This is going to be highly personal so if that sort of thing bugs you …
Actually, screw it, half you will probably already be schooled in what I want to talk about anyway. Because I’ve spoken with you about it. I feel like I’ve hit, not an impasse exactly, but a frustration point as to what I want 24 Hour Party Pooper to be and what I’ve let it become. Although posting the schedules last week for The Athens PopFest was necessary ( and, as an organizer something I was pretty much beholden to doing) I’m so tired of so many ‘blogs’ having content that amounts to nothing more than short news items. What’s worse is how many items are actually purloined directly from other sources. It’s one thing to pick up on a news story, item, whatever and then post your own take on it but so many people are out there just re-posting the same crap over and over.
I’m starved for good, critical, thoughtful music writing. Sure, it’s out there and I don’t mind hunting it down. But I think mostly I’m starved for a community of thoughtful writers. The nature of the music blog world is now at the point where everyone is so worried about their Technorati rating falling or being a half-second behind someone else posting the new hot shit MP3 that no one seems to care that this potentially wonderful (and largely freely available) means is becoming nothing more than a copy of a copy of a copy. And no one gives a shit enough to say, “Yeah, that Vampire Weekend record really is a shitty album.” Hell, why do that when it’s so much easier just post a string of tour dates and a link to the band’s MySpace page? Get enough hits doing stuff like this and you just might be able to pull down a few thousands dollars a year selling ad space. And publicists will love you, too! (And, yes, that Vampire Weekend record is dog shit and you should feel ripped off.)
The other problem is with myself and my own writing. I constantly fluctuate between venomously ripping an album (or being so excited over a record that I froth at the virtual mouth to tell you in very vague terms how wonderful it is) and writing 5,000 words attempting to find the proper cultural context in which to place a band and their recordings. It’s less Jekyll vs. Hyde than it is hobo vs. historian. But, dammit, I also like to read those styles of writing so I’m stuck there, too. I like Bangs and Marcus. I like Owings and Byron Coley. But, for myself, I’m still trying to reconcile the two sides and am not sure why I feel like I need to necessarily go either way (as if there were no third option available) but I just feel this need to be serious one way or another. Laugh all you want but, to me, this Rock-n-Roll stuff is serious business. Yeah, I mean it. Music is important and for reasons that go far beyond the personal. Nothing is born in a void and when ever a record comes out it is a cultural artifact informed by the culture from which it came. This is especially true if said record was made as a conscious reaction to said culture.
I’m not at all interested in records as commercial products; I’m extremely interested in records as cultural products. No, the two are not at all mutually exclusive but you sure as hell wouldn’t know it with every blog reading as if they were one giant advertisement.
All that said, here’s one of the best songs ever written about the utterly dorky, ridiculously obsessive world of record collecting.
Hey, Gordon, I understand the Athens Exchange music section is trying to put together a “community of thoughtful writers.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it? 🙂 I hear the publisher’s a nice guy, and the music editor really knows her stuff. Maybe you should join us.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is exactly how I’ve been feeling. You’ve encapsulated exactly what’s wrong with music blogging. Blogging was supposed to upset the idea of Agenda Setting Theory – providing a counterpoint to what’s supposed to be desired. Instead, blogs have become just as entrenched as the big guys. 99% of blogs report on and like the exact same shit. The same five bands show up on the front page of Elbows. It’s hard to find original content.
You might appreciate my blog (linked), as I have adopted the same philosophy, as well as an official anti-Vampire Weekend stance – not out of backlash, but rather, VW represents everything I’m against in music. Raven Sings the Blues is another good one, with thoughtful analysis and vivid descriptions.
Thanks for making my day!
The height of ridiculousness, I think, is the current Metacritic thread about what, hypothetically, Pitchfork Media would put at the top of their 100 best albums of the ’60s if they were to create such a list.
I also crave good writing, but many people/sites are content with ordering their favorite releases from a given year, slightly adjusting them, and then apologizing to those artists for originally placing them at #66 instead of #65. I know I’m going a little off topic, but that’s just another lazy way to get hits without actually writing (or listening) to anything. It’s also another way of ignoring that cultural aspect of production/creation, depersonalizing its consumption, and universalizing the supposed standards by which music should be rated, if at all.
I agree and I hope and pray that I’m not that type. If so, here’s hopin that post will give me a kick in the ass. If not, well, I’ll still use it as a standard. Thanks Mr. G.
Dude, I sympathize.
I know what you mean.
I’ve just started a music blog(one post so far..) but I really don’t want to churn out the same old list of tour dates or news or list of 100 bands that get good reviews on pitchfork.
I thought I was the only one who doesn’t like Vampire Weekend. They’re just a cute little indie band. Nothing worth raving over.