Why Online Indie Rock Zines Suck

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Okay. You read Mark's post in us|against|them. You read what I had to say on the subject. So what do you think? Do online indie rock zines have a tendency to suck ass, or am I just too critical? What is it about them that sucks? How can they be improved?

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000


Here's what I just received from one of the guys at Yahtzeen.


Hi Mark,

My name is Phil, and I'm one of the Phils at Yahtzeen. I'm not much of a fan of blogs, but I really, really enjoy Us Against Them. It's been a daily visit of mine for some time now. Thanks for doing it. In response to your post on the decline of online zines; I'm not alarmed at what may be seen as a low point in time for zines overall. The nature of the online zine is problematic for an "indie rock journalist." I can only speak for myself, but I have to assume that it's rare that a zinewriter is practicing his/her craft full-time, and the frequent updating that the online medium requires is tough to keep up with. Many writers are juggling an 8-5 job, relationships, friends, shows, hobbies AND writing a zine. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, i'm sure. Until indie websites figure out the problem of updating regularly, we'll continue to see our favorite sites take an occasional nap. Summer doldrums are definitely part of the problem. I'm sitting on two interviews with cool bands simply because I can't bear to look at my computer screen for another minute after a day of typing boring technical manuals for a corporation. I have to get outside! I'm sure that once the cold weather hits, we'll have plenty to read again. Keep in mind that some of the best print zines out there are/were only published one to four times a year.

What I find sort of alarming is the fact that we're looking at such a small number of sites (i.e. Rocket-Fuel or Pitchfork) for continued quality. I, for one, tire of the predictability of sites like Pitchfork. There is so much music out there that they ignore (how many reviews of the zodiac killers or reatards did you read on the traditional lineup of indie websites last year?). I'm not complaining. I just have to go to excellent sites like Blank Generation to get my punk rock fix. For every site that gets a regular mention on sites like Us Against Them, there plenty of worthy publications out there with their own specialties.

Phil Hunt

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I think it's interesting that people talk about what sucks more than what's good. When I discovered how easy it was to read about great music online, it was like a godsend. That was a few years ago, and it's true that the number of zines and other music sites has grown dramatically. But they will continue to get readers because people like myself love reading about music and finding out about new bands. As long as the site you're reading is able to do that and possibly keep you entertained for a while, I think it's a good thing, regardless of how poor or simple the design might be or how often they update. The way I see it, there really aren't that many zines online that continue to put considerable effort into their project. Part of the reason is because it takes a lot of time, but part of it is because they may just be out for free shit or credibility. Then there are a few sites that continue to update often and show a genuine interest in growing and expanding. The number of these quality sites is diminishing, not expanding. To be honest, I started Delusions of Adequacy not just to get free shit but because I wanted people to find out about great bands the same way I found out about them. The free shit is great, but truthfully, I give a lot of the stuff I get away to the people who write reviews for DOA. As for the length of music reviews and the quality of columns and other issues raised here, my response is that everyone does it differently. I made a conscious decision on DOA to go into a lot of detail in reviews, because I think a lot of sites don't. Other sites have shorter, in-brief reviews, but only a few writers manage to tell you if you want to buy the album or not in such short space. And columns are there just to express opinion, as secondary content for people who want more than music. I'm glad people are raising the topic of online zines, because in only a few years, a lot have come and gone, and it's true that people take vacations in the summertime and put things on hold. But people love reading about music, it's probably my favorite thing about the 'Net, so don't fault the proliferation of writers, fault the people who just want to be critical. Jeff / Delusions of Adequacy

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I don't think that people criticizing online zines is making them worse. While some of the criticism can be mean-spirited, that doesn't mean it's off the mark. Harsh though they can be, the people at Indieshite have made a number of valid criticisms of various zines. I don't always agree with their methods, but I do agree with their points more often than not.

I think the reason criticism is taken so harshly is that people feel like they are the ones being criticized rather than their website. I've come across this more times than I can remember in online journalling, and it seems pretty common in zines as well. If someone says they hate your design or they don't like the way that you write record reviews, it doesn't mean you're a worthless human being and you should go hang yourself now. It just means that they don't like what you do. You are not your website.

As for Phil's points, I understand that there is sometimes a lull in content updates during the summer because people have better things to do. I'd rather read a well-written zine that is infrequently updated than something with crap daily updates. Summer breaks (or end-of-semester breaks, or holiday breaks) don't bother me at all. I'm patient, and if the content is good, I'm more than willing to wait for it. Content is important, but I'd rather have one quality review than six blathering, rambling piece-of-crap reviews.

My point is that the content of most indie rock zines, when it is there, has mostly been dull and pointless. I'm more than willing to give new/lesser known online zines a try and support them if they look promising. Phil (or anyone else), if you know of any such sites, email me the URLs.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I equate the lack of quality and validity of the online zine arena to what exactly happenned to the print zine format in the early to mid nineties. That's when Kinkos became readily available and every punk rocker could drop a few quarters into the copier and publish their own print zine. I can't even tell you how many shitty zines I came across during that time. Absolutely horrible. Just because everyone has the ability to do it does not necessarily mean they should. This goes back to what Nannette mentioned. There is a general lack of talent in the online zine community. Whether it be in the writing, design, information flow, breadth, dedication, etc., you seldom find one spot where they have it all working together. That's why you can probably count on one hand all of the print zines that have lasted since the earlier nineties when the print zine boom started. The same thing will happen soon with the online zines. The pretenders will fade away. Indieshite already thinks it happenning (and likes to take credit for it). I beg to differ, or at least it's happenning where they don't see it.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Do online zines suck? No. For every loud-mouthed, small brained site that stinks up the web with half-baked opinions, there are three other sites that are quietly doing something wonderful. And if people enjoy the loud-mouthed, half-baked site too, bully for them. As readers of these labors of love, we really have no right, no reason to expect anything from these people beyond asking them to keep whatever promises they make to their readers. If you don't like it, don't read.

I've spent the last four years publishing Splendid every week, and I've been lucky enough to see it grow bigger rather than smaller, and somehow enthusiasm has stayed high enough that we rarely get the urge to skip a week. We've run into our share of criticism and indifference, the same as everybody else. When you care deeply about something, it's hard to shrug off the criticism, but you've got to. You can't please everyone, and when you try you often end up diluting the elements that made your webzine good. You started the zine to have FUN, didn't you? Zines (web or print) seem to go downhill when they start devoting more attention to the readers they don't have than the readers they've already got. Only getting 1000 hits a week? Be happy you've got 'em, and remember when you were lucky to get 5.

As far as I'm concerned, if I get one e-mail a month from somebody thanking us for turning them on to a new band, we're doing something right.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I think online zines, and people in general, take themselves way too seriously when it comes to these sorts of things. Any publicity is good publicity in my book, unless you happen to be OJ Simpson. If you're going to express yourself creatively, you have to expect the naysayers and the hecklers, and the same goes for web sites. This is part of the game, and if you can't take it, you should just plop yourself in front of the tube and watch Survivor like everyone else. People get angry when Indieshite pecks at them, but just sitting back and saying, "well, at least I tried to publish a zine, get off my back," that's not good enough anymore. Now the folks who do online zines are experiencing what musicians have been experiencing for years, and they don't like it one bit. Those who write reviews regularly slag dozens of bands, and now they themselves run crying to mamma because they're being criticized for once? Lighten up, its only rock and roll! Either learn from the criticism and improve, or ignore the slag and press ahead. The real tastemakers, the highly respected rock critics, have achieved their positions by improving their craft, learning from mistakes, and sticking around the longest. Jersey Beat's Jim Testa is a prime example: He's been busting his ass since 1982 and is a highly respected critic, primarily because he never got discouraged, he never sold out. Are all of the rest of you prepared to stick it out? I happen to be a musician, and if I got all pissy and discouraged, and blasted every critic for a bad review, that certainly is a lot of time wasted that I could be practicing to better my craft, isn't it? Managing one of these websites is very much like managing a band, and I know it hurts when someone picks at it, but if you don't have a tough enough skin, it is never too late to sell out. Are you going to give up on rock and roll, or do you have what it takes to stick around and take things to the next level? These are your choices, and they're the same choices bands face. What will you do?

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

[Current publishers: insound.com/zinestand/thumb and dopodomani.com]

I wrote for Pitchforkmedia.com for about two months before they "let me go". I slaved to write loads of reviews for them 'cos I hadn't had a critical outlet for some time and was eager to get back to music critique. They always dumbed-down my reviews, but they never corrupted them. Anyway...do online zines suck?

The problem with the bigger zines boils down to committee thinking, to diluting the message. One guy claiming he's the shit is a lot funnier and disarming than ten or twenty kids chanting it in unison. There's a self-reinforcing delusion to webrags like Buddyhead that's as often entertaining and endearing as it is pathetic. When criticized, many zines respond with "Oh, we're famous, we could be selling out right now, you're nothing, we're huge, etc." (which is not at all limited to Buddyhead's recent public displays--other zines privately rebuff accost with similar statements).

This is a support system--a means of rationalizing--that shouldn't be necessary. Us Against Them, Indieshite, etc. are making that sort of reaction necessary by endlessly lambasting their every word.

Pitchfork, I can tell you from experience, does not pay attention to Indieshite, etc. Not at the staff level anyway. They pay attention to the people who pay to advertise on their site, which is what any sane business would do. The fact that Buddyhead tries to retain that "street" level of snot-tossing is going to keep them down. It's a cliche, yes, but paying attention to cranks empowers them.

Zines are like bands--you get together, you reinforce your own bullshit and try to take it as far as you can. If you get caught up in what other people say about your work, you'll get tripped up.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

So Chris, are you saying that webzines should not be criticized? If so, that is ridiculous. As mentioned previously in this forum and a number of times on Us|Against|Them, this type of dialog is just as valid as rock criticism. If the zines can't take it, don't read it. You may think that Pitchfork doesn't listen to the detractors, but I promise you they read our sites religiously. We regularly receive emails from the editors of all of these sites either agreeing or (more often) refuting what we've said. And this is exactly what we want. Obviously, not every argument we make is not going to hold up to scrutiny, and we welcome people to point out things we might have missed. The point is not to see who has the most scene points...it's to encourage critics to be honest (with the readers and themselves) and fair.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Yeah, I think Us Against Them and Indieshite have done more to help online zines in the long run, if for no other reason than because they function as a form of quality control. You can either respond to the criticism if it's valid, or ignore it if it's not. Frankly, the feedback from those sites is useful more often than it isn't. And for people who don't pay attention to Indieshite and us against them, Pitchfork has certainly made a lot of subtle changes that -- entirely coincidentally, I guess -- address criticisms.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I'm a bit intrigued by the way the stuff that gets valorised in this debate is equivalent to the stuff that gets valorised musically in a lot of punk/indie writing, i.e. payin' your dues, working for 2/5/18 years cranking out reviews to earn Respect....there's something a bit deadening about it. What I like about Indieshite isn't that they're being nasty to indie rock zines (as I remember the original promise was to slag awful band and label sites as well - so how about it?) but that they turned up about a month ago and every post in this debate is mentioning them. Now that's rock. Or punk. Or something. A flash-in-the-pan site which is brilliant for six months is worth more to me than something which is steadily OK for six years.

That's not to slate Splendid or any other long-running zine: I like Splendid a lot, partly because they're always trying to put in new features, keep the interest up. But a lot of the conversation here seems to assume that it matters in some big macro-community sense if there are loads of dreadful online zines around that don't last. Why? The cheap printzine equivalence argument doesn't wash, because photocopied crap takes up actual physical space that photocopied non- crap could be taking up, whereas space online is near-infinite, and the duff zines just won't get the hits. So the people doing them get bored and do something else, or improve, and either way the problem solves itself.

I think the best way for indie rock zines, or any music zines for that matter, to improve is for the people setting up to make sure they've got some idea of why they're doing it (from an aesthetic p.o.v. not just a free-stuff p.o.v). Nanette's original bit on Amplified nailed the problem - thousands of long reviews, compulsory columns, etc. etc., seemingly because that's What Online Zines Do. I'd love to see more zine editors answering the question: "What makes my zine different from Famous Site X?"

Cheers, Tom.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Indie rock zines do suck. But we're indie rock kids, doesn't everything suck? Most music sucks, most movies suck, most books suck. And most zines suck. It might sound cynical but I think your average indie rock fan would happily call themself discerning, which really just means you think a lot of stuff sucks. But its just as logical to say music is dead and hopeless as to say every zine sucks. Everyone's bound to find something he or she likes; read that and stick with it. If you don't like something, don't read it.

Keeping this analogy going, some zines will be motivated by free CDs like some musicians will be motivated by cash. But not all of them. Some kids out there are going online and making zines for love of the music. Maybe they just want a chance to discuss music, maybe they want to hone their criticism skills (or lack thereof). And even the crappiest zines and blogs are helping to make an online indie community. Before you get something good you need something. Maybe the alleged low quality of the zines will motivate some hidden genius to outdo the present crop. But until then the zines are serving their purpose quite adequately, spreading the word about music. Maybe I'm just grateful because until I started reading online zines my music resources were limited, but I'm satisfied with how zines are now. Though updating more often couldn't hurt ;).

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Does anyone else break out in hives at being referred to as "indie kids"? I mean, I'm 26 years old...I'm getting dangerously close to "old fart" territory.

I know, I know, it's just a figure of speech, but it drives me batty.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

If the whole question is why are zine editors doing this, I think the real answer is because they love it. You folks are right, there are a lot of music sites, but that's ok. With the Internet, everyone who wants to can put up a music site for almost nothing. Are they all good? No, not necessarily. But I think they're mostly motivated by a love of music and a desire to share opinion. It comes down to the old adage: if you don't like it, don't read it. That's what will bring thousands of hits and expensive banner ads to the good sites and just a few dedicated readers to the others. But a lot of zine editors who are doing it for the love of it don't care if they only get a few dedicated readers. The Internet is huge, and it's easy to just move on if you're not happy at one place. Why should we say one zine sucks and should be shut down? It's all a matter of finding the ones whose opinions you agree with and whose writing you enjoy reading.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Yeah, I'd no more accept the label "indie kid" than I'd want my site generalized as an indie rock zine. If nothing else, I'm too friggin' old to be an indie kid.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Nobody here is saying that any sites should be shut down. I think the discussion is more "how can we improve what's there?" At least, that's what I've intended.

I'm pleased that there's been no naming of names here. The intention was not to criticize particular zines or pick on anyone. I've just noticed a general lack of quality in online indie rock zines and I felt the burning desire to discuss it.

Nobody is denying people their right to create their own online zine. Personally, I just wish that people would think it through before they go through with it. Like Tom said a couple of posts ago, people planning to start their own online zine need to look around and answer the question "What makes my site different from Famous Zine X?"

I understand that online zines are a labor of love. And I think it's great that so many people are willing to devote their time and energy to putting them out. I'd just like to see some better quality and a little more originality, because everyone seems to be doing the same thing over and over, usually not very well.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

I think this is all quite heinously overblown, as it makes me think people think online music magazines are somehow important in the grand scheme of things, and while I put a great deal of time into mine, it's not going to ever be more important than spending time with my girlfriend or doing course work. Regardless, I'll spit into the fire anyway, since I honestly have nothing else to do at the moment, with girlfriend at work and college about a month away.

More than anything, the reason why some magazines "suck" is simply because it's a great deal easier to get webspace and design a web site than it is to write a well-founded review. I will wholeheartedly admit that I was a poor writer at the beginning of Signal Drench, but luckily no one saw it back then. However, that was back in the pre-blog era (1998 A.D.), and it wasn't easy to spread the word. Now, regardless of quality, you can get a write-up on a popular site and subsequently get hits. Although it would have been nice to get all the hits in the beginning, I think I kept getting more hits as the writing and design got better, which makes it seem more like a cause and effect relationship.

I think part of the problem is also that there isn't as much dedication needed towards the process as there (presumably, I can't speak from experience) is with a print magazine. Write, paste into html, upload. Baddabing.

All of this commentary and more, at the Insound zinefest. Woo.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Nanette, you've cited "lack of quality" and "lack of originality" a number of times, but you haven't really elaborated on these points all that much. If you can do it without naming names, can you expand a bit on these criticisms? Suggest alternatives?

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

I have been sitting here with an achy back, reading all of this commentary on (primarily online) music magazines. Here, I need to list my thoughts:

Blogs: When I first saw Line Noise listed in Indieshite, I admit I was a little disheartened. As you can imagine, it didn't receive a stunning review. A few days later I went back and reread the post... why, I don't know. It's a toss up between my own masochistic tendencies and a simple need for critical improvement. I now think that websites such as uslagainstlthem and indieshite and crucial for editors/writers/whoever. I've been writing for various publications for the past 4 or 5 years, during that time I would get my share of critical e-mails. Though, most would say things like "Dude, I can't believe you didn't like the new Cap'nJazz...you suck." Not too constructive.

Online Music Mags in general: There are deinitely a lot of them out there. Most were probably created with free cd's being the primary incentive. Either way, I'm not one to judge. If I don't particularly like a publication, I don't go back. My biggest problem with magazines these days are the absolute pretention that come with them. I honestly can't understand it. Are we really doing anything special? No. Is anyone going to remember us in 50 years? Probably not. So you get "130,000 unique vistors a month"... big deal. Were it not for the labels and readers, a publication would not survive. Maybe I'm going on a tangent right now but personally, I'm growing weary of the "bitter writer" gimick.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

I think there's one fact most people are overlooking: "Indie music" sucks. Of course a site that writes about Mathlete won't matter, because Mathlete doesn't, hasn't, and won't ever matter. The same goes for Euphone or the Faint or Aloha or At The Drive-In or Ida, etc. And sites such as this, Us Against Them, and Indieshite crack me up, because they "slam indie websites," but all of their content is DEPENDENT on indie websites. Therefor, indieshite, if rocketfuel and delusions of adequacy suck, so too do you, since you rely on them day to day for your content. These blogs second hand suck. Us Against Them and Indieshite hate sites like Pitchfork so much, they visit them every day, multiple times. How sad is that? Why don't one of you people, just one, TRY to write about something important. And no, nothing in the realm of music is important. It really disheartens me that this is what the supposedly educated college kids talk about. Fucking goddam Bright Eyes. This is why I've given up ever caring about these bands and scenes. The reason I got into writing reviews is because I love writing. Yes, my reviews would go on for 1650 words and not really talk about the album, because honestly I care more about trying to amuse myself than convincing somebody to buy a Supergrass album. The fact that Us Against Them or Indieshite think they "get to us" is funny. If bitchy criticism from the artists themselves (such as Pedro the Lion and Jim Orourke) don't phase me, why would the words of someone too lazy to even try something for themselves phase me? I want you bloggers to look back ten years from now and attempt to be proud.

If my reviews read more like short stories, it's because I'm much more interested in writing a short story than coming up with new euphemisms for "being tight." Rock criticism is completely boring inherently. It's futile to even hold a forum about the matter. The entire process is a joke. How pathetic is it that I've had P.R. people ask me specifically to "diss" one of their bands to generate interest? This is the music you hold dear. I propose that everyone stops writing about music, writing about their boring suburban lives, writing about writing (the worst kind of writing), and starts websites devote to something important/informative/intriguing. Or shit, websites are unimportant too. So I gues we're all fucked. Also, if you're in this for free records, I really do pity you, for you're just going to get 100 insipid releases from Holiday Matinee, or two copies of Samantha 7, CiCi DeVille's new band. There's your golden cup.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Hey Sebastian! I'm a reader of your zine and I thought you were on vacation! No internet access? Pshaw!

I agree that it seems everyone is doing the same thing over and over. Perhaps it's because reviews are the main source of content for many. I love reviews. But I get tired of them. Almost every site has a Modest Mouse "Moon & Antartica" review. Yet I haven't even bothered to read any Modest Mouse reviews because of the tired, gushing prose that comes with the typical MM review. That's probably a bad example, but there is a sort of "me too" mentality with zines that kills some of the originality out there. It may be the result of so many of us reading each other's work and (maybe) getting a kick out of it. This might be getting back to points made of similar format and the overall lack of originality. This whole discussion has me really thinking about how I can inject some real personality my own content. There is no rulebook for writing about music, and it would be nice to create writing that reflected that. Some of the best zines I've read have nothing to do with music, and I really like how some zines have themes that they carry out through all of their content, whether it be reviews or if it's another one of those columns that nobody really cares about. However, I don't think I could take another Gearhead clone, and I really doubt themes are a direction that Yahtzeen wants to follow (although some would say our use of Phil1's photography throughout yahtzeen suggests a girl worship theme), but I think that there are plenty of ways to take the homogonization out of the zine community if we're willing to put in the work. It's as simple as coming up with some unique ideas and more importantly, working on the writing.

P.S. I love Indishite! I definitely approve of their methods. If you're gonna get slagged, wouldn't you rather be slagged with the swift resolve and vulgarity with which the Indieshite crew does their bashing? I think the site is a lot of fun, and their observations are almost always funny (and shrewd).

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Here's what I think: I think that every one of you here who doesn't run some sort of web zine should start one, then let us have a go at you for a few weeks and see if you feel the same about it.

I'm certain it seems odd to hear me defending the same sites I slag day after day - though I'll make it clear that I'm not defending all of them, especially not the ones whose names begin with 'P' or 'B'. A lot of the other sites have their hearts in the right place. They're not pompous scenester twats. They don't swan about full of bravado and self-importance or put up witless 'coming soon' pages. They just write about the music and move along. We're not going to spare the rod when it comes time to slag them, but the effect is different. Only the lazy people (the writers who could've written a more thoughtful review but couldn't be bothered to spend the time, or the editor who makes grandiose promises about meeting deadlines) get upset, because they know they're wrong. The ones who know they've done their best can walk away from it. And there's constructive criticism in even the most vitriolic comment.

There are some sites who should stop now - their time has passed - and there are some fairly new sites that should never have been started.

J from Line Noise makes a statement that actually isn't true. He says that 'Were it not for labels and readers, a publication wouldn't survive.' But on the web, that isn't true. Writers can review CDs they've bought, and take satisfaction in their own creation. Nobody needs to see it. And sometimes, nobody should - especially not critical gits like you and me.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Ah, just the bait I was looking for. The biggest example of what happens when a pseudo rock critic believes his own BS. How ironic that Brent would come out and say that sites such as ours suck because we often say that the sites we cover suck. For everyone who keeps up with Pitchfork, how often do they give good reviews? Hardly ever. Does that mean they suck? If you follow Brent's warped logic it does. Actually, I think our site "third hand sucks", since the second hand sucking is being done by the reviewers who are writing "original" content about someone else's art. If you love writing so much and hate music, be an author, not a music critic. You're not doing the bands or the readers any favors. I also want to know how writing a review is any more "trying something" than critiquing a review. You may be able to write funny reviews every couple months, but your logic is highly flawed.

For the record, I do try to provide both positive and negative criticism of sites. I am far less inclined to be overly positive to the staffs composed of the more bloated egos, mainly because they need to learn to be more honest and fair. It may not make a difference, but it is "trying something". What other than silly rock criticism has Brent ever written? Oh yeah, the 50 best Canadian bands...now that was inspiring. As much as Brent tries to dismiss us, he reads our site regularly. How is that any less sad than us checking out Pitchfork?

One last question, if none of this bothers you Brent, why do you sound so angry?

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Wish I'd read the most recent posts before hitting submit.

Brent, those two teeth-gnashing paragraphs speak volumes about you. Your writing doesn't matter. It's boring, lazy and screams 'look at me! look at me!' in an increasingly desperate (and ineffective) fashion. That's why you can't get any 'real' publishers to look at it.

So tell us all what you're doing that 'matters'. I guarantee you, it really doesn't.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Brent, Ken Shipley is coming to mind... Calm down.

It is terribly difficult to try and find that nitch, the one that makes someone's magazine incredibly original and creative without seeming contrived. Day by day I subject myself to websites that attempt to find said nitch, the problem is...while struggling to attain certain creative notion they forget that it should also be interesting. So that's the key, I guess. I honestly have yet to see a magazine (I include my own magazine in this) that is not only creative and funny but also insightful and informative. Perhaps all of the Magazine heads need to get together and form some sort of partnership and create something worth reading.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Ernst - You're absolutely right (in regards to the comment you made about my comment). Let me rephrase my previous comment on the survival of Online Magazines : "What these publications fail to realize is that they wouldn't have the 'success' (I use the term loosely) that they do were it not for the bands, readers and labels that support them."

Remaining humble and accepting criticism as a building block are crucial for those that want to progress (if not for their own sake, then for the readers). For me, all of the criticism that sites such as IndieShite and UAT roll out are nothing but helpful and sometimes kind of funny.

Ok, so you write reviews simply because you love to write. Then please, write a novel or a piece with some kind of significance rather than basing all of your success and creative know-how off of how many music fans you can piss off.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Well, Mark said exactly what I wanted to say in regards to Brent's post, so I'm going to leave it at that. No sense in being redundant. One thing I will say is that I was amused that Brent came into the forum defending himself when nobody said a word about him or about Pitchfork. This forum had nothing to do with either, and he came in with cannons blazing in his defense. Dude, nobody cares. Though the insight into his writing process was amusing...

There's tons of other stuff in this forum that I'd really like to respond to, but I'm not going to be able to get to it until later tonight, I'm really swamped at work. That's not an empty promise, I have plenty to say and I plan to say it tonight.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Alright, hands up everyone who was mildly turned on to discover that 'J' stood for 'Jacqueline'.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Mark, I wasn't saying you shouldn't critique, or that you don't have the right.

I was cautioning zine proprietors (like Brent) from listening to you guys. A lot of zines cow to certain strains of music or labels or bands they personally get chubby on, which you have to point out. They should listen in cases like that, or when you (or others) provide a lucid, objective report on why a review/reviewer sucks--I wish I'd known this whole cabal was afoot when I was writing for P-Fork, I like being critiqued--but when you just rehash how a zine sucks, trumpet their obsolescence, inevitable demise, etc., it's no different than their own self-aggrandizing "Here To Stay" shit.

Personally, I find yours and other sites hilarious--again, if only I'd known you all were there--but critically it doesn't consistently add to the exchange and you're just promoting your own "badass"-ness in decrying someone else's work. It's really, really easy to be negative--why do you think most record reviews are that way? Easy to do.

But what you say is your prerogative. I was just saying it shouldn't matter to the zines, yet for some reason they buy into zine-critics. Reacting to the naysayers makes you look weak--it's like having your fans choose the songs on your record.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

The most interesting responses here are from the (very few) people who don't have their own zines or blogs or write short stories for music zines or some such. Although, some of those people may actually be writers whose names I don't recognize. Regardless, we're a bunch of people who do these things defending ourselves, when I would really love to hear the average reader come here and say "I like this because..." or "I wish you guys would do this..." Those of us that are trying to find our niche, trying to be unique while still ending up reviewing the same albums that everyone else does, we are all saying the same things, to some degree. It's the readers who choose to come to a site or not (or to visit a site every day even though they don't like it, which we're all guilty of) that actually determine if zines suck or not. So do they? Why?

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Why Online Indie Rock Zines Suck:

10- forgot to repackage press kits like famous bretheren 9 - enthusiam does not translate directly into good writing 8 - asses jammed with cheese curds 7 - "Art does not tolerate Reason" - Camus 6 - so much music, so little time to trash it 7 - deadlines coinciding with WWF Smackdown! 5 - the local used record store wasn't hiring 4 - 2 words: Holly Day 3 - too busy obsessing on what will appear next on wisdom 2 - writers absorbed in SAT prep course 1 - ran out of angst last Tuesday

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

I think that the basic criticisms of indie-rock webzines are pretty much the same criticisms that people have about writing on the web in general:

1) the writing sucks
2) the site doesn't get updated often enough
3) all of the above

It's the classic quantity vs. quality debate. Would people rather read a site that has good, informative, interesting writing, or one that gets updated often? The answer, of course, is YES. We want it ALL. We want the shiny car and the big house and the harem and the firetrucks and everything. But most of all, we want it NOW.

I oversimplify, of course, for purposes of humor. But the important thing to remember, the point I think we're all sort of glossing over, is that we're getting all this web content absolutely free. Sure, we're paying for internet access, probably, but we're choosing to use it to read about indie rock rather than, I don't know, something "more useful" or "worthwhile". Like learning yoga or finding a really good recipe for gazpacho.

That said, I would hope that I speak for all the other Pitchfork writers when I say that I welcome thoughtful, constructive criticism of the writing, design, and general aesthetics of the Pitchfork site. I think we've done a consistently good job of providing both quantity and quality, and I'm saying that both as a writer for it and reader of it. (I'm not only the Hair Club For Men president, blah blah blah.) Really though, compare the writing on any of the more popular indie-rock sites with that of print magazines you actually pay money for, like Alternative Press or Magnet. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you get a bit of perspective on things. Or maybe not. The point is, Nanette was disappointed in me that I hadn't written anything here yet, so hi.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

From someone who doesn't run an online indie rock zine, let me just say that all this soul searching is entirely unnecessary. I'm grateful that people have decided to put together indie rock sites, because I like to read them. Even when they suck, I'm grateful for the opportunity to say so. But you know what sucks the most? All of this second-level contemplation of the purpose, and the art, and the execution and the blah and how can we come together and blah .. that just prevents you from doing whatever good thing it was you were doing before you got sidetracked. Back to work!

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Don't get me started on AP or Magnet. That's one reason why I choose to get most of my music info from the web. No matter how bad the writing is on anyone's site it can't possibly be as dull as reading AP or the Magnet. Even if a site has poor writing, if it has some personality, I'll give it 100% more credit than AP or Magnet. I read AP a few times in High School and realized that it pompous crap. I'll tell you why I don't mind negative music reviews: If a reviewer doesn't like the record, I'd sooner read as they trash the thing than follow as they attempt to find something good about it. This seems dishonest to me. I like when reviewers say what they feel. Reviews are subjective. Do you like it or not? That's all that matters to me. I don't read reviews to find out whether or not I should buy a record (although I do occasionally buy a record based on the review of a writer whos tastes I admire). I read reviews for the same reason I ask my friends if they've heard the new one by [insert band here]. I like shooting the shit about music. If you read a particular reviewer over time, you'll find out what they like & dislike. We all know that. I like to see a writer reflect personal taste in their review rather than trying to be one of the musical "experts" in AP or Magnet.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Jeff--nobody's talking about "coming together" and doing anything. It might have been mentioned hypothetically a couple of times, but nobody's trying to create something huge and amazing here. And I was doing some boring-ass work related crap before I started this thread, stuff that I would hardly consider to be a "good thing." As a matter of fact, it's incredibly dull.

That, and I don't think anyone's doing any serious soul-searching here either. There's no deep philosophical discussion of the art of the webzine or the best way to attract readers. It's nothing lofty or even particularly serious. And the truth is, this discussion (or a discussion like it) is needed. I don't have a webzine, but as a reader I'm interested in improving the genre. If this thread makes webzine creators and readers think about why they like what they like, if it makes them consider ways to become more original/interesting/readable, then it's done something. Criticism is important. We can't just all float around with our heads in the clouds thinking we're perfect and everything is wonderful, can we?

Now I'm going to get back to my fascinating job. Hooray for copyediting!

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Okay. I said I would be back to respond to posts, and here I am.

First of all...George asked me to to expand on some of my criticisms and offer alternatives. I've thought about that quite a bit, and there's one thing that I feel just about every indie rock webzine (or most webzines in general) need: editors.

I know, all the webzines have an "editor-in-chief," some person who sits on high and approves articles, selects writers, etc. And that's great, and that's completely necessary. I'm talking about editors, people who correct grammatical and spelling errors and make the writing more clear and readable. Editors cut the crap out of people's writing, editors rewrite a sentence or two here and there so it reads better. Editors make sure record reviews are record reviews and not treatises on the human condition.

I do this for a living, and that's why it drives me nuts to read webzines where the editing is completely awful, where sentences don't make sense, grammar is poor, and content is lacking.

The other thing that I wish webzine creators would realize is that QUALITY is more important than QUANTITY. I'd rather read four good reviews a week than one semi-readable review and three godawful reviews a day. It would be wonderful if people could realize their ambitions fully, quit their day jobs, and devote their lives to putting out a kickass indie rock webzine. Unfortunately, that's highly unlikely in most cases, so we do what we can with the time that we have. My suggestion to the people who run webzines: don't bite off more than you can chew. Don't set a schedule that's so frantic that you compromise quality. If there's a lag between updates but the content is always good, I'll check back. If you update every day with crap, I'll forget about you.

I have an online journal that is frequently criticized for not being updated enough. I don't update it every day, or even every week, because I won't upload anything that I'm not proud of. I refuse to upload an entry for the sake of uploading an entry. Maybe webzine editors-in-chief need to take a similar approach: don't upload it if you think it sucks. We're all able to be critics of our own work here. The best case scenario, in my opinion, is that you are your own worst critic. You set the standards for yourself, and you set them high, and you stick to them.

I've been involved in plenty of zines, both web and print, and I know that it is very time-consuming. I know that it is a labor of love, and that your heart has to be in it, and blah blah blah. That said, there is nothing wrong with asking for people to help you out. Just because you run the show doesn't mean you have to do *everything*. Delegate responsibility! I've seen a lot of zines (print and web) fail because the editors-in-chief were too controlling to let go of some of the responsibility. And you must, must, must seek out talent. There are tons of good writers out there. If you read someone's writing and you like it, ask them to write for your zine. A lot of the people would love to contribute to webzines, but they feel uncomfortable asking or are just too shy or insecure about their writing abilities.

That said, I'm going to engage in my usual self-promotion. I'd be more than willing to help with editing/writing/reviewing/whatever. All you have to do is ask nicely and I'll do it. I got my current job because I had experience copyediting for a zine. And it sounds like a cliche, but it really does look good on a resume. I'd like to get some experience editing content for the web, because that's the way my field is headed these days.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000


This is midly on-topic: it's an article about Glenn McDonald's 'War Against Silence' weekly column which makes some interesting points about the potential online music zines have.

I'd follow up what Nanette said by stressing that the really, really great thing about the web is that you can go back and re-edit pieces once you've put them up - you can re-write them, too. The impermanency of web publishing is something I don't think anyone's really exploiting (least of all me): there's real potential for pieces and articles to become a lot more collaborative.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Some quick responses to other posts:

As far as Brent's post goes: one of my very good friends is a classic rock boy. He constantly accuses me of being an elitist because all the indie rock fans he knew before me were as pompous as Brent. I think that his reviews (and the imitations written by others) are a big part of why people slag Pitchfork so much. And hey, if I get a copy of C.C. DeVille's new CD if I start a webzine, I'm there. He was the prettiest member of Poison.

Phil2's post about Modest Mouse reviews reminded me why I don't tend to read reviews--they generally say the same thing, over and over. You've read one, you've read them all. I agree with you on the need to come up with some original ideas and improve the writing in webzines.

Ernst, I was thrilled to discover that J stands for Jacqueline. It's always nice to notice that there's someone else female doing the indie rock web thing. There's so few of us here. I think I can count the number on one hand. And I agree that most people who start webzines do have their hearts in the right place. Sadly, their abilities aren't always in the right place.

Mark, the 50 Best Canadian Bands inspired me to gag due to the inclusion of Rush. If I recall correctly, Rush was pretty high on the list. One of the Yahtzeen Phils (I think it's Phil1, you boys need to start using last initials like in grade school) is going to beat me up for dissing Rush. But hey, this is my forum, and Rush-bashing is both allowed *and* encouraged.

More after I eat my dinner.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Ouch! We prog-rockers get no respect. I'll admit that "Freewill" isn't the greatest but "Tom Sawyer" is party rock. As is "Workin' Man," "Limelight," and "Spirit Of The Radio."

I know I'm a geek for liking Rush. I'm proud of it. I've suffered the ridicule of most of my friends for professing my love for the music of Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and Neil Peart. As long as I'm in confessional mode, I should say Boston, Journey, ZZ Top, Twisted Sister, Dio, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden remain cherished faves (notice I arranged that list from safest, to most evil).

I noticed that the domain "rushzine" is wide fuckin' open. Now there's a zine I'd like to read.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

phil2, you are spending way too much time playing here...shouldn't you be off writing something new so we can update something on yahtzeen?

oh i'm only kidding. this entire discussion is interesting and has raised a lot of good points about webzines, actually just zines in general even.

personally i like to read shorter reviews, shorter stories, shorter interviews when i'm on the web. i should talk since my columns are usually long but i can't help it sometimes, see because i start to go off on things that aren't really at the heart of what i'm talking about. then i start using lots of commas and trailing off and......

...anyway i find a lot of the writing on many webzines to be too long, much too long. unless i'm reading something i'm very, very interested in i usually give up on anything that has too much to read. even worse is poorly laid out copy, copy that stretches to fill your browser window drives me crazy, not to mention is hard to read. scrolling i can live with, 600 pixel wide sentences i can't.

well, i felt it was time i chimed in and also cleared my name in the "which phil likes rush?" question. though phil 2 (or phil h.) has already answered it so i guess i could have just kept my mouth shut and spared you all my senseless ramblings.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Okay, now, back to the responses.

Wisdom's post was amusing, especially #9: Enthusiasm does not translate directly into good writing. If it did, this discussion wouldn't be happening right now and there would be a glut of amazing webzines out there. Though it certainly could be argued that some writers have their asses jammed with cheese curds, I'd really rather not find that out first-hand (or second-hand, or third-hand either.)

Nick, I don't want a harem. I want a he-rem. I would like, oh, ten or fifteen cute indie rock boys. That should be enough. They can fan me and feed me grapes and bake me cookies and sing songs to me. Clothing is optional. There's nothing like a naked manservant.

But I should stop fantasizing and get back to the point. I know you're very accepting of constructive criticism when it comes to Pitchfork, I've IMed you back and forth about it a few times. Unfortunately, it probably isn't going to change anything. I rarely read Pitchfork--I usually only head over there when someone says "look at this awful review, doesn't it suck, hahahaha." Why don't I read it? Because I don't care for record reviews, and I don't care for the writing style of most of the reviewers. I think it's great that there's a schedule at Pitchfork that is actually followed, but I think that content is sometimes sacrificed for the sake of sticking to that schedule.

And I cancelled my subscription to AP after the third Insane Clown Posse/Korn/Marilyn Manson cover. I won't buy a magazine if I'm embarassed to be seen in public reading it. I remember when AP was the shit, back in the early 90s. As far as print music magazines go, The Big Takeover is my favorite. There are some others that I like, but I actually look forward to The Big Takeover showing up in the mailbox.

Jeff, I'm sorry if I bit your head off. I was attempting to do my best Ozzy vs. Bat imitation.

Phil2: Journey? No. I will never look at you the same way again.

And finally, I agree with Tom about the potential of web publishing. The most fun thing about having this forum is that it gives me the ability to chit-chat about whatever topic I like. It's a public forum, people, go ahead and start a thread. The Yahtzeen Phils can start a thread about prog rock...ugh, prog rock. In my own personal hell, the DJ plays only prog rock and bad bar band harmonica solos.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Phil L., the readability thing comes up a lot in online journalling. The consensus is that white space (or any sort of space) is a beautiful thing, and that long paragraphs are generally a bad idea when it comes to any web content. It's easy to tune out content that seems to drone on forever and ever with no breaks. Reading on-screen isn't always that easy. I also think that people's attention spans tend to be shorter when it comes to internet content. A huge block of text is just...formidable.

I will call you "the good Phil" because you're the one who doesn't like prog rock!

(Just kidding, Phil H.!)

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

hooray for white space! i'm definitely a fan of zines where the content is good, but much of what makes me want to go back to a site also deals heavily upon whether or not the site is designed well, uses the space well and doesn't force me read long lines (yes, 600+ pixels wide) of text before the line breaks. sure, a great zine can't rely on good design alone, but i just wish it were a consideration more often...

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

oh, and for the record, i'm editor #2 out of three at yahtzeen that's not a fan of progressive rock. we've narrowly escaped being dubbed an emo zine (phil l. found that funny if i recall correctly), i'd hate to pick up an even more "flattering" tagline...

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

A.) I do not have a shred of indie cred in my entire bod. (Well maybe a little, but saying I have none is my claim to fame, dammit.)

B.) I do not write an idie rock zine/e-zine.

C.) I am a content writer for a website.

The main point to writing Internet content in any genre is simplicity. (Most readers prefer bullet points! AUGH!) With simplicity, you almost always find a lack of passion. With passion, you almost always find length. Only a master can provide both berevity and passion.

People scan/skim/click away/turn the page more than any other medium, because there is such a wealth of information -- more than anyone could EVER read. Pick a side: berevity, to have someone finish reading a stale, but short, article, or writing with passion and integrity to have someone bail after the first paragraph.

Look at our posts so far... LOOONG. The only we're here is because of the passion in our statements.

If it's long, don't read it. Read a cereal box, ya bastard. Would you like reviews in bullet point? If it sucks for whatever reason, make a shitty remark and move on. That's the way it works.

If you're writing it: Prepare yourself for a shitty comment or two, 'cause that's the way it works. We're all self-conscious with propped up egos anyway. Say shitty things back. It's your perogative. (Call me Bobby Brown!)

If you're not passionate about it (especially if you aren't getting paid to do it), get the fuck outta there. But try to be brief, eh?

And that was my two cents.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

i really think that in a sense what we have here is the classic scenario of having -- dare i say it? -- too much.

first, there's the idea of 'internet update pressure,' a result of the easy updatability (and lower operating costs) of web sites as opposed to print magazines. i mean, caught in flux has only put out seven issues since 1993. so do you update more and possibly sacrifice quality, or do you update less and possibly sacrifice -- what? readers? (why does this sound like my standard anti-weblog argument? ha ha ha, i'm only half-kidding there.)

second -- and i have a feeling i might catch hell for saying this, but oh well -- this post-internet world of indie rock or whatever you want to call it is a very different playing field than the one in, say, 1994. it's a lot more difficult to be surprised these days, because really there is just so much music that falls under the whole 'indie' rubric that is *right there* to be found, whether it's through links or yahoo searches or writeups on sites like pitchfork. the whole trying to tune the radio that is sitting in that corner of the room because that's the only place the station you want to listen to will come in process isn't necessary anymore. the community's grown, exploded really i think but maybe i'm just being naive, both on the parts of bands and on the parts of consumers and on the parts of consumers who have web sites and who want to talk about what they're consuming.

and this sort of heaping banquet inspires a sort of weariness on the part of writers, and a slight dissatisfaction on the part of readers; everyone wants something new, and everyone's dissatisfied and scratching their collective head and posting in forums.

(if i could also take a second and recommend the writings of douglas wolk on his personal site; i think he has a glenn mcdonald-esque wonder about music, and i think that the music writing i most appreciate these days has that personal, wondrous quality to it.)

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

I see my fellow editors are turning on me (going out of their way to distance themselves from my prog-rock ways). So I have license to say that design, while it's nice, matters not a bit to me. I do appreciate the lack of 600 pixel sentences, and I like eye candy, but I have no problem returning to a site with top-notch content and rotten design skills. Ryan & Phil1 are designers by trade. It's a matter of self-preservation to have us believe that design is all- important. Don't be fooled. Hee hee.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

Nanattee - It's definitely refreshing to see a woman involved in forums such as these. Or in music in general, for that matter. I can name exactly 3 women in my city (other than myself) that play significant roles in the music community.

I love Rush. LOVE THEM. Feel free to contact me at GeteeLee@aol.com for any of your Rush fanatic needs.

Phil #2 - I agree with you the content vs. design bit. It's kind of like dating...although a pretty face makes the conversation a little easier, it's the content that really matters (ok... well... sometimes... but I won't go into that).

For those of you concerned with my spelling of "niche" earlier - Yes, I am an avid fan of spell check. Sorry.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

hmmm. to take that analogy a little further, have any of you ever dated someone you thought was ugly? i'm guessing the answer is no. what about a date that's hard to understand or annoyingly inconsistant? poor navigation and overall inconsistancies from page to page (such as missing and/or misleading navigation) tend to make me not want to return to a site.

i think you're right as well... given the choice of a site with all the bells and whistles that's a pain in the ass to navigate versus the same site with consistant text links and the same content (constrained by a table, hopefully) and i'll pick the latter. i'm all for good design, but please don't give me poor design disguised as "good" design.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

Actually I have dated someone that was ugly and it was a bad experience through and through (once again taking the analogy further). Now the big question is... what constitutes good or bad design? Taste?

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I think it's best to separate design and usability. I can't design, i.e. make a page look pretty, for shit, but I've tried since starting a zine to make the pages more usable (for me, running a music zine doubled as a way to learn basic HTML, which is one reason I didn't apply for a domain name until I thought my pages were at least looking adequate and readable). On the dating analogy, design might be looks, and usability might be personal hygiene....

Of course, the problem I'm now faced with is a backlog of about 250 articles in earlier, non-uniform formats. It's a source of vast irritation to me, but ultimately I'd prefer to write new stuff than go back and redesign all the old pages.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

You guys are too easy to piss off. You take everything much too seriously. For one, those of you who have only read my pitchfork writing have read less than half of what I write. And those who take what I say seriously on webboards know even less. Whoever said "why don't you write fiction instead of criticism," well, I do. You just haven't seen it. However, I still feel like writing about records. And what's up with "you're not doing artists any favors?" Since when is rock criticism about that? I'd rather do our readers a favor and give them what they enjoy reading. The altruistic attitude that runs throught all of these sites is silly. What what we do is never anything more than a hobby. You speak on these topics like gun control, third world debt, and continentalism. I just like to have fun and get under people's skin. And come on, people! Those of you who love to slam sites should be up for the joke. But you'll all be happy to know I've stop doing the pitchfork thing. Take care, and I hope all of your endeavors can lead to better things.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

Okay. Design good. Is that really an issue with anyone's site though? We're talking about Indie Rock sites. Most of which are sporting the same style of "department" driven navigation. Even the sites without all of the emo design tricks and photoshop prowess get the job done. (We know which sites they are.) Lately I've been reading a print zine called Scam (Issue #4). If you haven't heard of it, use this link to listen to a (long, but worth it) NPR program that features a story on Urban Fishermen by Scam's writer. Scam has almost nothing to do with music (it's actually the day to day life of a homeless, train-hopping punk squatter type) It's a handwritten cut & paste zine with AWFUL design, but I read and reread the articles. The guy who does Scam is a wonderful writer. The design of Scam is hard to follow and it's messy, but I pity the fool that gives up on the first page because they don't take the effort to decipher it. I guess that's where I'm coming from with the design argument.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

What's that smell?

Oh, it's just the stink of self-importance. Somebody bring me some air freshener...it's starting to smell like horse shit in here.

My question to everyone else: is anyone in this forum pissed off? Is anyone taking this too seriously? I thought not.

Re: design and usability--I think usability is far more important than design. It's much more important to be able to find what you want to find than to be bowled over by a fancy design. Besides, complicated designs tend to take forever to load on my computer at home (also known as "the old lumbering Mac"). They look nice, but if I can't access it because of my slow-ass modem connection, it really doesn't matter, does it?

I'm a big fan of black type on a white (or light-colored) background. I have shitty eyesight and I don't like having to squint at tiny white type on a black background. I use a Mac at home, and type tends to look smaller on a Mac. I want to be able to read the content and I want to be able to see where I'm going. I like everything to be marked clearly, I don't like to have to search to find what I'm looking for.

I admit to being wow-ed by flashy design, but I honestly prefer a simple, well-organized design.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I'm pissed off. Actually though I'm crying inside. I'm shedding big emo sized tears. I'm a sad clown. My whole thing is that I like to write, my job is full of periods of inactivity, I don't even own a computer and can't do a site of my own, so I like to contribute. And judging by the amount of posts in this forum, someone must read it. I know I read everyone else's sites. And that's kinda cool. Oh, another thing: Rush blows. Any band that titles a song "Emotion Detector" is one to be avoided!

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I understand where Phil H. is coming from with his argument, but web and print are two very different media with different considerations. When designing for the web, designers have to take into consideration the people who will potentially visit the site--do they have the ability to view the site as it was intended? Just about anyone who has done a webpage that goes beyond straight text on a white background has dealt with this--Netscape and IE do things differently, to start with, and then there's Macs vs. PCs, and connection speeds, and the list just goes on and on.

With print, you know what the people are going to get. Yeah, there's issues you need to consider, but you know what the end product is going to look like in any given case. It's going to look like a book or publication. Designers can get away with more when it comes to print, I think. And while there can be unreadable print publications (I'm thinking of some of the more experimental early issues of Raygun, for example--pretty but unreadable), print designers have a lot more control over the way the product is going to look.

I have much more patience with experimental design in the print medium than the web medium. I admit that I have been turned off to particular sites because of their reliance on flashy emo web design tricks (heh!) that make my computer choke and sputter, though I wouldn't stop reading a print zine that utilized similar design tricks.

Now I need to get back to work. :)

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

While ultra-flashy design isn't necessary (or even necessarily desirable), I think there's a distinct minimum design standard you have to meet in order to be taken seriously (and as someone who's obviously not a graphic designer and writes all his code in wordpad, I constantly worry that I've slipped below the bar). Luckily, most people can still separate glitz from content, or we'd all spend an hour or two a day downloading unnecessary Flash intros. For instance, that new monthly, Basement Life, seems to have run into a lot of criticism for failing to back up its design with content.

Incidentally, I think there ought to be some sort of "appropriate use" test that you have to pass before you can even buy Flash or Shockwave. But that would put Macromedia out of business.

What's kind of depressing is that the bar for writing quality isn't higher. Even ostensibly professional sites like Insound can't seem to figure out how to use a possessive apostrophe. It's kind of scary. At this rate, in a hundred years only poor people will have those slow T3 lines, a standard hard drive will be able to hold 10,000 hours of full-screen video and processors will run at 10 THz, but the alphabet will have sixteen letters and we'll all be communicating in grunts.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I think one of the problems with web writing is the emergence of "web logs", especially web logs over the topic of music. Web logs, like the under-the pillow diary they substitute, are personal, opinionate confessions. Sites like Pitchfork are not. However, people tend to read both pitchfork and these weblogs, taking what is said on pitchfork as an honest first person confessional. I created a hyberbolic, asshole critic persona, because I like Andy Kaufman and Richard Meltzer. Those who take it seriously, I only point to the review where I'm in London massage parlors, on concords, and in models arms.

what I love about pitchfork is that we had such a diverse group of writers. The fact that I had a Brent Sirota and Nick Mirov and James Wisdom (you're all my dawgs, and I love you.) to counter my writing, just forced the even more sensationalized side out of me. And yes, I've written total shit. It's been 3am and drunk in my brain for some of those reviews. But so what? Nanette may hold an uncanny hatred towards us (to which I say, have you read Brent Sirota or Kristin Sage or Samir Khan or etc etc etc? Please don't write off everyone else because I'm a jackass.), but there are people out there who really enjoy what I do. And I've gotten much bitter bile in my inbox than I've received here. You should try ripping into Rammstein and NIN sometime. People will actually threaten to kill you! Fascinating! Haha.


-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

Whoops. I meant notepad, not wordpad.

Hey, HTML people...remember when your site was expected to work in every browser? Remember checking stuff in LYNX?

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

hey, i had to share this... this is something we can all come together on and chuckle about... this is the fun side of pitchfork...

""One-sided" is all that I can say about your review of The Get Up Kids, "Red Letter Day" LP CD. You are completely unfair to their innovative sound complete with genius guitar riffs and blazingly truthful, heart felt lyrics. Instead you claim that they sound just like every other band on the market. I believe that The Get Up Kids have the best "emo" sound out there today by far, leaving the Promise Ring in the dust. I praise The Get Up Kids to everyone who will listen, and I invite you to listen to their other CDs such as "Four Minute Mile" and "Something To Write Home About". Perhaps these works of art will be up to your standards of "good music". Although I'm not sure you are the one that should have decided The Get Up Kids fate in this review, let alone review other works by them, simply because you once chose a music career in rap. Not your finest hour I'm certain.

Graham N. Wright Marketing Department Paris Technologies, Inc. (215) 340-2890"

ok, career in RAP?! Where did he get that from? Haha. I'm flattered! I mean, I had that joke rap group Kibblez N Bitz a couple years ago, but we never went anywhere.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

Wait... hahaha. I think he read your staff page. Didn't realize it was a joke. I wonder if he questioned the Food Lion merger at all... hmm.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I really don't think a music weblog and an 'asshole critic persona' are incompatible.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

hey, guys, i'd rather talk about music. this is getting boring and i don't think we're really getting anywhere. some of you hate pitchfork, but a lot of us like it. maybe my feeling toward Brent and all them has more to do with having evolved (as far as music tastes) and grown up with them than actually enjoying every one of their longwinded reviews. when i first got a permanent internet connection, they were my introduction to indie rock criticism on the Internet. now i check 20-30 blogs and zines weekly, and it's just because i love music. i don't swear by any particular reviewer or site, and i read them all, if only to learn about one or two new bands each week. i also appreciate the usagainstthems of the "community"; their suggestions further the dialogue on music and criticisms (which we've yet to see Indieshite really do), which is all i really want. i suppose a lot of these sites could be trimmed of fat and even banned from the internet altogether, and the collective quality would improve, but i like my quantity. i DON'T always have time to read 500 word essays, so i just scroll down to the last paragraph of pitchfork books, and follow the links at NYLPM and etc; it's lazy but, whatever, i find music this way. then i go buy, listen, and make my own reviews and lists. i know this all must make me sound like an illiterate fool how would god forbid prefer quantity over quality... i'd have to agree with Nick Mirov who said in jest that we want BOTH, and, dissenting from popular opinion here, i think some of these sites give us (a little) of both (sometimes).

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I've been writing for the web for quite awhile now (having just started doing music reviews a little over a year ago). One big thing I've learned is that if you're going to put your writing out on the web (to a potentially global audience), you have to have a fairly thick skin. For every time someone writes and tells you that they like what you do, you're going to get someone slagging you. Whether you let it get to you or not determines how well you'll continue, though. I guess my point with all this is that writing on the web is cool, and so is criticism. What I've seen a lot lately (especially in knee-jerk reactions within the blogging community) is a need to shoot down everyone that disagrees with your opinion. Why not just let everyone have their opinion, and have meaningful discussions with those whom you do agree with? Whether you're talking about music reviews, personal journal entries, or short fiction, the amazing thing about the web is that it lends itself to these sorts of discussions. It doesn't matter whether you live in the next town as someone or halfway across the world. Sorry if this turned into a pseudo inspirational speech, but I'm just trying to stay positive. Keep rockin. :)

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

Regarding usability and design: I think they're more important to readers than they realize-- they have a definite subconscious effect on how people react to a particular site. I've been harping on Ryan for like months about this. Since Pitchfork is primarily a text-content- based site, I feel that its design should be built around making the text as readable as possible; to me, this means making the font large enough to be comfortably readable without having to squint, and making the text color contrast well with the background color. As it is currently - white 8-point arial on a deep-sky-blue background - it could be a little better. It doesn't have to be a big blocky black font on a stark white background-- there is room for a creative color scheme, but the basics should be adhered to.

As for design, I think everyone appreciates an aesthetically pleasing site more than a very basic one. Signal Drench has a great design, and it's pretty readable as well; Western Homes is also very easy to read, but it's just not as cool-looking. That said, of course I read both, but Signal Drench is just nicer to look at. Now only if Sebastian would get off his ass and put the rest of the site up...

Finally, regarding Jim Sommer's remarks: yes, exactly! Pitchfork fills a specific need for people who like their music criticism served up with heaping spoonfuls of self-indulgent, yet entertaining, prose. I like reading The War Against Silence for the same reasons-- of course, sometimes I get a little tired with Glenn MacDonald's long-windedness, just as some people can't deal with Pitchfork's long-windedness. But if you want short, concise, informative reviews of music, just simple descriptions of what the music is like and whether the reviewer liked it or not, I'm sure there's another site out there to fulfill your needs. Maybe CMJ's music reviews, if they weren't so goddamn ingratiating.

What I'd really like to see is a site like Rotten Tomatoes, but for music reviews. That would kick SO much ass.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

i'm sure i'm a bit late for this forum, but here's a faithful pitchfork reader's opinion:

i really like pitchfork. call me tasteless or uncultured, but i think they turn out a decent product everyday, which is a lot more than can be said about most websites. too bad they've lost brent, because he was their greatest assett. you can't deny the inventiveness of his reviews of say, orange rhyming dictionary, or the fragile, or remedy ep. he has wonderful diction, a strong voice, is diverse and is fairly prolific.

these are qualities of a writer with something to say.

this is my honest reaction.

i guess the thing is this: as a reader, i want to be entertained. and i want to know which cds to buy. if there are cds to buy, please tell me. and if you can, make it entertaining. this is all i ask. don't bicker between yourselves because it's all just posturing bullshit. spend your time being creative, not mean.

-- Anonymous, July 30, 2000

You're still here? Go home...It's over.

-- Anonymous, August 07, 2000

It seems that everytime a member of the Indie Rock dominated press adresses Metal or any other genre of music that truly deserves to carry the mantle of "Rock" in it's title, the tone is flippant, kitchty and generally dismissive. As if the current glut of waifish hipsters plugging in in their every-day clothes and subjecting the audience to thier whiny middleclass observations is an artisticly worthier experience, or for that matter, worth $6-7.00. Alas, these are the people who dictate taste now, the people resonsible for Blink 182 and the like, and they've waged a campaign of revisionism against Metal that untill recently was successfull in getting people to forget that for a twenty year span, Metal was the dominant musical genre in both Pop and Underground, and, in fact, has never died. It reached this level of success without the help of major labels. Metal was the first indie rock. And yet we feel the need to apologise when "Too Fast For Love" is found amongst our other records; "Um, yea. I just got that for laughs". And yet, bands that want to play Metal/HardRock have to hide behind MC5 covers or the recently acceptable, AC/DC, lest booking agents from "Rock" clubs tell them to try some "Flashback 80's" type venue instead. Whenever a Rock journalist writes about bands like Electric Wizard or Behold! The Living Corpse, they always say something to the effect of "Brings back all the good parts of heavy music and leaves the bad behind". They have no respect for the genuine article. Somehow, Punk can be recycled and regurgitated over and over again without such back-handed comments, presumably because Punk music is down. That's crap. Punk music is what rich kids listen to when they want to go cultural slumming. METAL is the music of the working class and poor. This is the true reason why the indie rock establishment refuses to grant metal/hard rock it's due respect. They fear that if they squeek down from their Ivory Tower on their vintage Shwinns and simply say that Behold! The Living Corpse, for instance, is "An evening of pure ass-kicking Rock", they might show up at the show and have to share airspace with hessians and white trash.

-- Anonymous, May 31, 2001

Justin: your point is?

Just wondering.

Take your crabbing to some other forum.

-- Anonymous, June 01, 2001

Maybe he's crabbing, but Justin tells it like it is.

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2001

fuckin elitist, your point? justin is on top of things and isnt afraid to say that indie rockers are mostly pretensious and every time they mention liking METAL its always 'secretly'. fuck em all, afraid that thier little don cab friends are going to think that they arent cool, its like the same thing with those kids who only like kool kieth, but no other rappers. U G LY! brhold! the living corpse rule! d m

-- Anonymous, August 20, 2001

IMO the measure of whether a zine sucks is whether people enjoy reading it. If even a few hundred people read a zine and like it then the zine is doing something right. You can't please all of the people all of the time. Suckiness is pretty subjective, right?

There have been plenty of snotty little remarks around the web about the zine I work on but we have gotten even more praise from regular readers. So all I can say is if you don't like what a zine is putting out there don't read it. Not every zine is for every reader.

-- Anonymous, August 24, 2001




-- Anonymous, May 15, 2002

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