Music reviews? What are your faves?
October 31, 2009 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Examples of really great music reviews?

I'm trying to learn more about the genre of music reviewing/criticism and am looking for recommendations of smart album reviews, in particular those that use a sustained, essay-length approach.

Links to actual articles and reviews -- rather than just names -- are most welcome. However, I appreciate any feedback.

Thank you!
posted by cymru_j to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Lester Bangs' Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung is classic.

As a side note, Chicago Sun-Times critic Jim DeRogatis teaches a class on criticism at Columbia college Chicago. The required test? His own bio of Lester Bangs, Let It Blurt.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:45 AM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

I find the CBC's Robert Harris amazing. Scroll down to Episode 7 on this list, and listen to his analysis of the history of jazz, the virtuosity of Louis Armstrong, and the song that changed the world--West End Blues.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:21 AM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Robert Christgau is deeply knowledgeable about pop music and writes with clarity and concision. You can lose a whole day rummaging through his archives.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:41 AM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mark Prindle's enthusiasm is enviable. He does a great job of not taking loud rock seriously, yet making it clear he adores the stuff.
posted by bendybendy at 8:07 AM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This one is my personal favorite.
posted by Slinga at 8:31 AM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I found these fellows last year, and they have some remarkable full discography sets of reviews. Really great when you're wondering where to start with discovering an established artist or a band. Without them, I would've never found this, by way of this.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:56 AM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Stranded, edited by Greil Marcus, is a compilation of essay-length albums reviews. Most memorable to me is the aforementioned Lester Bangs' piece on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.

Seconding Christgau.
posted by emhutchinson at 9:05 AM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This was one of the great stemwinders of recent times. DeRogatis is generally quite sound and often very funny.

For classical, you can't beat Gramophone. Unfortunately, their website's free content is insanely borked, so there's no point linking to articles there: this is a pretty good representation of the kind of thinky reviews they do (by, full disclosure, one of my BFF).

For jazz, DownBeat is the standard. Again, they have a crap website, so you'll have to read the print mag.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:22 AM on October 31, 2009

Best answer: Lester Bangs did it very well and is still the best rockcrit ever - Psychotic Reactions... and the follow-up anthology Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste should be on everybody's shelves.

Richard Meltzer's A Whore Just Like The Rest is a fine intro to his irreverent take on music criticism.

England's The Wire magazine features some of today's best music writing, employing the likes of Byron Coley and Edwin (Savage Pencil) Pouncey.

And don't forget Robert Christgau, who Sonic Youth notoriously tried to kill with their big flipping ding-dongs in the mid-1980s on a Forced Exposure 7" single. His Christgau's Consumer Guides for the 70s, 80s and 90s are fantastic.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:16 AM on October 31, 2009

Best answer: Six word reviews of SXSW 2008

A few gems:

Rhyming’s a tool, not a weapon.

Soft pink vagina frosted jazz cupcakes.

Thin white men, tight black pants?

This guitarist has too many feelings.

Son, you’re damaging your vocal cords.

Death metal innovation is obviously impossible.

That was from the A's.
posted by mearls at 11:42 AM on October 31, 2009

greil marcus - to start with songs of random terror, real life top 10 1980

christgau has been well covered, but i 3rd, 4th, 5th that recommendation.

for mainly punk rock, but other things too - jon savage.

and finally, dave marsh.
posted by nadawi at 12:08 PM on October 31, 2009

Response by poster: What a great bunch of resources. Thanks, guys!

Mearls, those mini-reviews are killer. My favorite has to be "This guitarist has too many feelings."
posted by cymru_j at 1:24 PM on October 31, 2009

Said the Gramophone writes about music as though it were sleeping with it. A wonderful site to visit for a more lyrical, as it were, approach to music writing.
posted by Billegible at 2:50 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's the opposite of what you're looking for, but Charles Shaar Murray's one-word review (in the NME) of Poet, fool or bum by Lee Hazlewood.

posted by lapsangsouchong at 3:31 PM on October 31, 2009

Miniature reviews that tell you all you need to know are fantastic.

Christgau's dismissal of Yello: Chickenshi
Also, Rolling Stone's Record Guide reviewed a GTR record with the closing sentence: ttl sht
posted by porn in the woods at 5:25 PM on October 31, 2009

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