WARNING:The following has very little point. I enjoyed writing it though.
I've just been wading through a vast amount of recent music journalism that's about music journalism, beginning with the 'notorious' Everett True (who seems to be boss cocky of music journo's in Australia and elsewhere these days) dissing of Australian Street press, and the ensuing mass of reaction that spawned. I rather think that much writing about music in Australian Street Press is dire to the point of excrement (indeed, I line my cat's litter tray with SAUCE, the Tasmanian street rag), but it's a bit of an easy target and doesn't quite get to the core of the boil, which is probably the Australian Music Industry itself, and that could itself be something to do with Australia's general attitude to Arts and Culture, but maybe this is getting all too large already.
Street Press is, in my humble opinion, pretty irrelevant these days - it exists to sell advertising, and that largely for clubs rather than dedicated live music venues. I really don't know enough about club music to feel that I can say something about it with any degree of knowledge, so even if it's a cop-out I'm going to have to leave it alone, and everything else seems to be about presenting a particular image not of a band or a musician, but of the venue itself, and that includes any writing about a particular night out. Everything, everything comes across as advertorial in street press, and it has for a long time, because street press doesn't seem to have much function beyond selling advertising. I don't think critical opinion is wanted there, and really, I'm not sure it ever has been, at least not in Australia to any major extent.
I blame Molly Meldrum - he always seemed to like everything.
But I turn an look at my own house first and pretty much, everything here is positive. Am I lame? Probably, but I really don't want to write about stuff that's dull. I started writing a negative review of Calvin Johnson's solo album Before the Dream Faded..., called him a low-rent Tom Waits and then just couldn't be bothered finishing because the album was so dull. It was just dull. Droning baritone, some funny bits, nothing to see here, have a bong and forget it. I I didn't hate it, it just wasn't the glory of the Beat Happening and that's hardly his fault, and I just sold it on, because someone out there will probably love it.I haven't bought anything I hate in ages because I'm pretty tight and pretty careful and do a bit of research before making a purchase anyway.
So, that's probably me out anyway on that tact.
I do think an awful lot of current music is dire but i hate very, very little of it and if it does not anger me to the point of frustration, I cannot be screwed writing about it, as I don't write here all that much anyway. The last act I really disliked was that atrocity of a band Aleks and The Ramps (a cross between the worst aspects of Pavement and Hi 5ive), who I heckled like a drunk arsehole at the Brisbane one night. What a nasty man I am; I'm told they're nice young people.
I rarely do that these days - when something bores me I piss off to the front bar of the Brisbane and talk to someone, or more correctly at someone. A band has to be amazingly shit for me to want to tell them to never touch an instrument again.
So perhaps I'm just noting that at least one reason why I think there's not a lot of decent criticism is that most bands in Australia are too dull to write about, why would you bother?
You'll get nothing out of telling people Ash Grunwald is an awful sonic experience, because people either do not agree or they already know - although Ash is one artist whom you really only need to see a picture of to know he's dreadful. Better to aim locally or more directly into some sub-scene? yeah, but in those areas, I'm going to write about what I enjoy far more readily, as I have done thus far, although I could slag something without fear of income loss. I've been punched for heckling a couple of times, it's just that in the gas-heated comfort of my lounge, there seems to be little reason to subject myself to listening to Grafton Primary for the express purpose of dissing them when I already know they were shite from reading their advertorial disguised as an interview in some rag.
But I will ask this: do you think it possible, since the dominance of cover bands and the relationship between covers bands and the alcohol industry that was cemented in the late 70s and early 80s in Australia that the music industry has been shaped into one big, jolly, way to sell beer to idiots? I mean, paranoid and conspiratorial, and all, but do you think that the relationships between advertising, venues, alcohol, bums on seats and music is all mixed up somehow? Where can you slot criticism into that relationship?
I don't know. I need to think about it more.