Monday, July 19, 2010

Music Monday - Talks Spoon, The Gaslight Anthem, Arcade Fire and More

With the endless amount of music websites and blogs popping up, it’s hard to keep on top of them all. might not currently be on your radar, but we hope to change that. Chris M. Junior, founder and editor of Medleyville, is not just a blogger, critic and editor; he is a massive music fan. Yes, we all are, but after talking with Chris, it was nice to hear that while he’s up to date on indie and underground bands, he’s also got a firm familiarity in music from past eras. He can use those music roots to connect artists he loves like Tom Petty, Sam Cooke and Carole King to My Morning Jacket and Neko Case, etc. He gets extra points for pulling out Buck Owens and Sam Phillips. Chris not only has a lot to say about the state of music criticism, he has a lot to say in general. We dig that; we’re talkers.

Music Monday Q&A with Medleyville

1. How long has Medleyville been operating? was launched March 1, 2004. I came up with the idea for the site a few months prior and had a friend handle the technical side of things. I decided to launch my own site in order to keep myself busy between full-time journalism gigs. I also thought it would be a productive way to keep my name out there as I tried to hustle up some paying freelance writing opportunities.

From the start, I’ve had a handful of music-savvy friends with writing backgrounds contribute to the site as well. I never wanted Medleyville to be a one-man show, and it’s safe to say the site wouldn’t exist without their input.

2. What makes Medleyville different from other websites?
…It focuses on both emerging and established artists from various genres and eras. It’s more like an online version of a general-interest music magazine, hence the motto “music coverage for eclectic tastes.”

Another thing that’s a little different about my site is I prefer to run interviews and features. These days, anybody can write a CD review and post it online, but not everyone can conduct a good interview with an artist or write an interesting narrative feature.

Something else that’s a little unconventional about the site is the way we do CD reviews. There are three formats: a traditional review that’s a few hundred words, a collection of one-paragraph reviews known as Quick Spins and a multi-author, conversational-style review of a single release called Disc Discussion. No matter what, we try to be fair in our criticism and commentary and not resort to pontificating or taking cheap shots.

3. Do you think Medleyville has a specific musical niche?
Not really, and I think that’s what makes the site different from most others. Rock tends to dominate Medleyville, but I don’t discriminate against any style. My personal musical collection runs the gamut, and I see nothing wrong with a website covering a wide musical range. I know the tendency these days is to serve a niche audience, but writing about one musical style all the time would bore the crap out of me.

4. What contemporary albums are you looking forward to coming out?
A lot of the albums I was looking forward to this year have already been released. They include the new ones by Spoon, Vampire Weekend, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Gaslight Anthem and Justin Currie. As for what’s on the horizon, I’m looking forward to Tin Can Trust, the new Los Lobos. I’ve been a fan of the band for more than 25 years. I recently heard a cool new song by The Arcade Fire that now has me interested in the rest of The Suburbs.

5. How does Medleyville support independent music and what is important about doing so?
The term “independent music” means different things to different people. To me, it has nothing to do with a specific sound. Indie music means any act – new or veteran, regardless of genre – that’s not with one of the remaining major record labels/music corporations and has a strong DIY ethic. That said does support indie music. But one important qualifier for all artists looking for coverage on my site – and exceptions are very rare -- is that they must be touring acts. Anybody can sit at home, record a song, post it on MySpace or wherever and claim to be a musician or an artist, thinking an online presence is a way around playing gigs. I hear from people like that from time to time.

6. Do you think online publications are taking precedence over print magazine? What kind of effect do you think that has on bands?
Yes, I think there are a few online publications that are very much on par with print magazines. Pitchfork, for one, is probably as important today as Rolling Stone or Spin in terms of having its finger on the pulse of what’s new, good, different and important. There’s no doubt that the impact of online publications on bands has been tremendous. On the positive side, bands have plenty of outlets they can pitch for coverage.

7. What blogs/publications do you read other than your own?
I read the online and print versions of Billboard, Rolling Stone, Spin and Time Out New York on a regular basis. I’ll pick up Paste, Magnet and Alternative Press now and then.

As for blogs, I check out Pitchfork, BrooklynVegan and Time Out New York’s The Volume. Also, I often listen to the online streams of radio stations from around the country, such as Austin’s KGSR, San Francisco’s KFOG and Philadelphia’s WXPN, and their respective sites have good, useful news and information. I also read Jim DeRogatis’ Pop N’ Stuff blog. Jim is one of the best music writers today, and he also is a co-host of the radio show “Sound Opinions” with fellow Chicago music journalist Greg Kot.

8. What has been your most definitive moment since you started Medleyville?
There have been a few. Recently, John Mellencamp’s website posted my short review of his box set On the Rural Route 7609 on his news page. For a little site like mine to get a mention on a major artist’s site, that was a surprise and a thrill. Generally speaking, the past year or so has been important and satisfying for Medleyville. In that time, I’ve had more artists, publicists and labels contact me about being featured on the site. That tells me we must be doing something right. We’ve come a long way…

9. If there is any musician/band you could interview (dead or alive) who would it be?
Of artists who are still alive, I’d have to say Keith Richards, Paul Westerberg, Tom Petty, Elton John and Elvis Costello. I’ve never read an interview where any one of them just phoned it in. After those guys, the list would include Carole King, Steve Cropper, Neko Case, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Allen Toussaint, Steve Earle, Todd Rundgren, Stevie Wonder and George Jones.

As for deceased artists, at the top would be Buddy Holly, followed by Sam Cooke, Rick Nelson, Marvin Gaye, Buck Owens and producer Sam Phillips.

10. If you could be in any band (of all time), who would you rock with?
I’d say Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Booker T. and the MG’s and The Byrds. Those three epitomize what I value most in bands: great chops, instincts, restraint and taste – and, of course, great songs. And in the end, it always comes down to great songs.

Like Medleyville on Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment