There are many perks to writing music reviews... you can often schmooze free CDs that you would have paid for anyway (and get them before the release date), you get paid cash dollars that come in handy in exchange for goods and services in the United States and abroad (especially good for bribing Mexican officials to turn their heads while you escort a pack of llamas over the border in the dead of night), and sometimes you get music for bands that you didn't know existed but eventually come to overhaul your entire musical world.
But this here entry isn't about the positive. Nope. It's time to be NEGATIVE! Because sometimes your editor gives you local albums to review. And sometimes these are decent, good for a few listens. Of the hundreds of local albums I've reviewed less than ten could compete with a national release. Sometimes it's the production that holds it back. Often it's the lackluster songwriting skills. And almost always it sounds like two or twelve bands currently being played to death on the radio. Knowing that these local bands and their fans comprise a good part of the advertising dollar for my unnamed print publication I do my best to find the good and write what is in essence a glowing press release that will be read almost exclusively by the band's parents and girlfriends. Everyone is happy and I get to pocket my payment and my pride.
Only once did I give my true feelings about a band in undisguised verbage... really, they deserved it and I found the experience quite cathartic... and the editor politely asked me to be more polite.
But today I am faced with another difficult task that has reared its head a few times in the past: reviewing an album by an artist who is extremely well known and loved in the area but whose music I find bland and without any uniquely defining characteristic. Somehow I will pound out four-to-five hundred words of tripe using my boilerplate and everyone will be happy.