There is a lot of music. We all know that. Singles and albums and music videos and mash-ups and preview tracks are released every day by the hundreds, if not thousands. These days it seems like everyone, and their goldfish, and their pet cactus has a budding music career, be they a budding singer/songwriter or a bedroom DJ composing electronica tracks and hoping to hit it big one day and headline [insert prestigious, genre-specific, music venue here]. There is also, as a result, a lot of shit music. This doesn’t just come from your friends and aunts, established recording artists and bedroom producers alike are releasing dreadful music into the world. There is, of course, plenty of lousy music journalism being released everyday on blogs and in homemade zines (which I assume are still a thing) as well, but let’s pretend I have the cultural and moral high ground for now. As a writer, and as someone passionate about music, the question arises about what to do with the terrible music that exists. Ignore it? Review it? Slate it from my high and mighty perch with a stroke of my pen or a tap at my laptop keyboard? Is it my duty to warn the world about the shit? Or should I focus on the great music?
Cliché ideals about ‘spreading positivity’ aside, the attack of someone’s artistic output feels unnecessary. Were it a workshop, where constructive criticism could be delivered, maybe then the terribleness of Alfred Spunkell’s 36-minute long recording of traffic noises set to the sound of steel-drums, with three separate accordion solos, could be touched upon. But in a music review? It feels more important to present the great things, to present the things that one is passionate about. Music journalism often has a completely different feel to it based upon how the writer felt about what they were reviewing, and it’s when the writer is passionate that the power of the writing often comes across. A review from someone who is trying to explain to you why they love Susan Shofenhauser’s latest xylophone-centric punk album will often make for better reading than a review whose verdict could be summed up with one word: “meh”.
Having said all that, sometimes it’s just great fun to rip something apart. Assuming, of course, that you passionately hate it.
This article was published in our September 2016 issue.