Subjectivity and Experience
What I think is most amusing about this whole “music critic” endeavor is the fact that it’s entirely, completely, absolutely 100% subjective. You may say that there are some things that are sacred (the majority of music critics will agree that the The Rolling Stones, The Who, and David Bowie were pretty influential), but for every majority there’s a minority that says those bands were overrated hacks who got lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
I have proof of this, too – there’s an amazing artsy post-hardcore/indie-rock band named SleepBellumSonno whom Scott and I really, really like. In fact, of all the bands we’ve had come through Independent Clauses, I think that SBS has one of the best shots of making it in their scene.
The reason I single them out as an example of subjectivity is that originally I accidentally gave their CD to a reviewer who has little experience with and generally just doesn’t like hardcore. Subsequently, he didn’t like the album. Didn’t hate it, but he said it was just okay. Now, the music wasn’t any different when reviewer A listened to them and when Scott and I listened to them – we all listened to the same copy of the CD. It’s purely the ears which heard it that made the judgment on the amount of talent (or lack thereof) encompassed in the band’s recording. It’s all subjective – because if reviewer A had worked for a different ‘zine, that negative review would have been posted, instead of the shining one we eventually (and rightfully) gave it.
The only way to beat subjectivity in reviewing is to have a deep background in the field you’re covering. We do our best at Independent Clauses to find people with a deep background in at least one genre so that they can churn out seriously informed reviews on their genre of choice.
This is, in part, why we have so many reviewers here at Independent Clauses – we send people stuff they know about so that you can have the most informed review possible. All of our reviews are knowledgeable, and we pride ourselves on that. So rest assured – if we put out a good review in a genre you like, you’ll like that CD. Because someone who listens to a lot of that genre is praising that CD – not some guy with a little experience in a lot of genres. This is even more important for mediocre to bad CDs. We’re not just saying it’s bad ‘cause we’re ignorant of the genre – if something is average we say it because we can suggest better bands to you.
Now it doesn’t always work out that way (read my review of Denelian for a rare time where I was hit with something I didn’t expect), but a good 95% of the time, we know our stuff when we sit down to do a review. And I’m proud of that.
Just thought you’d like to know.