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Entries in rock (15)

Tuesday
Oct042016

Was my thesis right? Five years on in the thick of music journalism

Collage by Brooke DorrattIn 2011, I completed my thesis on music journalism in Australia, titled Rock Sells Out? Cultural creation, industry influence and electronic evolution. I resigned as Digital Editor of Hysteria Mag last month. So I'm FREE AT LAST to dump my bargain basement opinions on whether my thesis holds any water, five years on.

“The counter-culture was a mistake”

Legendary rock writer Robert Christgau said the counter-culture’s “gospel of sexual liberation and generational identity became a smug ritual” in the 60s and 70s, and that’s no less true now. Dancing around state troopers and placing flowers in gun barrels isn’t a thing any more. However, we do have tweets and blogs and blogs about tweets about how someone or something is “problematic” because it disagrees with their world view. This is now called “virtue-signalling,” or expressing an opinion to get a pat on the back for it. Adulthood, at least to me, is the feeling you got as a kid as you cleaned your room unprompted, without your parents even noticing. You do shit because you have to, not for external validation.

Cultural capital is bullshit

I argued that cultural capital builds up around rock journalists who have access to certain artists or bands. This is only true…for other rock writers. In my experience, the public couldn’t give a shit. Only other scribes scramble for the top of the rock writing pile, reaching out for that crown of cool. Like any niche in the marketplace, achievement in the niche is self-congratulatory. Of course, the output benefits almost no one outside the niche.

Reviewer as self-entitled brat, not “tastemaker”

The rock reviewer in this day and age is not a tastemaker. You cannot tell people what they should and should not listen to. I think Emmure is complete shit, but people will fight and die for Frankie Palmieri’s right to pollute the atmosphere with his slack-jawed internet rants disguised as songs. Reviewers, especially who haven’t grown up with glossy mags are doing it for the cultural kudos (which as I said before, no one gives a shit about.) I’ve encountered many doing it for those cool points. Which are redeemable for an amount south of zero. I cannot pay the rent with cool points, so here we are.

Authenticity, schmauthenticity

Every band has a schtick. If they don’t have one, they should probably go out and find one. Authenticity is easy to emulate and filtered through PR and communications specialists. A band is authentic predicated on the fact their PR says they are. The mere act of declaration invalidates true authenticity, so nothing is authentic. The rampant amount of back room fiddling with articles and copy lays that theory to rest.

The irony of critical rock journalism 2: Electric Ironyloo

In Australia at least, every major rock publication is held at gunpoint by record labels or PR. That’s not to say it’s the friendliest mugging in the world. Because it sort of is.

Without access to labels, managers, PRs (the roles of which get so confusing after a while), you do not have a publication. Worse still, many of these labels advertise in these publications so that true “criticism” is near impossible. During the Soundwave era, before Soundwave put everything on the credit card and cried “oopsie!” when they couldn’t pay it back, Soundwave had a near monopoly on supplying content (not the content itself, but the material or access to create it). If you upset your only supplier, it meant you had no publication.

Publications that can diversify their income may have a chance. Even so, if you upset a PR, you don’t get content. So nothing has changed in this regard.

Media playing catch up – the gates are crushed and burning

The kids with their Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are creating their own communities – they seldom need mags or publications to tell them anything. People can connect to their favourite artists or bands using social media. In many cases, a band will make an announcement themselves, leaving the media to play catch up. By the time the media does, it’s already old news.

So as depressing as that is – my thesis still holds water. In some ways, even more so. Now give me some money so I can finish paying my HECS debt off.

As for writing about rock n' roll again? I'm good...for the moment.

Monday
Dec212015

The Top 10 of Metal (and Mosh!) 2015

I'm drawn back to this empty screen each year to secrete my opinion on what I enjoyed this year. I've been doing it since at least 2009, back when I thought writing about music conferred some kind of numinous insight into music. I listen to a lot of bullshit and I'm cynical as hell. Sometimes, I leap out of my chair and whip my (no) hair back and forth in ecstacy. Some of those discs did that to me this year. Here's a numbered list of them.

1. Gazpacho - Molok

These guys are out of this world. Prog rock that's actually progressive and actually rock. It runs from ancient esoterics to futurist wanderings. This is such a trip. At the end there's this code that might blow the world up. For a second there, I tensed up and clenched my eyes tight...

2. Ghost - Meliora

It's pop music painted black. If metal had something close to Pet Sounds, this might be it.

3. Melechesh - Enki

Invoking ancient evil never sounded so badass.

4. Four Year Strong - Four Year Strong

Pop-punk? Fuck off, Tom. This can't be good. Actually no, fuck you. It's brilliant.

5. Hellions - Indian Summer

Saviours of Australian heavy music. Get into them before they burn out in a haze of cocaine dust.

6. Baroness - Purple

Sublime and surreal sounds from Savannah, again. John Baizley is a true artist in every sense.

7. Steven Wilson - Hand.Cannot.Erase

The concept reads like a Hugo winner and sounds like a stoner's dream.

8. Trials - This Ruined World

Thrash done with brains and heart. Riffs born with destinies deeper than "must imitate Metallica" are winners.

9. Soilwork - The Ride Majestic

I never thought Soilwork would make one of these lists again. Boy, I was wrong. Hard.

10. Pyramaze - Disciples of the Sun

lol Power metal. I thought these guys were just a cheap, clean version of Mercenary. Nope. Crisp production and brain-worming hooks do justice to the genre. Finally.

The Honourable Mentions

Gold Award - Black Breath - Slaves Beyond Death
Silver Award - Sigh - Graveward
Bronze Award - Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards

14. The Black Dahlia Murder - Abysmal
15. Deafheaven - New Bermuda
16. My Dying Bride - Feel The Misery
17. Killing Joke - Pylon
18. Cancer Bats - Searching for Zero
19. Earth Caller - Degenerate
20. Born Lion - Final Words

 

Check Hysteria's albums of the year, here!

Wednesday
Nov042015

THE HYST LIST: The Best Ages to Be (According to Rock Stars)

What's the best age to be (according to rock stars?) We answered that question over at Hysteriamag.com.

(Yes, I know you never asked!)

Friday
Oct162015

Review: Gay Paris - Ladies And Gentlemen, May We Present To You: The Dark Arts (Beat)

Remember this proverb? "Metalheads don't dance, it's why they head bang." Not true, not any more. With a deep focus on arse-shaking grooves, Gay Paris play burlesque metal. It's not without precedent; think of bands like Danko Jones, Diablo Swing Orchestra, and Queens of the Stone Age to a degree. But I'll be damned if anyone does it better than Gay Paris.

Read more at Beat.com.au.

Monday
Dec222014

The Top 10 of Metal (and Mosh!) 2014

I have real trouble defining the parameters of my 2014 list. Swinging low on my Digital Editor perch at Hysteria Mag, I’ve kinda sorta found myself not hating a lot of the stuff thrown across my table. Punk and hardcore. Metalcore and deathcore. Rockcore and Applecore. “Fuck it,” I said, downing another cup of coffee-flavoured battery acid, “I’ll add whatever bullshit I want to my list.”

A long pause. Heavy silence. I turn to a non-existent camera. Straight down the barrel, I intone:

“Cos it’s my fuckin’ list.”

Adhering to my own editorial advice of “omit needless words!” Here's year’s musical journey summed up in one DELUXE page. So here we go:

 

 

1. Sleepwave - Broken Compass 

Spencer Chamberlain saved rock n’ roll. He did it not only with great tunes, but courage.

2. Decapitated - Blood Mantra

Growing tired of death metal is easy. Decapitated settle for nothing less than perfection. Blood Mantra is that perfection.

3. Gazpacho - Demon

Classifying this one is like expressing frustrations in an arcane tongue. Prog rock that's simple, haunting, beautiful. Jan Henrik-Ohme's androgyne vocals transcend music as music...it's a language of humanity.

4. Killer Be Killed - Killer Be Killed

Metal supergroup? Well that'll be shit. Wait, no. It's the polar opposite of shit.

5. A Breach of Silence - The Darkest Road

Metal and 'core will never find a more perfect chimera. Go home, Iron Maiden tee wearing fuckboys; your shit is OVER.

6. Amplifier - Mystoria

Pure rock delivered in a punch through your ear box. They trip on shrooms, they love big riffs, they kick total ass. Cat's Cradle is a rock masterpiece.

7. Goatwhore - Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Recorded on analogue, crushing as always. Goatwhore with Erik Rutan producing is unstoppable. It's hinted with real imitation crazy, feeling oh so frighteningly satisfying.

8. Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

"Doom" has been hijacked by skinny-tee wearing SJWs set on finding life's answers in the back of a Foucault book. Fuck them. This is the real shit. No trust funds, no saviours.

9. Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen

A late entry, but adding psychedelic touches and stoner jammin' really bumped them up the list. Primordial are ALWAYS God tier. This proves it.

10. Voyager  - V

If Australia has one metal export you should be spruiking incessantly (apart from King Parrot) it's Voyager. Prog metal's been sucking its own dick since Scenes from a Memory. Voyager bravely fly free outta prog's masturbatory hugbox. Keep it up, boys and girl.

Honourable Mentions:

Gold Award: Soen - Tellurian

Remember when Tool and Opeth were the only "prog metal" masters back in the winter of 2000? Imagine if they combined. Perfectly.

Silver Award: KXM - KXM

Metal supergroups seem to be kickin' major ass, and KXM is no exception. Down home blues and rock sung with Dug Pinnick's "I been around some" heart and soul. Can't beat that.

Bronze Award: Audrey Horne – Get Heavy

Are we absolutely sure the ghosts of Phil Lynott and Gary Moore aren't cutting these?

The Near Misses:

  • Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun
  • DZ Deathrays - Black Rat
  • Agalloch - The Serpent and the Sphere
  • Anathema - Distant Satellites
  • Aversions Crown - Tyrant
  • Desecration - Cemetary Sickness
  • St. Vincent - St. Vincent
  • The Amity Affliction - Let The Ocean Take Me
  • Darkest Era - Severance
  • Devin Townsend Project - Sky Blue
  • Crosses - +++
  • At the Gates - At War With Reality