London Grammar is shit. Not sure where this blog is going. Folk have already pointed out the irony of hosting a [ ] is shit series on a blog called Music That I Like. Fact remains that if I publish anything on new music, no one – or very few – is interested. I get traction if the band shares the blog entry, but only minimal usually. Find more evidence here. I am still up for challenging the form of music criticism but I do not like to repeat myself (unless I do) and also I am currently teaching the damn thing (by necessity, reasonably straight) and so this is a bit of a dead end. I love the idea of writing about music that turns me, but little turns me on right now – not the music’s fault, mine. The black dog roars once more.
Ultimately, I have always thought that my role as a music journalist is to tell the truth – however I see it. I view my role as an editor as an extension of my writerly role: to encourage individual and challenging criticism, mediation and commentary, to support those who need supporting, to inform those that need informing and to champion voices otherwise overlooked.
I view my role as a teacher similarly: to encourage individual and challenging voices, mediation and commentary, to support those who need supporting, to inform those that need informing and to champion voices otherwise overlooked.
VOTE NOW! YOUR VOTE COUNTS… or doesn’t. Depending.
Here are a few ideas.
1. Chase up leads (these ones from Lucy Cage)
3. Continue with the [ ] is shit series, and perhaps compile a book around it.
5. Continue to reprint the occasional old article.
I have two mice. One for good thoughts, one for evil.
Forgive while I wallow for a little in one of those years I have no memory of: 1983, say. Somewhere, I lost track. Somewhere I lost sight of the…
I’m thinking of what your fingers would look like holding this mouse, the stretch and length of them. I’m wondering if the…
I survive an entire day at an academic seminar, and then need to take two Valium to overcome nerves at seeing one of…
Punk is viewed as a male construct, it is always about John Lydon lighting the touch-paper, The Clash The Damned Buzzcocks Vicious, whatever…
The women always made the more interesting music to me, more willing to take chances possibly precisely because they were commonly ignored by the patriarchy so it may not have mattered either way. In 1982, I recall talking extremely, breathlessly, fast to Helen McCookerybook of The Chefs in the Rock Garden. Sweet and wise beyond men’s comprehension, and clearly with bones of steel. I watch her tonight play the Green Door in Brighton as part of some form of John Peel revivalism night, sandwiched between loud men playing loud guitars and am struck once again by how much extra punk she is – whatever the hell punk means: I have always chosen it to mean DIY and female and creating own rules, not following others (like, most obviously, The Clash who were so see-through it was kind of nice their clothes didn’t reflect their marketing). She acknowledges errors and turns them into songs with extra special meaning. She plays some sweet new songs, steely like Viv Albertine reinventing and smoothing over the past. She plays some old Helen And The Horns songs (a band that partly formed out of a band I was in, Futile Hurling) and fills in the brass sections herself, the bits we aren’t loudly singing along to in our own heads), she reimagines some Chefs songs and explains the connection between DIY punk-pop and Giorgio Moroder (I can understand why Pete Waterman went for her now). She jangles and plucks with a Rickenbacker that makes all the boys on Facebook drool, and hits a string that sounds like a chorus-line of imps deeply chuckling. She plays the plaintive, heroic ‘Heaven Avenue’ and it’s more than I can do not to sob. Emotions overwhelm me and I fucking wish they wouldn’t and I desperately hope she doesn’t mention me from on stage because I want to remain invisible in this land under my Strangerbeanie. She jokes and smiles and does that whole thing where she is clearly enjoying playing music so much that she cannot hold back the laughter. I mourn friends I can no longer remember the names, faces or stories of. I mourn wind smells, shapes the smoke used to make above Chelmsford in the early morning. I want to feel dew between my toes. I can hear harpsichords.
I dunno. As usual, I have nothing to say but a burning desire to say it. I want to make everyone dance and swoon and understand the importance of being Helen. That unfailing thirst, wonder, steel.
One mouse looks dead now, disappointed. The other feels useless in my hands. I wonder what your fingers would look like caressing it.
I mourn my lost self.
I nearly don’t make it down the street, but I’m so glad…
I have nothing to boast about, brag…
One day I will learn how to write about music and then I will be in clover and cynical and without a heart like Barbara Ellen.
7. Pursue the same old bitter old music critic line
WHY ARE THERE NO NEGATIVE REVIEWS ANYMORE, ask a flurry of self-righteous music critics elsewhere. Here’s my brief experience as a reviewer for Brisbane newspaper Courier-Mail, shortly after I moved to Australia in 2008.
Me: “Can I do some work for you?”
Them: “Wow! What a CV! Fantastic! Of course you can!”
C-M sends me off to review a couple of shows. So I review a couple, favourably. So far so good. The third one, I don’t like – so I review it and explain why, forgetting Rule Number One of Local Journalism. Do Not EVER Slag Anything Off. Result? I never write for the Courier-Mail again.
This is music writing on the Internet today (mainly).
P.S. This is at odds with my experience as a reviewer with Melbourne newspaper The Age several years earlier, which let me write what the fuck I liked, only drawing the line at a ferocious kicking of Kylie…. and at odds with my more recent experience at The Guardian (Australia), the editors at which were very supportive.
P.P.S. This was also despite the C-M later running a couple of two-page spreads on me as a local “celeb”.
Shannon Attwell · Friends with Elle Cee: keep it objective, it’s hard to shit on something if you’re objective, even if you don’t like something someone else will and it’s trying as hard as you can to see that and bring attention to it, right?
David Bennun: That’s not being a critic. That”s being a reporter. The worst thing a critic can possibly try to be is objective. It’s boring, pointless and impossible. A critic’s first job is to be honest to his/her own responses; the second is to interest the reader – which does not mean pandering to the reader. And nobody ever complains that favourable reviews aren’t “objective”. Only unfavourable ones. Which shows what people who demand “objectivity” really mean. They mean “Don’t write anything *I* object to.”
Jerry Thackray: thank you David. Spot on.
9.Continue with Song of the Day.
(See above.) Like anyone gave a crap about this one. Easily possible to source your own music and add in your own opinion.
All music critics are self-righteous. It’s in the job description.
Sally Young: It’s because no one cares what music journalists think. In 2017 the bands are the media. If you are a Mumford fan or Foo Fighters fan or Ed Sheeran fan why would you care what a 60 year old white male journo with his own lost music career down the pan thinks of the new album? What is the context? I personally don’t think I should be seen liking this type of music? Music writing started to die in the punk era because it was a race to be seen to the most snarky, the most cool. The music press started to die then.
11. Get a full-time job.
I need to hear cheerleading as I send this job app off. WHERE ARE THE POM-POMS!?