This is where this blog started back in 2011: reviews of new releases focusing on independent and undiscovered artists. When nothing grabbed me on New Release Tuesday, I filled the space with reviews of classic albums from yesteryear. After a while, I had so many I had to split reviews into two categories: Contemporary Music Reviews and Classic Music Reviews. Eventually I threw in the towel and decided to focus on the classics.
The list below does not reflect all the contemporary reviews I wrote: the original list was over 100. Many of the artists I reviewed are long gone, indies who became casualties of large media company domination of the music industry. In the process of deciding which reviews were going to go into a book that never came to fruition, my editor encouraged me to eliminate two-thirds of them because he didn’t think they reflected my best work. He was right: my early reviews were too “short and snappy” and lacked substance.
I also found the process of writing contemporary reviews somewhat irritating. In addition to slogging through many horrid new releases every week, I was operating under two mistaken beliefs: one, that it was important to complete the review as quickly as possible given the short attention span of the music consumer; and two, that the purpose of a review was to help consumers to decide whether or not to buy. I also found it challenging to do any decent research on contemporary music because either the background information came from the artist’s PR team or (with most Indies) the information was sketchy at best. When I finally said, “Screw it. I’ll write reviews when I’m damned good and ready to write them,” I got into a better groove. My review of St. Vincent reflects that shift.
I also made the mistake of encouraging budding artists to contact me if they wanted a review. 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 direct requests I was compromising my integrity as a reviewer. I recommend 50thirdand3rd as a good source for contemporary reviews.
Here are the contemporary reviews from 2011-2015 that survived the purge (except for Radiohead)
- $wingin’ Utter$ – Poorly Formed
- Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts in Snow
- Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre Is Evil
- Anik Jean, Schizophrène
- Beach Day – Native Echoes
- Beach Day – Trip Trap Attack
- Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite – Get Up!
- Brody Dalle – Diploid Love
- Christine and the Queens – Chaleur Humaine
- Grand Duchy – Let the People Speak
- House of Love – She Paints Words in Red
- Lasorda – Lasorda
- Max Gowan – Restless Heaven
- Meeting of Important People– My Ears Are Having a Heart Attack
- Pyyramids– Brightest Darkest Day
- Rah Rah – The Poet’s Dead
- Sasha Dobson – Aquarius
- Sinéad O’Connor – How About I Be Me and You Be You?
- Sonny Landreth – Elemental Journey
- St. Vincent – St. Vincent
- Sugar Stems – Can’t Wait
- The Connection – Let It Rock
- The Dahlmanns – All Dahled Up
- The Evens – The Odds
- The Vicar – Songbook #1
- West Water Outlaws – West Water Outlaws