Tag Archives: reviews

Wanted: Rooftop Shouters – Must Have Own Passion

Most regular readers would be aware by now that I also write for the independent music site [sic] Magazine. It’s important to me here at S4E that I have the freedom to talk about what I want, when I want, and my purpose is not quite to tell the world what I think, what’s good or what isn’t, why someone else should or shouldn’t like something… What drives me, and every thought behind what I post, is the hope that I’m able forge connections to music, either specifically or in general, by showing people how I connect to it.

I write for [sic] because they allow me to do much the same thing.

It’s like being able to shout from two different rooftops at once – an action that can be a cathartic thing, but as those who also shout are probably aware, as much as doing so might get people to stop and stare, the greater purpose is to ensure that they listen, that the message is heard as far and wide as possible. Over time I have received some wonderful and deeply appreciated compliments for the way I write about music, both here and at [sic]; what I love (if just a smidgeon ;)) more, is finding out someone else discovered something new that they love just as much as I do after reading something I’ve written.

That’s also why I gravitate towards writers and blogs that talk more about how an album or song has affected the writer as opposed to adopting detached objectivity and trying to tell the reader why they may or may not like it; which is always harder for me to relate to when I’m reading about a release I haven’t even heard – they don’t know me, and I don’t know what they’re talking about.

So, why am I telling you all this? Because I want to see a site like [sic], which favours truth, passion and individuality both in music and its writers, thrive and grow. As an independent site, [sic] aims to give an extra voice to those that sometimes struggle to find them. There is room to spare on this rooftop, and the more voices we have the better.

If you have a similar passion for music, if you can’t shut up about your latest discovery until all your friends, family, co-workers and strangers on a bus know about them too, and think you can translate this into the written word, consider taking a platform where even more people will be able to hear you and the music you love.

For more information about [sic] Magazine, as well as contact information if you are interested in writing for them, just click here.




A Thing About Ratings

Other possible models for the proposed S4E ratings system – The “Broken Record”, the more broken it is, the more I played it, or the “Trashed Hotel Room”, the more trashed the room, the more the album rocks

As you can see, I’ve been a little busy making a few minor adjustments to the site, shifting things around and retiring the 2010 Book of Favourite Things. I’ve added a few new site links to the “Page Formerly Known As Resources” so check there for lots of other awesome things, and I’ll promise to remember to include more as I find them. Then there’s the [sic] Links, which go to my reviews on [sic] Magazine for anyone who has an interest. I’ve had the opportunity to review some really great stuff, so aside from just being links to “More Mack”, there’s some pretty nifty music to learn about.

The other thing is, I’m currently toying with the idea of employing a ratings system for music reviews. I’ve often said that I’m not fond of scores and applying them elsewhere is sometimes the hardest part of the review process, but I feel there’s a difference between scores and ratings – the latter being more flexible for my purposes.

At [sic], applying scores is a required part of the format, being a numerical score out of a possible ten. Occasionally, the score might seem a little at odds with the words, but my criteria for applying a score can be a little different to what I find to say about the album and leans more towards the technical side of things – i.e. I try to think in overall objective terms, such as how good an example it is within the genre, innovation, consistency, replay value etc. Obviously it’s impossible for me to be completely objective when I consider those things, but when I write about the album, I write exclusively about what I think, when I score it, I give consideration to those other elements. Over the last year, despite my resistance, I have learned that thinking in those terms does have a certain value, however minor it may be.

I feel ratings, on the other hand, cater more to the subjective side. Rather than being considered an (attempted) objective assessment of overall quality, the ratings system I have devised for possible use here would be used as more an immediate visual indicator exclusively of my own opinion, further explored in what I write.

I don’t write about much here that I don’t love in some way. If I’m talking about music, you can be sure I liked it enough to want to talk about it. What I sometimes neglect to consider are the same elements I reflect upon when I apply scores at [sic], but here I’d like it to be on a much more subjective level.

If it were not for the fact that I recognise some of my reviews have been on the more unconventional side, this is probably something I wouldn’t think about at all, but I’m aware that, sometimes, what I’ve written can leave readers with a relatively abstract idea of the music and no indication as to whether I actually liked it other than it’s here (see my recent write-up for Conquering Animal Sound’s Kammerspiel for a good example of what I mean). I have no intentions of changing the way I write at S4E, as the words are inspired by the music and I think that has its own, hopefully unique, value, so what I’ve come up with is something akin to a star rating with five different levels, but without the capacity to indicate I felt something was ‘sub-par’ as a 1-star rating certainly would.

I feel that such a system is in keeping with the ethos of S4E, and I think it has the potential to add an element to the reviews here that is sometimes missing. While the visual indication (by way of ‘arm lengths’) is on a scale of 1-5, I’m not interested in further defining each level and assigning particular paramenters by which a release can “achieve” a certain rating, I’m more interested in simply having a recognisable system that will allow readers to get a (relatively) clearer sense of how I feel about something (cos it’s all about me, ya know).

While I’m considering this idea, I thought I’d put it to any readers who’d like to have a say, either in the comments section or via the poll below. You can vote exclusively as to whether or not you’d like to see a ratings system on S4E, or just how you feel about ratings/scores in general, as I’d be interested in a consensus on the subject. It’s completely anonymous, so the only data collected is the answers. Muchas gracias to anyone who votes.

Also feel free to leave comments – positive or negative feedback welcomed. I would be further interested if readers have a preference for seeing ratings at the beginning or end of a review and/or if low scores ever resulted in the choice not to read a review.



Phase – Perdition

New or old? Either way it’s an interesting Phase…

Lately, it seems, I’ve had a bit of a yen for artists doing something a little bit different within my favoured genres. I’m detecting a particular trend for this kind of experimentation to be labeled “psychedelic”, perhaps for lack of a better term, or perhaps psychedelia itself synonymous with experimentation – considering the roots of the genre, I guess that makes sense.

Anyway, I was having a bit of a browse of the new releases over at Amie Street and happened to catch a new (-ish) single called Perdition by a band named Phase. I say “-ish” because the band, hailing from Greece, formed in 2003, and the single was featured in Microsoft’s Playlist Seven program earlier in the year. (By the way, I don’t actually know what this program is as I’d never heard of it before I saw it mentioned in the band’s bio, and I have no shame in saying I don’t care what it is, either. Microsoft = bleh, to me).

I’m not overly sure why they’ve been tagged with psychedelic, but my immediate reaction upon hearing the track was “The Tea Party meets Depeche Mode“. A couple more listens later and I stand by that frame of reference. Particularly since, in googling for more info, I found a YouTube video of the band playing a live cover of TTP’s Fire In The Head, so I feel sufficiently justified there. The Depeche Mode ref comes from the electro-rock elements, which are blended pretty well with some nice, Middle Eastern sounds. (By the way, that link will take you to the vid – I’m not embedding it as, while a pretty decent cover, sound quality leaves a little bit to be desired. Methinks it would have sounded pretty awesome had one been there, though – Side note, I’ve been following Jeff Martin via Facebook and the last couple of months there’s been talk of a Tea Party reunion. Sweet).

Back to Phase, however… If you pay a visit to their blog, you’ll be able to read a few lyrics, as well as listen to Perdition via Soundcloud. (Or, download over at Amie Street). I’m impressed enough by this track to think the band warrant further investigation – if they get all their elements right (which may call for a slight improvement lyrically >_>) they have the potential to be doing some pretty awesome things on upcoming album In Consequence, described on their blog as “a dark, rolling, mysterious album where rock music meets folk and industrial sounds“. This, I am intrigued by – full judgement remains reserved…