Music journalism is a bit shit these days


#1

Used to enjoy PItchfork, Clash Music etc. (and DiS obviously). Today Clash is tweeting about Katy Perry’s new single “about white privilege” being a “banger”; Pitchfork is becomingly increasingly political and preachy and to be honest, all of these sites are just covering the same bands and artists to the point where it’s all become one big homogenous gulch.

Is there anywhere decent left for reviews etc. where I can just get a solid opinion on some tunes without being lectured by some White Knight on how Surfer Blood are dogshit because one of their members one punched a lass?


#2

Also why can’t games journalism be objective?


#3

Pitchfork reviews have become pretty unreadable to me these days. I feel like they very rarely talk about the actual music, and often thrust outside context on to albums where it really isn’t necessary.

It reminds me a bit of a GCSE English essay when you’d have to come up with some nonsense like ‘When the writer says the curtains are blue they are evoking feelings of depression and isolation’


#4

For those who may not read the main site (shocking I know) the OP is referring to the DiS review of Surfer Bloods album: http://drownedinsound.com/releases/19798/reviews/4150755

To say it’s a “lecture” isn’t really fair considering this paragraph:

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. ‘But Lee, surely as a critic, you can separate the man from the art.’ Well, that’d be true, if we were discussing art. Through Brix Smith Start’s book, I’ve learned that Mark E. Smith was a horrible maniac – but certain Fall records will never cease to excite or amaze me, because they’re utterly bonkers and genius (and besides, he wasn’t the only one writing the songs). Snowdonia, on the other hand, is a rather average document, already a relic on arrival, with about three standout songs among a soporific wash of over-polished Flying Nun imitations.


#5

Consider the first couple of paragraphs though:

"In 2016, the American people let off a bunch of douchebags. Brock
Turner, a convicted rapist who happened to swim for a team at Stanford,
only served three months for fucking a girl over at a party. Ryan
Lochte, an Olympic athlete that defaced some public property and also
happened to swim for a team, was picked to compete (or dance, rather) in
a ridiculously popular television show. And of course, Donald Trump,
who doesn’t swim for a team but could probably fill 2,000 Olympic
swimming pools with cash and piss, definitely likes to grab women’s
pussies, and we still elected him to be president.

I don’t care that five years have passed since John Pitts was charged of battering his girlfriend. Does a victim of sexual assault forget her attacker in five years? No, certainly not – and so I’m not going to write about Surfer Blood
without reminding everyone of Pitts, who has never apologised in
public, and has consistently lied about his criminal record. (He WAS
charged, the day he was arrested; those charges were only dropped when
he accepted a plea and pass deal, wherein he had to plea guilty and
complete a batterer’s intervention program. Look it up, if you don’t
believe me.)"

If I were the guy from Surfer Blood, I’d strongly consider libel action - the writer doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish between “assault” (which can be something as innocuous as pushing somebody) and “sexual assault” which is something far more serious.

At any rate, I don’t particularly think it’s necessary in a review of a record.


#6

couldn’t give a fuck about reviews being ‘political’, nowt wrong with that unless you’re someone who gets all upset by big nasty lefties saying mean things about them. have always found Pitchfork’s increasing shift towards mainstream pop a bit boring and needy though.


#7

Aye and if I was the guy from Surfer Blood I’d think twice about punching up my partner.

I think it’s fair enough if the reviewer wants to mention this stuff, they can mention whatever the fuck they want. Besides, what information about the album don’t you get from the review, that you want? It’s another mediocre Surfer Blood record and that’s that really. Clearly there wasn’t else anything worth mentioning about the album.

I get what you mean about places like Pitchfork being bland, but they reaching for such a wide audience they’re always going to be. There’s plenty of fantastic music journalism out there, just depends on what you’re looking for.


#8

Yeah it’s definitely that shift towards mainstream that irks me, and I think the political thing goes hand in hand - it’s like they’re attempting to attach a political agenda to a pop song to make it sound more interesting than what it is.


#9

just reading the review now - don’t have a particular problem with those opening paragraphs on their own (though i’ve never known much about the incident in detail) but i have to admit that the whole thing starts to look a little bit unpleasant at this point:

We’re also told that Surfer Blood have lost a guitarist to cancer. Well, I’m sorry for that. Honestly, I am. However, why bring it up? Where is that sense of loss?


#10

Music journalism has taken a similar hit to all journalism. To exist as a subscription free publication you need to be clicked, to be clicked you need to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I have no problem with their politics really (music is politically charged), or their coverage of pop music per se but a lot of the content is utter shite. And they’ve pretty much admitted that a great album according to Pitchfork is now one with a great narrative, whereas I’m still largely of the opinion that a great album is one with great music on it.

Another example is FACT. Used to be great for an alternative opinion on music. Now it’s 95% indistinguishable from OK Magazine with the odd bit on music bubbling underneath.


#11

hmm yeah. have no idea how bad the assault was, could well have been very serious indeed for all i know tbf. but not quite sure why there’s a sexual assault reference stuck in there…


#12

This Pitchfork article explains it in a bit more detail. Sounds fairly unpleasant, but still: http://pitchfork.com/news/47420-surfer-bloods-john-paul-pitts-arrested-for-battery/


#13

this lad is obviously on the wind up btw. isn’t it a joke account?


#14

No, and no.

I mean, it is Friday and there’s always time for a lively debate on a Friday afternoon but I’m genuinely after some good sources for finding music - basically the sources I used to find out about stuff like ISIS or Burial or whatever else are increasingly covering more “mainstream” stuff, and I miss having handy sources to find out where to hear the good shit.


#15

hmm yeah that’s pretty bad. no problem with it being mentioned in a review at all, though would prefer the review didn’t then get all snarky about the guitarist dying.


#16

Eh music has pretty much always reflected the political context in which it’s created in I can’t see how/why that wouldn’t carry over to people who write about it.


#17

weird innit how certain Very Famous People never get a mention for prior misdemeanors even though there’s documented (sometimes legal) evidence in the public domain that they did Bad Things. however if some guy in an indie band is considered average by Reviewer X Or Y it’s then ok that he get taken apart for it.
not much consistency there.


#18

In certain respects and with certain bands I think you’re right, but I think music is equally about escapism and inclusivity and putting everything else to one side.

Not to sound like a hippie, but music brings people together, regardless of their political allegiances etc. whereas Pitchfork’s recent coverage is more divisive than anything.


#19

Yeah I found that aspect of the review a bit off key. “Sure Mark E Smith might not be a saint but hey…he was was in THE FALL”


#20

It’s not a good review, and all things considered, the writer comes across as a sanctimonious hypocrite with an axe to grind. Deeply unpleasant, and it must be a frustrating read if you’re a Surfer Blood fan.

But at the same time, it’s understandable. You can only hear the world through one set of ears, and it’s almost impossible to listen to anything without prejudice. The best we can ask from any music critic (this isn’t “music journalism”, it’s “music criticism” - one is the reporting of hard fact, the other is an interpretation of that fact) - is that they give an honest assessment of what the music meant to them.

And if this writer feels uncomfortable listening to Surfer Blood as a result of previous events, then why shouldn’t that be reflected in the review?