Not a Music Review

I just read a page at Invisible Oranges which asked the question :- Are album reviews obsolete? According to the writer, this question came to his mind because album reviews perform very poorly in terms of “hits” generated. He goes on to state that “for presenting content, the album review is the worst form for doing so.” According to him “album streams”, “track premieres” are better forms i.e. gimmicks for presenting and promoting an album.

Sigh. I think I can understand where this line of thought comes from. Music listeners today can download albums through torrents, whenever they want, however they want. There is no market for reviews anymore, people can download an album to see for themselves what the music is like, its not like they are gonna spend actual money. From the viewpoint of a big site that wants to garner loads of hits to earn money, or just wants to get hits for the heck of it, the album review has become obsolete. But maybe, MAYBE, this is because the majority of the reviewers in today’s date are ass kissers. Maybe it is because every site on the net today is involved with a “scene.” Maybe it is because the discerning music listener got tired of every “4.75” and every *** handed out at the drop of a hat to every other Tom, Dick and Harry band. If it is Pitchfork then you know who is getting the album of the year award. don’t you? Things are even worse in the metal arena. If I trusted every site and bought albums according to the reviews then I’ll probably go bankrupt.

The thing is that most people realize that if they want to earn money from their site or get hits just to boost their damn ego, they should either go for illuminating “interviews” aka kissing more ass or for album reviews which do the same thing. There are very few reviewers who are worth reading and surprise! surprise! most of them are individuals who just do it because its a way to escape the damned misery of daily life, and have no false illusions of their own importance and self-worth in the scheme of things.

This is why we here at TDSR never believed in rating albums through numbers or stars or whatever. At the start, I could have at the very maximum thought of having a grading system, something like the one I tried out on this movie review blog. However, movies, it turns out, are easier to review and give grades to than music. Music as an art form is so incredibly complex and subjective, the thought of assigning grades to most of the stuff seemed incredibly narrow. Of course there is some stuff which would score an A or 10/10 or whatever and then there would be stuff that scores an F or 1/10 and so on and so forth. But most of the music I listen to lies somewhere in between. Things get further complicated by the fact that my perceptions keep changing with time about music. Stuff I didn’t like or couldn’t listen to sometime ago, I like now and vice versa. As a listener and connoisseur of music, unless you are really dumb or really like to stick to your “roots”, you will keep growing and learning. (Yes, I have to admit that Motorhead/AC/DC/Ramones/Pink Floyd/Led Zeppelin alone cannot satisfy me any longer.)

Therefore, dear reader, if indeed, there is anybody reading this (after all this blog is only ever read by me and El Bajista and 2 other regular readers) you must understand why I can only look at most review sites with a mixture of suspicion/disbelief/cynicism. Cmon, how can you review an album the day after its released? Even with multiple reviewers? OK, so sometimes some albums strike you more quickly and I can understand that, but every friggin time?

Therefore, this music reviewer would like to humbly conclude that album reviews have been made obsolete by capitalism i.e the music industry, they are not obsolete per se. Even from personal experience, I come to the same conclusion. Some review sites like Mark Prindle, Only Solitaire, John McFerrin helped me get to a lot of music that I would have never heard or caught on to, after all how does a kid who started listening to music in 2004 ever get hold of the good stuff? How does he even start to understand the evolution of music history? (Unless and until he has peer group or some elder, wiser guy helping him out, I dunno, my peer group mostly listened to Bollywood, most settled for whatever-is-on-the-friggin-radio).

On another note, I am going through some big changes, where I will have lesser and lesser time to devote to this little undertaking, so I hope that El Bajista persists and keeps the TDSR flag flying proudly. If you thought that I don’t do many reviews, well, in the words of Judas Priest, you’ve got an another thing coming. Coupled with this is the fact that I am listening lesser and lesser to rock music and more to classical music, which is obviously not something that I can review, assuming that a review is even needed (No, it’s not needed, just in case you were wondering. All of it is awesome, pick anything).

This is not goodbye, just a sort of temporary farewell, and mostly directed towards El Bajista, who I’ve not talked to for a while. Music remains a way of life, and I hope I die before becoming deaf. And that sounds right. You betcher. 

P.S – Here I would also like to give a shout out to Satan Stole My Teddybear which is the best metal review site I’ve ever read. People looking to get into metal could start over there. (People who really, really have no clue should stick to…ummm.. I don’t know, try here)

Once a Rock’n’Roller, Always a Rock’n’Roller

-Baba T 

3 thoughts on “Not a Music Review

  1. I just posted above and didn’t realize I did so as anonymous, you can delete the previous 😉

    Hey there, just my 2 cents on the subject, I don’t think that album reviews are going obsolete at all. Over on my sites(At Least I’m Housebroken, and A Metal State of Mind) one of the biggest search terms is for a review of an album. So, people are looking for them.
    It’s true that someone can just download or stream an album to hear it and form their own opinions. But at least from me personally, I enjoy reading other peoples reviews to hear their opinions on an album I may also have heard for more insight. I may have not liked something and the other reviewer points out a point that I may have over looked(heard) and will point me in a direction of a new perspective on an album, and visa versa.
    I also like review sites such as here of course) because beyond writing excellent reviews he is blatantly honest in his thoughts and the site has introduced me to tons of bands I would have never heard otherwise. So reviews are a great way to spread the word of music, and when you find a reviewer that has similar tastes as you and writes(or speaks for the youtube reviewers) well, it’s worth its weight in gold.
    When I write reviews my reviews tend to be more on the positive side because I like to find the positive in everything and bring it to light, but if there is something I don’t like about an album, I’ll say so. And often, due to budget reasons I usually purchase albums I have a good feeling will be great or are from a band that is well established in my tastes. So therefore, my reviews are more on the positive end.
    On reviewers getting reviews out the day after an album is released, I have to admit I am guilty of this doing it very recently for my Symphony X and Rhapsody of Fire reviews(the albums are great, check them out), is I downloaded the leak of the album some weeks in advance and have been repeatedly listening to them for a while and on release day I went to the local CD shop and bought the physical copy and then wrote my review. I feel I’m not the only person that is guilty of this.
    And the main reason I write reviews is because I enjoy it personally. I love talking about music, in particular metal, video games, books, ect. ect. and do so for me and no one else. If someone else enjoys reading my blabbering, fuckin awesome dude, if not, well, fuckin awesome dude. It’s all the same to me.
    Good Luck with your endeavors!!!
    Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!!

  2. Hey man, thnks for writing in….i agree with most of what u said……basically thats what i said…same as u fact i would go one step further and say that album reviews are the best place for discussion and critique…..

    -Baba T

  3. I’d say a good review can just be a fun thing to read as well. People with different styles and approaches are really worth learning from. And the best reviews can get very close to literary realms too, in wanting to describe things.

    Finally, a review is not authoritative, but persuasive. The reviewer is basically laying down his speech on that particular album. Sometimes, when I’ve loved an album for a very long time, and read an eloquent negative review, it unblocks my mind and makes me see that what i glossed over in my enthusiasm was actually shit.

    Reviews matter and will matter.

    -El Bajista

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