(Update, July 2016 – if you’re one of the more substantial wave of readers who’ve been coming here recently, be warned that the following is a little out-of-date. I’ll re-write it shortly. Don’t be discouraged. By all means get in touch and at least let me know about yourself and your work.)
“Can I send you music to review?”
Yes – and no. See below.
Since autumn 2014, ‘Misfit City’ has been formally closed to new review submissions while I attempt to complete my commitments to existing, received review stock and try not to build an additional backlog. Some reviews are now extremely overdue, and I want to correct that situation.
However, if you enjoy the blog and are genuinely interested in a review here (to be published at a later date) please email me about the existence of your recordings. I keep a list of potential submissions, and will contact you and pick them up at a future date. If you really want to send me something to listen to anyway, I can promise that I will at least listen to it… and sometimes I can be tempted.
When actively reviewing, I can review from (preferably) CD and soundfile, and also from cassette and occasionally video files. I also review vinyl releases, but don’t actually accept submissions on vinyl. This is for practical reasons. Although I like (and grew up with) the vinyl format, I don’t currently own a turntable. If you can transcribe your vinyl disc content as soundfiles and send them to me via e-mail, drop-box or CD-R, they can be reviewed that way. (If this is heresy to audiophiles, I apologise… I’m more interested in content than format or frequency range.) All formats of any release reviewed will be mentioned in the review.
Please note that as a rule I don’t review streamed audiofiles. I may make exceptions to suit myself, but in general (and, again, for practical reasons) I won’t review something which I can’t put on an iPod and listen to offline.
E-mail for a current mailing address, or to send links.
“What do you review?”
Many genres – from rock and pop to contemporary classical, via folk, jazz, instrumental and experimental music. I would suggest that you read the existing reviews in the blog and also read the cascade of names, genres, references and similes in the category and tag clouds to the right of the blog. If you enjoy what you read – and you believe that I’d be likely to write something of value about your music – then maybe it’s worth it for you to send something over.
A few more comments, at the risk of sounding like a snob…
I travel happily between the mainstream and the fringe, but tend to favour the latter – there are more fresh things to say about it and the artists can make better use of the reviews. Having said that, I believe that “fringe” and “mainstream” as categories have as much to do with commercial profile as anything else, so don’t be surprised to read a review of something edgy and peculiar and then find that the next one’s about something more comfortable and polished.
As regards my taste in actually writing reviews, I don’t like to be bored by having to listen to over-familiar sounds and ideas. Also, although I’ll make comparisons, I generally try to avoid providing brief “shopping-list” style reviews in favour of writing something which is more interesting to read and reflect on. This isn’t to say that musicians don’t continue to come up with excellent rearrangements of familiar ingredients; nor that I won’t deal with that, However, if you’re representing just one more generic artist – in any genre – and have selected me as just one more source of an indiscriminate review, perhaps you’d better look elsewhere.
“When do you review?”
OK, this is where my answer gets a little sterner, or more pompous.
I review items whenever possible, and within the schedule of the rest of my life. Just to clarify – I do not make any kind of living from ‘Misfit City’; I work a separate full-time day-job with no connection to music; and I have a young family which takes up a lot of my time. The writing is done purely for its own sake, out of a desire to engage with music – and to make some kind of positive difference in bringing it to the attention of other people.
For this reason, music is sent to me at your own risk. However, I’ll do my best to honour and fulfill my reviewing commitments, and (for new releases) to get reviews out reasonably close to the release date.
Please also note that I also try to maintain a consistently high standard of reviewing; and that ‘Misfit City’ writing means a detailed and meaningful review rather than a generic couple of lines and links. This means that any item which I’m covering will receive a great deal of attention and detailed analysis (usually between 500 and 1,000 words, and sometimes longer). I may not always be successful in creating the ideal review with the perfect insight, but I certainly try to do so.
All of this takes time to do. It takes even more time to do it properly. If you want your music to be taken seriously and written about with care, send it to me. If you just want some quick extra web presence and promo chatter, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of other music blogs out there which will quote briefly from your press release, add a line or two of positive burble, link to your stream, and embed your video. They’re easy to find.
I also want to maintain a certain breadth of coverage and curiosity within ‘Misfit City’. At present, this means buying and seeking out music myself (as well as raiding my existing collection), and alternating coverage of this material with coverage of the review material sent to me. However, I shall prioritize the latter – it’s only fair, if someone submits material on trust, that I should honour that trust.
If you’re still reading after all of that, I’m guessing that you’ll still want to send me something. Thank you.
“Can I invite you to concerts? Do you promote concerts?”
Yes, you can invite me to concerts, although any concertgoing will have to fit in with my responsibilities as a parent. (I love concerts but can’t always go to them). Also, I’m currently living in London, UK on a low budget so am unlikely to travel outside of town for gigs. If you read any live reviews in here from Edinburgh, New York, Leeds, Bruges etc, assume that these were either written quite some time ago or that I briefly got lucky.
Recently (as of summer 2015) I have been promoting selected upcoming concerts with blog posts. These have to be concerts which interest me, and will also tend to be concerts which are less heavily promoted and (to my mind) less well known about. Most of them are likely to be London gigs, but not all of them. For examples, check out the “previews” link on the Categories list in the content cloud to the right of the screen.
“I’ve written some reviews myself. Can I submit them to you for publication?”
No, you can’t. I have let down (or been let down by) enough other reviewers already, so ‘Misfit City’ is now entirely a solo venture. As a blog rather than a webzine (in its current incarnation), it’s also a potential space for personal reflection, and I’d prefer to keep it that way.
However, I will provide encouragement if you need it, (including reading over the odd review and providing some advice on setting up your own reviewing blog. I use WordPress, which is good (although a few CSS skills are advised for customising). In addition, I’ll try to recommend you to (and put you in contact with) others if I have the chance.
“Can I comment on reviews and other posts?”
Please do. Comments are enabled on posts and I welcome constructive debate and dissent, interesting additions, and answers to questions. Music recommendations are also welcome, as long as they’re part of the conversation. Respect is key. Consequently outright abuse, pointless snark, outright spam and other species of trolling will be deleted (as will anything I consider pointlessly offensive to readers). If you genuinely want to get involved in that sort of behaviour, there’s always YouTube, various bigot-infested news forums, and many other places offering playgrounds for trolls. But I’m guessing that you don’t.
“Can I talk to you?”
Yes. I can get busy and I can be slow to response, but generally speaking I’m friendlier than this FAQ might suggest.
Hasn’t ‘Misfit City’ existed before? Has it improved since then?
Yes, and yes.
As I’ve mentioned on other pages and posts, ‘Misfit City’ previously existed as a webzine between 1997 and 2004. I’ve improved considerably as both writer and editor since then, and have an extra decade of experience and focus to draw on. Also, I believe the blog format suits ‘Misfit City’ and its readers far better than the endless scrolling pages of HTML did in the original version.
In addition to new reviews, I regularly re-edit and resurrect (and in some cases, re-write) older reviews from that webzine period and post them in the blog.
I also wrote material for other zines at the time. I’m salvaging any worthwhile material from those efforts, for the same purpose.
* * * *
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the blog.
Dann @ ‘Misfit City’
(this page last updated on July 23rd 2015)