Music to Your Ears
No One Likes a Critic
Oscar Wilde nailed it. "The only thing worse than being talked about," he said, "is not being talked about.” He’s describing my job with eerie clarity.
Turns out the Potty Mouth Sherry's thought my description of their band in last week's column was hurtful and negative. To the ladies of PMS—I'm truly sorry if I caused you any distress, especially on the eve of such an important show (possibly your last ever, and a CD release, at that). You must think I'm heartless. You must also think I'm insane.
What kind of lunatic would pen a venomous review panning a band that, in the same breath, also encouraged readers to buy this same band's records and attend its concerts? And what kind of crazy person would write such a thing, only to turn up at those shows, smiling, and not expect to get a punch in the mouth? It just doesn't add up.
That's because I wasn't panning the Potty Mouth Sherry's. I mean, not even remotely. I hope we can still be pals.
As much as I didn't enjoy the ulcer this little misunderstanding gave me over the weekend, I am glad for the opportunity to talk to our readers at large about criticism in the Alibi. It's a can of worms that needs to be pried open from time to time.
I see it like this: A writer's objective is, oftentimes, to put into words what can't be fully expressed or understood in words to begin with. How do you describe a cartwheel? The sound of drums? It's almost impossible to do in a meaningful way.
But that's exactly what we're after. We get to describe the essence of a group, as evocatively and accurately as is possible, usually from little more than a 30-minute CD or show or interview. We're not here to tell you what to like. Ultimately, it's our goal to get you to decide that for yourself.
If a band is inconsolably awful, you won't read about it on these pages. We're not here to slam anyone. Our space and resources are so limited that we've only got enough ink to cover bands that truly merit it. And in doing that, we owe it to the bands we cover, and their potential fans, to be fair and honest. So here it is, citizens of Albuquerque: If you don't want a thoughtful, thorough critique of your work (or favorite restaurant, or whatever, while we're at it), please don't ask for one. But if you're up to the challenge, so are we. Send your stuff to:
2118 Central SE, PMB 151
Albuquerque, N.M., 87106.