Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reviewing Reviewing

Critic Michaelangelo Matos recently wrote about the odd breakthrough he experienced when he purchased a few recent CDs. His discussion of promo CDs and reviewing addressed one of the ironies of reviewing - that reviewers listen to music in very different ways than their readers, largely because they don't buy their CDs.

For example, I'm a Beach Boys fan and bought the Beach Boys reissues in the 1990s. When Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue (which I reviewed here) arrived on my desk, I was excited, put it on for a few minutes to check it out, then put it aside for almost a week. Similarly, I was in no hurry to check out the Numero Group's recent entry in the Eccentric Soul series and Sloan's new album, even though I tend to like Sloan and the soul series. Had I bought any of the three, I'm fairly sure I'd have listened to them once I got home if not on the drive. And those who buy or download their music likely don't accumulate 20 to 30 albums at a time, which affects the time spent on an album and the timeliness of attention.

I wonder if the financial investment in a CD makes you inclined to listen to a CD more sympathetically. After all, buying a CD involves seeking it out and often making the effort to go somewhere to purchase it. That effort is motivated by some level of commitment or at least prior interest in the music, which you'd think would translate to the listening experience. We've all bought albums that sucked, but I wonder how many average albums we overrated at the time because we didn't want to admit we'd wasted our money.

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