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

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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

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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