You asked, I’ll answer!
How do you decide which albums to review?
The critic’s first job is to curate, and I’m careful about the albums I elect to write about here. I got into this business to share my passion for great records, and as such I try to focus my writing on albums that I consider to be worthy of time and attention. Because I vet for quality, most of these reviews also constitute recommendations.
I’m also careful not to step outside my subject matter expertise; there aren’t (yet) any metal albums reviewed on this site, for instance, not because I perceive metal as unworthy, but simply because I don’t have the technical vocabulary to do it justice. With that said, inclusivity is a watchword, and I choose albums that I hope will offer a kaleidoscopic overview of my aesthetic interests—largely boundaryless in terms of genre/tradition, as well as the gender, nationality, and race of the performer.
In the streaming era, it’s easier than ever to be an omnivorous listener; ultimately, this blog is designed to offer guided discovery, and the records reviewed are chosen with that in mind.
Do you ever write negative reviews?
I’ve written plenty of pans at other venues, but the goal of this site is to share my enthusiasm for new albums that I consider to be worth deep, immersive listening. (See previous question.) My hope is that the very act of choosing an album for review can be seen as something of an endorsement.
Why don’t you provide ratings/scores/quantifiable metrics for your reviews?
Mostly because I am really bad at it, as many an editor will attest. I do think there’s value in quantifiable data/analytic thinking, which is why I compile a ranked top 25 list every year, but coming up with a numeric ranking can actually be a difficult job in and of itself, and I’d rather put my effort into the actual writing.
I will occasionally notice thematic or aesthetic connections between two (or three) concurrently released albums, and attempt not necessarily to compare them but to allow them to dialogue with one another. Note that when multiple albums share space, it’s not because I think they can’t stand on their own—just that I hope there is something illuminating in intermingling them.
Do you review singles?
I try not to be curmudgeonly or get-off-my-lawn-ish about music, but my one stubbornly conservative streak is in my love of the album as a form—not just a glorified playlist or a data dump, but a body of work with a clear beginning and end, a thematic through-line, and some sense of narrative. I continue to think this is a rewarding way to experience music, and as such I’ve devoted this space exclusively to that medium. (So, no.)
Where can I send downloads/streams of my album for your consideration?