The above photo is what comes up when you Google “happy birthday rock and roll.” Well, the NYRM turns one year old today. Just one year ago I was scraping together my introductory post for the blog. I’ve gone back and re-read it, and I still feel much the same way that I did then. I wrote:
“The thing about music criticism is this: it can never actually be right. No matter how perfectly someone attempts to describe an album or a song, no matter how they personally feel about an album, no matter how they choose to culturally position an artist, it can never be correct. If, at the most basic level, a critic’s job is to say whether something is good or bad, then the critic will always fail. Of course nothing can be either all good or all bad, and a critic disseminates important information that helps a reader, as well as greatly increases the success or failure of an artist. These are all aspects of a good critics’ job. Still, the critic will always and forver fail at their most basic task – is something is good or bad?”
I’m glad that this was how I decided to approach the blog, and I think it’s served me well over the past year. When I post about a band I often obsess over why I’m posting about them, whether they’re really quality or not, or if too many other people have posted about them. But I’ve found that trusting my gut and being honest about what I like have served the blog best. I’ve never been so actively involved in music before, both in my listening habits, show going habits, and music industry participation. There were some times when I felt extremely cynical about the entire process, especially post-SXSW. I also went back and re-read what I wrote after the festival:
“It’s more like what band isn’t playing in Austin. And when that’s the case, it’s easy to get cynical. There are so, so many bands that it all starts to seem meaningless after awhile. When you’re seeing your fifth power-trio in two days, you start to forget why bands are interesting to watch. It seems like an endless combination of drums, bass, and guitar. Then, the whole event just starts to spiral into corporate-sponsored meaninglessness. That is, of course, until you’re watching another great band. They entertain you, captivate you, and make you glad that you’re not anywhere else in the world.”
There are even times in Brooklyn when I felt like I hadn’t seen a good band in weeks, and then all of a sudden someone would come up and surprise me. I think I love rock and roll more now than I ever have before, though in a much more complex way. Sometimes I find the emptiness of it all infuriating, the music-industry cycle of album releases, touring, press, and especially, the brand new blog hype machine. But after a year of following the scene closely from the inside, I think that for the most part we have a pretty good system worked out. It seems like the really good bands somehow find their way onto the blogs, into the better venues, and onto some sort of record label and national tour. We still have to find a way to make everyone some money, but the whole Internet thing acts as a good filter, so far as I can tell.
Things I hope to do with the blog this year: Contests! Let’s help you all win some concert tickets! Also, bring back There and Back Again. Take better photos for you. Take the time to write better. Start putting on NYRM live shows. Post more free music that you’ll love.
I still regret not writing about bad bands more often, as I promised I would post-SXSW. I quickly realized, though, that bands tend to read what you write about them, and more often than not you see those people again and they know who you are. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad here, but I know I need to step up and do my part with more negative reviews when I see bad music.
Mostly, my disappointments with this blog have just come from not posting enough, or not making it out to enough shows. If I could, I would do this for a living, but sometimes real life gets in the way. So, in the spirit of birthday wishes, pass on my blog’s URL today. E-mail it to your music-loving cousin in Minnesota. Send it to your totally-hip Grandma in Phoenix. Gchat it to your college roommate in California. Tweet it out to all of your followers. If you like the blog and have actually gotten this far in the post (Hi Mom! Thanks for reading my babbling!), help me out this one time and tell someone else about the blog.
Thanks so much for reading. If you have any suggestions or comments for the upcoming year, I’d love to hear them. And, as I said in my very first post, and still very much feel, “Rock and roll is why I believe in magic.”