More Resident Advisor Reviews

Here are some more recent single reviews I’ve done for Resident Advisor. One of Crosstown Rebels latest release, another of Moon Harbour’s latest release, and finally a review of Ame’s “Balandine” in which my 5/5 score seems to have been a little too high for some.

In my defence I should say first of all that I think both sides of that Ame 12 are really brilliant, and distinct from each other. That in itself is rare and reason enough for me to give an equally rare 5/5.

But furthermore, as a writer, I really dislike giving arbitrary scores to records, or at least find having to logically discuss them a little weird. It’s like they’re a way for people to ignore everything you’ve said in the review in favour of a numerical value, a buyers guide. But I accept people like them so they are necessary.

My dislike also probably goes back to my first published reviews in an Irish music magazine called Hot Press 5 or 6 years ago. Back then I used to have to give a record a score that would pre-empt the editor (pushing 60 but wishes he was born in the Geldof generation, enough said) changing it to appease the numerous commercial interests that were keeping the bulletholed rag afloat.

So, for example if any of you remember that really underwhelming N*E*R*D “Fly or Die” record that sounded like Lenny Kravitz, I gave that a 1 out of 10 knowing if I gave it 4 or 5 it’d be changed to a respectable 6 or 7. Subsequently the 1 was changed to a 3, as far as I recall. Kind of ridiculous in a Spinal Tap style isn’t it? “It’s okay guys, we changed the score from 1 to 3! The record is TWO BETTER now!”

The same editor, who’s been all over the Irish news this week, holding forth about the mag’s 30th anniversary in a manner that fits the bloated pomposity of the phrase “holding forth” like a latex glove, then practically apologised for the review in his column in the magazine. He reassured the same unseen music industry forces who presumably have had him over a barrel for many years that “although the new NERD album recieved a critical roasting in this issue, we’re still sure it’ll be a big seller!”. There’s a silent “please forgive me music industry” in that sentence.

Another time, more recently, he changed the sentence “that’s a bold claim” to “them’s fightin words”. This was in the last review I ever wrote (and probably will ever write) for the same publication. It’s a change so idiotic, pointless, and inexplicable that some of my friends who read the review told me their first thought was “Ronan would never say that”. Thankfully.

After listening to this man self-eulogising about the good old days on Irish radio this week I thought: where’s good old Jim Carroll when you need someone to burst the bubble of a bloated Irish institution? That is, on the pages of a considerably less bloated one. (Them’s fightin words!)

PS: Non-Irish may have no idea what this post is about!

Comments 33

  1. UnaRocks wrote:

    Great post Ronan. Personally, I can never talk enough (or strongly enough) about what a ridiculous mag Hot Press is.

    The irony is that the mag would sell better if it were honest, but it’s so riddled with fear that it refuses to budge from its position of being nothing more than an advertising forum.

    I suppose it’s a bit like ‘Jamie’s Dinners’; in theory the good food is cheaper than the shit food but the shit food keeps getting served because, well, everyone actually has kind of forgotten why they started serving shit food in the first place. It’s ‘just because’ *shrug*

    Posted 22 Jun 2007 at 5:37 pm
  2. cabogue wrote:

    It might be a shite mag but in fairness to Hot Press, it has been running for 30 years on a shoestring budget. That in itself is an achievement, even if the reviews can’t be trusted (although I do enjoy the one-page techno digest). I can think of plenty of really good music magazines that went belly-up in a fraction of that time so they must be doing something right.

    With sales of less than 20,000 every two weeks, Hot Press is hardly a bloated institution. I’d say a fair portion of those are given away free anyway.

    As for re-writing your reviews, I think you’ll find there was a sub-editor behind that one. It happens everywhere.

    Posted 22 Jun 2007 at 6:17 pm
  3. Ronan wrote:

    I am a sub-editor and if I changed “that’s a bold claim” to “them’s fightin words” I reckon I’d get a swift and severe bollicking

    Also it’s not necessarily a sub-editor that does that in this case.

    Posted 22 Jun 2007 at 6:20 pm
  4. Ronan wrote:

    “I can think of plenty of really good music magazines that went belly-up in a fraction of that time so they must be doing something right.”

    does this really hold water logically?

    Posted 22 Jun 2007 at 6:23 pm
  5. Justin wrote:

    ‘in fairness to Hot Press, it has been running for 30 years on a shoestring budget. That in itself is an achievement’

    Wow. not in a good way, necessarily, at all.

    Posted 22 Jun 2007 at 11:56 pm
  6. Fergal wrote:

    God, I haaaate Hot Press. Six years ago, in a fit of HP exasperation, I wrote this:

    The mag has gotten even worse in the intervening years, something I naively hadn’t thought possible

    Posted 23 Jun 2007 at 9:00 pm
  7. Ronan wrote:

    I think I found that a year or two ago Fergal, very incisive and comprehensive gutting there.

    I could add so much more to the brief post above but I try and keep a lid on negative ranting at the weekend :)

    Posted 23 Jun 2007 at 9:05 pm
  8. Ben wrote:

    Is that the Jim Carroll from the ticket mag? if so, that’s a pile of bollocks too critically

    Posted 24 Jun 2007 at 5:44 am
  9. Ronan wrote:

    oh no you didn’t!

    Posted 24 Jun 2007 at 10:51 am
  10. Fergal wrote:

    I don’t mind the ticket myself, and particularly like Jim Carroll. I do make a special point of reading Kevin Courtney’s single reviews, if only to remind myself of just how idiotic music wrting can get

    Posted 24 Jun 2007 at 1:37 pm
  11. John Cav wrote:

    Huzzah sir! I could not agree more about the ridiculous facade that is Hot Press. Hackneyed shite that rips out another rib with every issue in order to properly fellate Damien Rice and Glen.

    Did you happen to see that programme on RTE recently about Graham Linehan and the success of Irish comedy in Britain? Listening to the talking head ramblings of Stokes one would assume that it was in fact Hot Press that made Father Ted and Black Books…

    Self-important tosh.

    Posted 24 Jun 2007 at 1:45 pm
  12. cabogue wrote:

    “I am a sub-editor” So am I, for my sins.
    I don’t want to defend Hot Press, just wanted to give the other side of the story.
    The way I see it, they’re a struggling business and, like any commercial magazine, that means throwing any crediblity out the window, jumping into bed with the advertising department and aiming for the lowest common denominator (Paddy Casey, You’re A Star and any other chart-friendly fodder for the masses).
    Hot Press is so dated and bland that I can’t really gather the strength to hate it… I save that for the Sunday Independent!

    Posted 24 Jun 2007 at 5:35 pm
  13. Jim Carroll wrote:

    This is all your fault

    (BTW the link in your main post ain’t working)

    Posted 25 Jun 2007 at 9:06 am
  14. Jim Carroll wrote:

    sorry ronan, that link is now working so you can ignore that bit!

    Posted 25 Jun 2007 at 9:07 am
  15. Ronan wrote:

    I fixed it up last night, we’ll need it, now more than ever! :)

    Posted 25 Jun 2007 at 9:39 am
  16. CW wrote:

    Hot Press is not a good magazine.

    Posted 25 Jun 2007 at 10:56 am
  17. Ronan wrote:

    now that’s minimalism.

    Posted 25 Jun 2007 at 10:58 am
  18. CW wrote:


    Posted 25 Jun 2007 at 11:37 am
  19. Stile Nokes wrote:

    So you don’t like the magazine because the first review you submitted as an 18 year old was changed by a man with a couple of decades more experience in journalism?

    The arrogance! And that you still see it as a reason for holding a grudge against the editor in question doesn’t bode well either.

    Get over yourself.

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 2:20 pm
  20. Ronan wrote:

    Sorry, I don’t see any reference to any “first review submitted as an 18 year old” in my post. Could you clarify?

    I think I explained clearly my problems with the mag, as a writer: strange subbing and inexplicable changes made to reviews like the example I cited.

    As for holding a grudge, yes I do hold a grudge to some extent, but only because as an adult I now realise what an exploitative place of employment and a negative environment for young writers Hot Press actually is, far from the institute of training it would like to be. And that’s evidenced by the total lack of young talent in the mag.

    What a shame all good writers are headstrong and arrogant, oh the impertinence of youth eh? If only there was someone in a magazine whose job it was to nurture these people!!!

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 2:31 pm
  21. Stile Nokes wrote:

    No problem, I will clarify. Prepare yourself for a “Holy ability to read and do mental arithmatic Batman” moment.

    Your MySpace page says you are 24 years old.

    Paragraph 4 of this blog states, “My dislike also probably goes back to my first published reviews in an Irish music magazine called Hot Press 5 or 6 years ago”.

    This would make you 18 or 19 at the time, assuming your age on MySpace is correct. In your very words you state these were your first reviews.

    It is not as if I’m misquoting or taking anything out of context here. I’ll leave that to the NUJ members.

    As for a healthy and nurturing environment for young writers, does such a shangri-la exist in Ireland?

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 2:47 pm
  22. Ronan wrote:

    you should spell arithmetic correctly when making a condescending comment on someone’s intelligence.

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 2:50 pm
  23. Stile Nokes wrote:

    Since we are being pedantic, you should use capital letters at the start of any sentence defending your intelligence from condescending commentators. 😉

    I’m leaving it at that.

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 3:31 pm
  24. Ronan wrote:

    Well now we’re friends, perhaps you could reveal your identity?

    Or at least which employee of ICAN, Malthouse North, Grand Canal Quay, County Dublin you are.

    And if Shenda Loughrane (+353 1 6461020) is your boss.

    Cheers for dropping by.

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 4:15 pm
  25. Jim Carroll wrote:

    This is BETTER than an episode of Law & Order!

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 4:31 pm
  26. Ronan wrote:

    so says the pioneer of the “ip lookup” response :)

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 4:40 pm
  27. Jim Carroll wrote:

    I learned everything about that trick from reading Damien Mulley!

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 4:54 pm
  28. Ronan wrote:

    It took me a considerable amount of “fucking around”.

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 4:55 pm
  29. cabogue wrote:

    jesus, I knew I shouldn’t have left a comment. Please delete and ignore everything I said. My boss will have my job if he finds out I’ve been reading Hot Press…

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 5:47 pm
  30. Ronan wrote:

    Well as a priest you should know better than to meddle in the affairs of the young with your parish hall IP address showing.

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 6:06 pm
  31. cabogue wrote:

    IP wha? My granny always told me computers were the devil’s work, I’ll have to burn this evil machine. Never again will I spend the collection money at Boomkat, it’s Ireland’s Own and Songs of Praise from here on in.

    Posted 26 Jun 2007 at 6:32 pm
  32. CW wrote:

    Shenda Loughrane sounds like she might be hot.

    Can we find out if this is true please?

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 8:39 am
  33. Ronan wrote:

    return to shenda

    Posted 27 Jun 2007 at 8:40 am

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