Books & Culture currently features an article by Mark Gavreau Judge entitled "Please Flush: Why Rock Critics Need to Re-Read Lester Bangs and JP II." You can read the entire article here.
Judge takes rock critics to task for their elitist attitudes. He begins his article:
"Let's impose a moratorium on rock critics. Now. A few months ago, I came across this line by critic David Dunlap, Jr.: "[The band] Windsor for the Derby has plenty of experience jumping subgenres … everything from slo-core to krautrock to electronica to its current flavor of Mancunian-tinged postrock."
Call me square, dismiss me as an oldster, but I think when you're referring to Mancunian-tinged postrock, it's time to hang it up. Pop music criticism has grown so insular, full of itself, hipper-than-thou, and, most important, aesthetically disjointed from the thing it claims to examine that we'd best start over ..."
Call me overly sensitive, but what's a rock critic to do? The problem is that for at least the last thirty years, the best, most creative, and most influential rock music has existed on the fringes. You won't hear it on MTV. And unless you live in one of the three or four genuine cultural outposts of creativity in the U.S., or have discovered the wonders of Internet radio, the non-obsessive music fan is simply not going to be exposed to it. I understand Judge's whining about "Mancunian-tinged postrock." It sounds like an insular, hipper-than-thou statement that is designed to inflate the ego of the rock critic and deflate the egos of the 98 percent of the world that has never heard The Stone Roses, Lush, or The Boo Radleys. But in fact there is such a thing as "the Manchester sound," and there is such a thing as postrock, and when you combine those influences, you may very well end up with something that sounds like Mancunian-tinged postrock. You could compare Windsor for the Derby to Britney Spears, an artist who is known throughout the world. But Windsor for the Derby doesn't sound like Britney Spears. They sound like Mancunian-tinged postrock.
Rock critics are, by and large, elitist snobs who write for elitist snobs. There's no getting around it. But the hipper-than-thou factor can be mitigated by the kinds of human connections that Judge promotes in his article. And I agree with him. I don't want to read album reviews that are more about the reviewer than the music. And I don't want to read a laundry list of musical sub-genres and influences, either, although a short list is usually helpful. What I do want to read is why I, the reader, should care about this particular album. What does it sound like, and what does it say? But you know what? Sometimes it sounds like Mancunian-tinged postrock, and any other comparison with a better-known artist/band will be wide of the mark. In those circumstances, I'd like to think that instead of whining, the serious music fan might check out the Manchester sound and postrock, and might eventually arrive at Mancunian-tinged postrock.