Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Vanguard vs. The Old Guard

Why is it that veteran music journalists so often have to resort to petty dismissals of us poor, insignificant bloggers? It's one of Petridish's hot topics in The Guardian, and increasingly the likes of Krissi Murison in the NME and even Paul Morley have been chipping in (how ignorant and inexperienced we all are! It's like we're all spotty virgins or something...). Is it perhaps because they feel genuinely threatened by the fact that internet writers are helping to establish acts, and that traditional print journalism may be under threat? If so, they are merely contributing to their own downfall. Here's an interesting piece from Paul Morley:,,2012799,00.html

Reading this, it's difficult to comprehend how Morley was ever at the forefront of a Zeitgeist. He now writes, and frequently speaks, in sentences clunkier and more verbose even than mine, and with a marked lack of critical acumen. There's no selective judgement on display in this piece - yes the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys et al have been overrated, but exactly who in any journalistic sphere has been portraying Adem as some sort of revolutionary master? He's a lovely chap who writes good songs, and there's nothing wrong with that. And if Morley was disappointed when he heard Spiritualized's 'Feel So Sad' (assuming he was still aware at that point), or even the Spiritualized of 'Ladies and Gentlemen...', I'm a bit baffled as to why, ditto the thrill that comes from the real passion and enthusiasm for music evident in the work of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.

Let's not forget that all the really over-hyped, mostly reactionary bands of the moment (The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles, The (sinking) Feeling, The Hours et al) have all been zealously praised by print journos. Take a closer look at the acts I've found via the blogosphere - Arcade Fire, Burial, Benoit Pioulard, Subtle, Broken Social Scene, Beirut, Susanna and The Magical Orchestra, Bat For Lashes - the difference in judgement and breadth of interest immediately becomes apparent.

Marcello Carlin (an experienced and authoritative writer both in print and online) writes an interesting repost over at Church Of Me (, which is all the more fascinating because his subsequent piece on Judee Sill's 'Heart Food' is both passionate and sceptical, as all the best music writing should be.

On a completely different topic, it's of course not just music where amateur writing can prove illuminating. My old school friend Alex Stein maintains a very interesting blog called False Dichotomies , with some carefully balanced explorations of Israel/Palestine in particular. I don't elect to write about politics much here, but I do try and keep informed! It strikes me that unhelpful schematic presentations of issues rarely help us understand them. My current bugbear is 'the conflict between national security and civil liberties'. The two aren't mutually exclusive - we can and should have both!

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