Oh, wait -- that's the guy we didn't hire. Critically and physically, the new music editor, a bulky brute named Nathan Dinsdale, makes me look like a cheerleader. You'll probably love him, unless you book crappy concerts at your club, play uninspired music or endorse shitcan bands. Then, not so much.
Dinsdale hails from Portland, Oregon, thus proving that the pipeline that has sent so many Midwest hipsters to the Pacific Northwest actually runs both ways. He's new to the region, so please give him the sort of warm welcome and total attention that most weeknight-gigging touring groups never receive.
As my office-warming gesture, here's another round of frequently asked questions. Please refer to it instead of wasting his time with these inquiries; the man has Trail Blazers mug shots to hang on the wall, Get Up Kids to somehow alienate and Club Wars bylaws to memorize.
I'm a local artist; will you review my CD?
Maybe. If it's innovative and intelligent enough to rank with the best music in its genre, certainly. If it's so infuriatingly, offensively awful that the metro area must be warned to avoid your shows and urged to spit on your fliers, definitely. If it's so mundane that we forget it instantly, probably not, unless you've established a previous or subsequent standard of excellence that makes the disappointing disc worthy of comment.
We get about 35 discs a week, and, on average, we have five review spaces to fill. Backlog happens, and worthy releases occasionally slip through the cracks. So, if it has been a few months and you haven't seen anything about your album in print, it might be that it's moving up in our stacks and we could use a gentle reminder about upcoming gigs with which a writeup might coincide. Or, your band might suck.
I'm a local artist; could I have your address so I can send a CD?
Try the masthead, which is usually on page 5. Or flip through Feist. Or just drive around looking for the publication's name on the side of a building; there's a fifty-fifty chance of guessing right once you see it. But don't e-mail and ask this question unless you want the unflattering "moron who can't use a phone book" stigma hanging over your album when it arrives.
My band has a show tomorrow; can you write a preview about it?
Although Weekly is no longer part of the paper's official name, it remains an accurate description of our format. If you're not calling about a show that's at least ten days away, the issue in question is all but printed. Maybe the Star would like to show off its quick-drying action by turning around an insta-story about your gig, though. Why don't you give 'em a call?
What qualifies you to be a critic, anyway?
At the risk of blowing the secret society's cover, it's a divinely appointed position. The ceremonies are quite exquisite, with sword taps on the shoulder and regal robes. A bearded sage makes a proclamation about how we've been ordained to celebrate the righteous and punish the wicked. Trumpets blare.
However, only a small percentage of music critics enter the fold in this manner. For the rest, the most essential assets are a gift for descriptive language, which enables writers to communicate the essence of sounds through a silent medium, and an unforgiving ear, which finds flaws even in the most impressive output and discovers abomination where others perceive adequacy.
Oddly, it's once critics are in place that they compile their credentials: Seeing hundreds of shows and hearing thousands of albums on an annual basis create quite a stockpile of relevant knowledge. Now, it's time for someone else to learn how much the Kansas City/Lawrence music scene has to offer -- the thriving underground hip-hop crews, the tight-like-family metal movement, the ambitious overachievers -- and to report regularly on its triumphs and failings.
Any other questions? Try firstname.lastname@example.org, buddy. I'm outta here.