Saturday, 9 March 2013

Class of 2003

You may think that when Somik and I talk about the blog in the real world that it’s rarified conversation over port about the merits of various musical styles, undertaken in high-backed chairs in the more salubrious gentleman’s clubs.

Sadly, it’s mostly about fonts and editing.

Back in those halcyon days when I could actually have been called a Music Journalist – Capitalised For Your Pleasure – I had a year of reviewing followed by a year of editing. Except, as came up in one of our recent conversations, what I was good at as an editor wasn’t, well, editing, but more along the lines of getting free stuff.

In these digital times, it’s difficult – not too difficult, but still – to imagine the idea of a physical release with a set release date and no access to the material prior to that unless you were ‘in’ with the record company. Now, songs are leaked on YouTube months before official release, and on file-sharing no doubt. When it does actually come out, you can get the digital version from a dazzling variety of outlets, from the artist’s own website to the digital storefronts, without ever having to change out of your pyjamas, shave, and leave the house to confront the existential terror of the record-store shop assistant’s judgmental attitude.

Fortunately, I was very good at getting free stuff in the form of advance copies of albums.

Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble letting go of that once I was done as a student journalist.

In the weird transitional period between graduating and getting a Real Job™ I did try to keep it going by running a short-form blog (long since dead, sadly, with the entries going down with the ship) but I only managed to actually factually score a single pre-release, and that was a Kidda EP.

After that, the rot set in.

It could in point of fact be said that it was when I stopped getting free stuff that I no longer found a place for music in my day-to-day life other than what was playing on the radio, aside from the occasional album purchase from the local Tesco.

It took an act of kindness by a good man before I actually started caring about music again, but even then that was only priming an old and dusty pump that needed a hell of a lot of oiling before I thought about approaching Somik about this whole crazy music blog shenanigan.

That act was simple, but unexpected; I’d started talking music with one of my peers (although, thanks to circumstance, my peers were no longer my contemporaries, and that needs attributing and explaining at a later date). He’d already persuaded me to try listening to Tinie Tempah and B.o.B, and I’d gone out and, yes, bought copies from the local supermarket.

When it come to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, though, which he couldn’t recommend highly enough, I mentioned that I couldn’t find a copy in my local shops.

So when I got home I found, unexpectedly, a gift copy of the album waiting for me on iTunes. An unexpected gift is always a great thing, but it kind of shocked me out of my musical complacency.

(Thank you, Cameron.)

Like I say, it took a long while before I actually thought about asking Somik about starting up a music blog, and as you can see, of the two of us he’s the one who really knows about music. I’m just an opinionated, new-media fixated, run-on sentence using oddbody.

Let’s actually approach the point of this piece, though;  last week, I bought Push The Sky Away (from Amazon, which has changed since the last time I bought an MP3 album from them; Amazon Cloud? Really?) and, having listened to it twice, I sat down and tried to write a review.

Then I realized it had been TEN FREAKING YEARS since I’d even tried to write an album – or single, remember those? – review, and the scaffolding of my reviewing brain started to collapse.

(In case you were wondering, Somik’s working on an album review as well, but in his case I think the delay’s more about waiting for a physical copy – So Twentieth Century – than my psychological issues.)

That review will follow shortly once I’ve rewritten it, and I hope more album reviews will come out of this blog as well. But – for me at least – it’s no longer about judgment, as it used to be – i.e. rendering a cohesive argument or opinion on something and trying to persuade You, The Reader that that opinion is the one truthful truth; now, it’s just about talking about the music.

Heaven knows, after all, that I’m a talker.

So, loyal readers – I’m assuming there’s at least one of you – sorry about the hiatus. Blame it partly on the problem of atrophied neural circuitry and, latterly, on the release of the new Iron Man 3 trailer, because you can lead a film geek to music, but you can’t make him think.  

"There's my boys."

- James  

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