Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Readers Lambast Arctic Monkey's Review In NME

I have an apathy to the Arctic Monkeys that doesn't really bear explanation. Someone freshly obsessing over the meaning of music while heading into the hormonal melting pot of early puberty will lavishly scrawl the name of the Artic Monkey's on their bag, they are sort of an ideal "first band" to go all fanboy on. Not surprisingly, much of this hype has been generated by the NME. How perfect a band comes along, who even in this age of downloading, sound like they have an album collection consisting solely of Oasis, Stereophonics, The Jam and god knows how many buried Britpop acts. Equally they seem only to delighted to share a car ride with their dad as he blasts out his drive time classic rock tapes. NME must have fucking come all over themselves, its the end product of the linage of bands they've hyped and a good swallowing of the influences from their "NME Originals" series. Their exertions to "Get off the bandwagon and put down the album" and "there's only music cos there's no ringtones" are lyrics that fit perfectly into the pseudo generational angst being foisted on us by NME hacks time after time.

I don't actually know anyone who still reads NME, most of the people I hang around with admit to being regular consumers of what was the UK's main music inkie up until sometime in the very late 1990's. NME was the magazine that turned me onto Asian Dub Foundation through a live review and to Atari Teenage Riot by a scene profile of Berlin's digital hardcore scene, and thus in a one of those odd musical twists led me straight out of its grip as a musical influence. As an early teen barometer of taste it was also the very paper that rammed Kula Shaker down our throats, not only that but it drowned them in cat shite for flavoring and still watched as we fed gleefully on them. In this hypermediated reality, with options to digest literature far and wide, it says something about the sheer power of NME's draw that a whole handful of my peers can remember the exact moment we cut loose with it totally. Dropping even the effort of bothering to browse it in stores. That was the moment "nu-glam" muppets Gaydad were announced on its cover as the "savior's of rock."

Thankfully these days the fuckers can't get away unassaulted for such idiocy, not only as a result of blogs and other music related sites, but due to them having to morph their own organs to the will of the net, to the will of popular participation. This struck me first reading their review of the Arctic Monkeys debut. Here's some generational angst, expressed by a site user: "fuck you NME - fuck you for making me hate a musical genre that I once loved. If musical style has receded to find its inspiration in the past, I worry for its future." Most viciously of all someone called Cripple Crow writes "*drops this record into the 'What was NME thinking?!' drawer along with Vines, Menswear and Gay Dad and waits for them to disappear*"

If anything is pissing me off about popular music these days it is the generation of these artificial scenes with absolutely no geographic base apart from the fantasies of a few over exuberant fan/journalists in the NME. Such a distrust I have of the music industry (including press) to churn out crap bands that it usually takes me six months before overcoming my immediate prejudices of anything remotely contaminated with this new British wave to even sample a hearful of its constituent elements after the initial hype dies away. Its happened with them all, from Franz Ferdinand to Arctic Monkeys. And Bloc Party are the only ones who seem to be doing anything worthwhile, so maybe my initial process of distrust has proved itself as an adequate filtering device.

At least Pitchfork can point to something organic in Montreal, but I see fuck all point in turning to the NME for coverage of something like Grime, its coverage of even cross-overs like Lady SOV and Dizzee Rascal is atrocious, consisting of gig listings and little more. If someone like Simon Reynolds was accelerated into his passion for music via the crude intellectualism of a left wing NME in the early 1980's, things have certainly come along way since Derrida was mentioned alongside reviews of Scritti Polliti and the paper sided with the Red Wedge against Thatcherism. The collapse of any vitality of criticism in the paper occurred just as Neil Kinnock lost the '87 election, with an interview with him appearing on the front cover. One of the oldrottenhat crew informs me, senior management didn't like this brash polticising of the magazine and sacked reams of the journalists that defined its style during this era after they refused to withdraw it. Then the rot of dire commercialism and hopping from magazine selling band to Kula Shaker and back again set in, we just read through the finer moments of its colapse in the mid to late 1990's.

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