Column from May 29th, 2000 issue
Here's a subject I feel worthy of debate this week: web sites that review lots of independent melodic rock releases. Am I the only one that's noticed that there's a ton of sites (mostly based in continental Europe for some reason) out there that review hopefuls from an almost endless line of melodic rock indies and always give them glowing reviews? Also in Europe there's a whole bunch of new-ish paper magazines doing exactly the same thing with the same dire results.
Do most of these reviewers have no idea what makes quality music? When you actually hear some of the indies involved, a huge percentage (particularly the US indies it pains me to say) are very, very substandard and totally deficient in many ways. Some are barely even melodic rock (even when that term is used at its widest) and others are completely painful in the way they ape other bands or releases....
To me there can be one of two things wrong with these reviewers: either they have absolutely no true musical understanding (a distinct possibility), or they shortsightedly believe that by viewing all these releases through rose-tinted lenses that they're somehow supporting new talent and the melodic rock scene in general. If the later is the case, then they're dead wrong! Indie releases need to be given a fairly tough appraisal as that's the only way the bands involved are going to improve. Also, a prospective listener is going to be extremely disappointed if they spend time tracking down and indie only to find it's worthless, they're then going to never bother giving that band the time of day again, no matter how good their future releases might be.....
But let us not overlook the first possibility that the reviewers in question really don't know their musical shinola from that other stuff! Judging by the quality of the writing on the sites involved and the reference points they use, that could definitely be the reason too. Some of the writing is as hackneyed and as derivate as the dross albums they're giving positive reviews, so maybe they're all caught in a downward spiral of mediocrity!
This isn't meant to be a web site basing exercise: just like musicians have to strive hard to get just the sound or feeling they want in their music, reviewers have to try and take their writing on to different and more creative levels as well. A review whipped up on a scrape of paper in less than 10 minutes while listening to the CD involved is not enough! Misinformation and misguiding opinions will just keep melodic rock in its current downward spiral and substandard reviewers are just making the situation worse and are helping rot the whole scene from the inside out!