This piece on mte's blog--http://tinyurl.com/jddaw--is spot on. I agree that Leslie has made some great improvements to Metro Pulse, but music coverage has not been one of them.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The headline for this week’s music feature in Metro Pulse on Oakley Hall, by Kevin Crowe, really bugs the shit out of me. “Oakley Hall is what country would sound like if Nashville didn’t suck.” A similar, maybe identical, tagline was used in a calendar Spotlight on the band when they played Pilot Light earlier this year. It implies that “country” is something about spirit or energy or authenticity, when instead it’s a pretty clearly defined genre of popular music that Oakley Hall doesn’t fit into in any way. The band’s guitarist says as much in the story: “‘We think of ourselves as a rock ‘n’ roll band, a string band in harmony,’ Sullivan says, dismissing critics who are wont to label the sound as alt-country. ‘The actual product we have is different from an alt-country approach. We find it to be a limiting term. It’s all roots rock.’”
And the “Nashville sucks” trope … I’ve had it up to here with that. For one thing, it ignores both the ultra-traditional work that’s come out of Nashville in the past few years and had huge success (Gary Allan’s Tough All Over, Lee Ann Womack’s There’s More Where That Came From, Julie Roberts’ Men and Mascara, Brad Paisley’s Time Well Wasted and Mud on the Tires, new albums this fall from George Strait, Mark Chesnutt and Alan Jackson) and the innovative stuff that might be more polarizing but that made Nashville seem like a real hothouse of imagination in 2002-04 (Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich). It’s an easy dismissal of contemporary country (and contemporary pop) that’s developing into an unfortunate editorial bias at MP. Besides, what’s a “Cajun backbeat”? And if you’re going to emphasize a backbeat, you might want to be aware that that’s a defining element of rock ‘n’ roll, not country. (There are a couple of factual errors in the story, too—Pat Sullivan left Oneida in 2001, not 1997, and a “sestet” is a stanza of poetry, while a “sextet” is a six-piece band.)
One other nitpick about MP’s music coverage: Here’s the selection of CDs they choose to review in this week’s issue: Audioslave, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s version of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? and Hinder. There are new albums out, or coming out soon, from OutKast, Bob Dylan, Justin Timberlake, The Roots, Kelis, Mastodon, The Rapture, Basement Jaxxx, the Mars Volta, Beyonce, Ben Kweller, TV on the Radio … it’s fucking Oscar season out there. You run six reviews a month, please aim for some small measure of relevance.