Christopher Weingarten (click through for video, beware it auto plays) dropped enough bombs near my lap cat. I’m fueled by a fear of choking on my own fingers to make me want to distribute them elsewhere.

Let’s distill his argument into bullet points:

  • Live music coverage became a race, whoever is the first to disclose an event wins the race. Usually the first person in this line is dumb.
  • Music labels like press, they “leak” songs to publications that give them good press.
  • Publications do not write negative reviews because they are afraid of losing ties with the label, PR company or advertising deal.
  • More than half of the crap that’s on Hypemachine sucks a Santa through a straw.
  • Publications get caught up covering the same damn bands in a circle jerk, because other publications are doing it.
As a reader I agree.

Anyone who brings me text or photos from a live event is more often than not presenting an undesirable version of this universe, because I didn’t get to do the booze and drink the drugs and your photos  do not include me. This leaking business is nice but I’ve already downloaded the shit I like from a torrent two weeks ago, so “exclusive” is a joke. I write the negative reviews, right after the saccharine or over-thought bullshit that people post up, there’s my comment: “eat ass”. If it’s a print magazine, I’ll just yell that out loud. Then, I guess, there’s the rightfully brandished notion that popular music is an oxymoron, I don’t know that much about Hypemachine but it’s great. As for the last point, yes, the endless repetition bores me to the point where I type random letters into the browsers in the hopes of just getting out of this rut.

A referee? A good referee post seems to be in order now, and here it is, damn it feel good to just communicate.

As an assistant to the publisher (I don’t write about music full time, I am music full time) of this publication, I have to agree as well. I (we) don’t want to be the dumb one, and we all want to lose it to the good bands and escape the bad ones, but then I think, well, maybe people would like to know if they are good or bad, let me twat this statement to let them know. Sometimes immediate reactions are the best and we get a lot of hits on those posts, but most times it’s noise in the ether. I used to run a Russian music zine for the military, distributed to over 40,000 troops (we did the Eastern “call”, as they say), and the ad rates in that were a killer. The guys liked the pages with the chicks and the articles that taught them popular songs on the self-made guitars.

Negative reviews often attract a lot more attention than the positive ones. It’s human nature to want to be superior without trying, however, there is a balance, the young and dumb used to fill in the zine culture with such artifacts as: “this band was as painful as me fucking the saw that was hacking your best friend into pieces.” It’s illustrative of absolutely nothing about that, certainly power-pop group. Can I say, fuck negative reviews? Sometimes they are funny, but you will always come off as a person who’s lacking a hobby. If you, the writer, care enough, then fill the negative space. Mostly however, if I don’t like something, then I don’t review it.

I feel dumb. I’ve never been to Hypemachine. I live in a place where music happens here and there and that’s where I go. This  is by far the strongest point that Weingarten makes, and it’s his main point: don’t do that thing that other people are doing and call yourself an original. Duh? Did I have to say that? No one does that, right? Good. Back in the late 90′s, Gary Kasparov was playing two different chess matches, one was against an increasingly more aggressive computer called Deep Blue and another against a thousand chess masters who collaborated and voted on the strongest move. The moves chosen by the human congregation were the same ones that you would use when losing to your dad so that he doesn’t get mad. Deep Blue eventually won (it was probably Karpov behind the scenes, replaying the 1985 gambit, but this time taking black**).

Also, no one is going to read this article because it’s not going to be gob smacking top noggin’ of the altavista search, so the last point is moot. “Publications cover the same shit over and over again.” I waste my time making sure they do and I hate every minute of it while trying to find something that will enlighten me about where the hell my laughter went.

Let’s distill my responses into bullet points:

  • Build your community, they will know and like your voice. Add your friends and sources in a pile so that you can offer something worthwhile. Don’t cry, but do follow examples of, well, how about Aaron Sorkin?
  • Don’t worry about music labels and their exclusives, if you’re creative you will be the first to figure out the track list (buy/beg/steal) on a hot record, but most likely with indie, they’ll send you an envelope.
  • The negativity and its connection to labels and PR companies is a biggie, I deal with it every day, they will cut you if you are negative, but it’s not a deep cut, it’s just that they will cut you off. Perhaps bone up on your writing and layer your reactions, labels and PR are like the Communist party in 1976 Poland, they don’t actually read-read your review, but your readers do. Also, be like Clement Gleenberg and talk about the human condition. Everyone zones out when they read about the “human condition”.
  • Hypemachine, blah, twatter, doodly, don’t really care.
  • Yes, publications get caught parroting the same news, the same press releases, the reactions to reactions, but you can help stop it. May 5th is learn day, so let’s go get wet in knowledge.

To celebrate all this happy horseshit argument (about why some people aren’t getting more money than you), we will recover archives (pay me) and present new/old bands (pay me now) to listen to all weekend long.

* In an extreme Bertrand Russell interpretation: any one perspective is ruinous, as it is faultier to the whole than original blindness. Also, the sack of shit was the reason why Russell had lost a rather popular student.

** Karpov had the the privilege of playing white, the opening move, in the re-re-match for world championship in chess. Kasparov had always preferred black, the pieces do tend to falter as soon as they are exposed.

  1. You feel dumb but not dumb enough not to be able to recount a tale about the great chess masters of the 90′s. I like your analogy between PR and the 1976 Polish Communist Party. Dig!


    zabatay Reply:

    @madeline The tale was actually from the 80s, our favorite decade, during the 90s Kasparov became alternatively a Trent Reznor like catalyst of the chess community and a public enemy.