Music-Reviewing Cliches

This blog isn’t my first attempt at writing about music; I also did some Bay Guardian work circa 2000 and a couple of unpaid articles elsewhere, not to mention lots of capsule reviews for KZSU’s music library (see here). And over the years, I’ve noticed a few things I do a little too often. How many can you spot!

* Making a big deal out of a song being the first or last on an album or in a live set.

* Mentioning each band member in a non-big band. Which is something that’s worth doing, but in a short review, it can sound very forced.

* Cliché comparisons: saying an artist is (or is not) like Coltrane (sax), Ornette (different sax/composing), Cecil Taylor (piano), Mingus or Monk (composing), Derek Bailey (anything weird) — or, for prog rock, King Crimson (I’m partial to the 1974-1976 and 1981-1984 editions) or early Genesis.

* Likening anybody’s music to any subset of the New York scene — especially “downtown,” the avant-jazz catch-all.

At least I don’t do the Pitchfork thing of starting every review with 2,000 words about what happened to me in college.