An article on The Guardian Media Site has turned into an interesting tangential discussion on exactly how The Guardian decides on what to and what not to review.
Film and Music editor Michael Hann came up with this gem:
Other albums that “have to be reviewed” are the ones that are achingly hip, or from artists one would expect to see reviewed in the Guardian – the likes of Bonnie “Prince” Billy, for example.
This drew a wonderful spleen-filled response one noted metal fan, to which Hann responded.
And features are actually a better way of contextualising minority interest musics than reviews are, especially when accompanied – as our features usually are – by a playlist.
Which ignores the fact that hipster-indie is as much a minority interest music as metal. Except that the groupthinking Guardian writers don’t seem to be able to realise this.
So far, I haven’t had a response to exactly why they “have to review” Bonnie “Prince” Billy, but did not have space to review Opeth’s “Watershed”. A cursory glance at the sorts of tour venues the two artists play suggests both are of similar standing in terms of audience style. While I know popularity isn’t everthing, I cannot see how the relative merits of progressive death metal vs.lo-fi indie folk are down to anything other than purely subjective taste.
Or is it simply Opeth are further from their comfort zone than hipster-indie?