rules for reviewing

Here are some guidelines:

  1. The Beatles sounded like about 10 different bands. Say which one you’re talking about. Beulah sounds like “Rubber Soul-era Beatles”. If you don’t know the Beatles albums well-enough to know which to compare a band to, then leave this comparison to people who do.
  2. Sun-shiney harmonies don’t make a band automatically sound like the Beach Boys.
  3. If you compare a band to Neutral Milk Hotel, it’d better be fricking epic and life-changing, not just some dark fuzz-pop with random instruments.
  4. Just because it’s finger-picked and folky, doesn’t make it sound like Nick Drake.
  5. “sounds like [band name] on [drug]” is weak and stupid. (McAnulty alerted me to this one.)
  6. “sounds like [super obscure band #1] had babies with [super obscure band #2]” is usually useless.
  7. Making a judgement of an album based on personal beliefs of the band makes you seem small.
  8. Mentioning a band member’s facial hair and passing judgement on an album based on that makes you seem stupid and small.
  9. Making a judgement of an album based on personal activities of the band or band members is stupid.
  10. Not all lo-fi bands sound like Guided by Voices. In fact, none of them do.
  11. Seriously, have you even listened to Slint’s Spiderland??
  12. Don’t make a judgement about an album based on a comparison or objectionable phrase on its promotional one-sheet. The band probably didn’t write that. They might not have even seen that.

Am I missing any?



2 Responses to “rules for reviewing”

  1. 13. Making reference to U2 and REM from “before they were popular” only proves to us that you’re at least forty, and probably shouldn’t be reviewing indie rock records anyway. So don’t.

    Also, wow – I’d never read that review of Winners Never Quit before. That’s some surprisingly bad reviewing, even for Pitchfork.

  2. […] I don’t think I’m the only one that thinks it’s a bit weird that two different heartfelt acoustic, often finger-picked singer songwriters are both having their rare work posthumously issued soon. The two are Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. One everyone compares any hushed singer songwriter with, the other, it’s every finger-picked singer/ guitarist. […]

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