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Black Sky Thinking

Black Sky Thinking: Death to Corduroy
Steven Wells , April 11th, 2008 16:13

Dull American music mags are dying in droves, and Steven Wells cares not one jot. Hark as he dances around the bonfire in joy...

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OMG it’s the indie mags. Man, it’s some kinda horrible virus. They’re lying in piles in the corners. Shaking like shitting dogs, coughing up their vile pink froth corrupted lungs. It’s horrid, absolutely horrid. It’s as if some hideous mass-murdering heavy metal psychopath had concocted an air-borne virus that only killed those who like unchallenging and comfortably conservative guitar music made by white guys. Oh the horror. Oh the humanity. What’s on TV?

Be serious. Show some empathy. Middle of the middle of the middle of the road US indie music mag Harp (slogan: “For nice chaps with beards, by nice chaps with beards” ) has just double-dropkicked itself in its own incredibly unremarkable and unmemorable face and dropped down dead.

Oh no. Harp is the third unreadable and entirely interchangeable US indie print mag to traumatically poop its hand-knitted cheesecloth colostomy pants in as many months. January and February saw the demise of the spectacularly interestingly named No Depression and Resonance magazines. Both, like Harp, not so much the spunky young inheritors of the revolution-spewing underground press of the late 60s and early 70s, as part of a beige coloured and willfully underachieving fan/muso mutual masturbation industry that’s been slowly and dismally choking on its own vomit for years.

Imagine all those whining epsilons who have"over the decades"bemoaned the fact that music journalism isn’t more “about the music,” imagine if those idiots actually started their own magazines.

Imagine a music press without hate, bile, anger, wit, imagination or attitude. Congratulations, you’ve just imagined Harp and No Depression and Resonance and Paste. Actually, Paste is still going. There’s a magazine called Paste. Christ that’s depressing. Then there’s Beige, Corduroy, Bland, Blend, Blah, Pah, Meh, Huh, Mush, Fridge, Magnet, Carpet, Desk and Whatever. There really is a mag called Corduroy. I might have made some of the others up. I imagine “corduroy” came up at an early brainstorming meeting.

“What is corduroy exactly?”

“It’s those horrible beige trousers worn by sad bastards who look like they’re still dressed by their mothers. People like us, in other words.”


Founder Scott Crawford recently described Harp as “a nice middle ground between the indie-centric Magnet and the dad-rockin' Paste.” That sound you hear is the disgusted ghosts of the surrealists, futurists and dadaists spinning out of their graves and converging on the Harp farewell party with flaming torches and gasoline soaked tires.

The death of Harp fills me with joy. I wrote for them for a month. They paid fuck all and cut the line “Joe Strummer must be laughing his rotting cock off” because it was “disrespectful”. Then they sacked the fool who commissioned me. We’re talking security guards armed with garbage bags. Irreverence had inadvertently been allowed into the magazine and was now being efficiently expelled.

All these dead and dying magazines have one thing in common – they all hold that the journalist is the servant of the musician and that writing is in and of itself without worth.

Thus, this cull is a good thing. But it does not go far enough. Music journalism needs to be scoured by the righteous, flaming sword of God. Fan-journalists need to be driven from their stiff-tissue-filled pits blinking into the sunlight, to be set upon by gangs of teenage girls armed with insouciance, rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s and attack dogs.

This is not a solution. The wilfully insipid will always be with us. They will use the internet as both platform and mutual support system. They will thrive and multiply like maggots. I merely argue we should organise and torture and murder them for fun, and be proud of our sport.