This is where this blog began: I did weekly reviews of new releases beginning in early 2012. When the new releases didn’t pan out, I filled the space with reviews of past albums that interested me. After a while, I had so many I had to split reviews into two categories: Contemporary Music Reviews and Classic Music Reviews.
Contemporary music sucked so badly that I would go months without finding anything worth writing about. A couple of times I went back to 2011 and reviewed a couple of albums that came out before I started blogging. In October 2014, I threw in the towel and wrote my last contemporary music review.
The list below is not all the contemporary reviews I have written: the original list was over 100. In the process of deciding which reviews were going to go into my book, my editor encouraged me to eliminate two-thirds of them because he didn’t think they were very well-written. He was right.
I found the process of writing contemporary reviews quite irritating. In addition to slogging through many horrid recordings every Tuesday when new material was released, I was operating under the self-imposed pressure to get them out as quickly as possible: in part because I wanted to help artists who had produced something marvelous; in part because I felt I needed to do it to remain relevant. When I finally said, “Screw it. I’ll write about them when I’m damned good and ready to write them,” I got into a better groove. My review of St. Vincent reflects that shift.
It’s also difficult to do effective research on contemporary music: the real stories behind the music are either developing stories or hidden from public view. Much of what I found were press releases or press releases disguised as music reviews.
There was also having to deal with requests from artists to review their work, and while many were nice about it, too many were rude, demanding and never expressed the slightest bit of appreciation. I must have changed my music review policy a hundred times to try to make it work, but finally decided that the whole process was flawed, and by opening the door to requests I was compromising my integrity as a reviewer.
I recommend 50thirdand3rd as a good source for contemporary reviews. As for my reviews, here’s the list chosen by my beloved editor, Robert Morrow:
- All Dahled Up, The Dahlmanns
- How About I Be Me and You be You, Sinéad O’Connor
- Let the People Speak, Grand Duchy
- Elemental Journey, Sonny Landreth
- Tree Bursts in Snow, Admiral Fallow
- My Ears Are Having a Heart Attack by Meeting of Important People
- Theatre Is Evil, Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra
- The Poet’s Dead, Rah Rah
- The Odds, The Evens
- Songbook #1, The Vicar
- Get Up!, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite
- Electric, Richard Thompson
- Poorly Formed, Swingin’ Utters
- Schizophrène, Anik Jean
- She Paints Words in Red, House of Love
- Brightest Darkest Day, Pyyramids
- Aquarius, Sasha Dobson
- Can’t Wait, Sugar Stems
- Trip Trap Attack, Beach Day
- Let It Rock, The Connection
- West Water Outlaws
- St. Vincent
- Diploid Love, Brody Dalle
- Native Echoes, Beach Day
- Restless Heaven, Max Gowan