Prolog: The State of Rock Criticism

Ok, so I’ve been thinking about the state of criticism in rock music lately and I’m kind of unhappy about it. I want to collect my thoughts and write a longer post but I think that there are a few major themes:

1) Good reviews are handed out like candy to awful, commercially manufactured bands.

2) Good artists are expected to produce albums that are “classics” each and every time they record. A good album or show isn’t good enough anymore. Mostly this is due to point 1.

3) The rise of the Internet and the listeners’ ability to offer a review has created this personal, almost insanely isolated atmosphere where people either love or hate and album. There is no middle ground. Plus both sides end up reading each other’s reviews and say the exact same thing over and over and over again.

Case in point… Ryan Adams. I saw him live last night and he played for three hours. He bantered with the band, with the audience, and put on a very good show. Now, the two major complaints about him are that he is a jerk and that he can’t edit himself. Every review, article, critic, etc has repeated those points. Here is an example from the News and Observer here in Raleigh:

http://www.triangle.com/music/concertreview/story/2485660p-8889588c.html

Now, I enjoy David Menconi’s writing. He’s not one of those critics you hate, but he’s as guilty as anyone else.

I guess, and I want to write more about it, that I just want a rock critic to tell the truth. The truth should go something like this:

-Top 40 sucks
-The White stripes new album is different and that’s ok. Maybe he’s pulling a Dylan-type thing and zigging when everyone wants him to zag. It’s a solid album.
-ColdPlay is getting played out
-Ryan Adams doesn’t need an editor, he’s been putting out good albums. Someday he’ll write a great one
-It is not acceptable to listen to Milli Vanilli, even in jest.
-Joss Stone or whatever her name is, is no different than other commercial shills
-Audioslave is the best rock band out there
-Green Day’s new album is ok, not the best thing ever
-Madonna still sucks
-Local radio sucks worse than ever

That’s it for now…

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