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within the NME, part 1

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It used to be a fabled place known for its renegade writers, who seemed to be turning music criticism into an art-form amid piles of booze, amphetamines and scabrous records. Today the NME office nestles in the home of magazine leviathan IPC Media, in the heart of corporate arseholedom on the south bank of the Thames, where all salads are pre-packed for scoffed lunches. Other avant-garde titles in the IPC family — and NME’s office-mates — include Country LifeWoman’s HomeBeautiful Kitchens and the trouble-makers at Practical Boat Owner. Walking through the two sets of security barriers, holding a cup of coffee you bought from the Starbucks downstairs, handily subsidized to iron out the ethical dilemmas, fills you with a tingly feeling in your loins that suggests: here be cultural pioneers.

The folks wired on slave-trade coffee in the NME office claim to have been pioneering new music for so long now that the definition of pioneer must have changed shape around them, so that it now means something else entirely. As readers of Rolling Stone magazine will tell you, what used to be at the vanguard in the 70s is now cemented firmly onto the middle of the cultural highway. Honest-to-god pioneers like Nick Kent and Collapse Board’s own Everett True have made way for corporate yes-men and brown-nosed former interns whose use of the words new and musical in their title smacks of dishonesty every time Liam Gallagher appears on the cover, as he does again this week.

With sales figures dropping faster than Shane Warne’s jock-strap, it can’t be long before the NME office becomes an annex of the Practical Boat Owner workspace. A merger no longer seems like such a stupid idea, given that their musical tastes are pretty similar nowadays. Take a look back at some of the exciting, experimental and controversial acts to have soiled the cover recently: Oasis, The Specials, Ian Curtis and Malcolm McLaren — all in 2010! If it carries on like this, the Practical New Music Owner will be grappling with the National Trust for its share of the heritage market. Its editor Krissi Murison should start pestering her husband for an A&R job at Columbia Records, or her predecessor Conor McNicholas for some shifts at the cutting-edge Top Gear magazine, which he now captains.

Besides the nostalgic pieces about The Stone Roses at Spike Island that seem to be recycled every fortnight, the magazine does still cover new music, albeit with as much grace as a gorilla tackling a Rubik’s cube. Previous tips have included the sublime (such as The White Stripes), the abysmal (such as The Killers), through to one of projectile vomit’s biggest influences, Kelly Osborne, in 2003. Kelly-fucking-Osborne, on the bloody cover! I look forward to hearing Conor McNicholas explaining that one at the Top Gear Christmas do.

So in case you wondered what that old tanker of new music is leaking into our sea of culture these days, I’ve had a look at some of their tips for 2011 and have decided to knock them down while NME is still building them up, just to save time. And it’s all in NME house style. Here goes. -> -> ->

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10 Responses to within the NME, part 1

  1. Everett True March 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    [The link to the original article has stopped working, so I’m posting this up. Apologies for the messiness of the imported comments – Ed]

    Lewis Parker
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 9:37 pm

    Wallace, that’s what I don’t quite understand either. Funnily enough, a guy who wrote a critical article about the music press on Platform at the same time as this one had it taken down — I can only assume after the people being criticised complained. Who’d have thought it? Critics who don’t like being criticised!

    I like Pitchfork, by the way. Sure, they promote some crappy music too (and equally some really good music), but I think they have better intentions and I do think that mostly they write about it well. And what does it say about the dignity of a publication when it doesn’t try to suppress or undermine its critics Machiavelli style? I think it says a lot. For that reason, Pitchfork comes out of this week smelling of roses, while NME affiliates and whoever was involved in the Platform hatchet job come out smelling of something else.

    Everett True
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 11:09 am

    Once again, I find myself in complete agreement with Matt’s comments. (It’s getting quite embarrassing.)

    I am genuinely perplexed as to why people are taking this so seriously. Seems to me like it was meant as a comedy piece, first and foremost.
    I’m also genuinely confused as to Jake’s use of the word misogyny.

    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 10:21 am

    I am genuinely perplexed as to why people are taking this so seriously. Seems to me like it was meant as a comedy piece, first and foremost.

    I’m also genuinely confused as to Jake’s use of the word misogyny.

    Wallace Wylie
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 9:38 am

    Stay strong Lewis. This reminds me of the fallout from my own article about Pitchfork and their part in destroying the last remnants of indie culture. Angry tweets, threats, smears, Everett trying to clarify things from behind the scenes and…..oh wait, none of that happened because PITCHFORK DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WHAT I SAY. Jesus Christ the NME are pathetic.

    Everett True
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 7:12 am

    Messy messy messy. One faceless Internet commentator writes in to complain that he/she/it is being mistaken for another faceless Internet commentator. Other folk claim that I personally hate the NME… ah look, I’ll print you all an excerpt from an email I wrote around this to try and clarify a couple of points.

    I most assuredly don’t hate the NME. Their paymasters maybe, but I suspect that holds true for many magazines. Indeed, I’ve contributed articles in recent years. I’ve heard some very good reports about the current team. Lewis sent me in that article apropos of nothing. I ran it because I thought it was hilarious – an old-fashioned roasting of the sort the music press has always been subject to, every few years. I know that if it had been written about me I’d have laughed my ass off, argued vociferously back, and told him to carry on reading my words.

    OK? Lewis gave the NME an old-fashioned roasting. Be happy that someone’s still reading your words and finding something within them worth pillorying, and move along. Plenty of people enjoyed Lewis’ article. Plenty of people didn’t.

    I’d suggest getting your asses over to the A Dialogue With Cunts thread next. Finally, something we can all agree on… uh, can’t we?

    Lewis Parker
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 5:40 am

    From NME reviews editor on Twitter:

    Emily Mackay
    mackstress Emily Mackay
    NEWSFLASH FOR ‘MUSIC JOURNALISTS’: no one wants to read what the fuck we think of each other’s work. Go and do something useful.

    Yes, they do.

    Lewis Parker
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 5:13 am

    Jonathan, I think sharing an office with mainstream magazines does not necessarily mean that you will churn out rubbish week after week. In NME’s case, I believe the corporate environment they work in is a good indicator as to some of the reasons the magazine is failing: it’s out of touch with a lot of the best new music being made, and it has too many strings being pulled from up on high — from people with no interest in music — in order to appeal to advertisers and all that yarbles.

    Another crippling symptom of the corporate environment is that they take advantage of unpaid interns and have a hierachy that relies — even more than most media offices — on brown-nosing the right people and fitting in socially. They are never going to attract the best writers if that’s the environment they have to work in.

    I apologise for accusing you of astroturfing, and if you think my argument felt like a personal attack, then I apologise for that, too. Sometimes we get a little pumped up when discussing this stuff, but it’s only because we’re passionate about what we’re writing and the debate it provokes. Please continue to come back and enliven the conversation with your comments.

    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 3:31 am

    Unfortunately for Lewis and Everett’s shared fantasy, this is only my second comment on this blog under any name. Check IP addresses if you want, whatever.

    Re: Lewis’s comment – you have done nothing here to prove that you are interested in anything other than personal attacks, diversion tactics and basing your intended key arguments on entirely irrelevant points. Abusers/users – who cares? You know what I meant and you had no response for it. Please reply to my initial post if you reply at all.

    Re: Everett – I did see the second page. Sadly this is bound to be biased to prove a point, and thus not really worthy of analysis further than: I’m a little shocked you allow this writer to represent your new venture.

    Wallace Wylie
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 3:20 am

    NME has been dead in the water for years, but I’m sure it imagines itself still relevant. It needs to be put out of its misery. I bought the NME and Melody Maker religiously, and right now I can think of several Melody Maker writers who I would scan the pages for first. Obviously Collapse Board’s very own Everett True, but also Taylor Parkes, Simon Price, Neil Kulkarni, Caitlin Moran. God, the Melody Maker meant so much to me and the NME was just something I bought because I liked reading about music. I can’t think of a single NME writer from that time. It’s perhaps unfair and if my mind were jolted I would remember something but right now I’m drawing a blank. Even the writers I mentioned above….I didn’t even agree with what they had to say a lot of the time but they could write. That’s the problem with NME, Pitchfork and so much else. The writing is insipid and lifeless. Just the other day following a Collapse Board link I read a Neil Kulkarni article and it was fantastic. I found myself arguing with it, reading up on his recommendations, all the things you’re supposed to do with a passionate piece of writing. NME is simply an extension of various record company’s PR wing. Nobody can write. It deserves a good kicking.

    Anders Limp Art
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 2:13 am

    Back in the day, the NME had a captive audience who bought it every week to find out anything and everything they could about the bands they liked. Nowawdays there is no mystery around bands; if you want to know about the Vaccines, you can Google them, visit their website, watch them on Youtube, follow them on Twitter. You certainly don’t have to wait until the NME decides to write about them to get an insight into their world. I don’t think it’s possible anymore to create the mystery and intrigue bands like the Smiths and the Clash had and which the NME thrived on.

    Lewis Parker
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 1:39 am

    p.s. I’ve just seen that Jonathan is denying being “Agnes,” but since I don’t have access to IP addresses and that sort of thing, I can only take Everett and your words for it.

    Lewis Parker
    Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 12:12 am

    This applies to everybody commenting on my article, but it is a response to Jonathan’s point: Since you regard my article as inconsequential, (under a different name) remark that I “really, really cannot write,” and seem to have gone out of your way to astroturf my article using two different personae, I’d like to pick you up on your use of language. If you’re going to criticise someone, at least do it in a way that doesn’t make you look even more stupid than the person you are criticising. And do it under your own name if you think your point is valid.

    In terms of semantic foolishness, there are many things I’d like to see eradicated from people’s use of language. But probably my biggest gripe is when people who take drugs recreationally are referred to as drug “abusers,” as Jonathan did.

    How is it possible to “abuse” or misuse a chemical if it has no inherent purpose, other than what some people think it should be used for? It should be referred to as drug use, drug consumption, drug taking, drug inhallation (if it’s being inhaled), or drug eating (if it’s being chowed). Hell, some people even shove drugs up their arse, and this should be called drug shelving. That’s right, “shelving.”

    But none of these is abuse, since it isn’t misusing a drug such as cocaine or amphetamines to take them recreationally, since that is what they are made for.

    Please continue to post comments, everybody. I do value them, even if I disagree with them.

    Submitted on 2011/03/02 at 11:57 pm

    I don’t ever go by the name of Jonathan, sorry to disappoint.

    Jake Major
    Submitted on 2011/03/02 at 10:20 pm

    Is Lewis Parker one step away from foaming at the mouth, wearing a raincoat and spouting forth manic bon-mots about socialism on a milkcrate in hyde park?

    Thank God that Collapse Board has given him a role in life – however small and insignificant.

    Seriously though: there’s a nasty, veiled undercurrent of misogyny that underlines some of this article. Any attempt made at trying to make a serious point is undercut by the random idiocy and utter naivety of some of your comments.

    You attack the NME for their fucking BUILDING and OFFICE? Get a grip son. Go out into the world and open your eyes. Quit your job selling Socialist Worker and come up with a proper critique of what’s wrong/right with the NME. You haven’t nailed it so far.

    The only comment you make of ANY interest – “Please explain the relationship between Geffen Records and this publication to me please” – is soon swept away when you start harping on about the way bands are named right now, as if the protocol for band names hasn’t been a recurrent thing since the late fifties.

    And, you have the BALLS to cite writers who have more talent that the tip of your (presumably) tiny cock?


    My question for you and everyone reading this: Just WHAT is it you think NME are proclaiming to be? Forget the individual writer’s egos etc, forget the words NEW MUSICAL (it’s just a name) and forget what it was.

    It’s not sustainable to keep a weekly music magazine going with left-field rants about ATP bands. Just not possible. There are websites and magazines for you, Lewis. What you’re doing here is the equivalent of attacking ITV for being a commercial station.

    NME as a singular entity are not early adapters. They haven’t been for a long time. They’re simply a weekly music magazine for a certain demographic, mainly mid-teens who live outside London. They still carry a certain influence because of their history. Their brand is arguably more powerful than their content. This doesn’t mean they don’t have some good articles from time to time and some talented writers.

    Get over it. Go back and write a proper critique. Tell us how the playing field has changed. Tell us about the relationship between PRs and bands and writers and tell us about the politics. Tell us how difficult it is for writers to make money these days. Talk to us about how shareholders have influence. Explain how Britpop changed what NME was forever by capturing a demographic it hadn’t had before 1995/6.

    There’s a story there Lewis. You haven’t written it.

    Everett True
    Submitted on 2011/03/02 at 6:40 pm

    Oh, and Shaun…

    I’m gonna come right out and say that, along with the Strokes, The White Stripes set a very, very low standard for rock music throughout the 00s.

    Bangs alive! The two bands Most Responsible nailed in one swift sentence. Still doesn’t mean that The White Stripes didn’t realise some corking good albums, though.

    Everett True
    Submitted on 2011/03/02 at 6:30 pm

    I have a strong suspicion that ‘Agnes’ might not be this latest detractor’s real name. I wonder if she/he also goes by the name of ‘Jonathan’ as well? Damn Internet. You end up trusting no one, not even your kids.

    Also… wait a second.

    And “in NME house style”? Give me a break, that’s just a shabbily veiled allusion to cover up the fact that Parker really, really cannot write.

    Are you trying to tell us that the NME house style is fundamentally illiterate? I say, that’s a bit harsh!

    Submitted on 2011/03/02 at 5:59 pm

    “Ripping them a new asshole” – yep, I particularly liked the oh-so well thought-out comparison between CocoRosie and Oh Land (both women yeah?). And naturally, Niki & The Dove are going to sound exactly like Florence & The Machine seeing as Girls Name & The Object Band is a veritable genre of its own these days.

    And “in NME house style”? Give me a break, that’s just a shabbily veiled allusion to cover up the fact that Parker really, really cannot write.

    Submitted on 2011/03/02 at 2:32 pm

    I’m gonna come right out and say that, along with the Strokes, The White Stripes set a very, very low standard for rock music throughout the 00s.

    Everett True
    Submitted on 2011/03/02 at 2:01 pm

    (from Facebook)
    Sarah Datblygu, Paul ‘Nazz’ Nassari, Tim Hornsby and 7 others like this.

    Sarah Datblygu
    LOVE IT! I saw the Wave Pictures there and was thinking, eh? But they’re really good! Then I read on.

    Everett True
    Submitted on 2011/03/02 at 1:44 pm

    Jonathan, obviously you’re entitled to your opinion, but I am a little puzzled here. Did you only read the first part of this article? (It’s a genuine query: I’m concerned that some folk visiting Collapse Board are oblivious to the fact some of the articles run over two or more pages.)

    It’s a shame, if so. I’m sure that you would’ve enjoyed the second part, where Lewis gets down to the serious business of ripping six deserving bands new assholes, what with you being a connoisseur of feisty British music criticism and all.

    P.S. For all your boat maintenance advice, you could do far worse than go here.

    Sheddy Heyman
    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 9:14 pm

    Fucking Genius.

    It breaks my heart when I read my brother’s old copies of the NME; proper writing, in depth articles and informed opinion. Now it’s like a fucking gossip mag, riddled with pictures and the air of desperation that can only be attributed to the aforementioned brown nosing twats who are desperate to capture an ill informed Zeitgeist. What happened to the people who “lived” it. Give me real.

    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 8:55 pm

    retch, you obviously didn’t live in brisbane in the 70s. not sure where you did live but if you didn’t need the NME, Nick Kent, Julie Burchill, Charles Shaar Murray, Lester Bangs, and their ilk you were lucky or lying.

    If they were intelligible, I was even less intelligible and they had an impact.

    If they were writing about music that in retrospect was in general crap you need to think about the alternatives if you can remember them at all.

    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 8:12 pm

    Nick Kent was a shit writer. His whole legend is built on the time he carried a blue-faced Keith Richards around a dressing room for a bit. Seriously, try reading his 70s stuff now. It’s almost unintelligible. And the same goes for Charles Shaar Murray. And, while we’re at it, Lester Bangs for the most part. Great lifestyles, one and all, and certainly responsible for inspiring people to write but none of them got anywhere near the intelligence of 80s Paul Morley or the hilarious white-hot ranting style of Swells.

    Timothy Thomas
    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 6:17 pm

    Conor McNicholas left Top Gear magazine in June 2010. Just saying.

    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 5:57 pm

    Craugx, there’s a new fangled invention called the internet.

    According to the stats data, NME’s website gets something like 2.5M page hits a day and 300,000 to 600,000 unique visitors. By ranking, it’s in the top 5,000 sites worldwide, top 500 in the UK and it’s only been in the last few months that those ranking have slipped below Pitchfork’s. It still has massive influence, it’s still relevant.

    Tim Footman
    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 5:44 pm

    Or you could give a kicking to publications that actually are dead and gone, rather than those that should be. Fucking hell, have you seen MM/Sounds/Select/Vox/Raw lately, they haven’t got a clue, etc, etc.

    Everett True
    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 5:18 pm

    That’s Collapse Board for you, Craugx.

    Kicking the shit out of irrelevant targets since August 2010.

    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 5:17 pm

    People in Britain stopped reading the NME 10 years ago, it only sells 20k copies a week now….

    Sorry Everett, this article is ten years late, and totally irrelevant….

    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 2:47 pm

    Yeah this is great stuff.

    Wallace Wylie
    Submitted on 2011/03/01 at 2:35 pm

    My decision to live in America is vindicated.

  2. Everett True March 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    This last comment I can’t allow to go unchecked. (I strongly suspect Lewis hasn’t actually read the article in question, otherwise I’m sure he wouldn’t have made it.)

    Funnily enough, a guy who wrote a critical article about the music press on Platform at the same time as this one had it taken down — I can only assume after the people being criticised complained. Who’d have thought it? Critics who don’t like being criticised!

    Or perhaps it was just because the tone of the article was disgustingly misogynistic in places, and many women – and men – are not willing to put up with it.

  3. Jonathan March 5, 2011 at 12:48 am

    If Lewis would like to read it, it’s still hosted on REST OF COMMENT REMOVED

  4. Everett True March 5, 2011 at 4:13 am

    What the fuck? Why are you trying to give this piece of shit article free publicity, ‘Jonathan’? What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you secretly in agreement with it? The next time you try to publicise such obvious misogynistic crap you will be permanently barred from Collapse Board. This is your only warning.

    I’m disabling comments on this thread for the time being.

  5. Lewis Parker March 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    True, I haven’t read the Platform article because, like I say, it was taken down before I was told about it. I politely disagree with Everett here, what with being a free speech evangelist. Unless a statement is making factual statements which are knowingly and provably untrue, I stand by somebody’s right to make it. After all, human rights law isn’t really there to protect polite statements that nobody obects to; it’s there to protect the kind of speech that would otherwise be banned. Even the guys who protest at soldiers’ funerals and burn poppies; while their opinions are disgusting, they are legally and morally entitled to air them publicly without being censored.

    Since the article is described as being misogynistic, whilst this is distasteful, undesirable and offensive, I would assume it’s an opinion piece rather than a factual statement? If this is the case, no matter how repugnant the opinions were that Dom Passadino expressed, I stand by his right to make them publicly and to not have them removed by the magazine who agreed to publish it in the first place.

  6. Everett True March 9, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I don’t give a fuck if people want to write or think misogynistic shit. That’s their choice. Doesn’t mean I have to promote it here, though.

  7. Lucy March 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I read the article: it’s nasty rubbish. It should not have been published in the first place and they did right to take it down: I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a magazine that thought it was either OK or even, woo, EDGY to publish such an idiotically misogynist tirade. It’s not comparable to the withdrawal of a writer’s right to free speech by the state or someone not being permitted to voice radical (offensive/witless/mental/whatever) opinions on a personal blog.

    Incidentally, on the Platform Facebook group, some twat asks why they took it down and ‘Platform’ answers thus:
    “had to, the girl complained to Blaise. meh. it’s only pop music, lets try not to get so het up about it shall we?”

    Quite apart from the fact it’s pretty much always worth getting het up about pop music, it’s quite obviously not “only pop music”: it’s vile anti-women crap being published for the lols by supposedly hip young dudes, who couldn’t work out for themselves that it was an appalling piece of writing (“The girl complained”: urgh).

    ‘Platform’ also ‘likes’ the comment made in response to someone calling them out on publishing sexist nonsense: “You banged this Hermione broad then Wolfman?
    Props brah.”

    Nice. Worth getting het up about?

  8. Everett True March 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I agree with Lucy.

    1. It was a shit article.
    2. It shouldn’t have been published in a ‘magazine’ in the first place.
    3. The writer’s right to free speech has not been taken away. There are hundreds of thousands of other places where he can publish his opinion online, if he so desires.

    If anyone disagrees, they can fuck off right now.

  9. hannah March 22, 2011 at 7:15 am

    First of all I like your style. Second of all thanks for the introduction to The Wave Pictures, you’re right about them. Third of all you are wrong about the Naked and Famous. They are not the only band you could charge with sounding like MGMT. Remember Empire of the Sun? When I first heard them in a shop on the stereo system, I thought it was a new single by MGMT. I don’t think it’s a bad thing either, since I like that sort of sound, so the more the merrier… don’t have to rely on a single band to provide it either. That makes the listening experience more diverse. Could it not just be the birth of a new genre as opposed to plagiarism? I think so. As long as the bands in question are genuine, which I suspect these two are, why is it a problem? Sounds like prejudice. How can you listen to that Naked and Famous song and not enjoy it? More fool you, dude. Assuming you like MGMT etc of course. I would think the closer comparison lies with the XX. The Naked and Famous sound more like the XX to me, but despite this, they both have their individual route to and personality in the sound. The bands you wanna slag off are the boring ones who aren’t either a) doing anything new and exciting or b) doing anything well.

  10. Omnom March 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    this is a good article – pity that Wave Pictures are really bad, as bad as the other bands on the list 🙁

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