The Tourist’s Guide to 2014 Music Writing

There are, apparently, a handful of publishable writers who have strong opinions about current music criticism and reporting but don’t seem to have read much of it! Is that you? Here are some articles you may find worthwhile, fellas.

Cover Story: Mac DeMarco
Evan Minsker, Pitchfork

In person, he smiles and makes you feel like you’re in on his jokes, however bizarre or disgusting they may be. He’s the friend who actively looks for the party, drinks way too much when he gets there, and is eventually found passed out in the closet. He’s an auteur with a lampshade on his head. A punk kid with moon eyes. An unwashed chain-smoker from the Canadian flatlands who keeps coughing between sentences.

First Listen: Nickel Creek, A Dotted Line
Ann Powers, NPR

Moving between her brother’s earth and her compatriot’s air like the woman thrown aloft on the album’s cover, Watkins is the listener’s close companion. Her fiddle lines are warmly authoritative, her voice always certain of the direction it takes even at its most vulnerable, as in her pensive reading of the Sam Phillips song “Where Is Love Now?” — so distinct from Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s equally definitive version.

Frankie Knuckles, Godfather of House Music, Dead at 59
Michaelangelo Matos, Rolling Stone

In the summer of 1987, a group of English DJs—including Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling—traveled to the Mediterranean island of Ibiza and were turned on to both a more expansive playlist than usual, thanks to DJ Alfredo of the open-air club Amnesia, and a new drug: MDMA, or Ecstasy. Bringing that combo back to England, Rampling’s Shoom club, followed by Oakenfold’s Spectrum, birthed what the Brits called “raves”: enormous gatherings, usually in warehouses or open fields, of kids wearing smiley-face T-shirts while dancing all night, often on Ecstasy, to house and techno.

Knuckles wasn’t interested.

Pharrell Williams on Advanced Style Moves and That Oscar Snub: My Song Will “Be Here For 10 Years”
Zach Baron, GQ

In retrospect, were you unhappy back then?
Of course. Because I felt like I had amassed this big body of work, most—not all—but most of which was just about self-aggrandizement, and I wasn’t proud of it. So I couldn’t be proud of the money that I had; I couldn’t be proud of all the stuff that I had. I was thankful, but what did it mean? What did I do? And at this point, where I came from, I’m just throwing it in that kid’s face, instead of saying, “Look at all the fish I have, and look how much we’re going to eat.” It should’ve been—at least a part of it—teaching them how to fish.

Kanye West: A Roundtable

Given his experimental, high-aiming vision, to discount him as anything less than an artist is ill-informed and, yes, bigoted. When people say Kanye is “ranting,” they should consider that his words are a result of his having painstakingly created work that draws in all elements of his life experiences and artistic obsessions, offered it to an audience, and been told, “You’re a rapper—this is not what you’re supposed to be doing!” Kanye’s confidence is not cockiness for the sake of cockiness; it’s a coping mechanism to battle his insecurities and silence his critics. He needs to yell louder than the people who are telling him he’s doomed to fail, or their voices will drown out his own.

There are more. Find them!