In the past week since CityBeat released their "Great Demo Review" issue, I've had several conversations about the issue. I responded rather strong, and somewhat hastily, via Twitter while at lunch the day the issue was released, when the discussion turned to a specific review by a specific author with whom I not only vehemently disagree, but who I would just like to see disappear from CityBeat's pages altogether. I have contributed to CityBeat in the past, I respect Seth Combs and Kelly Davis immensely, and I absolutely love the cover featuring Tim Pyles in his sexiest American Apparel pose, but now that the issue is off the stands, I will comment. And really, I just want to know, what was the point? I waited for the issue to be off the racks for a reason. Read my rant if you 'keep on reading'.
There are certainly many reviews that I just disagree with, however, this isn't about difference of opinion. It really surprises me, year after year, that CityBeat, which is so closely tied (some say entwined) to the San Diego Music Awards and the San Diego Music Foundation, which are supposed to encourage music diversity, music education, and music participation in our city, would then endorse the chopping down of so many people who are just doing what they love. Many of the reviews are constructive and even descriptive, but sadly those reviews are so overshadowed by some of the writers trying to prove how snarky and clever they are and not saying anything meaningful about the music. I was counting on CityBeat to come through and it disappoints me for the several reviews that actually give a feel for the music they're written about, for better or worse, there are too many that are purely, to quote Jim Ruland, "dick drizzle", that make the sum of the parts feel snarky, pretentious, and full of music-snobbery elitism. Those "folded arm hipsters" that CityBeat mentions in every issue? Well, apparently they all contributed to this issue. I'm just glad most of these writers don't actively participate in the local music scene, so my folded arms won't be bumping elbows with them as I line up to hear yet another band that sounds like Pinback (and enjoy it).
Some of my favorite music descriptions:
"pretentious and nondescript"; "dick drizzle"; "as appealing as pouring hot shards of glass into my open eyes", "cluster-fuck my brain and give me a bad rash in the the process"; "absolutely pointless"; "I want him the fuck off my stereo"; "smells like dog piss and cheerios"; "deserves to be ass-raped by Michael Bolton"; "maudlin introspective masturbation";"watery load of excrement"; "sentimental garbage"
I didn't really want to link to the original posts, but there were some interesting comments so you can check it out here.
I'll close with one final comment. If a band doesn't explicitly submit their music for review for this issue, they should not be reviewed. Picking up music laying around the CityBeat offices that was submitted during the year for review consideration or even music award consideration should be off limits. If all of it is open game, then a stronger submission disclaimer should be included in every issues of the weekly.