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Goner Message Board / ???? / People Who Review Records
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 1:54 pm
 
Just curious about the process of reviewing records. Since I’m certain I would NEVER be ANY good at this (cause every review would be “this rules!” or “this sucks!”).

What’s your process like?
How many times do you listen to it?

Splain.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 2:06 pm
 
Don't sell yourself short, Sherry! You are actually enthusiastic about music and aren't some cynical stamp-collecting geek. Plus you're a girl! Go for it!
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 2:08 pm
 
What’s your process like?

First, I determine whether something rules or sucks. Next, I compare the band's sound so something esoteric, like "the guitars sound a flock of 1,000 screeching geese." Finally, I mention something I'd like to do while listening to the music: "I'd rather hammer nails into my ears than listen to this record for another second." Easy.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 2:10 pm
 
its all completely subjective - as long as you can express yourself - and splain WHY it rules, you're doing alright.

the most difficult thing is to write about art forms because you have to describe a sensory experience in 2D

just go for it. you'll have fun doing it - just write down what comes to mind. put it away and re-visit in a few hours or the next day.

i think you'll be great at it and you'll discover a process that works for oyu.

when i was an A&R guy, i'd give each track 15 seconds to grab me and want me to go back and re-listen. then i'd listen to a record in the order of the songs i liked (because part of my A&R job was sequencing albums - i doubt other people do it this way) and then again in the way it was delivered. but that's just the geek in me
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 2:13 pm
 
white records sound like this
but black records sound like thiiis
(perhaps i owe thopkins a royalty for that review)

i prefer reviews which say this band is like some other band on acid - it's especially great when the band compared to was already on acid

pps. i also do not review records since i'm pretty much a 'this rules' or 'this sucks' kinda guy - i dont analyze why it rules or sucks
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 2:13 pm
 
i would be better at reviewing record reviews than reviewing records
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 2:20 pm
 
It's not so much how they sound...it's how they taste.
One bite and you'll know whether it sucks.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 2:30 pm
 
when i was an A&R guy, i'd give each track 15 seconds to grab me and want me to go back and re-listen. then i'd listen to a record in the order of the songs i liked (because part of my A&R job was sequencing albums - i doubt other people do it this way) and then again in the way it was delivered. but that's just the geek in me

This sounds about right, if you've got a huge pile of stuff to go through. Of course, writing reviews is a little different than A&R in that you might be obligated to write about a some or all of the stuff that you don't think is so great. That's when it becomes torturous. If you only have to write about records you like, then you've got it made.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 2:46 pm
 
Of course, writing reviews is a little different than A&R in that you might be obligated to write about a some or all of the stuff that you don't think is so great.


and yeah - we got 100's of demos a week. we'd have to give each the lightning round

i worked at a somewhat major label in LA and my boss was in london, so i had to send him a review of the stuff we listened to - esp. since his pals would send bad crap made by their kids and expect a critique. on a telex. yeah. good times, the old days
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 3:25 pm
 
I used a similar technique doing college radio. There were always monstrous piles of crap to listen to and only so minutes in the day. It's amazing how much of a feel you can get for things with short snippets. Much quicker and more satisfying to do with vinyl too.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 3:43 pm
 
How many times do you listen to it?

What do you mean, listen to it?

i prefer reviews which say this band is like some other band on acid - it's especially great when the band compared to was already on acid

HEE-HAW!

Be sure and describe the band's sound as "Famous Artist X" meets "Famous Artist Y" while doing something completely absurd. On acid.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 3:51 pm | Edited by: Golightly
 
Be sure and describe the band's sound as "Famous Artist X" meets "Famous Artist Y" while doing something completely absurd. On acid.

TRUE!
In 1985 I had a review of my pop a billy band, The Beat Cowboys' version of Wooly Bully...it said...
"sounds like Sam the Sham meets Johnny Cash and rides to hell on a surfboard".

Just no acid...

The thing is...it was a damned close description.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 4:02 pm
 
its all completely subjective - as long as you can express yourself - and splain WHY it rules, you're doing alright.

Totally. If it makes you want to eat a hamburger, say so...someone will know exactly what you mean. I always tied personal gut urges into them whenever possible. Beyond that, different words that mean "rules" or "sucks" are all you really need. "Pumps my gnads" was a favorite of mine...and I tried not to use "mid-tempo" too often.

i'd give each track 15 seconds to grab me and want me to go back and re-listen

This was Tim Yohannon's process exactly, except it was more like 5 seconds...
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 4:13 pm
 
Sam the Sham meets Johnny Cash and rides to hell on a surfboard

Perfect.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 4:15 pm
 
in Memphis it is easy, just say its splendid..no need for critisism, or even knowledge of the particular genre or its history...also be sure and mention how much fun the band is to hang out with...oh also make sure they are freinds of yours.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 4:42 pm
 
If you really hate a band but have to do a positive review, faint-praise them to death. "Promising", "well crafted", "well played", "nicely put together sleeve", "lovely shade of yellow on the CD body", "I can imagine my parents going absolutely bananas for these guys", "lovable", "reminds me a lot of Coldplay's more tempered moments", "like a less raw Killers" etc
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 5:07 pm
 
"It sounds like they're trying really hard."

It bugs me when people put disclaimers into reviews, like "This is just my opinion, but..." Duh, it's a review, we know it's your opinion.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 5:12 pm | Edited by: Uptight White
 
(cause every review would be “this rules!” or “this sucks!”)

The more primal the appreciation of the music, the better. The verbose critiquing and intellectualizing of rock and roll has not made it any more exciting, it just opened up new literary territory for pretentious eggheads. As long as you avoid the terms seminal and proto-punk, it'll be good.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 5:13 pm
 
Tim Yohannon's

s'cuse me..Yohannan.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 6:25 pm
 
Lots of adjectives, like "limpid" and "incendiary." Lots of alliteration, like "perfect pop performance."

Seriously, though ...

The most important thing is to establish a frame of reference. If you're reviewing a Goner 7", your frame of reference is to that sort of thing, and not to the Rudy Van Gelder remaster of "Blue Train," or the original cast recording of "Cats." Explain how the record holds up to others of its ilk, and/or to other stuff the artist has released. Citing influences is good; that can be sort of a stream-of-consciousness exercise to get yourself thinking about it in words.

Don't listen to it a million times before reviewing it. We go deadlines, you know ... If you like it, write the piece and then go listen to it.

Creds: I've been a metropolitan daily newspaper writer/editor for 10 years, and a music blogger for most of that time.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 6:44 pm
 
I don't like reviews at all. Whenever I read them I am bored. It is impossible for someone to tell me what something sounds like. How do I know what they say is "fuzzy" or "punk" is "fuzzy" or "punk" to me? I pretty much only scan reviews to see what has been released. I never read them to figure out what will be "good" or "bad". That is a complete waste of time for me.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 6:55 pm
 
I don't like reviews at all. Whenever I read them I am bored. It is impossible for someone to tell me what something sounds like. How do I know what they say is "fuzzy" or "punk" is "fuzzy" or "punk" to me? I pretty much only scan reviews to see what has been released. I never read them to figure out what will be "good" or "bad". That is a complete waste of time for me.

While I agree they can be fairly pointless in most cases, finding a reviewer that is on a similar wavelength to you is a godsend - especially when it comes to knowing where to lay down the cash.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 8:20 pm
 
finding a reviewer that is on a similar wavelength to you is a godsend - especially when it comes to knowing where to lay down the cash.


that's pretty much it - you find someone whose taste is akin to yours and that person becomes your go-to reviewer.

for me, the go-to person is my high school friend bill, who turned me on to roxy music about 2 hours before i saw david bowie endorse them on a talk show... luckily, our tastes have had a similar trajectory vis a vis when we get bored with someone or something and when something excites us... and that's what you look for in a reviewer.

alas - i can't think of anyone right now who reviews music whose opinion means anything to me... i know lots of good writers... but their taste? maybe the last person whose taste and mine concurred was mikal gilmore
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 10:32 pm
 
Gary and I had a lot in common.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 10:55 pm
 
The very idea of record reviewing has been ruined for me by working at college radio. You would have to listen very closely for curse words when there was no lyric sheet. When records really sucked I'd only listen to like 3 songs and if they were clean I'd just mark the rest of the album as unplayable.
Posted: Jun 4, 2008 11:32 pm
 
Okay, now it’s time for you to write YOUR VERY FIRST ORIGINAL RECORD REVIEW. It’s easy, all you gotta do is point. First, pick a title for the album:

a. Oranges in Exile b. Outer City Blues & Heavy Dues c. Cajun Sitar Dance Party d. Hungry Children of Babylon e. Eat Your Coldcream

Got it? Okay, the next part’s just as easy. Just fill in the blanks: This latest offering from__________________________________________________________________ _______

a. Harmonica Dan and His Red Light District b. The Armored Highchair c. Ducks in Winter d. The Four Fat Guys e. Arturo de Cordova

is____________________________________________________________________ ________

a. a clear consolidation of the artistic moves first tentatively ventured in his/her/their/its last album. b. a real letdown after the masterpiece album and single that carried us all the way through the summer and warmed us over in the fall. c. important only insofar as it will delineate the contours of the current malaise for future rock historians, if there are any with all the pollution around now. d. definitely the album of the year. e. a heap of pigshit.

(How you doin’ so far? See how easy it is!) Onward! (Choose one of the following for the next sentence:)

a. In dealing with such a record, the time has come at last to talk about the responsibilities, if any, which any artist making rock ’n’ roll bears to his audience, and specifically how those responsibilities relate to the political situation which we, all of us, and perforce rock ’n’ roll, are compelled to come to terms with by dint of living in the United States of America today. b. I don’t really think these guys/this dude/the chick in question/a singing dog can defend musical output which has proven increasingly shoddy by referring to such old handles as “personal expression,” “experimentalism,” “a new kind of artistic freedom,” or any other such lame copout. c. It’s such a thrill that this album finally came, that I am finally actually holding it in my hands, looking at the fantastically beautiful M.C. Escher drawing on the cover whilst trembling all over to the incredible strains of the music on the record from inside it which even now are wafting from the old Victrola, that I really don’t know if I am going to come or cry. d. It’s so goddam fucking boring to have to open all these pieces of shit every day, you waste your time, you break your fingernails, half the time it’s just a repeat of an album that came yesterday, that I can hardly bring myself to slit open the shrinkwrap once I get ’em outa the cardboard (which piles up in a big mess all over the house after it gets dragged outa the corner by all my asshole friends!), and I really can just barely stand to put the goddam things on the turntable after that. I wish it would break anyway so I wouldn’t have to listen to ’em anymore. (Good one, huh, more than one sentence in this one!) But anyway, I put this piece of shit on just like all the others except the ones I never get around to, and right now I’m listening to it and you know what? I was right. It is a piece of shit! e. I don’t remember how I got here, whose house this is or where this typewriter came from, but anyway this new album is by the greatest fucking rock ’n’ roll band in the whole wide world/most talented, sensitive balladeer of his generation whom many of us are already calling the New Dylan/sweetest songbird this side of the Thames has saved my life again just like all the others did, so I don’t even care where I am, I don’t care if I got rolled last night, I don’t care if this place gets busted right now, I don’t care if the world comes to an end because the cosmic message of truth and unity which this music is bringing to me has made me feel complete for the first time since 1968.

(Well, that wasn’t hard at all, was it? A whole paragraph written already! But this is no place to stop: the most fun’s yet to come. Tally ho!)

The first song on side one______________________________________________________

(choose one) a. “Catalina Sky” b. “Death Rays in Your Eyes” c. “I Wish I Was a Rusty Nail” d. “Lady of Whitewater” e. “Nixon Eats”

(choose again)________________________________________________________________ _

a. is a rousingly high spirited opener in march tempo b. starts things off at an extremely high energy level c. sets the pace and mood of the album most atmospherically d. won’t win any Grammies this year e. reminds me of my Grandmother puking up her sherry into the bathtub the night we had fish that had gone bad for dinner when I was three years old.

The first thing you notice is____________________________________________________

(choose one) a. the vicious, slashing guitar solo b. the deep, throbbing bass lines c. how mellowly the sensitive, almost painfully fragile vocal is integrated with the mesmerizing Spanish chords from those four fine hollowbody Gibson guitars d. the cymbals aren’t miked right e. that the entire mix is a washout and this album has what is probably the worst production of the year.

The full impact of what’s going on in this cut may not reach you the first time, but if you keep listening a couple of times a day for a week or two, especially through headphones, it will come to you in a final flash of revelation that__________________________________________________________________ ________

a. you were wasting your time. b. you are listening to a masterpiece of rock which so far transcends “rock” as we have known it that most people probably won’t recognize its true worth for at least ten years. c. the instruments are out of tune. d. you should have bought the Band instead. e. you’re deaf in one ear.

Cut two is____________________________________________________________________

(choose one) a. a nice change of pace b. more of the same phlegm c. a definite picker-upper d. interesting, at least e. insulting to the human ear (my dog didn’t like it either)

by virtue of the fact that_________________________________________________________

a. it was produced by Phil Spector’s cousin from Jersey. b. it’s only two seconds long. c. the lyrics say more, and more concisely, about what we have done to our natural environment than anything else written in the past decade. d. Bobby Keyes, Jim Price and Boots Randolph sit in for a real old time “blowing session.” e. I spilled Gallo Port in the grooves and it made it sound better.

In spite of that, I feel that the true significance of its rather dense and muted lyrics can only be apprehended by____________________________________________________

a. the purchase of a hearing aid. b. reading the sheet enclosed with the record. c. going back and listening to “Memphis Blues Again,” then come back to this and see if it doesn’t blow you out the door! d. taking a course in German. e. throwing the incoherent piece of pigshit in the trash and going out for a beer, where something good is probably on the jukebox.

(Time for paragraph three already! Smooth sailing, bunky! You’re almost there:)

This record has inspired such___________________________________________________

a. ambivalent feelings b. helpless adoration c. bile and venom d. total indifference e. a powerful thirst

in me that I can’t bring myself to describe the rest of the cuts. Track by track reviews are a bore anyway, and the album only costs $4.97 at the right stores, so go down and get it and find out for yourself whether you’ll like it or not. Who am I, who is any critic or any other sentient being on the face of the earth, to tell you what a piece of music sounds like? Only your ears can hear it as only your ears can hear it. Am I right or am I wrong? Of course I am. I do know that I will

a. go on listening to this album till I drop dead of cancer. b. walk out into the backyard and toss this offense unto mine eyes into the incinerator soon as I finish typing this spew. c. never forget the wonderful chance I’ve had here in the pages of Fusion to share this very special record, and my own deepest dredged sentiments about it, with you, who whether you know it or not are a very special person whom I love without qualification even if we’ve never seen each other, I don’t even know your name, and am so righteous that I don’t even care if you look like a sow. d. break this elpee over the head of the very next Jesus Freak or Hare Krishna creep I see in the street, just for thrills! e. go to sleep now and awaken upon a new morning in which I may be able to appreciate this unbridged poetic outpouring with fresh ears.

So before I sign my name at the bottom of this page and pick up the check from the cheap kikes that run this rag will never pay me anyway, I would like to leave you with one thought:____________________________________________________________

a. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. b. There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke. c. The red man lost this land to you and me. d. Rock ’n’ roll is dead. Long live rock ’n’ roll. e. Since these assholes that’re stupid enough to print this stuff don’t pay me anything, why don’t you? I’ve probably turned you on to a lot of good records over the years, and what do I get out of it? Nothing but a lot of grief! A lot of abuse from cretins who can’t understand that rock ’n’ roll IS the Revolution! A lot of cheap bloodsuckers like hellhounds on my trail! I got “Yer Blues”! I’ve paid my body and soul! So send me some $$$, goddammit, or I’ll never write a word again as long as I live! Your faithful correspondent, _________________________________________________ (just sign your name here) _________________________________________________ (and write your address here)

You did it! You really did it! There, you see, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Now YOU TOO are an officially ordained and fully qualified rock critic, with publication under your belt and everything. Just cut out the review, if you’re finished filling in all the blanks, and send it to the rock magazine of your choic
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 8:57 am
 
The review for Shark Sandwich was merely a two word review which simply read "Shit Sandwich."
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 9:20 am
 
I got really sick of doing reviews, so I stopped. How many times can you use different words to describe painfully similar records? It was sucking the fun out of listening to music.
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 9:58 am
 
Sam the Sham meets Johnny Cash and rides to hell on a surfboard

Perfect.


If a record actually were to sound like that, it could be fun.
Of course, the record in question will sound NOTHING like that.
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 9:59 am
 
Okay, now it’s time for you to write YOUR VERY FIRST ORIGINAL RECORD REVIEW. It’s easy, all you gotta do is point. First, pick a title for the album:

I liked that Lester Bangs piece also.
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 10:31 am | Edited by: idiot string
 
I review records by downloading them on Soulseek at work, listening to them, then deciding what I like and placing an order every few weeks...



kinda like how i just realized earlier this week just how fuckin totally killer awesome that Raxola record is and now i wanna buy it but cant figure out where the fuck to get it.
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 10:54 am
 
The review for Shark Sandwich was merely a two word review which simply read "Shit Sandwich."

Nobel Prize!
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 11:07 am
 
Nobel Prize!
You mean Oscar!
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 11:19 am
 
When I wrote record reviews, the most difficult ones were for stuff that fell in between "this rules" and "this sucks." I couldn't tell you how many times I used some variation of "Not bad, but there are about a million other bands doing the same thing."
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 3:53 pm
 
I always liked the review of an LP by the jazz-rock group Chase in the first edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide, which consisted of just the word "Flee."
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 6:36 pm
 
I usually drink a couple of beers, maybe a couple of hits of weed and talk shit while the record is playing.
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 9:10 pm
 
I listen to them, if I can, then let them gather dust on my desk for 2 and a half years while I decide what I really want to do with my life.
Posted: Jun 5, 2008 9:18 pm
 
let them gather dust on my desk for 2 and a half years while I decide what I really want to do with my life

I know the story oh so well.
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