Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Articles [NAJP]

Dead Trees Make Beautiful Music Together, and Not Just on the Violin

I've been putting off writing this post for at least a week. Must have something to do with not wanting to look square--or with my non-bloggerly impulse to be sure I do all my research first. But the hell with that. The simple fact that must be noted is that not one, not two, but three music magazines are rising in their respective ways from the dead. On paper.

The least moribund of these is Relix, initially a Deadhead magazine, then a jam-band magazine, and now clearly trying to define for itself a market share not altogether dissimilar from that of Mojo in the U.K. Purchased from Zenbu Media Group May 4 by the newly formed Relix Media Group, all of whose members are described as "veterans of the magazine," it's now put out three issues under new management. Among the cover topics: Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth, Wilco. Generationally, these choices are completely sane--Iggy is 62, and even Wilco is getting on. But the jam-band world is a tight little island, and to assume that people over 30 who are interested in attending live music share so much common ground is damn near visionary for the American music-mag business.

Then there's JazzTimes, listed among the new dead in more than one of the Vibe obits I came across. On July 14 comes the news that Boston-based "enthusiast publishing and trade-show group" Madavor Media has purchased JazzTimes, probably the most respected jazz magazine in the country, and will retain its current editor and managing editor. Often these purchases are not all one would hope, and I haven't asked around, but "will resume publishing the influential music magazine" sure beats the alternative. Till we know better.

Finally there's the rock magazine Paste, for which I will provide a link from USA Today, of all places. In a way, that's the coolest story of all.

My jazz-critic friends all complain about JazzTimes, but most of them also write there, which is what counts. Although I'm not a big fan of the writing in either Paste or Relix myself, that hardly means I never find anything stimulating there. Right, none of these mags target ye olde youth market. Nevertheless, the appetite for music journalism you can read without a Kindle isn't abating quite as fast as net prophets believe. So there.

Articles, July 26, 2009


Bad Vibrations Hoary Cliches and Cardinal Sins