How To Write An Indie Music Review

Remember the Review is about you, not the Music: I see music reviewers fall into this pitfall all the time. They begin by talking about the album and not the reviewer. You see, readers of your indie music blog don’t actually care what the new Ray-J album sounds like, they care about you. You’re a trendsetter and a tastemaker, and it’s far more important for people to hear about your day. People need to get a feel for you and what you’re about because, at the bottom of it all, this is about you.

Bad Opening: “Radiohead’s new album Kid A sounds not-like their last one and more like computers.”

Good Opening: “I had never even seen a shooting star before. 25 years of rotations, passes through comets’ paths, and travel, and to my memory I had never witnessed burning debris scratch across the night sky.” [Taken from here]

Build Your Personal Brand: Tied closely with talking about yourself. In a saturated landscape, it’s increasingly important to go viral. How do you do this? By building a persona, or a brand, that the internet deems meme-worthy. Have a catch phrase? Shove it in the review six or seven times. Hashtags are important, too.

Bad: “Radiohead’s new album Kid A sounds not-like their last one and more like computers.”

Good: “Radthony Radtano here, the music’s biggest music nerd, coming at you with a review of the new Radiohead.”

Talk about 9/11: People often treat music reviews lightly, forgetting that they are serious business. How do you remedy this? By reminding people about the unspeakable tragedy of September 11th, 2001. This refocuses people on the review, where you can then proceed to talk about yourself.

Bad: “Radiohead’s new album Kid A sounds not-like their last one and more like computers.”

Good: “9/11’s musical legacy is a still-unresolved mess of bewildered public discourse and private grief. With its aqueous chords . . . It’s also an epiphany a lot of New Yorkers reached post-attack: Civic disengagement’s no longer an option.” [Taken from Here]

Show Off What You Learned in Your BA Program: Again, people aren’t reading your review for a judgement call on whether an album sounds good, they’re reading to see your old, rejected creative writing ideas come to life on the page. So the new Radiohead album isn’t “good”, it is “like witnessing the stillborn birth of a child while simultaneously having the opportunity to see her play in the afterlife on Imax”. [Taken from Here]

Tell Readers How Cool You Are: This might be the most important thing yet. You see, hipsters have never cared whether the music they’re listening to is good or bad or trash or a fourth thing. For them, music is about feeling a part of a larger cultural oeuvre to compensate for how voraciously they were bullied in highschool. So your role, as writer, is to create the appearance of this larger cultural ‘cool’ and invite the reader to join. Saying essentially, “I’m cool, and if you do what I do you’ll be cool too, no matter what Chad from Science class says.”

Bad: “Radiohead’s new album Kid A sounds not-like their last one and more like computers.”

Good: “I, for example, remember being in the basement of a sushi restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, watching Feels before anyone knew it existed.” [Taken from Here]

Be Careful With The Rap Music: You see, there is exactly two acceptable types of Rap Music for the Indie Music Reviewer. Either really ignorant, melodic meme-rap (see: Young Thug, late-period Kanye West) or really conscious, melodic rap (see: Kendrick Lamar). Anything in between is too subversive for white people to listen to and reviewing it will challenge your readers, causing them to flock back to non-challenging sites.

Bad: “Rakim’s new album ‘The Seventh Seal’ is pretty good, I think.”

Good: “RTJ2 is just banger after banger!”

5 thoughts on “How To Write An Indie Music Review

  1. My problem is that I have brilliant and completely unique opinions but I don’t have the vocabulary or metaphorical skills to express them in some contrived, roundabout way. Advice?

    Also, I don’t know when 9/11 was. I guess I’ll never make it in this biz.


    • I’d suggest a couple things to fix your problem. One: draft a normal review and then use a thesaurus to swap out as many words as possible. The bigger the word, the better. Two: develop two or three stock similes (“….. like a baby lost in the snow”/”…. like a cat in yesterday’s pajamas”/”…. like a bee”) and then sprinkle them around the review for flavor. It doesn’t matter if they’re good and it definitely doesn’t matter if they make sense, it just needs to sound like you might be saying something intelligent.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll dieregard the 9/11 Troll. Otherwise very clever. Satire is for the most clever writers. And you are very clever indeed.


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