cdreviewsIt’s funny how, once again, I find myself having to defend something that shouldn’t really need defending. The fact that I write positive and constructive music reviews (mainly these days over on Dancing About Architecture) that champion rather than criticise, seems to be an issue for some and it seems a bit strange that people feel the need to gird their literary loins and vent their spleen in the form of comments to that end. Or occasionally shout across the bar that my writing is “a joke” whilst I’m having a quiet post-gig pint.

So here’s something for you all to think about. For more years than I care to remember I have, at various times, been involved in arranging gigs and helping bands to find new audiences, I have earned part of my living writing material for PR companies and record labels, I have gone to gigs and bought fledgling bands CDs and generally helped the cause of original, grassroots music in some small way. Championing new music, I think, is a worthy way to spend my time so why should such a celebratory tone be applied to writing reviews?

I do receive and occasionally watch music that I don’t particularly like, obviously, but do you know what I do? I just don’t comment on it, not in public print al least. I may be a grumpy bugger in real life but I think my writing is more positive than that, with occasional asides into arid humour and the occasional gentle poke. Why should the fact that I don’t particularly get what an artist is about, someone who may have little in common with me, mean that I feel the need to deride their efforts? I’m sure there are loads of people who like what they do so I just let them write about it. After all who wins from a bad review? Certainly not the band. The author may feel cool for an hour or two, the reader will still hopefully make their own mind up, the publication might get a few extra hits but, by-and-large, little has moved forward.

Surely a good review gets shared further, helps all concerned and even though the reader will still make their own mind up whether to buy the record or see the band, a bit more positivity in the world is surely a good thing. I have always wanted to make things happen, book a band that might not otherwise have found a certain local audience, I have always wanted to sing bands praises, I have always wanted to be one small stepping stone in a bands journey to bigger things rather than a stone cast at them. What’s so wrong with that?

And now that my services as a writer on the local scene are no longer required, I get to only write about the bands I really find an affinity with, be it a strange cinematic, instrumental project in Berlin, lowest common denominator garage rock from Austin, Tokyo based dream-poppers or Italian alt-country renegades. My review pile is eclectic to say the least and a few of my now favourite artists have come my way through such random encounters.

I’m sure people will still knock what I do, though they won’t stop me doing it, if you don’t like what I write, don’t read it or better still write something yourself, find your own outlet for creativity, be part of the solution. It’s nice to be nice, right?