you have a case to make for yr own take. also most of the time i kinda check myself cuz 99% of the world - even limited to the world of ppl reading abt music online - dgaf abt any of these records

є(٥_ ٥)э, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 20:51 (ten years ago) link

you can say "well look in different channels" but there's also something of a media-herd mentality; i mean, everywhere from Vibe to Complex to Fader to Pitchfork covers / discusses the phenomenon of ASAP Rocky. I like a few AR songs but found a pretty big discrepency between his work & the constant mentions of him online, and so i found myself beginning to dislike the weaker tracks even more, to find them more objectionable

as a dude who writes abt hiphop for p4k could you not, oh i dunno, stick up yr hand and say 'lets talk abt someone else'? this isn't supposed to be a dickish question btw.

big popppa hoy, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 21:54 (ten years ago) link

well, if other people are interested in talking about it thats kind of a moot point

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:11 (ten years ago) link

yeah i thought our job as music critics was to lead the conversation, not follow?

xp

successfully lobbying to cover interesting acts that the "media herd mentality" completely ignore is one of the best bits of my job tbh.

lex pretend, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:15 (ten years ago) link

what the fuck are you guys arguing with? I lobbied successfully to get reviews in pfork of young bleed & max b which i'm sure a total of 7 people read. stop pretending you're arguing w/ someone who doesn't 'get' what you're about

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:22 (ten years ago) link

successfully lobbying to cover interesting acts that the "media herd mentality" completely ignore is one of the best bits of my job tbh.

i feel like this thread isnt really abt that, its more abt subtle shifts in the conversations yr already a part of and not yr tedious 'omg wtf doesnt pitchfork cover british rnb singers' steez

є(٥_ ٥)э, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:32 (ten years ago) link

basically lamp i agree w/ those paras, w/ the caveat that i basically bracket all of my music nerdery to an 'obviously this is all irrelevant in the grand scheme of life but i've chosen to obsess about it so i might as well enjoy pretending that it's all life or death' category, in order to keep from having to "well, nobody really cares about this stuff anyway" every time

I do, though, think i used "usefulness" for a reason, as a sort of reaction to the sense of overwhelming amts of content out there to try & process. Like, if I can just dismiss stuff that I'm only sorta so-so on as outright-terrible, then I don't have to waste time turning over in my head just how 'so-so' it is, and what would make it better / worse. Instead, average becomes terrible bcuz i can't afford the time

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 22:45 (ten years ago) link

i think for me at least the big problem is that most stuff is just sorta ok or not that good or just alright or w/e and its... tempting, i guess, to make yr position more compelling/clear by amplifying yr feelings abt a song/album in order to be more clearly heard and understood

also i think its just - nuanced 'this is really not all the great for reasons x, y, z' that still acknowledges what other ppl hear in something doesnt make for a great counternarrative and so its like 'oh this is garbage and yr trash if you like it' is just lazy/easier. but both can useful depending on theyre articulated, i think!

the final thing i was thinking is that 'talking abt' doesnt always mean 'loving'. i liked the main attrakionz mixtape a lot but im certainly aware it has flaws. i think the thing that makes its useful is having insight into what those flaws are, how theyre affecting the work/its reception/why they might get ignored. idk...

є(٥_ ٥)э, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 23:11 (ten years ago) link

"Like, if I can just dismiss stuff that I'm only sorta so-so on as outright-terrible, then I don't have to waste time turning over in my head just how 'so-so' it is, and what would make it better / worse. Instead, average becomes terrible bcuz i can't afford the time"

Couldn't this work adversely as well though? Like throwing weight at something so-so and it becomes amazing because its not being covered by the hive?

Scotty Magee, Tuesday, 6 December 2011 23:37 (ten years ago) link

well, i'm advocating a 'never settle' approach rather than a 'push it one way or the other' one. so if you're feeling a bit ehh about it, forget it, not worth it.

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 00:04 (ten years ago) link

xps to lamp, 2 points,

on your 2nd para, i agree its important to keep perspective, that main attrakionz are still fundamentally less objectionable to me than mac miller ever will be, for ex; but at a certain point, it's like, why even bother differentiating between 'this is unlikeable and inexcusable, this is likeable but i'll never listen to it' -- because the end result for me is that i listen to main attrakionz as much as i listen to mac miller

like, at some level, calling something 'trash' is almost for my own sanity as much as anything else

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 00:06 (ten years ago) link

Lamp liking your work in this thread.

we've been over this elsewhere but year you are too attuned to the media herd mentality. given that most of what i value in music is at odds with what 90% of current critics value, i see absolutely no point in giving a shit what they like or dislike - after all it's not like they seem to give a shit what i like or dislike! the feeling is mutual.

lex you know I love you but you of all people saying this is just O_O

Tim F, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 01:29 (ten years ago) link

also i think its just - nuanced 'this is really not all the great for reasons x, y, z' that still acknowledges what other ppl hear in something doesnt make for a great counternarrative and so its like 'oh this is garbage and yr trash if you like it' is just lazy/easier. but both can useful depending on theyre articulated, i think

Depends on the critic and the album. Sometimes for me it's a relief to dismiss something obviously execrable in a couple of pungent sentences -- and it's not lazy to construct a memorable dismissal!

The danger of ambivalence is writing a sort of linguistic blankness in which opinions and descriptions don't cohere into a judgment. Lately this happens more when I write about movies. I haven't liked many this season, and even the good ones require me to qualify the praise. It's not just a matter of Doing Them Justice; it's sorting out my complicated responses, which, of course, can't be reduced to thumbs up or down.

Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 01:34 (ten years ago) link

i kind of feel like a healthy amount of closed-mindedness can be useful for figuring out what music to listen to, out of all the goddamn music to choose from these days. even aside of herd-like SHEEPLE mentalities of a lot of critics/publications, i kinda feel like a lot of folks just listen to what's out there and shrug "yeah this is kind of for me" instead of trying to really isolate what speaks to them personally in music and pursuing that. like, i have really strong opinions about how rhythm and percussion are used in all genres of music and kind of use that as a big part of my barometer of what i listen to or choose to kind of pass on, and i probably justifiably take some ribbing around here for that but in this wack beat bands with no drums world we live in i may as well make a stand for what i believe in.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 02:26 (ten years ago) link

Overall, ILM (whatever its manifold faults) hardly dismisses the importance of rhythm and percussion. (Though if you insist on real drummers in every type of music then that would be another matter.)

Occidental Rudipherous, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 02:39 (ten years ago) link

i wasn't putting myself in opposition to ILM (although people around here kind of define themselves by the low bar of "i know/care more about rhythm than gier")

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 02:45 (ten years ago) link

Depends on the critic and the album. Sometimes for me it's a relief to dismiss something obviously execrable in a couple of pungent sentences -- and it's not lazy to construct a memorable dismissal!

yeah sure, its more just taking something youre lukewarm towards either way and exaggerating either way for sake of making a statement or differentiating yrself from consensus or w/e

@some dude - i think having a specific lens through which you view music is helpful but theres still stuff thats going to get 'shaped' by the critical dialogue in ways you might only partially agree w/

є(٥_ ٥)э, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:14 (ten years ago) link

that...is kind of phrased in a way that is empirical and correct and impossible to disagree with but i also have no idea how it actually relates to or contradicts what i was saying

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:25 (ten years ago) link

i guess my philosophy to consuming music press/criticism is very "don't believe everything you read" -- i take other people's word for it that their opinions are generally presented honestly and are based at least somewhat on the reality of the music they are writing about, but i also know that they don't have my ears and that i may or may not care about how their ears hear things or whether they've learned or trained themselves to hear the things i listen for.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:28 (ten years ago) link

Lamp w/r/t exaggerating your reaction, I kind of see it less as an exaggeration and more of an eventual buildup, where the overwhelming same-ness becomes increasingly aggravating - so its more a coping mechanism, not about "trying to be difft" or w/e

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:53 (ten years ago) link

i tend not to feel much desire to play up my antipathy for something that i just kind of know isn't for me -- if it's just constantly in my face every day like drake songs on the radio then i naturally come around to a stronger negative reaction, whereas something like a$ap rocky where i feel indifferent to a couple of youtube plays and just see the name thrown around a lot but don't have much occasion or need to contend with the music further and let it grow on me (or let my dislike grow stronger) i'm kinda fine just not giving a shit either way.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:57 (ten years ago) link

well deejs intial qn seemed to be abt the value of writing negative criticism of stuff that you only sorta or weakly dislike solely or at least largely to provide a tonic to the dominant viewpoint 'out there' atm and like, ok you have your ears but i have to assume that theres still times where you dont feel strongly one way or the other about s.thing and you kinda made it seem like you have just this strict pass/fail system idk mb you do

so my point is like its great to have this personal framework through which yr analyzing stuff but it doesnt innoculate you from this problem, you still have to deal with having stuff placed in context in other ppls opinions

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:58 (ten years ago) link

Yah sure I dont disagree with that

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 03:59 (ten years ago) link

@al, if anything, radio play makes me more positively inclined to like something I was lukewarm on. (until burnout) but thats not a rule or anything

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:01 (ten years ago) link

xps @deej: sure, totally, i mean i think everyone (or at least ive) had that xp where the first time you read abt how great X is its like, hmmmm idk, i didnt think it was so great. and then by the tenth fawning feature X is like the worst crime against music imaginable or w/e. i guess that feeling/xp was implied in using 'cornerned' you can get surrounded by this kind of stuff and mb start to overemphasize it idk

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:01 (ten years ago) link

so my point is like its great to have this personal framework through which yr analyzing stuff but it doesnt innoculate you from this problem, you still have to deal with having stuff placed in context in other ppls opinions

wait what is the "problem" that i'm insufficiently sheltered from like a child out in the cold? the horrifying unshakable reality that other people don't share my opinions?

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:03 (ten years ago) link

well sure radio play can help bring me around on stuff -- i mean i can name several drake songs that i do enjoy on some level, even if he's usually not the best thing about them or i can chalk it up to stockholm syndrome, fact remains that i do understand the appeal and know which songs actually are ok as far as i'm concerned

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:05 (ten years ago) link

thats a weird way to read that post!!! (xp)

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:07 (ten years ago) link

sorry but i mean...yes i realize that sticking to your guns and believing in your ears is not the same thing as creating your own reality that exists in a vacuum. that seems totally ok and not contradictory afaict?

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:11 (ten years ago) link

::shrugs:: theres no contradiction, its more that you didnt really seem to addressing the threads general qn except to say its not a problem for you, which for enough

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:32 (ten years ago) link

yeah admittedly i came along to this thread pretty late and there was a lot that i haven't fully digested or considered

but to go back to one of deej's questions in the op:

If not, if I'm just supposed to push the artists I like in a positive way, how does one ever get an idea of the values that i do like unless there is a negative contrast? doesn't too much positivity just come off as PR?

i think it's great to be able to write lots of positive AND negative reviews to represent the full spectrum of your likes and dislikes, but ultimately shouldn't those reviews stand on their own and make sense to people whether they've read you before or not? obviously someone who's enthusiastic about EVERYTHING comes off like a shill but it seems besides the point or counterproductive to find opportunities to go negative just to avoid that.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:40 (ten years ago) link

i mean in these belt-tightening times there ARE publications with limited space sometimes do day "let's dedicate what few reviews we can run to spotlighting good stuff and not panning and attacking things" and i know for some critics that seems like the most craven unethical thing in the world but in most cases i'm fine with that -- i would rather exhaust every opportunity to write about the things i like AND THEN find the time to diss some shit

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:43 (ten years ago) link

sometimes do say

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:43 (ten years ago) link

You know I find it really depressing that someone would spend energy writing a negative review of anything. There's so much beauty in the world to focus on.

Todd

realness, just realness, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:48 (ten years ago) link

Thttp://dl.dropbox.com/u/9627011/photos/cool.gifdd feels awful familiar

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 04:54 (ten years ago) link

well the thing that im... i guess interested in is the space btw outright love and hate and the way my own sense of the dominant narrative can start to push my opinion, w/o my willing it, towards one of those two poles. certainly the way i think/write/analyze music is a lot less formal than yours, but i think i do have a strong pov as well and i find myself in the place deej writes abt often enough for it to be p familiar.

most of the time im not going to get paid to write abt stuff i dont care abt and i dont have the time (lol) or the energy to write abt stuff that im not super passionate abt but i do think there should be space if you want to explore places where you dont agree w/ the way the larger conversation is shaping up. like rn just running through the eoy thread im a little queasy w/ how '2011' is being presented... idk this is all so scattered, and thats a bigger qn than just 'is meek mills sorta overrated' or w/e

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 05:10 (ten years ago) link

sometimes i like comparing albums i like w/ similar albums that i think try (and fail) to do similar things. so disliking stuff as a function of liking stuff.

Mordy, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 05:31 (ten years ago) link

I'm a fairly compartmentalised thinker I suspect, so I tend even on a shorthand emotional level to distinguish between the build-up of aggravating writing about something I find lukewarm and the fact of the music being lukewarm.

Maybe this is different for other people, but for me the intermingling doesn't occur in my head but on the page, or more specifically in the heads of "readers" (i.e. actual readers, friends, ILM posters): it's difficult for people who really like a piece of music to even perceive, let alone appreciate, that distinction, it's all received as an out-and-out attack on the music's quality.

Tim F, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 05:32 (ten years ago) link

lex you know I love you but you of all people saying this is just O_O

i don't get how this is out of character.

my position is pretty much the same as al's - rejecting the media herd mentality ≠ enclosing yourself in a hermetically sealed vacuum where only your own taste counts.

cf this truthbomb from maura - http://maura.tumblr.com/post/13412214038/what-makes-a-good-music-critic

Having your ears open at the right time (when listening to music, whether to the wholly unfamiliar or the overly trodden-upon) and closed at the right time (when wandering through the deafening bowels of hive minds).

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 09:30 (ten years ago) link

i kinda feel that there's little point writing a really negative piece of an act that no one cares/knows about, so inevitably most of the panning i write has an element of reacting against some sort of hivemind wrongness elsewhere, whether that's "david guetta dominates the pop chart BUT he is still dreadful" or "critics go nuts for the weeknd BUT he is still totally overrated"

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 09:34 (ten years ago) link

must admit i'm struggling to really see what the problem of this thread is, none of it strikes me as a problem at all!

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 09:34 (ten years ago) link

no one here but you thinks they can be entirely independent of context, because its a ludicrous & untenable position

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 09:43 (ten years ago) link

do you even read my posts?

rejecting the media herd mentality ≠ enclosing yourself in a hermetically sealed vacuum where only your own taste counts

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 09:43 (ten years ago) link

the context set by critics and the media is the least helpful context of all

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 09:44 (ten years ago) link

i don't get how this is out of character.

B/c you routinely get aggrieved by positive media coverage of artists you dislike?

jaymc, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:07 (ten years ago) link

i kinda feel that there's little point writing a really negative piece of an act that no one cares/knows about, so inevitably most of the panning i write has an element of reacting against some sort of hivemind wrongness elsewhere, whether that's "david guetta dominates the pop chart BUT he is still dreadful" or "critics go nuts for the weeknd BUT he is still totally overrated"

Yes, but you've got to be careful to review the record, not the reviews of the record - and the statement about "reacting against some sort of hivemind wrongness" suggests that's not always the case.

ItHappens, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:09 (ten years ago) link

i kinda feel that there's little point writing a really negative piece of an act that no one cares/knows about, so inevitably most of the panning i write has an element of reacting against some sort of hivemind wrongness elsewhere, whether that's "david guetta dominates the pop chart BUT he is still dreadful" or "critics go nuts for the weeknd BUT he is still totally overrated"

― lex pretend, Wednesday, December 7, 2011 4:34 AM (4 hours ago) Bookmark Permalink

some of my personal highlights as a music critic have been when i was put in a position to review something by an obscure and/or local artist and lashed out really mercilessly at how aggravated i was by having to spend 50 minutes with their awful music. obviously that kind of thing can verge on cruel and pointless but sometimes i feel like it's worthwhile for writer, reader and perhaps even the artist to write a review that basically says "you didn't hear this tree fall in the forest but goddamn lemme tell y'all about this shitty tree."

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:14 (ten years ago) link

you can say "well look in different channels" you can say "well look in different channels" but there's also something of a media-herd mentality; i mean, everywhere from Vibe to Complex to Fader to Pitchfork covers / discusses the phenomenon of ASAP Rocky

I wouldn't necessarily say "look in different channels" - but I

april wowak, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:19 (ten years ago) link

in fact i would almost say that we NEED more willingness to write/publish negative reviews of albums by new or unknown artists. i feel like as there are more and more people writing about more and more music, the 'keep it positive' cheerleader instinct has led to thousands upon thousands of totally unremarkable albums that could be (and usually are) fairly described as "critically acclaimed" or get/could get an 80+ score on metacritic because the only people bothering to talk about it are the fans, never the indifferent or the detractors.

xpost

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:21 (ten years ago) link

you can say "well look in different channels" but there's also something of a media-herd mentality; i mean, everywhere from Vibe to Complex to Fader to Pitchfork covers / discusses the phenomenon of ASAP Rocky

I wouldn't necessarily say "look in different channels" - but I might "stop looking in channels" - if you're a critic well I guess you're going to end up hearing things anyway and if you're not a critic there's no rule that says you have to hear and have opinions on all the things written about

april wowak, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:24 (ten years ago) link

Oh man I want to tattoo some dude's post on the world.

I left my login in El Sandboxo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:25 (ten years ago) link

I find it increasingly difficult to hear music properly if there have already been things written about it, especially anything strongly negative or positive. I tend to only read something about a record once I've already heard it

april wowak, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:25 (ten years ago) link

it's weird to think about how as a teenager, i'd frequently get an issue of spin or rolling stone or cmj or alternative press and read like EVERY SINGLE review in the issue, dozens of albums of which i'd heard at most a handful, and even now i'm still getting around to hearing albums a review made me curious about 15 years ago. but now, like april, i have a limited interest in reading about something i haven't heard at least some of, because we now live in a world where it's almost as easy to hear it as it is to read about it.

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:30 (ten years ago) link

some of my personal highlights as a music critic have been when i was put in a position to review something by an obscure and/or local artist and lashed out really mercilessly at how aggravated i was by having to spend 50 minutes with their awful music. obviously that kind of thing can verge on cruel and pointless but sometimes i feel like it's worthwhile for writer, reader and perhaps even the artist to write a review that basically says "you didn't hear this tree fall in the forest but goddamn lemme tell y'all about this shitty tree."

I find these reviews can be useful and worthwhile, but only in cases where the reviewer's bias is so carefully put out there and explicitly stated that it is also equally clear that people who have a different bias might read the review and think "best! tree! EVAH!"

Sometimes being reviled by a critic I have no respect for is one of the biggest recommendations for an artist I'd otherwise never have heard of. I've discovered some of my fave artists that way.

Wayland Smithee, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:32 (ten years ago) link

what's a reviewer's bias?

Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:34 (ten years ago) link

Yes, but you've got to be careful to review the record, not the reviews of the record - and the statement about "reacting against some sort of hivemind wrongness" suggests that's not always the case.

kind of depends what sort of piece it is surely? if it's a straight-up review, absolutely; if it's a broader thinkpiece, obv you have to be careful to engage with the music as it stands but you'll also be bringing in wider issues about uhh the critical climate or wvs.

i've always most enjoyed reading about things after i've heard/seen them - often i'll avoid all writing about an album until after i've taken it in (partly these days that's also just in case i have to write about it myself). whenever i get back from the cinema the first thing i do is go and read all the reviews i've avoided!

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:34 (ten years ago) link

yeah i mean...some critics just push everything through such a specific and subjective set of values that it's pretty easy to pick up where you don't trust them (i.e. guys who write a negative review of a hip-hop album that makes it clear they hate pretty much all hip-hop except for these 5 token 'intelligent' records every year). but when i write really negative things i try to approach it kind of clinically and explain why it fails on a fundamental technical level, the way a movie critic would rip apart a movie where shots are constantly out of focus and actors are stumbling over lines. (xpost)

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:36 (ten years ago) link

I mean, I know some of us are more willing to be surprised by joy than others – I can list plenty of examples of artists who've suddenly recorded an impressive album after a not so impressive run. When I was an editor I'd sometimes encourage writers to listen to a record they wouldn't have downloaded/bought on their own just so I can read an entirely fresh take (also, you have to trust the writer to not file a two-dimensional review).

Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:39 (ten years ago) link

but now, like april, i have a limited interest in reading about something i haven't heard at least some of, because we now live in a world where it's almost as easy to hear it as it is to read about it.

― sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Its only partly that, its also that if its a thing people are talking about a lot - or is...'important' then I feel like I can't really hear it for myself, I can't divorce it from all that - and then they might be the kinds of thing that people will also ask my opinion about - but I probably wouldn't have a very strong opinion and the opinion would really just be distilled from other people. It feels too dutiful that somehow I should hear certain things - almost for the sake of having an opinion - if I was a critic then yes maybe, but as a person I shy away from that

april wowak, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:41 (ten years ago) link

yeah...i imagine one of the biggest challengers for a music editor would be to try and get some writers out of their comfort zone without ending without ending up with a review where they just seem clearly out of their element in a bad way. (xpost)

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:42 (ten years ago) link

yeah...i imagine one of the biggest challengers for a music editor would be to try and get some writers out of their comfort zone without ending without ending up with a review where they just seem clearly out of their element in a bad way.

i wish more publications would adopt the multi-voice panellist format of the jukebox - i think that's one of the best ways of doing that while also avoiding the problem of an out-of-their-element review standing as that publication's "official" line on an album.

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:44 (ten years ago) link

Yeah I love that aspect of the jukebox, but I think it would get cumbrsome when trying to tackle a full album.

I left my login in El Sandboxo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:46 (ten years ago) link

yeah...that's one of the weird things about Pitchfork these days is it feels like there's so much maneuvering to publish a review by one author that 'speaks for' the whole staff that feels distinct from the classic "Rolling Stone editor decides how many stars an album gets" kind of top-down decision-making. (xpost)

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:46 (ten years ago) link

Maybe not putting it that well - but I look at the EOY lists and see Drake and Radiohead and Fleet Foxes and James Blake and all these people and even if I wanted to hear any of these people I don't know if I would be able to hear them people 'for myself' because I've already got everyone elses opinion about them whether I like it or not

april wowak, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:47 (ten years ago) link

i actually HAVE an idea for multiple-perspectives-on-an-album that i've wanted to try out for a while but just haven't had the opportunity or the resources to put it into action. it would definitely be trickier and more delicate than with singles, yeah. (xpost)

sandbox banned socks (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:47 (ten years ago) link

i don't see any reason a panellist format for an album couldn't work - but you'd have to untie it from the release date. which would probably result in better thinking and writing ANYWAY - i can't think of a single "quick get this review of the new lady gaga album up within an hour of hearing it for the first time" piece that has been worth a damn, anywhere. i did an off-the-cuff thing on the day i first heard the rihanna album and i already look back and cringe about my snap judgments.

#sonotgonnahappen though :(

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:50 (ten years ago) link

^^^ I like that idea!

Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:50 (ten years ago) link

(i mean, certainly for albums that get the slightest buzz, multiple critics will have got round to hearing and opining within a couple of months of release anyway)

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:51 (ten years ago) link

(it'd actually be a really good thing to do when publications do EOY lists! and would add a frisson of dissent even as they award an album the #2 spot or whatever)

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:52 (ten years ago) link

(i understand that during the EOY all editors are overworked and there is no monet anywhere anyway)

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:53 (ten years ago) link

a Jukebox format in which you give a half dozen critics a week to digest an album and ask them to post three or four sentences would be cool.

Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:53 (ten years ago) link

*MONEY

i always do that! fucking impressionists on the brain

lex pretend, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 14:53 (ten years ago) link

Well, tbh, there's not enough Monets around either.

(xpost)

All this talk is really making me miss writing though. 2011 was the first full year during which I didn't have any freelance gigs and didn't do any writing about music, and I'm finding out how much I miss the more critical approach to my listening at times. In one sense its kind of liberating to not have to worry about what I'm going to write, but I do kind of miss having a structured reason to write. Sure, blogs etc etc, but I'm really finding it harder and harder to sit down and write without direction or structure.

I left my login in El Sandboxo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 15:00 (ten years ago) link

i'm really glad nobody in history who criticises herd mentalities has ever noticed such behaviours in themselves, that'd really be embarrassing. luckily only absolute and true mavericks can recognise the sheep-like behaviour of others, otherwise where would we be?

HI IT'S RONAN, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 20:05 (ten years ago) link

lol

sockness, just sockness (Mr. Stevenson #2), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 20:07 (ten years ago) link

someone tell me what to like, i don't think other people are thick so i'm guessing i must be too thick to realise this??

HI IT'S RONAN, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 20:07 (ten years ago) link

sarcasm is a perfectly fine substitute for literacy

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 20:09 (ten years ago) link

xp Lord Sotosyn

As a reader, I'd be much more interested in a friendly back and forth by 6 critics disputing an album's merits and responding to each other than a half-dozen capsule reviews.

Sanpaku, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 21:36 (ten years ago) link

we've been over this elsewhere but year you are too attuned to the media herd mentality. given that most of what i value in music is at odds with what 90% of current critics value, i see absolutely no point in giving a shit what they like or dislike - after all it's not like they seem to give a shit what i like or dislike! the feeling is mutual.

Lex the reasons I O_O'd at this is that you spend a lot of time on ILM and in reviews beating people over the head for liking some media herd option you deem awful when they could be liking (insert superior artist in roughly comparable area of music).

I totally agree that you are not overly swayed by herd mentality but that doesn't mean you aren't very attuned to it.

Tim F, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 22:25 (ten years ago) link

So am I obv. Though I still haven't listened to the Drake album.

Tim F, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 22:25 (ten years ago) link

ILX herd mentality keeping you from it! I kid...

Another Suburbanite, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 22:29 (ten years ago) link

oh you know what i meant tim.

ronan do fuck off, or at least stop being sarcastic in such a fucking basic way for the sake of it

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 22:31 (ten years ago) link

Well i guess I'm curious then as to how you distinguish your approach from deej's (apart from in ways that aren't relevant to this thread).

Tim F, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:06 (ten years ago) link

i don't think i fret about it as much? my approach in this area is basically the same as al's

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:14 (ten years ago) link

i'm 'fretting'?

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:33 (ten years ago) link

i guess i do wonder to what degree increased coverage is simply forcing me to pay attention & bring more critical energy to bear, at which point it goes from 'this is good enough (because i'm glossing over weaknesses because they're just artists trying to make it w/ some novel ideas it i have no ill will)' to 'there are lots of flaws relative to the stuff i like a lot more'

like, it's important that a response to hype is about the music itself & not the hype. i guess that's something i try to make sure to dilineate

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:38 (ten years ago) link

*and i have no ill will

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:39 (ten years ago) link

that with increased coverage comes a more complete critical look -at a certain point you stop looking at what they do different and start looking at the complete package, at where it might start to grate or leave you uninspired to spin again, how someone you already listen to fills that void better, etc

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:40 (ten years ago) link

ronan do fuck off, or at least stop being sarcastic in such a fucking basic way for the sake of it

yes "for the sake of it", this is all such a load of fucking shit. "herd mentality" is a term which is only entirely subjective and means nothing. you might as well be on here saying "my taste is actually better than the majority"

arguments like "herd mentality" are the sort of shit used to denounce all pop music ever made, if you can't see that then you're several fathosm too deep inside the critic snowglobe, time to get some air.

or maybe just keep swinging so far against the things you hate that you begin to ressemble them, all healthy adult behaviour...good luck.

HI IT'S RONAN, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:42 (ten years ago) link

you don't even read my stuff. i have no idea why you keep on trying to pick fights with me on ilx.

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:51 (ten years ago) link

?? because ilx is where people discuss things, like on this thread.

HI IT'S RONAN, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:53 (ten years ago) link

So lex you're saying the diff between you and deej is that while you might get angry that the hivemind (of whatever hive) is wrong, you don't get caught up on the whys and wherefores of those differences?

(I am genuinely curious about all of this stuff for a variety of reasons so I'm not trying to be faux-dense or anything)

Tim F, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 23:59 (ten years ago) link

i don't really know what you're asking any more, it all seems a bit pedantic at this point? i don't want to end up boxing myself into a mode of thinking that i don't really subscribe to. i don't have any hard and fast rules when it comes to these things, i do whatever i feel like doing when i wake up.

ronan why on earth should i discuss my critical approach with someone who's not interested in reading my criticism? and who is being offensively rude even by the standards of people who dislike me?

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:06 (ten years ago) link

take the high moral ground as you say "fuck off" as an opening gambit...and don't discuss anything anyway. really great...none of this stands up to any scrutiny so yeah, don't bother.

HI IT'S RONAN, Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:09 (ten years ago) link

idk ronan yr whole first post seemed p mean spirited in a thread that acknowledges its failings in it's premise. I guess I can see yr problem with the lex but everyone finds themselves disagreeing with 'consensus' at times

also I think saying oh review the music not the hype is dumb I mean it's p indivisible anyway but lots of time they hype is really the meat of what's interesting/important to address

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:24 (ten years ago) link

i don't really know what you're asking any more, it all seems a bit pedantic at this point? i don't want to end up boxing myself into a mode of thinking that i don't really subscribe to. i don't have any hard and fast rules when it comes to these things, i do whatever i feel like doing when i wake up.

oh well in that case I will simply disregard yr prior comments.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:32 (ten years ago) link

lots of time they hype is really the meat of what's interesting/important to address

this is sad

Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:34 (ten years ago) link

also I think saying oh review the music not the hype is dumb I mean it's p indivisible anyway but lots of time they hype is really the meat of what's interesting/important to address

― blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Wednesday, December 7, 2011 6:24 PM (7 minutes ago) Bookmark Permalink

while i do agree -- i think i was more saying this as shorthand for, like, not forgetting to involve the music & its relationship to the hype rather than responding to the hype exclusively -- can i just make the easy zing here abt how its funny that this is what the chillwave thread guy thinks

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:34 (ten years ago) link

Lex the reasons I O_O'd at this is that you spend a lot of time on ILM and in reviews beating people over the head for liking some media herd option you deem awful when they could be liking (insert superior artist in roughly comparable area of music).

the thing that pisses me off about this characterisation of what i do is that, actually, most of my posting and the VAST majority of my writing is about music and artists i love. in the nu-sandbox era alone i have been very active in the r&b thread in this regard. if you want to see me as someone who spends 90% of his time raging against the hivemind and their drake-loving ways, idk, it's just a warning sign not to involve myself in a discussion with you because you obviously don't know me or my work.

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:50 (ten years ago) link

see i think its almost creepy to feign operating w/in some kind of rigid formal vacuum when yr listening to/writing abt music. i mean its at its base so clearly not true but why would you even want it to be true? i mean why not just listen to bach if you want music divorced from any kind of meaningful contemp social/experiential context

like i guess imm 'hype' is standing in for the lump of intangible elements that surround a work of contemp music which is fascinating and impt stuff!

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:56 (ten years ago) link

lamp lex is arguing two opposing extremes here -- he completely ignores hype, but he will rail aganist what he recognizes as hype (somehow ... despite completely ignoring it) when given the opportunity

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:58 (ten years ago) link

i'm not even sure who he's talking to here, it's not like there are any major Drake boosters in the audience or something. everyone contributing to this thread seems to discuss or write about largely underreported, niche or unexplored areas of music w/ great regularity.

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:59 (ten years ago) link

can i just make the easy zing here abt how its funny that this is what the chillwave thread guy thinks

haha i think the funny thing abt this is i spend a lot my time listening to stuff that like a couple hundred other ppl are even going to hear, which makes things both harder cuz the conversation is so small but also easier cuz 'hype' is so easy to deflate and avoid

tbrr im critical of myself for choosing to mostly listen/write/care abt shit that comes in ltd cdr runs of 100 copies, i think in part its a way of escaping the whole debate like april sd upthread. its weird to get such a rep for being indie or w/e when like ive only heard mb 5 or 6 records from any of the indie mag lists, one of which is lol drake

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Thursday, 8 December 2011 01:00 (ten years ago) link

yah i think w/ chillwave it strikes me bcuz my feeling w/ that genre that it was like, here's the revolutionary way of thinking, of music as distorted memory, now that we have that thesis we can enjoy some sweet easy listening tunes, and it struck me that you had to have the hype of the metanarrative in order to even engage in the 1st place

and i remember SR argued that we had it backwards; that first came the music, THEN the narrative -- but if someone reads about the narrative & checks out the music after, then that's the way it is for them, and his argument is simply no longer accurate! that most people listening to chillwave probably read about it & werent following the scene at all, right?

idk i'm just trying to move this away from talking abt lex

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 01:05 (ten years ago) link

if you want to see me as someone who spends 90% of his time raging against the hivemind and their drake-loving ways, idk, it's just a warning sign not to involve myself in a discussion with you because you obviously don't know me or my work.

Haha, totally unnecessary hyperbole much?

To be fair to you, "raging against the hivemind" posts are mostly more memorable (regardless of whether they are right/wrong/good/bad) than positive posts so I am pretty sure in my head I do overestimate the extent to which this categorises a lot of people's (not just your) posts.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 01:19 (ten years ago) link

i think what i'm talking about in my post, rather than an excuse to dogpile on chillwave, is more that when you have a niche scene, and people are writing stories abt how it develops, then people hear the stories & decide that this stuff is Important because of these narratives rather than because the underlying scene is Important, there's some weird kind of disconnect in quality

or something

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 01:28 (ten years ago) link

xp

haha well the term 'chillwave' was coined as a satire of critics need to taxonomize/structure music but atm there was def a rush to kinda provide a narrative or framework for a bunch of sounds/scenes/ideas that were coalescing. (and still continue to work themselves out, i guess) there was for listeners in on it a real sense of ~something~ connected and new happening ime. and i think part of it was a desire to present the music sorta fully-formed to new listeners so that it 'made sense', mb? a rush to history or w/e

anyway i think the 'other ppls memories' thing was overstated, really my big ~theories~ are abt technology and anxiety blah blah blah indeeed but there are also all sorts of counternarratives that are p dominant (lol lazy lol nostalgia lol hipsters mostly)

ugh idk we tell ourselves stories in order to hear &c &c &c

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Thursday, 8 December 2011 01:33 (ten years ago) link

for me it's like, there are a lot of layers of 'narrative' that can or usually do go along with a record or a musician, and the further out those layers go the more masturbatory and solipsistic it is for a critic to focus on. like you've got the artist's backstory or basic facts of how a record was made or whatever, and then beyond that you've got some scene they're part of or some idea of their role in the evolution of a genre or aesthetic, and then beyond that you've got some horseshit about how their success is a symptom of some cultural phenomenon or a psychological need of the listening public or whatever, things that just get carried further and further out from the sound that was being captured by a microphone or assembled by an actual person with an instrument or computer or whatever. all this stuff can be drawn on and woven together in interesting ways but i still think that more often than not it's just a crutch for music critics to be pretentious armchair sociologists instead of perceptive listeners.

Mr. Stevenson #2, Thursday, 8 December 2011 01:54 (ten years ago) link

Isn't that more just a general problem of critics' reach exceeding their grasp, rather than there being set concentric circles of relevance?

It seems to me that biological info is used as ridiculously as pop-sociology - if the latter tends to get used more ridiculously I think it's more that it's easier for critics to be totally way out of their depth when dealing with that kind of thing as opposed to, like, basic biographical facts.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:03 (ten years ago) link

biographical info obv.

would like to read more reviews with biological info though.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:04 (ten years ago) link

Yeats and Hygiene, A Comparative Study: The poetry of
William Butler Yeats is analyzed against a background of proper
dental care. (Course open to a limited number of students.)

http://www.angelfire.com/blog2/endovelico/WoodyAllen-GettingEven.txt

Occidental Rudipherous, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:07 (ten years ago) link

i'm not talking about "so-and-so was in a cult as a kid HOW FASCINATING" hackery i just mean the basic facts of how many people made a record, what they played, where they're from and how long have they been working together

Mr. Stevenson #2, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:08 (ten years ago) link

Okay. I was thinking more the stuff that gets assumed coming out of that - the special magic of Rumours deriving from all the intra-band affairs/break-ups, and so on.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:24 (ten years ago) link

well, things that are happening while the record is being made and songs are written about it, you can't really avoid that being written about imo

Mr. Stevenson #2, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:28 (ten years ago) link

and then beyond that you've got some horseshit about how their success is a symptom of some cultural phenomenon or a psychological need of the listening public or whatever, things that just get carried further and further out from the sound that was being captured by a microphone or assembled by an actual person with an instrument or computer or whatever. all this stuff can be drawn on and woven together in interesting ways but i still think that more often than not it's just a crutch for music critics to be pretentious armchair sociologists instead of perceptive listeners.

so true, i wish more music writers would stop with the sociopolitical insight

flexidisc, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:30 (ten years ago) link

xpost - Oh no of course not, and it's not like that line on Rumours is wrong even - it's just that I see that kind of thing as being an area full of pitfalls nearly as much as the more hi-falutin "this record is emblematic of ghost-modernism" kind of approach.

Perhaps because what is common about all of these things are assumptions about how music actually relates to what is outside it. And relationality can be riddled with hi-falutin bs either openly (pop-sociology) or secretly e.g. in what you assume to be the relationship between the artist's life and their music.

Like, you can have a perfectly reasonable line about how an artist's working class experiences have influenced their musical decisions, which you then turn into BS by underpinning it with (and framing it within) a concept of authenticity.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:33 (ten years ago) link

lmao ghost-modernism please tell me you just made that up

Mr. Stevenson #2, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:35 (ten years ago) link

I wish. I saw it the other day in a simon reynolds post (naturally) but it's actually a quote from Prince Rama talking about their own music I think?

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:36 (ten years ago) link

Which is one complicating factor: when musicians do this sort of thing themselves, does that make it more forgiveable/justifiable for critics to follow suit, or should we just assume that the musicians themselves are full of it?

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:38 (ten years ago) link

haha im totally guilty of trying to rope music into some larger point abt aesthetic values or est some kind of connectedness btw things, i mean its obv p easy to do badly and its not like id base a review around this but thats like 80% of what my longform essay writing is abt :(((((((((

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:38 (ten years ago) link

yeah artists have become really disgustingly savvy about working the press and realizing how marketable they are if they name their own microgenre.

Mr. Stevenson #2, Thursday, 8 December 2011 02:42 (ten years ago) link

This gets more complicated when you talk about interviewing them, like I interviewed one dude who was going on about how lame rappers are that use simple rhyme schemes, but he was a pretty straightforward gritty type rapper himself, so I start to suspect he thinks hes telling me what he thinks I want to hear

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 03:20 (ten years ago) link

I pretty much refuse to do interviews b/c I more times than not I end up getting annoyed with the artist for doing the above plus sounding like dog latin.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 04:11 (ten years ago) link

haha

i love doing interviews but then most of the people i talked to are not too media trained and are still able to have actual conversations about their music that aren't well rehearsed rituals

Mr. Stevenson #2, Thursday, 8 December 2011 04:15 (ten years ago) link

lol @ me but thinking abt this some more: its obv subjective but i do think that its easy to shrug off or underrate the value in critics who can illuminate ways that a genre or group or trend is connected to other things, even/esp things beyond music at work in the culture at large. i know its sorta wankish, grad school hangover stuff but its also really valuable/impt. idk at least to me. like, i really hate biographical approaches, those long artist profile pieces that are all manufactured intimacy and 'telling' detail. they are so tedious and empty asked abt the controversy around her celebrity relationships, ms. swift shyly brushed a non-existent piece of lint off her immaculate cashmere cardigan and reached for the straw sitting limply in her strawberry milkshake. 'the thing abt all that gossip stuff', she sighed leaning forward... but i can see what it does for other ppl, the way it helps provide context and meaning to the music. i mean taylor swift's music wouldnt sound the same if she was ke$ha!!

in the same way stuff like stefann goldman's essays for lwe are obv 'unprovable' and not as well grounded as id like, but i really value the fact that hes trying to tie a bunch of things together conceptually, and that too provides an impt context for hearing/evaluating new music

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Thursday, 8 December 2011 04:28 (ten years ago) link

I feel like a lot of indie coverage would benefit from that kind of "what are these guys actually like as people" type reporting, instead of the feeling I get v often which is that they are treated w this auteur-ish respect, as if who they are isnt related to the music they produce, like it's some kind of detached "statement"

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 04:38 (ten years ago) link

tbrr and its been a long time since i looked but indie coverage would benefit from p much anything that wasnt an awkwardly constructed sentence or a reference to another band

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Thursday, 8 December 2011 04:40 (ten years ago) link

More generally isn't the issue how these tactics are disproportionately distributed amongst genres.

So you get ad hominem crit (positive or negative) of stars like Taylor and Drake vs the small-scale inter-referentiality and over-priviliging of particular emotional impacts in indie rock writing vs post-dubstep and chillwave as reflective of the (ghost)modern condition of musical experience... and, like, none of these approaches are bad in themselves but it'd be nice to see some of the subjects and styles mixed up a bit more.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 05:18 (ten years ago) link

Not that people are consciously saying "oh if i'm gonna write about X then I have to do so in Y style."

I think most critics would say they're not really conscious of shifting their style based on what they write about (I don't sense that I do it, for instance).

It's more the issue of the venn diagram overlap between how people write and what they are drawn to musically.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 05:32 (ten years ago) link

imo more writers should use illustrations cf themartorialist.blogspot.com/2011/12/another-great-non-2011-song-i.html

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 05:48 (ten years ago) link

Chillwave is a good example of as thing where (for me personally) there was too much written and talked about it for me to then hear any with my own ears - to listen to any would only be possible through the collective ears of everyone else and the only reason to do so would be to add my opinion to the pot but without it really feeling like my opinion.

Then yesterday I heard that james ferraro record without knowing anything about him at all and I liked it! Different from what I normally like (simultaneously makes sense that I would and also strange that I would) - but then read a bit about it and it was kind of annoying what was being written, so I didn't read any more

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 06:55 (ten years ago) link

Chillwave is a good example of as thing where (for me personally) there was too much written and talked about it for me to then hear any with my own ears - to listen to any would only be possible through the collective ears of everyone else and the only reason to do so would be to add my opinion to the pot but without it really feeling like my opinion.

mark richardson did a good bit abt this on pitchfork, he compared it to seeing the 'most photographed barn in america' http://pitchfork.com/features/resonant-frequency/8713-this-is-me-music-making-as-re-blog/

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:01 (ten years ago) link

But I'm not a critic! It doesn't matter if I never hear a record, or hear it too late. It doesn't matter that I've never heard drake or metronomy or if i hear james ferraro later than everyone else. for the most part I actually DO hear music in a vacuum, or in my own contexts

A critic is much less able to do this so I think lex is right when he says about context - I would find it impossible to hear most of this music without context - I've already an opinion on many of the artists on the EOY lists without ever having heard most of them! But that opinion isn't my own, its received

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:04 (ten years ago) link

xp

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:04 (ten years ago) link

mark richardson did a good bit abt this on pitchfork, he compared it to seeing the 'most photographed barn in america' http://pitchfork.com/features/resonant-frequency/8713-this-is-me-music-making-as-re-blog/

― joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, December

I dpnt think thats anything to do with the music though or any attendant qualities about it!

Its more to do with it being a thing that is talked about a lot and with strong detailed opinions - but that I haven't heard for myself. It could be any genre, I was just picking an example one that I was unfamiliar with (albeit the kind of one people like to intellectualize)

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:07 (ten years ago) link

I mean - and I don't wish to criticize here - but even just the URL of that is the kind of thing that would make it even harder for me to hear chillwave for myself because on some level I now think that a chillwave artist is remaking music as a blog/tumblr/whatever - but before I've actually heard them to see whether I actually really do think that or not!

And even after hearing them i will still think that to some extent!

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:11 (ten years ago) link

Maybe I'm too malleable and not opinionated enough!

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:11 (ten years ago) link

I'd be interested if people are able to identify, in retrospect, the tipping point where they were no longer easily swayed by popular discourse in respect of particular genres - i.e. where they no longer felt vulnerable to that filtering of exterior viewpoints april refers to.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:15 (ten years ago) link

b/c I totally identify with that viewpoint april, but not in respect of areas of music I feel really familiar with and as much or more of a critical content generator than recipient.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:16 (ten years ago) link

april that's not an article about chillwave, i was just talking about the idea of responding to music's discourse making it impossible to hear the music

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:16 (ten years ago) link

haha well, i mean you can just listen and see how well the framework seems to fit what you hear, i guess. like id argue that a bunch of tumblrwave stuff esp that new james ferraro record is sorta commenting on its own invisibility, the emptiness inside the air quote (haha arent i glad theres no sb on the sandbox)

blah blah blah (є(٥_ ٥)э), Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:17 (ten years ago) link

Agree with Tim, inside a genre its not quite the same...

I'd be interested if people are able to identify, in retrospect, the tipping point where they were no longer easily swayed by popular discourse in respect of particular genres - i.e. where they no longer felt vulnerable to that filtering of exterior viewpoints april refers to.

― Tim F, Thursday, December 8, 2011

...in practical terms i think it might be as simple as "I hear a record before I read/hear about a record"

but even within a genre, and even with no one talking about an artist this can sort of happen - it can even be your own words that do it!

Like, i really liked a record by an artist this year and told a lot of people oh this record is really good. Now when that artist releases another record, people will probably ask me "oh what do you think of the new one?!" and that almost creates a micoversion of the above. This would happen even if no one asked! Its not the same but its like a smaller version of it, "I should have an opinion on record no 2 BECAUSE I had an opinion on record no 3"

it was the record i liked, not the artist per se

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:32 (ten years ago) link

oops that should be "because i had an opinion on record no 1" not 3

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:33 (ten years ago) link

I should say the smaller version detailed above isn't really an actual thing that happens or affects in the same way. Is probably more subconscious, but the mechanism is similar

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:35 (ten years ago) link

And of course there is more reason for me to hear record no 2 than there is say radiohead or metronomy

april wowak, Thursday, 8 December 2011 07:38 (ten years ago) link

idk ronan yr whole first post seemed p mean spirited in a thread that acknowledges its failings in it's premise. I guess I can see yr problem with the lex but everyone finds themselves disagreeing with 'consensus' at times

i wasn't mocking the entire thread by any means, just find people talking about "herd mentalities" pretty rich. i mean, it literally is saying other people's taste is based on them following each other like actual animals in a field. other people (and seemingly it was a huge percentage of them) put as much thought into what they like as a cow does when it follows another cow. come on!

anyway to move things on, i come at all this from the position of completely ignoring most current stuff just because i got a bit tired of having to engage with it and have opinions about whatever new thing each week.

i find weirdly if you never read about music and just pursue your own natural habit of an occasional mix here, following up a track you like if it happens, that any sense of hype just disappears really.

i listen to a lot of older stuff like jazz or classical and opera and things at the moment, just because i find it a nice removal from my job which involves processing about 30/40 very pop type pieces of content a day, and it's nice to have something which exists far beyond that.

but equally i do still check beats in space and stuff, oftentimes i'll hear something and really like it and it'll turn out to be someone i've seen friends posting about on facebook, or whatever, and i think "oh okay...that's who that is."

this sometimes reminds me that often hyped things are actually good, if i find myself looking up a track and it turns out to be whoever.

i guess overall what i'm saying that being relatively unconscious of hype about things isn't that different from being really inside the genre and feeling able to rubbish it. the net result is making your own decision.

it's just less angry, there's no need to really be that bothered, some people are hyping a record...very good.

are there people who are somehow beholden to hype or something? i'm quite interested in where choice stops here...pretty sure hyped things are hyped because everyone who likes them genuinely does so.

HI IT'S RONAN, Thursday, 8 December 2011 08:47 (ten years ago) link

the funny thing is that what you're saying is what i thought was the baseline of the lex's worldview, but it's like he's pushed so far he's come back around to the other side

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 09:00 (ten years ago) link

i assumed everyone on ilx had a baseline of dismissing talk of "herd mentalities", like as i said, isn't that the most common way people dismiss pop music?

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Thursday, 8 December 2011 09:04 (ten years ago) link

stop attributing "world views" to me! i have never held a consistent or logical position on these things, it seems to me to miss the point somewhat.

btw i was not the first person to start talking about the "herd mentality", and when i do so it's referring to people who work in the music industry rather than ordinary listeners.

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 09:19 (ten years ago) link

i have never held a consistent or logical position on these things, it seems to me to miss the point somewhat.

I identify with this a bit, I think this issue - how affected one is by hype etc. - is one in respect of which it's hard not to have really variable reactions, like one day to be supremely unruffled by it and the next to be filled with righteous indignation.

I guess because ultimately it's less about one's attitude to music than one's relationship with tribes.

It's probably one of the areas of music awareness that gloms onto politics most easily.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 09:45 (ten years ago) link

Well actually the first part of lex's sentence more than the second at any rate - by virtue of the first part i'm not sure if there's really a 'point' as such to miss.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 09:47 (ten years ago) link

the point is more to do with how one responds to music? having a rigorous world view misses the point that being a music listener is an unpredictable and messy affair (cf kogan's boney joan rule)

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 09:51 (ten years ago) link

oh okay.

My reading of boney joan (which doesn't at all contradict the above) is that it's about the inadequacy of concepts vis a vis experience, that two voices can both code as being like a babbling brook and that can mean totally different things, because analogies for music can never exhaust it.

But most people (who understandably aren't as rigorous as frank) try to deny the above and fashion their post facto rationalisations of music enjoyment to be as predictable and as neat as possible.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 10:00 (ten years ago) link

So I don't think it's totally wrong to say e.g. "if you like this then logically you should like that, why don't you?" (or something similar) (rhetorical strategies which presume a certain consistency and orderliness to people's taste and enjoyment) because in general people's experience of their own music enjoyment is that it is self-consistent. Our conversations here tend to assume it as a given, in fact.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 10:03 (ten years ago) link

I pretty much refuse to do interviews b/c I more times than not I end up getting annoyed with the artist for doing the above plus sounding like dog latin.

i've only had this a couple of times - you just have to avoid the questions that are obviously going to lead to pat answers. i've grown to really enjoy doing interviews tbh.

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 11:02 (ten years ago) link

same, still hate transcribing though

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 20:23 (ten years ago) link

Actually yeah that may be the bigger issue. Basically anything involving set up, preparation, back-end work etc is irritating for me. Whereas reviews are like: sit down, write it in one go, submit.

I never really devoted myself to being a pro music critic sufficiently to get many interesting interviews anyway. One glorious exception was Sabrina from Mis-Teeq - who wasn't pat at all.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 20:41 (ten years ago) link

i might have said the same, many years ago! i learned to do it b/c you have to do it to make a living as a journalist (not just a music journalist), and in the process learned how rewarding it can be.

tbh - this is not meant personally - i am not wholly down with people swanning in to do the fun stuff and airily going "oh i don't like the rest of the job". though i guess this is kind of like me not understanding why professional journalists hated other people writing for free, back when i did that. then i went freelance and ohhhhh boy do i get it now. (though at the same time if i hadn't written for free then, i wouldn't have this career at all.)

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 20:51 (ten years ago) link

transcription is the absolute worst obv

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 20:53 (ten years ago) link

Is there some ethical imperative to do unenjoyable tasks beyond the usual Protestant one?

Or is it a more general issue with people dabbling in journalism who have other careers?

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:12 (ten years ago) link

i think it's more a concern w/ the state of journalism and that it's easy to find people willing to share their thoughts with the world but rare to find people willing to actually tell stories

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:18 (ten years ago) link

like, there's a very real value provided by journalism

of course, that doesn't defend 90% of vaguely journalistic puff-piece interviews, but still

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:19 (ten years ago) link

I'm not sure that interviewing necessarily equates with storytelling and reviewing necessarily doesn't.

The state of music journalism as a career and the state of music journalism as a body of work are heavily related and mutually interdependent, but they're not the same thing.

In respect of the former, I would think it's more ethical of me not to be stealIng work from poverty line freelancers and then doing a half-assed job of it.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:25 (ten years ago) link

people who work for free undercut people who do this as a profession, basically. re: dabbling, i dunno, i did journalism as a side thing for years while having a proper job and i can't really blame anyone for choosing to actually earn some ££, but i'm sure you can think of an analogous situation in law whereby someone swans in to do the most fun, easy part of the job but airily dismisses the legwork that you do because it's, y'know, your career

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:27 (ten years ago) link

I'm not sure that interviewing necessarily equates with storytelling and reviewing necessarily doesn't.

right but there's information that informs the public that can't be obtained through any other means

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:28 (ten years ago) link

i guess i was gonna make a point about how being forced to include interviewing as a thing i did actually made me a better writer/journalist/reviewer, even though when i started out it was something i disliked, wasn't comfortable with, thought tedious etc. indeed learning to love it has been as much personal development as career development!

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:30 (ten years ago) link

I'm not dismissing interviewing. But if someone told me that they decided not to become a litigator because they cannot stand document discovery I would sympathise.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:33 (ten years ago) link

The above makes absolute sense to me; to be clear, me saying I don't really have the temperament for interviewing was a self-criticism rather than a criticism of journalism or journalists. The same things that I struggle with there are things I struggle with in work.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:36 (ten years ago) link

my point was that i thought i didn't have the temperament for interviewing 5 years ago! but it's funny how wrong we can be about ourselves.

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:38 (ten years ago) link

and obv the things i'm most satisfied about are precisely those things i wasn't sure i had the temperament to be able to do - far more satisfaction than filing a good review, which i've always known i can do

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:39 (ten years ago) link

I mean all I want to do at work is draft snarky argument-winning correspondence to the other side, which is basically the litigation equivalent of review writing.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:40 (ten years ago) link

I mean all I want to do at work is draft snarky argument-winning correspondence to the other side, which is basically the litigation equivalent of review writing and posting on ilx.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:40 (ten years ago) link

this is a total tangent/aside but document discovery is possibly the most horrifying white collar job there is IMO

OH NOES, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:42 (ten years ago) link

Insert strikethrough in the obvious place above.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:42 (ten years ago) link

Yes.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 21:44 (ten years ago) link

"people who work for free undercut people who do this as a profession, basically."

Are you seriously trying to argue this point, Lex?

rennavate, Thursday, 8 December 2011 23:40 (ten years ago) link

how is that disputable

Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, 8 December 2011 23:49 (ten years ago) link

people doing work for free lowers the economic value of the work in question

Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, 8 December 2011 23:49 (ten years ago) link

well, it is like arguing with the existence of the ocean. the trick is just making your work that much more valuable

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Thursday, 8 December 2011 23:51 (ten years ago) link

there's no trick to it, it's just a simple trick!

Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, 8 December 2011 23:52 (ten years ago) link

people doing work for free lowers the economic value of the work in question

― Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, December 8, 2011 11:49 PM (4 minutes ago) Bookmark Permalink

But that matters only to the people who aren't any better than those doing work for free. Which is what deej is echoing, I think.

rennavate, Thursday, 8 December 2011 23:56 (ten years ago) link

lol "only"

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:01 (ten years ago) link

economic value is often not assigned by quality btw

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:01 (ten years ago) link

for ex. shitty MP3s are free, higher quality formats may cost money - guess which one is more popular. and guess which one also drags down the actual overall market value.

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:03 (ten years ago) link

or to put it in journalism terms - shitty blog posts articles by anybody for free, and people read it because it's free. fewer people read a competing site requiring payment, they don't bring in enough money to pay writers, writers who want to be paid have to compete for a smaller number of spots. and get paid less, because the site has less money coming in.

this scenario has been played out on a macro scale so many times over the last decade, denying it is like climate-change denial, it's just bizarre.

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:06 (ten years ago) link

yeah but what is he supposed to do about it?

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:07 (ten years ago) link

like, might as well complain that you die one day. boy that sucks!!

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:07 (ten years ago) link

what is who supposed to do about it, Lex? Lex can't do anything about. rennavate can't do anything about it either, but maybe he should stop making denying reality.

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:08 (ten years ago) link

making

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:08 (ten years ago) link

I think the general point (writing about music for free lowers economic value of music writing) is correct but I don't know that it's as clear-cut as that suggests either, primarily because free music writing and paid music writing are not identical in content or medium.

This is where the poor-quality free MP3 versus CD analogy doesn't quite work - that's more like reading a newspaper online for free online but with annoying pop-ups versus paying for a print version.

Certainly some blogs and non-remunerative publications aspire to be precisely as tedious and narrow-minded as their remunerative counterparts, but beyond those, "free" music writing is part of a broad continuum of non-journalistic writing that includes people posting on ILX. In some senses, ILX competes directly for its readers' attention with paid publications: rather than read an article about Amy Winehouse's life we might read the ILM RIP thread instead.

Would we propose, therefore, that the existence of the latter is a negative historical development?

Lex raising the issue of dabblers in my profession (law) and how I would feel about them was kind of useful in this regard: it doesn't actually happen in Australia (and I assume this goes for the UK as well) because the admission and compliance requirements involved in being a lawyer are far too onerous for anyone ever just to "dabble" in it, except as a career-withdrawal strategy (i.e. after they've done it full-time for a long time).

This has the effect of helping to protect standards, but it's also criticised for reducing competition, making the industry hidebound, conservative, and effectively turning the legal industry into a partially closed shop (especially at the Bar).

Imagine a universe where all music journalism (in the broadest sense) had similar professional standards regulations: where you could be sued for offering a written opinion on a record without holding the appropriate qualifications and a licence to write through a paying publication. What would the effect of this be? I expect it would mean that:

(a) publications could charge a lot more while still commanding an audience;
(b) journalists would be paid better;
(c) standards of writing would be higher in many senses, particularly technical standards;
(d) breaking into the industry would be harder;
(e) the writing and opinions would by and large be more conservative, slow to change and divorced from public opinion; and
(f) the diversity of writing and opinion would be constrained.

Some of the above effects would be positive, some negative - as is typical in respect of issues of industry regulation.

Whatever the arrangement, there will be good and bad writers and good and bad lawyers.

Tim F, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:36 (ten years ago) link

Obviously no-one is actually proposing the above ITT, I'm just using it as an illustrative example of the kind of tensions that surround the issue of music writing's creep beyond the boundaries of professional journalism.

Tim F, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:38 (ten years ago) link

Every time you talk with your friends about music, you are stealing from professional music critics.

Occidental Rudipherous, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:42 (ten years ago) link

(a) publications could charge a lot more while still commanding an audience;
(b) journalists would be paid better;
(c) standards of writing would be higher in many senses, particularly technical standards;
(d) breaking into the industry would be harder;
(e) the writing and opinions would by and large be more conservative, slow to change and divorced from public opinion; and
(f) the diversity of writing and opinion would be constrained.

all of these things were true for journalism prior to the internet, sans "regulations"

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:42 (ten years ago) link

Well yeah exactly.

Tim F, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:44 (ten years ago) link

I will keep in mind that, when I publish essays and reviews on my blog because I don't publish enough freelance stuff anymore for a number of reasons, I'm contributing to the corruption of professional criticism.

Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:46 (ten years ago) link

lol I'm not telling anybody not to write or whatever. everybody do everything!

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:47 (ten years ago) link

what about comparing it with musicians? i got picked up to do paid work because i did a bunch of free work first. its the same as rappers w/ mixtapes. i'm sure there are rappers who think, if yall werent giving this away for free, we could all bank off of it, but its just the way the industry is now; you have to churn out a lot MORE content bcuz of the internet, so you have to make your ideas go a lot further

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 00:59 (ten years ago) link

At this stage, complaining about people writing for free is pointless.

But it has become a vicious circle. Of course, the obvious way for paid-media to fight the hobbyists is to make their coverage better. But the proliferation of free media has shattered the audience, slashed paid circulations, destroyed advertising bases. The need to bring in revenue means chasing what circulation there is, and that leads a great many editors to commission what they believe will bring in casual readers - hence the endless puff interviews. That's not so much of a problem when you have the pagination to run the good stuff as well (I remember Graydon Carter justifying the awful VF cover stories by saying that's what bought him the right to run the long pieces about Afghanistan or Wall Street), but now that - especially in newspapers - pagination is getting pegged back, we're in a world where if you have two music pieces a week, you'd be a fool to make one of them Lex on underground women rappers in the UK. You want Coldplay and Kylie. And publications are going to start appointing editors who give them that, rather than editors who have a genuine interest in going off the beaten track.

Free writers are only one tiny part of that, of course. They're only one tiny part of how the internet has ravaged mainstream journalism. And, really, in terms of the massive decline of the past three years, the effects of the crash outweigh the effects of the internet.

ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 11:08 (ten years ago) link

I like hype, even when the debates are lame and the bands are terrible and the personalities involved are all loathsome there's something entertaining about watching people getting involved in arguments with one another or just watching these ludicrous made-up genres dropping off the production line. The context can be more fun than the music sometimes.

It's probably the same reason why I'm more likely to watch a turgid game between two frumpy midtable football clubs in the league I follow rather than a potentially amazing televised game taking place in a country whose league I don't follow, it's nice to have the oxygen of some kind of debate/story/soap opera.

Matt DC, Friday, 9 December 2011 11:48 (ten years ago) link

for the most part I actually DO hear music in a vacuum, or in my own contexts

Do you go to clubs? If you go out dancing and the DJ's playing a load of records and you like a lot of them, are you doing so in a vacuum? The DJ isn't insulated from the discourse and neither are the dancers.

Matt DC, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:00 (ten years ago) link

Do you go to clubs? If you go out dancing and the DJ's playing a load of records and you like a lot of them, are you doing so in a vacuum? The DJ isn't insulated from the discourse and neither are the dancers.

― Matt DC, Friday, 9 December 2011

Perhaps what I mean here is, for the most part I have no preconceptions about most records I hear or buy because I don't know what they are until after I have heard them. I haven't read anything and no one has talked about them to me - and sometimes I have read or heard something about a record, but only become aware its the same record after I have heard about it and found out what it was

This technically might not be a vacuum but it is hearing something without amy idea who it is by

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:34 (ten years ago) link

I know that is also a context - but...not in the context of this thread (written stuff, and discussed stuff)

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:39 (ten years ago) link

"What do you think of X?"

"No idea never heard of it"

"Its just finishing now"

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:42 (ten years ago) link

Yeah I suppose so, was more pointing out that critical circles/debates can seep through even when you aren't paying attention to them.

Matt DC, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:43 (ten years ago) link

This was actually my point upthread!

I've never heard Drake or Metronomy but I know all about them.

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:50 (ten years ago) link

and I've certainly never paid any attention to anything said about either

april wowak, Friday, 9 December 2011 12:50 (ten years ago) link

tbh it seems pretty logical people are not paid simply for offering their opinion about a record...it isn't actually worth anything

not least when you can read here or a friend's facebook post or a blog.

a lot of the papers or mags have this stink of catering to the diminishing and increasingly alien (at least to me and everyone I know) pool of people who still need them.

ItHappens otm basically...but how bad a thing is this anyway?

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Friday, 9 December 2011 13:27 (ten years ago) link

Well, as an employee of paid-media, I do fervently believe that writers with years of experience, well developed research and writing skills, good contacts, an understanding of context, the knowledge of how to connect with an audience and the ability to bring those things together in one article are more likely to provide a piece of reading that entertains and informs than someone sharing their thoughts from their bedroom.

I think album reviews, these days, are little more than a sop, something for advertisers to place ads against. But the money that they bring in is what pays for the time and effort and good writer can put into a worthwhile piece. Someone writing for free likely can't devote several days to chasing down the interviews and researching the best possible story.

ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 15:26 (ten years ago) link

No offense, but "someone sharing their thoughts from their bedroom" reminds of Brian Williams getting miffed at bloggers "in their bathrobes" scooping him. It's such a stereotype.

Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 9 December 2011 15:36 (ten years ago) link

I pretty much refuse to do interviews b/c I more times than not I end up getting annoyed with the artist for doing the above plus sounding like dog latin.

― Tim F, Thursday, 8 December 2011 04:11 (Yesterday) Bookmark Permalink

Haha, I get the feeling I'm the only one who read that and didn't have a clue what Tim was referring to...

dog latin, Friday, 9 December 2011 15:38 (ten years ago) link

yeah that's really offensive, i have NEVER scooped brian williams (xpost)

Mr. Stevenson #2, Friday, 9 December 2011 15:43 (ten years ago) link

xpost Using exaggeration to make a point. If bloggers genuinely scoop paid journalism, then fair play to them. And often they do - not having the turning circle of a supertanker means they usually are first on to new things. What's more, only a fool would delude themselves into thinking that someone who gets paid for writing is ipso facto a better writer than someone who doesn't. But I think the point about being able to do in-depth journalism without financial resources behind them holds as true for good music writing as it does for traditional news writing v citizen journalism. Even Pitchfork hasn't truly been able to do that - its core is still reviews and thinkpieces. They haven't exactly thrown themselves into reported pieces. When the best bloggers are able to monetise (errgh) their relationship with their readers to such an extent that they can do whatever they want is the day that traditional paid-media music journalism really dies.

ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 16:00 (ten years ago) link

also, while i do think quality of thinking/writing about music (sticking to reviews & thinkpieces rather than investigative story-finding) doesn't correlate to paid/unpaid writers...the best unpaid ones should absolutely be paid! so many excellent writers have moved from unpaid blogging to paid journalism over the past 10 years. (and without the motivational force of being paid, a lot of excellent writers tend to fall out of the game, consistently not find time for it etc.)

um idk where i was going with that i typed it kinda piecemeal, i think the short version is "yes, duh, good music writers should be paid"

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Friday, 9 December 2011 16:15 (ten years ago) link

Big Society Music Journalism

dog latin, Friday, 9 December 2011 16:18 (ten years ago) link

I think album reviews, these days, are little more than a sop, something for advertisers to place ads against. But the money that they bring in is what pays for the time and effort and good writer can put into a worthwhile piece. Someone writing for free likely can't devote several days to chasing down the interviews and researching the best possible story.

― ItHappens, Friday, December 9, 2011 9:26 AM (3 hours ago) Bookmark Permalink

lets not pretend it was better prior to the internet. i honestly thought 99% of music writing was awful; it was the internet that helped me find writers who i felt were actually talking about things in a way i could relate to

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 18:46 (ten years ago) link

I C+P'd the wrong thing i think. oh well

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 18:46 (ten years ago) link

It also helps that nowadays a music blogger doesn't have to describe the music very well: they can just give you a link and you can listen to it for yourself.

o. nate, Friday, 9 December 2011 18:50 (ten years ago) link

xpost - Wouldn't disagree with that at all. I'm not sticking up for puff interviews and crap "humour" and cursory album reviews. Just for the things that paid media does do better - which is give time and resources.

ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 23:33 (ten years ago) link

lets not pretend it was better prior to the internet. i honestly thought 99% of music writing was awful; it was the internet that helped me find writers who i felt were actually talking about things in a way i could relate to

implication here is that you actually think music writing is better (ie, less than 99% awful) on the internet...? this is baffling.

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 23:38 (ten years ago) link

i think he means there's more good stuff and/or the good stuff is easier to find, even if the overall percentage of good stuff is lower....which is almost undeniably true for MOST mediums and artforms post-internet

some dude (Mr. Stevenson #2), Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:01 (ten years ago) link

bingo

joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:06 (ten years ago) link

I agree 100% and it links up nicely with my answer to the thread premise. With so much content to choose from, it can be easier to zero in on specific stuff you like (popular or whatever) and not feel like yr "missing out" by not engaging with the charts or whatever because you've got too much other stuff to check out that you're more likely to enjoy. It's different for critics, maybe, (I'm not one) in that they have more of an obligation to engage with the charts.. Maybe obligation is too strong a word, I just mean to some extent it's part of the job description, right?

moonbop, Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:53 (ten years ago) link

Anyway, as a listener, being more "demanding" of music has been good for me, I guess. Life is short.

moonbop, Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:54 (ten years ago) link

It also helps that nowadays a music blogger doesn't have to describe the music very well: they can just give you a link and you can listen to it for yourself.

yeah i'm in agreement with deej that 7 or so years ago, the best music writing was to be found online, but these days that's only rarely the case tbh

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:09 (ten years ago) link

disagree with that...but i'd say nowadays the best music writing isn't formalised, it's discussion. like here. everyone has a piece.

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:41 (ten years ago) link

yes we fucking get it already ronan, you despise music criticism and think it's a completely worthless profession. now stfu

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:55 (ten years ago) link

is there someone with you as you post?

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:58 (ten years ago) link

yeah i'm in agreement with deej that 7 or so years ago, the best music writing was to be found online, but these days that's only rarely the case tbh

Do you mean online as in unpaid lex? I'm not being pedantic as in "The Guardian is online too you know" - more that there's a fair amount of criticism which is both paid but also obviously "online" writing with varying degrees of similarity to the print media version.

My favourite piece of music writing in the last few years is probably Tom's column here:

http://pitchfork.com/features/poptimist/7848-poptimist-32/

Which is sorta in the halfway camp of being music writing that is paid, but probably also couldn't exist except in a post-blog world - not only literally in the sense that Tom was and partly remains an unpaid online music writer (and one of the best or even the best, IMO), but more in the sense of speaking to and and from and about and in the style of online free music writing and discussion, such that it seems like a really happy accident that there's a payment for the writer out of it.

There's no necessary distinction between Poptimist and Popular, beyond the fact that:

(a) one is paid and one is not; and

(b) Popular has an amazing post-publication collaborative culture of elucidation amongst (many of) its readers (which I've always admired from the sidelines), something which theoretically could happen with a paid gig but I've not seen any examples of.

But then Tom is pretty much the ideal of the online dabbler, so is hardly representative as such.

Tim F, Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:43 (ten years ago) link

Tom is an exceptional case: what separates him from the vast majority of self-publishers is that paying publishers also want to publish him. I strongly suspect in the pre-internet age he'd have been one of those people who did occasional essayism alongside a day job. The internet just meant he didn't have to hustle for the chance to write those essays - people came to him.

ItHappens, Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:58 (ten years ago) link

well yeah i meant unpaid, or not "professional" or whatever. (please don't be pedantic with that terminology, i'm hungover.) there's no substantive difference between those and tom's guardian column either.

for all that lots of professional outlets are trying to replicate it, i can't see them ever matching that culture of community discussion - it's a fundamental structural problem, most commenters on the guardian seem to take a ronanesque YOU'RE ALL SHIT AND SO IS THIS MUSIC line as their default starting point

degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:59 (ten years ago) link

i'm making points i believe in, which are not actually targeted at you at all, but i suppose you enjoy roaring at people online so go ahead, i wouldn't worry about how it makes you appear.

anyway i think with online newspaper articles conceptually it all feels a bit odd now, it's a pretty awkward position for the writer to be in to have to write simultaneously for an audience that knows nothing about what you're talking about and one that may know anything/everything and wants to criticise the paper for being out of touch, the internet makes potential next door neighbours of everyone.

i suppose there are ways around this, but it's not easy. i think newer websites have this problem too, resident advisor obviously.

at a certain point though i just question the need for a central voice...if it's just attempting to speak to a group of people who are too disparate.

largely though i think the culture of discussion that exists away from the paid or trad outlets is better, it's stronger and it's worth more and above all you don't have to do the job for a living to be part of it.

none of which i think is negative at all on my part...it's actually just good that there's a democracy there now in my opinion.

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:17 (ten years ago) link

xpost

Yeah I wasn't trying to nitpick! I think it's interesting to try and place stuff like Tom's work (in its multiple guises) within this discussion.

Mark Sinker and Frank Kogan are immediate further examples of writers whose work it seems to me both can work very well in the context of "ordinary" (post)print journalism but also exceeds beyond the boundaries of what it can allow.

For Frank this was in part solved in the pre-internet age through his zine. He once kindly sent me a few copies of Why Music Sucks, and they're amazing (and contain their own pre-internet version of the Popular community). That approach obviously has its drawbacks in terms of reach, but they're beautiful artifacts.

It strikes me that the biggest shift from the early 00s to now in terms of online music writing is simply the increased sense of disposability - at the point of reception rather than creation. When I first started reading and writing blogs in 2000 my sense of the approach was that you'd really follow the blogs, read everything in them, read the archives (which usually weren't voluminous in 2000, but anyway) - these were works.

Whereas even the best blogs now feel much more disposable and forgettable, and so does professional media online, because the mode of consumption has changed in line with social media - tweet and facebook links and sharing and the like. I feel that our consumption of online media has grown even less moored to the culture of personality of the creator than it used to be. In fact appropriately the most recent and final Poptimist column is about this in part - Tom talks about how using the internet used to be like diving, whereas the "surfing" metaphor only became apt after Web 2.0.

Increasing disposability at the level of production - MP3 blogs etc - add to this, but I think that shift would have occurred in any event.

So it's not surprising that the unpaid online writing which seems most memorable and valuable in retrospect* often is that which is quite formalistic, or in general has strategies for making of itself an artifact less easily subsumed by its (inherent) internet-virality.

*which is different from what is the most valuable music writing in the moment.

Tim F, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:30 (ten years ago) link

disagree with that...but i'd say nowadays the best music writing isn't formalised, it's discussion. like here. everyone has a piece.

― SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011

This presumes there is a 'best fit' with a singular audience. Informal discussion/board type stuff is great yes, but for a particular audience or type of person. You aren't the only kind of audience, what is better for that kind of person, isn't "the best" per se

More formal work is a better fit for different kinds of audiences (possibly most audiences) - obviously if the 'right' writer is being read (often not the case but thats another issue). If my parents, or the people next door, or most of the people in the cafe over the road wanted to read about something - a formal piece in a publication is a better fit for them imo then jumping into forums - which are often really alienating and not particularly helpful especially if you don't know that much about a particular thing.

this is all pretty tangential to the thread now - I think the main thing is, just because a particular thing isn't proving useful to a particular person - it doesn't invalidate its purpose, far from it

april wowak, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:43 (ten years ago) link

it's a pretty awkward position for the writer to be in to have to write simultaneously for an audience that knows nothing about what you're talking about and one that may know anything/everything and wants to criticise the paper for being out of touch

This

dog latin, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:47 (ten years ago) link

Thats exactly the thing - multiple and disparate audiences

april wowak, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:52 (ten years ago) link

xpost i didn't really mean just here specifically or just forums. this place was practically built on the idea that conversations and personal experiences about music are the most important thing tho...and i largely agree with that still.

More formal work is a better fit for different kinds of audiences (possibly most audiences) - obviously if the 'right' writer is being read (often not the case but thats another issue). If my parents, or the people next door, or most of the people in the cafe over the road wanted to read about something - a formal piece in a publication is a better fit for them imo then jumping into forums - which are often really alienating and not particularly helpful especially if you don't know that much about a particular thing.

this is true but it's less and less true all the time, don't you think? it is a huge tangent - how do you measure the usefulness of an opinion or argument anyway? how does a paid site say "we're doing well here"...

online these days it's probably hits, which is another huge tangent.

SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:59 (ten years ago) link


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