Links to Other Sites in the Web Reviewing Community (WRC)
Most of you are already aware of all the other music review sites on the Internet- in fact, you probably discovered our site because it was linked from one of them. However, just in case you've been laboring under the delusion that the Disclaimer Music Review Archive is the only site out there where you can check out music reviews, here are some other sites you can investigate at your leisure. They're listed in no particular order. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a good start. Come back to this site when you're done, though. And I realize that this page is a lot to read, so if you're looking for a quick Cliff's Notes/USA Today summation of the WRC, this page will tell you everything you need to know.
Mark Prindle's Rock and Roll Record Review Site- The most notoriously stylized review site on the Net, and also the funniest. Prindle reviews lots of hardcore, punk, and classic rock with some other stuff thrown in, and his reviews are well-written and very informed... when he actually writes about the bands. Writing in a stream-of-consciousness style that does not preclude sharing lengthy personal anecdotes, unleashing torrential streams of profanity, or descending into several paragraphs' worth of self-referential gibberish, Prindle gets a lot of flak for being somehow "offensive" or "vulgar," but don't fall for it. Like Beavis and Butt-Head, Ween, or South Park, Prindle does set out to offend, but it's never just for the sake of offensiveness; there's often some really sharp social commentary buried within his hilariously inappropriate rants. He's actually a very nice guy who loves puppies. Check him out. (AMUSING NOTE: Prindle's site refers to the Disclaimer Music Review Archive as "randomly biased.")
CosmicBen's Record Reviews- Not as comprehensive as Prindle's site but every bit as enjoyable is the site by Ben Marlin. He focuses mainly on classic rock, and he doesn't have a whole lot of reviews posted- and his updating schedule is, shall we say, leisurely- but all his reviews are funny, oozing with personality, and insightful. I am forever in awe of his perfect summation of the Posies: "the Posies have a lot of interesting songs, and very few that make me give a crap." He's really a cool guy; very smart and very friendly. Plus, the site features Ben's online journal, which gives him a forum to post amateur sociological treatises, profess his love for his girlfriend, and keep us posted on every aspect of his life. Unlike some other online journals, Ben's is unflinchingly honest (he includes information in his online journal that I omit from my private journal) and thoroughly brilliant. (AMUSING NOTE: Ben describes the Disclaimer Music Review Archive by saying, "There's a bias towards new music, which sometimes strikes me as anti-hype [A's are given out pretty liberally, but a couple of classic rock usual suspects get blatantly low grades].")
Scott's Rock and Soul Album Reviews- Run by Scott Floman (critic for Goldmine and also an incredibly nice guy with whom we've traded albums on several occasions), this site only recently "went live," but it's been under construction for at least two years, which means that it was pretty comprehensive right out of the gate. Though the site isn't much to look at, aesthetically speaking, Scott's opinions are invariably well-thought-out and articulated on bands ranging from Godspeed You Black Emperor to Metallica to Hall & Oates. (Scott obviously has a soft spot in his heart for classic rock and hard rock, but he is remarkably open-minded about all genres and eras of rock history.) He's perhaps the most enthusiastic critic I've ever read, which sometimes results in things being overrated, but more often just allows you to share in the genuine joy he takes in rock 'n' roll. If you're looking for a little bile, however, check out his hilarious point-by-point responses to recent "definitive" lists published by the big-name rock rags (SPIN's "50 greatest bands of all time" and Rolling Stone's "50 coolest albums of all time"). (AMUSING NOTE: Scott says that the Disclaimer Music Review Archive "gives the Beatles surprisingly low grades.")
Music Junkies Anonymous- A collective of 21 amateur critics added reviews to this site, which is updated frequently and covers quite a lot of ground, from geek pop to death metal. Nick Karn runs the thing, and ubiquitous WRC fixture Rich Bunnell is one of the more prolific reviewers, but there are dissenting opinions galore. The fact that so many people work on the site has ensured that no one person's taste dictates the style of music that is reviewed, and that there is no overarching bias to the ratings. (In fact, MJA allows more than one person to review each album, which allows the reader to get different points of view- much like we do whenever Jen gets around to writing reviews.) I still find it kind of difficult to navigate, but that's a minor quibble. (AMUSING NOTE: Music Junkies Anonymous does not mention the Disclaimer Music Review Archive at all.)
Steve & Dennis & Abe's Record Reviews- A relatively small site, but nevertheless one of my favorites. To amuse himself while getting up in the middle of the night to feed his baby Abe, Steve Knowlton listens to albums from his collection and reviews them. (Dennis is Steve's new baby, and "contributes even less," according to Steve.) Most of the reviews are from the classic rock era, and the few reviews of bands from our modern times are often incomplete (as of this writing, R.E.M. and Radiohead's pages contained only one review each), but that's made up for by Steve's clever writing and some witty idiosyncrasies strewn about the site. Steve's list of music that irritates him is good for a laugh, and the fact that most reviews are accompanied by a meaningless rating of how much Abe squirmed while the album was on ("One is sucking calmly, five is spitting up") is reason enough to check the site out. Though Steve's knowledge of music theory is obviously among the most thorough of any WRC reviewer, he unfailingly finds unique focal points for his reviews and writes the most hilarious slams of bad albums I've ever read. (AMUSING NOTE: Steve's site does have a link to the Disclaimer Music Review Archive, but he says only positive things about it, so there's no point in quoting from it here.)
Guy's Music Review Site- This is a brand-new site (which means that this little blurb I'm writing will be dated and useless in a matter of weeks), but I've been friends with Guy Peters for long enough to know that it's going to be incredibly cool very soon. Based in Belgium, and designed by his girlfriend Els (who drops in her entertaining two cents here and there), Guy's site is intended to highlight a bunch of his favorite bands that he feels have been given short shrift by the rest of the WRC. Thus far, that list has included Cracker, Yo La Tengo, Slayer, and Morphine, but he's been reviewing at a good clip, and I know his tastes to be mind-bogglingly eclectic, so that list is gonna get a whole lot longer- and freakier!- soon. The reviews themselves are thorough and detailed, usually touching on nearly every song on the records in question, but in an informed, playful way that holds your attention. Plus, he's sprinkled some amusing lists and other features around the site, making for a cozy little reviewers' nook. (AMUSING NOTE: Like Steve, Guy doesn't say anything negative about the Disclaimer Music Review Archive, so this note isn't really all that amusing after all.)
Jack Feeny's CD Archive- No, this isn't some naff joke page about the musical tastes of the teacher from Boy Meets World! It's a compulsively readable collection of music reviews by a cheeky, verbose bloke from England! And I, for one, love British humour more than any other type except Jenny's self-referential goofiness. Frankly, I just love the way Brits phrase things so perfectly, and Feeny is a master of the acerbic throwaway line. For example: "And best British band of the nineties? Let's say...Oasis, or maybe the Manic Street Preachers. Given that both went shite after 96 or so says a lot about the nineties really." Right, even if that sort of dry humour doesn't do it for you tossers, Feeny's reviews are some of the most informative to be found on the Internet. Generally, he describes virtually every song on the album he's reviewing, so you have a corking good idea of what you'll be getting if you were to nick down to the store and buy the record. And it's always nice to see someone take the piss out of John Peel, innit? (JACK FEENY HIMSELF PROVIDES HIS OWN AMUSING NOTE: Jack Feeny now has a link to the Disclaimer Music Archive, so you better come up with another one. By the way, my brother is actually called George Feeny. Unfortunately, due to the fact Boy Meets World is shit and no-one watches it he never got the stick he deserved. Maybe that's an amusing note.)
Sam Ulward's Album Reviews- Like Music Junkies Anonymous- and contrary to what the site's name might imply- this is a collective of a bunch of different reviewers, with the added twist that it's a truly global community. You've got your Canadians, your Scotsmen, your Croatians, your Russians, your Spaniards, your Swedes, your Italians- it's as charmingly multicultural as the women's baseball team in A League of Their Own. Even moreso than MJA, you get a really diverse selection of artists reviewed here, from Pink Floyd to Aimee Mann to Mouse on Mars to Urban Turban to ELP. A slight downside is that with so many multinational reviewers, not all of them have a perfect command of the English language, and that can get confusing at times. However, there's no questioning anyone's enthusiasm for the project, and the joy they feel at sharing their favorite bands with you always comes through. (AMUSING NOTE: The Ulward boys describe the Disclaimer Music Review Archive as "A great place to hang around for some while," which I thought was pretty cool.)
Cole Reviews- Cole Bozman has a charmingly straightforward writing style and appealingly diverse tastes (running the gamut from Rush to Neutral Milk Hotel to the Gin Blossoms). I do like the way he comments on albums he does not yet have (his OK Computer review on the Radiohead page: "The supposed magnum opus, it's the only one I haven't heard. Pity. Anyone got a spare copy I could have?"), and although the reviews sometimes don't run more than one or two sentences, it's updated very frequently, and he's made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. (AMUSING NOTE: Cole describes the Disclaimer Music Review Archive as "too negative.")
Rock is Dead- Long Live Rock- Until now, I felt somewhat guilty about not having a proper write-up for this site. Then Marco went and created "THE ULTIMATE LINKS PAGE," which utterly dwarfs this one in terms of comprehensiveness and informativeness, and he referred to the Disclaimer Music Review Archive as "refreshing," making me feel guiltier still. Then I re-read a lot of the site without the sandbag of sleep hanging 'round my neck and felt even guiltier for not having elaborated on it before, because he seems like a really nice guy whose unpretentious-yet-informed style goes down as smooth as a melted Popsicle. He basically covers a grab-bag of bands from the Allman Brothers to Zero 7, and although the site is still in its formative stages, Marco includes a lot of extraneous features like short stories he's written and funny reviews of fast-food joints. (I love the way he puts the word vegetables in quotation marks when describing the Whopper. Punctuation jokes always make me laugh. Because I'm a dork.) Like CosmicBen, this site can sometimes sit idle for months at a time, but it's worth a bookmark anyway, because Marco rules. (AMUSING NOTE: Marco does not refer to the Disclaimer Music Review Archive at all.)
John McFerrin's Rock and Prog Reviews- You know what I don't like? Prog. I hate the belchy way the word itself sounds nearly as much as I do the belchy way the music sounds. Robyn Hitchcock once said, "If there are two things worse than country, one of them is punk." Well, you know what the other one is? It's prog! Or genocide, I forget- anyway, the point is, I'm not what you would call a big prog fan. And most classic rock really doesn't do it for me either. Thus, I haven't spent oodles of time at John McFerrin's site because of that simple fact. 'Twas my loss. His reviews are really cool, enthusiastic, and, judging from the reviews of the three bands I was familiar with, pretty much on-the-money. If you're one of the legions who got miffed at me because I think In the Court of the Crimson King is a bunch of boring noise or because I said Fragile was, uh, pretty good, you'll love this guy. (AMUSING NOTE: John doesn't mention the Disclaimer Music Review Archive at all.)
The Fyfeopedia- A relatively small site run by a very nice guy named Graham, who gets a lot of crap because of one particular aspect of his site: the moral review. Originally, this notion consisted of a separate review for albums with potentially offensive content, in which Graham attempted to respond to artistically ignorant, self-righteous fundamentalist "review" sites like the Childcare Action Project or Plugged In by attempting to reconcile his Christian beliefs with an appreciation for the artistry of any particular album. Interesting idea, but by Graham's admission, it didn't really work, and it seemed to overshadow the actual reviews on the site, so the moral commentaries have been pared down to a one-page set of brief summaries for now, along with a few essays. The reviews themselves are clear, well-written, and enthusiastic, with occasional tips of the hat to Steve Knowlton's subtly opinionated tangents. The artists Graham has reviewed are something of a mishmash (Mercury Rev, Glenn Frey, Jewel, Neil Young, and Electronic are all covered), but that only ensures that you'll be able to find something you're interested in, right? (AMUSING NOTE: Graham says that the Disclaimer Music Review Archive "takes an overly whiggist perspective.")
CapnMarvel's Rock Record Review Bonanza- CapnMarvel (ne Ryan Atkinson) is refreshingly down-to-earth about his site: "I'm really just another guy who wants to write a review of every album I've ever listened to, simply to try to impress you and get you to like the same groups and albums I do." That easygoing honesty permeates his entire site, which doesn't contain a huge number of bands reviewed, but does stick to a fairly strict policy of reviewing the full discography for every artist. Although Prindle's influence is a little too overbearing in some spots, Ryan evinces an infectious excitement for talking about music, that keeps his reviews consistently readable and often funny. (AMUSING NOTE: The good cap'n says that the Disclaimer Music Review Archive "need[s] more reviews, and DEFINITELY more complete artist reviews. It seems lotsa folks go for the 'single album review' thing, and review like 100 artists, which is damned near useless for my tastes.")
Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews- Thorough? Oh, you betcha. Wilson & Alroy have millions and millions of albums reviewed on their site- including a number of R&B and rap albums, which is somewhat rare in the web reviewing community. However, this site just bugs me. Knowledgeable though Wilson and Alroy are, they strike me as being simultaneously smug and clinical, which is not a style I have much patience for. Granted, this is entirely a matter of personal opinion (I know CosmicBen loves this site), but I'd rather sit down and read The Trouser Press Record Guide than ever visit this site again. (AMUSING NOTE: Neither Wilson nor Alroy mentions the Disclaimer Music Review Archive on their site.)
And then there are a bunch more sites that I'll get around to listing whenever.
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