Marcus in Conversation Reviewed

Greg Cwik in PopMatters is less wowed by Marcus the conversationalist than by Marcus the writer: “Marcus talks about his initial involvement with FSM [Free Speech Movement], his waning interest, and, as seen above, his eventual disillusion, but none of this is told fervidly. It’s maybe the most revealing of the interviews in the collection, though it sometimes drags. Seeing Marcus in the context of … Continue reading Marcus in Conversation Reviewed

Shitheads

“I am of the belief that there are two distinct schools of rock journalists: (1) those for whom punk rock was the most important thing that ever happened, and, (2) everybody else (who, for lack of a better collective noun, I will call ‘shitheads’). Shitheads write about whatever is presented to them, non-judgmentally treating all styles of music as equals, distinguished from each other only … Continue reading Shitheads

Disco Bubblegum

“There are many substantial reasons for linking disco with bubblegum; the comparisons, endless. Like [Kasenetz and Katz]‘s clapping sound, Euro- and pop-disco are essentially mediums for a producer’s special sound, whereas the performer’s role remains secondary. Disco combines a constant beat with simple lyrics; like bubblegum’s skip-a-rope dynamics, its function is strictly to provide rhythms for people entangles in the exercise of dance. Furthermore, many … Continue reading Disco Bubblegum

Journey

“‘Who’s Crying Now,’ the hit single off Journey’s hit LP, isn’t super hip, super deep or even real, real hooky. But it does sound good. What I’m talking about is the way the song’s soft, soapy bass redeems its soft, dopey sentiment by diving beneath tiny fillips of acoustic guitar and bubbling up around a dream-sized dollop of fat harmonies. Every shimmery cymbal tick pays … Continue reading Journey

From the Archives: J.D. Considine (2000)

Steven Ward’s interview with J.D. Considine first appeared in rockcritics.com in May of 2000; thanks to Considine’s sense of humour throughout, it’s always been one of my favourites. At 7,000+ words it’s a long one, too–though not half as long as a few still ahead.

The two photos of Considine were tacked on to the article much later–in 2007 or 2008, I think, after I had a chance to meet the man in person following his move to Toronto, where (far as I know) he still resides. Oddly enough, of the 80 or so folks interviewed for this site over the past 13 years, Considine remains the the only critic I’ve ever actually met in person (not including a couple people I knew before rockcritics came to fruition, not including another Toronto critic whose hand I once shook in a memorable encounter that lasted about four seconds).

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The not-so-hip J.D. Considine: A music critic who writes about music
By Steven Ward, May 2000 

J.D. Considine has been writing about popular music since 1977. During his more than 22-year career in rock criticism, he has polarized as many of his fellow critics as enlightened the readers who follow his work. The reason: Considine has always written about the music he likes. Considine has never worried about following the rock critic pack–only praising the unheard of and left field alternatives so obscure, college radio DJs give you a blank stare at mere mention of the band’s name. That’s not to say Considine only embraces mainstream music. On the contrary, Considine loves PJ Harvey, trance rock, and the Japanese pop music of Namie Amuro and Hikaru Utada. But don’t be surprised when Considine tells you he loves the pop country balladry of Faith Hill, the sultry and introspective R&B of Toni Braxton and (no joke) ‘N Sync. He’s serious and explains in great detail in his reviews why he enjoys the music so much.

Because of Considine’s job as the pop music critic for the Baltimore Sun, he’s forced to examine mainstream music and popular music culture in ways that snobby, trying-to-impress-other-critics writers at The Village Voice and Spin don’t really have to worry about. Considine’s reviews are a revelation. He is one of the very few rock critics out there–Chuck Eddy can do this too, but his writing is not as serious or straightforward–who writes about the music. Considine will be the first to tell you that lyrics–the overwhelming preoccupation with 90 percent of the rock critics out there–is something he hardly pays any attention to. Instead of dissecting lyrics (Considine is not interested in teaching freshman poetry to college students), he has the amazing ability to tell you about the music, what it sounds like and why a consumer might like it or not.

Writing about the music and what it sounds like is Considine’s secret weapon. It’s not easy and he will be the first to tell you about it. (Elvis Costello once put it best: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”) I recently conducted an e-mail interview with Considine where he sounded off on a number of matters: why music magazines today suck, which ones he believes are the best (you may be surprised), his love of his job as the pop music critic for a major daily newspaper, and his strange entrance into the world of music criticism in his high school/college days.

Last but not least, Considine will tell you how unfashionable he is–a trait that he thinks allows him to write about the music he loves.

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Steven:    Let’s start out with some bio info. How old are you? Where did you grow up, go to college, etc?

J.D.:    I’m 43. I was born in Albany, New York, and moved with my family to Baltimore (where both my parents grew up) in 1962. We lived in Towson, MD, a suburb that weirdly enough was home to John Dos Passos, Spiro T. Agnew, and John Waters. All at the same time, for a while there. It’s also the fictional home of Elaine from “Seinfeld,” which seems to impress no one. Including the natives. I went to public school, and then attended the Johns Hopkins University, a school which at the time taught neither music nor journalism. What I studied was called the Humanistic Studies Area major, which was a pretty vague concept for a major (though it did have the advantage of appearing as “Human Stud” on transcripts). Mainly what I learned was structuralism.

Basically, I’ve been in Baltimore most of my life. Not because I love it here–the weather sucks, and apart from a couple specialty shops, we have no decent CD stores–but because I’ve never had to leave. If I were offered a job in New York, I’d go, but so far, all my full-time employment is here in Baltimore. So I stay.

Continue reading “From the Archives: J.D. Considine (2000)”

Creem Magazine Review (YouTube)

Less a review, than a tribute, but not bad (there’s no info I can see about who made the thing). There are a couple minor factual quibbles, and it’s a little odd that he quotes stuff from Christgau and Marsh that have no connection to Creem. But a couple lines in it made me laugh (“these were some dead honest, music-lovin’ motherfuckers”), and I learned … Continue reading Creem Magazine Review (YouTube)

Faking It (Podcast Interview)

There’s no rhyme or reason, really, to what I’m posting here these days (was there ever?), so forgive me if it seems odd to post a six-year-old podcast I’ve yet to listen to regarding a book I’ve only started reading (and am all of 15 pages into), but… I do intend to follow through on both of these. It’s an interview with Yuval Taylor, co-author … Continue reading Faking It (Podcast Interview)