‘Elegantly wasted’: Stool Pigeon’s A-Z guide to music journalism bullshit
07:37 pm

Is this what “elegantly wasted” actually looks like?
My god, I fucking LOVE Stool Pigeon. Amid a sea of mediocre freebie music press in the UK, Stool Pigeon stands out for being wildly opinionated (like the classic music press of yore, where debates about class, politics, gender and sexuality would routinely erupt) and steadfastly NOT subservient to PR companies and their demands. And make no mistake, PR companies do have a lot of sway in the world of street press.

I have seen friends’ reviews in free music publications changed and upgraded, as a bad review would put the mag in a promo company’s bad books, and risk removal from any future mailing list or free concert opportunities. In effect, opinions have had to be brought in line with a PR company’s wishes, and any real self-expression or valid counter-opinion has had to be neutered. Not only does this smack of the worst kind of corporate whorism—which, granted, exists in many media spheres—it seems illogical to me that a publication that doesn’t rely on a paying consumer audience to survive could treat its readers (and the artists it covers) with such ridiculous condescension.

Once upon a time music journalism was a necessity, a valuable tool for keeping up to date with your favorite acts, and for finding out about emerging talent. For gig listings, for records and concert reviews, for keeping in touch with other fans, for bitching out people and music you really hate. But the Internet has made the printed music press irrelevant, another out-moded business model within the music industry, yet another middleman whose role is not necessary any more. So why is everyone playing it so safe? Well-written and researched debate and opinion pieces should be a free paper’s USP, no?

Which brings me back to Stool Pigeon. It seems to give its writers free reign to write whatever they want, without sacrificing non-mainstream opinion at the altar of “edginess.” It’s not desperate to seem “relevant” or “on it” like so many publications, and it doesn’t try to be so alternative-to-the-alternative that it ends up being square. No, it’s simple really. It’s just written by people who are passionate and really care about music and its reportage. 

In fact, so good are they on calling out crap, Stool Pigeon has put together a handy A-Z Guide To Music Journalism Bullshit. You know, tired old cliches that make your eyes bleed. This kind of thing:

Whiskey-soaked vocals

Which translates as:

English lit polytechnic graduate, now based in Warrington, seriously wishes he was Tom Waits

Here are some more of my favorites, all beginning with “S”:

Set the blogosphere alight” — Well done! Your innovative blend of Fleetwood Mac, nineties R&B and Sade — a singer you’d never even heard of before The xx started banging on about her — has “set the blogosphere alight” with your brand new track, featuring artfully NSFW video. That Pitchfork BNM’d is surely in the post.

Sixth-form poetry — Snarky put-down reserved for artists whose literary aspirations are perceived to be shallow or juvenile. Which might almost be fair enough, if ‘music critic’ wasn’t a job that could only be considered cool by people under the age of about 15.

Songstress — As opposed to what, ‘songster’? Reading between the lines, this faintly kinky usage is a subliminal reflection of male music hacks’ rampant castration fear. See also: chanteuse.

Sophomore — Ridiculous, US collegiate term used as a stand-in for “second” when describing albums, e.g. “The Stone Roses’ second album The Sophomore Coming was a let-down for many.”

It’s about time somebody did this, and with your help it could well become the definitive list, as Stool Pigeon are asking readers to submit their own worst music journalism cliches. I would like to add these two:

Number 1 in an alternate universe” - made irrelevant by the theory that there are infinite alternate universes, hence any song ever recorded is number one in an alternate universe somewhere.

Year Zero” - as applied to any and every genre from punk rock to acid house to dubstep, but surely the correct term should be “Year One”?

If you have any music journalism bullshit to add to the list (and I know you do!) you can write it on the Stool Pigeon Facebook wall, or leave it in a comment here.

You never know, you might set the blogosphere alight.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
07:37 pm
Beyond Stupid: The new Obama Conspiracy Theory
06:24 pm

Image: McNaughton Fine Art via Boing Boing

For the past week and a half, I’ve been at SXSW and I made a halfhearted attempt to kinda/sorta try to stay away from “news” for that time. I only wanted to get the news via “osmosis” and from scattered clues like newspaper headlines, what people were talking about, snatches seen in passing on TV monitors and so forth. If you ever want to do a full media detox, Austin, Texas during SXSW is a good place to do it, as the distractions are legion.

Nevertheless, avoiding email is a bit more difficult. Recently I signed up for the WorldNet Daily email newsletters because I wanted to read the “report” prepared by Sheriff Joe Arpaio about Obama’s supposedly “forged” birth certificate. Although I could cancel it at any time, I became fascinated by the utterly insane, raving lunatic, foaming-at-the-mouth paranoiac worldview on display at WND—it’s nuttier than anything you’d ever see in the Weekly World News—and 90% of the time when the WND email blasts would come through, I’d inevitably follow the link. Follow that link to a black hole of stunted intelligence, zero common sense and woefully inadequate media literacy…

In the past, I’ve not paid WND, its publisher Joseph Farah, and the other ring-a-dings there much mind. Their “reporting” is so factless and so utterly without value as “information” that it can only be viewed through the filters of entertainment, fiction, low IQ propaganda and gawking at a toxic conservative group-think that’s made America into a dumber, meaner, more aggressively ignorant country in the past decade.

There’s one particular story recently that WND and Farah seem intent on launching, but it’s so fucking stupid that only Matt Drudge has picked up on it. This is the story of one Allen Hulton, the retired Chicago-area postal worker who claims that he met a young Barack Obama at the home of Bill Ayers’ parents in the early 1990s when they were putting him through Harvard and grooming him to be an illegal alien closet socialist atheist usurper of the American Presidency at some point in the future!

Hulton remembers asking the young man what his plans were for the future.

“He looked right at me and told me he was going to be president of the United States,” Hulton says.

“There was a little bit of a grin on his face when he said it - he sounded sure of himself, but not arrogant. I know how people will say things because they have an ambition, but it did not come across that way,” Hulton says. “It came across as if this young black male was telling me he was going to be president, almost as if it were the statement of a scientific fact that had already been determined, as if his being president had been already pre-arranged.”

You see, you eediots! You fuels! The master plan! HAHAHAHAHA! It was so seemple!

Joseph Farah calls the failure of the media anyone to report on the matter, “the day the media died” and wonders aloud “Why they didn’t touch it?”

Very simple. This isn’t just your average Bill Ayers story. This one touches on a raw nerve for the media. It touches on the increasing possibility that Obama is not really constitutionally eligible for the presidency after all – a story pooh-poohed by virtually everyone in the media establishment for the last four years.

Nobody in the media wants to see that story turn out to be real after all. No one in the media wants to see that story turn into the biggest cover-up in American political history. No one in the media wants to be perceived as part of that cover-up.

So the cover-up continues – with more players every day.

But at the end of the day, Americans don’t believe the gatekeepers.

Every poll shows the same thing – half the country suspects Obama has been lying, deceiving and conducting this cover-up all along – with the media serving as his willing accomplices.

The fact that something is being ignored is not proof of its importance or suppression. That Farah clearly wants to believe this nonsense so badly that he can do infinite mental loop-de-loops to contort his worldview to a twisted place where everyone else is wrong except for him, Joe Arpaio and Orly Taitz is a display of a certain kind of widespread 21st century American psychosis brought about by the election of a black Democrat to the Presidency. To be able to view such a thing, in such a pure form is very… ridiculous.

Never say never, of course, when it comes to the Democrats, but it seems like the Republican party has set itself up for an epic drubbing this Fall. Will the extreme right-wingers skulk away—chastised at the ballot box and demographically doomed as of the 2016 election—or will they rage even harder and nuttier against the “totalitarian” (or is it Marxist?) Obama “regime”?

Posted by Richard Metzger
06:24 pm