Mix Tape

This fall, Canteen ran an essay of mine on music criticism, the glories of MP3 blogs, and my discovery of Zam-rock. It’s not online, but here’s a pdf.

cover-63I’ve always been obsessed with music. When I was a kid, I eagerly awaited each new Rolling Stone and Creem magazine, even though I didn’t necessarily understand the record-geek Aramaic in which they were written. (What’s an 11-year-old to make of a sentence that name-checks both Camus and Ozzy Osbourne?) It hardly mattered, though. It was a wide new world.
Later, I became a loyal reader of Maximumrocknroll, the Bay Area punk bible. A pulpy, grayscale rag that seemed to smudge your fingers if you even looked at it, MRR ran profiles of bands big and small; dispatches from scenes across the world, from Tacoma to Tokyo; and, this being the 1980s, screeds against Ronald Reagan. I always turned to the reviews first. There were pages upon pages of them, capsule reviews of roughly a million bands I’d never heard of. These listings filled me with awe: People had listened to all of this stuff–and they could place every release within the punk cosmology, each tape (they were mostly tapes) a speck of dust in an expanding universe of sound.