Australian Criticism cont.: music criticism

It felt completely deflating when Pitchfork pipped the Australian music press over Go Easy. It’s a fine album, the sort of thing anyone who had even a half-cocked eye on the band knew was coming. So when Pitchfork ran their 7.3 review a week before Mess+Noise even, it felt weird. It makes sense: the band’s label for Go Easy is located in the US and that’s probably where a lot of the promotional push was (if there was much, to speak of). But for me, this moment really hammered home the state of things: Australian music writing is a bit fucked. Here was the biggest, most widely read music rag in the world leading the Australian press on the exact sort of local release we needed to be covering first. When we can’t even keep on top of our own emerging music, what’s the fucking point?

Go Easy is not an isolated case unfortunately. A lot of the Australian music on this list is absent from any broader national discussion. Melbourne’s Kane Ikin released (via 12K) a ridiculously great drone and beats record this year on Sublunar and critique of that album is nowhere to be found at home. I didn’t even know he was Australian when I first stumbled onto his album. Instead we’re lucky to get one or two album reviews a day—of anything, even the centre—from our higher level outlets and almost zero ongoing commitment. Worst still, there just doesn’t seem to be the budget nor the editorial power out there to cover music below a certain watermark—one that seems completely arbitrated by local industry and advertisers—and it’s getting worse every year. If you want to read about anything happening on any of the various margins of Australian music, you’re mostly reading the work of an unpaid volunteer, a blogger or a junior/developing writer or you’re reading about your own culture on an ‘international’ music website. To an extent, that’s fine. But I just don’t want that all the time. I don’t want only that. I also want to look at nice sentences about a wider variety of music, and to hear from people more experienced than myself regarding this music. The intent and interest is there, the money isn’t. And so in 2012, I went from harbouring doubts about this stuff turning around one day to thinking, ‘Oh well, the pay cut isn’t that drastic anyhow.’

Ian Rogers in Top 10 of 2012: THE DEFINITIVE LIST / What The Hell Happened? – Life & pop culture, untangled, at The Vine.

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