Categorized | Blog, Features

We gave an indie band a bad review…the response from one fan shocked us

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Joe

A strange thing happened last week following an album review we posted. For the first time in around six years of reviews and features we got our first piece of Twitter abuse.

We’ve had fans disagree with one of our views before. There have been people telling us our end of year best of lists are wrong to miss out a particular band or album. We’ve had bands respond sometimes with sadness about a review, but mostly with happiness for getting a mention. We’ve even been persuaded to change our minds about a review after strong lobbying from fans.

But we’ve never been sworn at and we’ve never been told to censor a review just because one of their fans disagrees with it

Here’s the particular Twitter response, from @coolguitarboy

swearyone

We were pretty surprised that our negative review for the debut album by London quintet The Leaf Library could garner such a response so we reTweeted it and copied @coolguitarboy in.

Then came something back from him  that was thankfully less sweary-pops, but nevertheless also worrying.

secondone

This response is something that we hear from time to time among indie music fans, in particular, that their beloved artists are somehow sacred because they don’t earn the mega bucks of their major label contemporaries. They believe that music reviewers and blogs should not print anything critical about them. But why not?

These bands and their labels are producing a product that they are asking consumers to buy. They then hire PR people to send them to people like us to review. If that product is not original, not interesting, perhaps just a bit bland surely it is right that reviewers give their honest opinion. Independent bands and labels are not charities. They are producing things to sell and if they sell a lot then perhaps they either run out or end up doing a deal with a major? Its business, but for the most part on a very small scale.

Of course subjectivity is also involved in a review, one fan’s “awesome must buy” is another reviewer’s “unimaginative mess”. But surely differing opinions on an album are allowed?

Surely it would be better for the likes of ‘coolguitarboy’ to tell us why an album that we have given a bad review of is so good.

Sufjan Stevens fans did this to us for our review of his Age of Adz album. They were so good at arguing their case that I went back and relistened and relistened and ended up agreeing with them. I was wrong on that one. Maybe I’m wrong about The Leaf Library.

I’ve yet to meet a label or a band that advocates such censorship and that they should be given protected status. Even Leaf Library shared our review, with a little joke too.

leaflibrary

They did this because a) they still recognise that someone has taken the time to listen to them rather than ignore them b) they are probably really nice people and c) they take reviews from small blogs like us with a pinch of salt.

The final point is the insinuation that blogs like ours are on the gravy train (admittedly a pretty rubbish one involving free CDs and gig tickets) and also don’t buy CDs or support independent music.

We spend vast sums each year on music both live and on disc. We also pay for the upkeep of this blog to promote those that do not often get reviewed. We get no money for it and give up our time to do that.

Just ask artists like John Howard, one of the most fiercely independent and talented artists around, or labels like Gare Du Nord records and their roster that includes the hugely talented Alex Highton, Rotifer, Picture Box, Ralegh Long and Papernut Cambridge. Or ask labels like Fika Recordings, Brighton’s Bleeding Hearts or Wiaiwya, who did release The Leaf Library’s album but have also attracted favourable reviews from us in the past. All will vouch for our credentials as a blog that is extremely keen to promote good music.

But if any of the above produce something that is poor we will also give our honest opinion. We  will not lie about a product that we believe is not up to scratch.

The bands themselves don’t want to be treated like a charity case. That demeans them more than a bad review by someone who has taken time to listen to their music and give an opinion on it.

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