Sunday, November 1, 2009

Music Criticism…Today!

I haven’t written here in quite a while. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I’ve had nothing particularly important to say that I haven’t already said. Secondly, I’m in school and there’s lots of other stuff to think about. And thirdly, I’ve fallen into a rut of procrastination and laziness. Just doing enough to get by. Well, dammit, I’m going to update this bloody blog. It’s a Saturday and I’m at home. What else do I have to do?

A couple months ago, I subscribed to a magazine called Uncut. I’d bought one two summers ago and was intrigued by their coverage of old and new (mostly) rock music. Well, I bought another one this summer, saw an exciting offer for a subscription in the back pages, and bit the bullet and bought a year-long supply.

So far, so good. I got my first new issue earlier this month. It featured Jack White as well as “The 150 Greatest albums of the 21st Century…so far!” This was awesome as I could instantly gather their slant as a magazine, which seems to be toward more retro sounding stuff, as two Bob Dylan albums were in the top ten, along with Brian Wilson and Robert Plant/Alison Krauss. The only album in common between our respective top tens was Fleet Foxes.

To me, this viewpoint is sort of the opposite of indie juggernaut, Over on that golden beacon of independent music guidance, the newer and more radical sounding, the better the reaction. I personally really like Pitchfork, even if some of their reviews seem to be more about the reviewer’s imagination than the actual music. My friend Nate wrote about Pitchfork recently and you can check that out. I’m not going to divulge into the endless quirks of this site. Just say that I join the fraternity of hipsters taking mental notes of every album on their “Best New Music” list.

I read a book this summer about music criticism in the 19th century and all the dialogue that went on between critics and the influence of all of this on audiences and artists. While reading it, I thought, “Too bad that doesn’t happen very much anymore.” Well, it kind of does. After reading these different sources of musical criticism and other various top albums of the decade lists, I have come to realize how exciting the world of non-mainstream popular music is. In the past, I’d thought of myself as a historian of sorts, reading up on music of a bygone era. I still do that of course, but reading about Embryonic by the Flaming Lips or Merriweather Post Pavillion in current sources of criticism makes it thrilling to live here and now in 2009. New sounding stuff is happening now and always will be. That may be blatantly obvious but is also cause for rejoice!

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