Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday Music: History, motherfuckers

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  • Danielle,

    If you'd like an opinion about music unswayed by baubles and trinkets, you could ask me: I'm a housewife with a giant music collection. As a bonus, I will do my very best not to be a sexist asshat just for the sake of feeling smug about how "provocative" I am for writing such superb "windups".

    Honestly, I cannot express to you how fucking played I think this approach to music writing is. It's TIRESOME, and so are all the apologists for it.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    People who go to lots of gigs and mix with people in the music industry often have knowledge and insight that someone who merely buys CDs doesn't. Excitement and engagement can make for superb writing.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Danielle,

    If you’d like an opinion about music unswayed by baubles and trinkets, you could ask me: I’m a housewife with a giant music collection

    I’d read your music blog Danielle, I’m sure it would piss me off far less often than Sweetman’s.

    ETA I'm generally pissed off by music reviews.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ken Double,

    He cultivates no connections at all with the music industry. He’s just not interested. It may lead him to go proudly, arrogantly off the deep end every now and then, but some of us actually value any opinion unswayed by industry baubles, junkets and – that most insidious of all inducements – access.

    Hang on, I'll just get up off this floor I've been rolling around laughing on ...

    I'm not sure where you get your info about the local music business, but there are few, if any, junkets and no baubles whatsoever. And I'm not even sure what you mean by "access". It's really not hard to speak to New Zealand artists.

    Russell is a very principled journalist but even he likes to warm his toes by the fires of the biz on occasion. He has mates. So be it, that’s how you get stories. Simon doesn’t do that. Look at him less as a critic – he’s not a great analyser truth to tell – and more as a musical diarist and passionate fan, and you can see he performs yeoman work. Let’s face it, no one else is prepared to make themselves that unpopular.

    Yes, I know people who make music and people who try and sell and present that music. I have done for more than 30 years. I've lived with them, loved with them and I've very definitely got drunk with them. We run a special, very cheap advertising rate for local bands and promoters, and one of the best things about writing the blog is being able to get behind people like SJD, Blair Parkes and Matthew Bannister. I never expect my name to be on the door at gigs, because I can afford to pay.

    Basically, people in "the biz" overwhelmingly bear no relation whatsoever to the perceptions you seem to be implying here. But if that's what Sweetman thinks, it is an insight into his ill-informed Lorde rant.

    It does say something for Sweetman that you and Mark Cubey and others see the good in him. I honestly didn't want to make it some dumb feud -- that's why I didn't lead with the commentary on Friday (although I was VERY angry on Thursday).

    But I might as well say this: I've been thanked by a lot of music people since that post went up -- most of them people Sweetman hasn't ever had a harsh word for, some of them people he has praised. The Lorde thing seemed to be the final straw for a lot of them. And I do not think there's any virtue in being unpopular in that sense.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Lilith __,

    often have knowledge and insight

    There is that, but ideally I prefer a reviewer to simply look and listen, then expound on the music and cover art – something that Simon has utterly failed to do on this and countless other occasions. He gets a little too caught up in canons and how things fit within the hierarchy IMO.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to "chris",

    I’d read your music blog Danielle, I’m sure it would piss me off far less often than Sweetman’s.

    I'd read that!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double,

    In what ‘context’ would it be anything but loathesome fact-free rubbish?

    It was an article about the ways in which women and men differ in their musical taste. He wanted a response so he wrote a piece with a satirical male-advocacy point of view. I quite enjoyed it. It was knowing and edgy. As I recall facts were not involved, nor were they required.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's really not hard to speak to New Zealand artists.

    Harder to avoid it

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ken Double,

    satirical

    Whatever, dude

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ken Double,

    It was knowing and edgy.

    joining Russell rofl-ing

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to "chris",

    There is that, but ideally I prefer a reviewer to simply look and listen, then expound on the music and cover art. Something that Simon has utterly failed to do on this and countless other occasions.

    That's actually a very fair point. There's definitely virtue in just reviewing the music (and, as you say, the cover art). It's just not what he did.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    You'll forgive me if I consider the same old potshots at my gender less a case of "edgy" and more a case of "same shit, different day".

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Russell Brown,

    He wrote a half decent review of Ladi6 last week, but to coin his pet phrase; ‘diminishing returns’ characterizes his output of late, right about the time he starting posting poetry and short stories on offthetracks.

    some dumb feud

    Certainly not how I’ve read the situation, gotta keep people honest. You’re good like that ;)

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    It was knowing and edgy.

    joining Russell rofl-ing

    Yeah, seriously, it really wasn't. It was clumsy and oafish.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Glad to have brought a smile Russell. I know many musicians, not quite so many in the business. I've written on music myself in the past (in a national magazine! prior to the internet!) and frankly I found it nerve wracking to review the local stuff with total honesty. I'm familiar with the subtle ways the biz wants to favour you if you would only say this nice thing. I'm not complaining - it's their job and the smart ones don't take anything personally. The dumb ones sure do.

    I know musicians who are brilliant - Sean is one, he's a genius - but I know a few who are crap. I'm not going to tell them. Neither will their mates, their Mum or their handlers. In fact I don't know many people outside Simon who would dare go all the way in public.

    The bottom line is, I'm a music fan. I don't really give a shit about anything but the songs and that's what I like about Simon. He pisses me off too - don't get me started on his opinions of Kanye - but it's robust debate about things that matter to music nerds. Most of the time anyway.

    I understand your anger. It was a dorky piece and it was close to the bone for you. But it's not the whole of what he does, and if you take him away, if you remove his annoying, taunting, unreasonable voice, the whole environment just becomes that little bit more happy clappy.

    Not all musicians hate him actually. Plenty enjoy the biffo and respect his consistency and advocacy for the stuff he DOES like. But most of the people chipping in here would happily string him up and that makes me squeamish.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to "chris",

    He wrote a decent review of Ladi6 last week, but to coin his pet phrase; ‘diminishing returns’ characterizes his output of late, right about the time he starting posting poetry and short stories on offthetracks.

    It's hardly a review. He doesn't mention a single track or actually say anything specific about the music. The whole post is terribly written.

    It's also where he links to his Lorde "review":

    I'm hopeful that there'll be something in the Lorde album beyond empty hype. I'm really not sure on that one though - something's fishy, I reckon. I'm just not convinced, just yet. Something doesn't quite add up. I smell a rat. It's kinda my job to smell rats. I see and hear enough of 'em...

    It reads like parody. But hey ...

    But I'll be the first to gush all about that album if it is the real deal.

    The thing is, he says positive things about the Jonathan Bree and Matthew Bannister albums, which I've featured here. We also both really like the last SJD album. So we share some tastes, clearly. But ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ken Double,

    robust debate

    Really?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Russell Brown,

    half decent

    sorry, I edited before you’d replied. That Stuff link has the link to the actual review. And yes…

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Dean Papa,

    Hello Jackie. I've got your "missing stair reference", but it would seem to be very unfair to apply that to Sweetman, based only on a couple of reviews or articles he has written. I do not know him, so have no idea what he is really like. But he is a music critic, and an opinionated one it seems, and he appears to be passionate about his opinions on music. I see that as part of the entertainment, as long as he does not go over the top with it.

    Now I want to address what is the most unpleasant, vile as some here have called it, aspect of Simon's Lorde review, namely Simon’s contention that Lorde was being sexualised to sell music, with the particular reference to the video of the Tennis court song. I will do my best to be as delicate as possible here. Having tracked this video down on youtube, it must be said that Simon’s claim is ridiculous. You’d have to be a bit weird to think otherwise. But I’m (fairly) confident that Simon does not genuinely believe what he has written. For some reason Simon's sensibilities have been offended by what he sees as the 'hype' surrounding Lorde. Why this would get his dander up so much only he can answer. His true objective in making the absurd claim was, I believe, to launch a cheap shot, indeed a very crude cheap shot, at the likes of Russell Brown, and others, who he sees as ‘hyping’ (supporting and promoting) Lorde’s music. Basically, Simon was calling these people ‘wankers’. It is a schoolboy level type of humour (as Margo said to Tom). Note here in case there is any confusion, I am referencing the Aus/NZ meaning of ‘wanker’ (as a self-important, posturing type of an individual). Simon is questioning the sincerity of these people. Nothing to do with masturbation, but the literal interpretation of what Simon wrote in order to convey this crude message makes it that much more vile. To be clear I am referring to Simon's remark concerning the Farmer's lingerie catalogues. The remark about Lorde being sexualised was a very clumsy means used by Simon to set up his 'people who think Lorde is good and are promoting her music are really just wankers inference'. I do hope people can follow what I am saying? Basically, Simon has made a vile comment and made himself look like a sicko in order to make a crude attack on people (males in this case) who are praising or promoting Lorde. I will not attempt to comment on the psychology involved here, and in particular why Simon would direct his vulgar suggestions at a certain section of the male population.

    (as an aside see TISM song ‘whatareya?’ for further clarification of the meaning of the term wanker, and also note James Hird, in the news lately as coach of Essendon footy club, was a former Oz football great. Think maybe Christian Cullen for an NZ equivalent, on the field at least ).

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    most of the people chipping in here would happily string him up

    Oh FFS. If we could spare him the full martyr treatment, that would be ace. I am not interested in "stringing him up"; I'm noting that in the pieces quoted here he's not edgy, or satirical, or speaking truth to power, or whatever version of apologism you subscribe to. He's just being inaccurate, shallow, nasty and sexist. That isn't a necessary condition for music writing and I'll be goddamned if I'm ever going to accept that it is, no matter how many of you keep throwing words like "wind-up" at me.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double, in reply to Sacha,

    Yes. (I'm starting to sound like I think he's Jesus or Greil Marcus or something. He certainly ain't.) You have to take him as whole. He fucks up occasionally - I agree on the Lorde piece top to bottom - but he's written other stuff too. Lots and lots of other stuff. Shitloads in fact. And I've actually read some of it.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    (I actually read the Blog on the Tracks Facebook page quite a lot, FWIW. It's not somewhere I feel comfortable commenting, though. For obvious reasons.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Danielle,

    I would read it too as I have long thought you have impeccable taste in music--but we might have another disagreement regarding Paul McCartney

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He cultivates no connections at all with the music industry. He’s just not interested.

    Simon is a drummer. He has, at times, played quite a bit, I think. For a few different bands. Not a 'biz' insider, maybe... but rubbed shoulders with plenty of musicians? Reckon.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Danielle,

    If you’d like an opinion about music unswayed by baubles and trinkets, you could ask me: I’m a housewife with a giant music collection.

    Danielle, will you please start writing a music blog? It would be an AWESOME thing to come out of this mess.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

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