Paste #35 (September 2007) is out now. Kanye West, his humble self, is on the cover, and there are long feature articles on Kanye, K.T. Tunstall, and Rilo Kiley, plus the usual album, film, book, and video game reviews, and a 20+ song CD sampler. I have album reviews of Pentangle and Raul Midon and a meditation/essay on the wonders of a folk/protest singer named Peter Case.
One of the criticisms that Paste Magazine receives on a fairly routine basis is that albums are ranked too highly, that there are too many four-star reviews (although, to their credit, Paste rarely awards a five-star review because, quite frankly, there just aren't that many five-star albums). So I thought about that criticism again when I opened the album reviews section and saw album after album rated as four stars.
Is the criticism justified? Maybe, but only if you think it's unlikely that fifteen or so really good albums could be released every month. Personally, I have no problems with all those stars so liberally festooned over the pages. Paste, like most magazines, is presenting a skewed sample. The magazine covers what it wants to cover, and most people want to write about things they like. Paste receives roughly eight hundred new album releases every month. Is it really that hard to believe that fifteen of them are really good?
For what it's worth, I did my little part to balance out the proceedings by assigning 2.5 stars to Raul Midon's album. But then I blew it by assigning 4.5 stars to Pentangle, and by raving about Peter Case. Sorry. I like them, and I want to tell people about them. The tagline of the magazine is "Signs of life in music, film, books, and culture," and those signs of life are everywhere.