Blog on the Tracks

Writer/reviewer Simon Sweetman covers music for The Dominion Post and North And South. He cares far too much about music, and the list of bands he loves is far longer than the list of groups he has shown no love.

A Blog Says Goodbye But You Actually Probably Will Believe Exactly What Happens Next

02:08am 19 Feb 2016


And now, the end is near, this blog faces its final's lived a life that's full (of rage, bile, anger and negativity). My friends, I tried to say it clear, to state my case, of that I'm certain.

Yesterday's news that Blog On The Tracks is signing off/being signed off gives me - in some sense - the exit strategy that (I told you recently) I didn't have. Having the rug twisted, if not pulled, isn't always a bad thing.Final Post?

As I said yesterday I've never understood the petty putdowns aimed at 'blogging', and 'bloggers'. To me it was just another way to write, another reason, another platform. I started thinking of all the milestones and madness across eight years. I should have kept a list of the best - angriest, rudest, oddest - comments. But I didn't. Probably that's for the best, actually.

Once a year, or so, someone worked their way up to being head troll. They picked away - and it was usually desperate and wrong and stupid. I outlasted all of them. Some bonehead now will probably think they've won. I don't mind...

Rather than think about the times I shared frustrating interview experiences or reviewed bands - and maybe slammed them down a bit, or any of the perceived nastiness and negativity I think of the things having a blog on this site enabled...and the stories I was able to share...indulgences, obviously.

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There'll Be Some Changes Made

10:10am 18 Feb 2016


This is - in a sense - the penultimate post for Blog On The Tracks. You Spinal Tap fans know the deal: It's not that the popularity of the blog is waning, just that the appeal is becoming more selective.

Blogs are going the way of the pony express - the new deal is an Online Music Column, which is arguably all this has ever tried to be.

Tomorrow will be the last official Blog On The Tracks post here and then next week I'll be back in the capacity of online music columnist, rather than blogger. I'll be publishing three times a week - not five. Apart from that I don't think it'll be all that different.There'll Be Some Changes Made

I found this news out only just before you did. I'm just going with that's what you have to do.

I never wanted to be "a blogger" - but at the same time I never had any real issue with it. It's funny that blogging has been deemed lower than journalism, not really writing; an easy way to take a pot-shot at someone is to call them "a blogger" as if it devalues what they're doing. I talked about this with "Mummy Blogger" Emily Writes on a recent episode of the Sweetman Podcast. Emily's reclaiming the title "Mummy Blogger" because that's been aimed at her as some sort of cheap-shot, as if adding 'mummy' to the title further cheapens it, suggests that the only qualification she has in blogging on the subject of parenting is that she's a mother...I'd argue it shows she's capable of doing two jobs at once.

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A reunion I’m crossing my fingers for

11:20am 17 Feb 2016


It's a nice surprise when an artist returns - time off, you weren't sure you'd ever hear from them again...recently Massive Attack released an EP, the first of a handful of planned new releases. Okay, it's just four tracks - but it's a nice reminder of the vestiges of the Massive Attack sound; a teaser, hinting at more. There will be more. Another EP, a full-length album too...

Fingers crossed.

Some bands don't get it right - they return and it's not right. The Pixies album (based around earlier test-the-waters EPs) was a disaster as far as I'm concerned. Just awful. But the music that band made belongs to a time and place. Their reunion, trading on "the hits" for longer than they were ever a band in the first place seemed to prove that.

Some bands will never reform. And then others - the ones we think will never reform - do. It's usually underwhelming. It's usually not the right move. But sometimes a band gets it right.

I've been thinking a lot, lately, about how I'd like Midnight Oil to come back. To play again - and record again.

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The Three Lingering Duds of the Year (So Far)

10:19am 16 Feb 2016


It's been a good start to the year really - not too many shows, but a few good ones already - Kate Tempest was amazing, and there's more to come - slight let-downs from both Kurt Vile and Thundercat (in that I was expecting those shows to be great, but felt - well - nothing really...) but there's plenty of good shows to come including, if it pans out as planned for now, three away shows for me next week, all of which should be terrific.

I'm also playing some records up in Auckland next Friday at the Golden Dawn, a great place to play records, it was one of my highlights of last year. So fingers crossed for another good run there...

In January I got through a few albums, as well as reviewing a lot of books, movies, DVDs and continuing on with the podcast. Actually January's album reviews were very pleasing, a good range of things, some classical and jazz, some soundtracks, some really strong music.Charlie Puth

February has served up a few stinkers already though.

I'm not sure what it is about these stinkers - but they hang around, they stick with you even when you're trying to shake them.

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Shelf Life

10:18am 15 Feb 2016


A friend visited last week - in town for that Webstock caper. We only catch up once a year or so these days, but as with all of the people I've stayed in touch with since school, half our lives ago, we make up for lost time instantly. There's no awkwardness. We're mostly aware of what everyone has been up to and if not we have no trouble asking - we're very different people from who we were trying to be then. But at the same time, not all that different at all...

Anyway, this particular friend who I will refer to here as Ross - since that's his name - was horrified that my record collection was in no order at all. Records

I like that kind of chaos. I like not knowing exactly where my favourite albums are - I get to discover new favourites on the way to finding the old staples; if I had them all arranged I might only play the same old things. And a few brand new purchases. Everything else would be there to bolster numbers. That's the way I've figured it.

Once - when I had a huge CD collection - I had it alphabetised, I even had a list on the computer; that fell away pretty quickly, couldn't quite keep up with that list. When I started trading CDs (and losing them as the loans-system grew looser) it was too hard to keep the list up to date, so I abandoned it altogether.

And then iTunes became the new ordering system. When I bought my first iPod it was such an event - planned down to the day. It cost something close to $800 and I did a series of St. Patrick's Day shows with the Irish band to pay for it. After a long weekend away, slogging it hard to earn the cash I returned, like a tinny-house operator, hiffing down a wad of twenties in exchange for the portable music collection. In the months leading up to that purchase I was loading up nearly every album I owned - iTunes the new cataloguing system, I was forced to fit in with a new version of alphabetical order. Previously bands would go under the first name's first letter but solo artists, like authors, were found by surname.

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