I really do want to review your band.
But hear me out. I want to review thousands of bands. And even my close friends comprise up to maybe 40 bands. And at least a few friends became friends with me only with the goal of having me review their band.
I have a lot of music to listen to! And I have a 40 hour per week engineering job, a new warehouse that needs a lot of construction right now, a book that is still unwritten, a monthly lit event that I host, a family that misses me, lovers who need lovin’, and a dog that needs walkin’.
Something’s got to give. And this month, it’s the review I’m not going to write of your album.
And I get it. On your end, you’ve made this gorgeous album, something that you’ve obsessed over for months and have put all your thought and love into. And on my end, I want to give that love back! That doesn’t sound so hard, does it, to return a little love to you when you’ve worked so hard?
But I will inevitably have to skip some albums, skimp on some words, and even abandon some of my obligations. As a lover of music and a rampant optimist, I’m trying to tackle more than is humanly possible, in the dead of night, in the spare margins and cut-out spaces of life when a normal person would probably be watching South Park, or sleeping.
So, yeah, sometimes I fall short.
Sometimes I fall asleep in mid-sentence.
Somehow I’ve wound up being a person who stays up until 5 a.m. playing cassettes in a little boombox, worrying about whether I know enough about grindcore or 90s hip-hop or early R.E.M. to review the music I’ve been given. I feel blessed to have such a gaggle of talented people all around me, but sometimes I have to find words to describe with candor the mistakes I find with their work, which often outnumber the good things (and often at an inverse ratio to how much I like the person personally; a lot of assholes have made great music, and vice versa, and though it’s not true, sometimes it seems that really sweet people cannot make strong work, and how do you tell a wonderful person that their work is weak?). I do this far more nights a month than I’d like to admit, often at the expense of seeing actual live music, the thing I love more than almost anything. Sleep in any form longer than five hours is a blessing. Relationships are strained. And I haven’t cooked a lengthy, delicious, stress-reducing stew or roasted vegetable medley in what feels like a decade.
And yet the albums keep coming, so many that even the good ones become forgettable when the next batch comes in. It’s gotten to the point where I often don’t remember whether I reviewed something or merely listened to it. Once, last year, I even reviewed the same album twice in subsequent issues of L.A. RECORD. And it was a good friend’s album. And one of the two reviews had actually been a full-length essay.
So I promise, if I don’t give your album the love you think it deserves, it’s not because I’m being flippant or callous or thoughtless or a promise-breaker. It’s because I just can’t. I’m full! I’m over-saturated! I’m confused, I’m in love, I’m manic, I’m scribbling endlessly like a rat trying to coax more cheese out of the world with his wits. And even just clicking on another link and downloading another track is beyond my capabilities at this moment.
Have some courtesy.
Have some sympathy.
Maybe next time, you’ll catch me at a good moment when I have a breather and am free to talk and laugh and listen. So keep sending stuff to me, and feel free to remind me once in a while what’s up.
And, hey, maybe smile at me!
But not too sweetly.