The Disclaimer Music Review Archive FAQ
Q: What is this site?
A: It's a place for me to deposit reviews I've written of many of the albums I own or have access to. Mostly, it's a lot of indie rock and so-called "alternative" music, but there's some other stuff mixed in. I tend to focus on music that has been produced since the '80s, simply because that's the sort of stuff I'm interested in and I have neither the money nor the energy to become familiar with all the stuff that came before (see In the Court of the Crimson King for an explanation of why I tend to stick to the recent music that I'm intimately acquainted with).
Q: Who runs this site?
A: Chris Willie Williams, who is himself the member of the indie rock band Disclaimer. Jen Rydin also contributed scattered reviews before retiring from the music critic game in 2002, and she designed the cool graphics on our homepage.
Q: When did this site
A: February of 1999.
Q: What is the theory/musical
creed/value system at play behind your ratings and reviews?
A: I once had a film professor who said to me, "Chris, some people are going to always demand that you back up any sort of criticism or study you might write with some high-minded sociological, overintellectual theory, and my response to that has always been, 'What the fuck for?!'" If that counts as a creed, that's the one that governs the Disclaimer Music Review Archive. God bless George Starostin, who has developed a scientific method for record reviewing that's as methodical and complex as advanced trigonometry, but I've never really felt the need to take it that seriously. Basically, an A+ is as good as it gets and an F is as bad as it gets, and I give the albums whatever grade feels right. There's not much more to it than that.
Q: How often is this site
A: It varies. Sometimes I'll go a month or two without updating, but I've lately fallen into a groove of reviewing maybe ten albums a month, which is about the level I'd like to remain at. It all depends on mood, though. You can tell when the page was last updated and exactly what was added by looking at the home page or the "What's New" page. There's really no formula/logic/schedule regarding which albums are going to be reviewed when, either. Hopefully, that results in nice surprises for you, the loyal reader.
Q: How come your reviews differ so much
in length from album to album and artist to artist? Sometimes they're just
way too short to tell me anything useful at
A: Yeah, I know. The site's initial plan, devised by Jen, was just to amuse ourselves by coming up with tiny, Entertainment Weekly-esque reviews (i.e., two-to-four sentences) of all our albums. Since the thought of writing lengthy reviews for all of our hundreds of CDs seemed rather daunting, we erred on the side of brevity toward the beginning. Plus, there was the fact that we took turns at the computer writing our opinions on a lot of albums, so we had to make it quick because I was always breathing down her neck and vice-versa. Since then, the reviews have gotten a lot longer since I'm so damnably wordy. And some reviews naturally need to be a lot longer than others. Whereas one can basically summarize Spring Heel Jack's deadening Busy Curious Thirsty in two sentences because it's so repetitive, two or three paragraphs are needed to adequately describe the brilliance of OK Computer or the pretentiousness of Boys for Pele. I hope to go back and flesh out some of the more skeletal reviews at some point- probably when I gets a grant that allows him to work on this site full time.
Q: Can I write in comments about
your stupid reviews? Will you post my comments?
A: Yes and yes. If you read a review that particularly angers you (or if you just want to say, "Good job"), send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the band you want to discuss in the subject line. I've provided e-mail links for your convenience beneath each band we discuss. I'll post your comments at the end of the appropriate band's section. Also, if you choose not to sign your comments at the bottom of your letter (with your name or an alias- we won't know the difference), I'll just attribute your comments to your e-mail address, because I'm tired of attributing things to "An Anonymous Reader." And if you're not writing about any specific band, but just writing to say "You suck," those comments will go on the general comments page, which is linked from the homepage.
And just to cover my butt legally: By sending an e-mail to me regarding this site, any review/page/opinion contained therein, or any topic even tangentially related to the content of the Disclaimer Music Review Archive, you are signifying that you grant me permission to publicly post the content of your e-mail (in part, in whole, or edited in any way I see fit) on the appropriate page of this site. I don't really anticipate any legal threats, since most people send in their comments with the intention of having them posted, but I just want everyone to be clear on this. And don't worry- if you send in a comment and tell me, for whatever reason, that you would prefer that it not be posted or that your name be taken off of it, I'll most likely abide by your wishes. And by "edited in any way we see fit," I generally just mean fixing up grammatical errors and that sort of thing. (I've never had a case where I decided to maliciously edit someone's comments to make them more nonsensical or stupid. Yet.)
Q: How come you have reviews
of some bands' entire discographies, while for other bands, you have only
one or two reviews?
A: Because I can review only albums I own or have easy access to. Frank Zappa, for example, has released more than 70 albums, but for awhile, I owned only three, so those are the three that are reviewed. If there's an album that you really want me to review, send me a tape or CD-R of it and we'll see.
Q: Will you review my band's
A: Not at this time, sorry.
Q: I have never heard of 90% of the bands
you review. What, do you fancy yourself a pretender to
Pitchforkmedia's throne, reviewing
only obscure records because you think that makes you somehow hip? Screw
you, you pretentious sod!
A: I don't think most of the bands are really that obscure, are they? Apart from the records that were sent in by readers, you can surely find most of these albums at Media Play or particularly cool independent record stores. We've got a lot of popular or semi-popular bands in here, too, like R.E.M. and Bowie and Oasis. And if you haven't heard of bands like Dump, Plaid, or Andrea Maxand, check them out. That's why I'm here.
Q: What's the worst album you've
A: Ever Since I Was a Kid by Protein is so, so horrible words can't describe it. It's not reviewed because I couldn't bear to listen to it again. -Willie
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