Gallery of Rockism
Erroneous, Bizarre, and Occasionally Illuminating Usages
of Today's Number-One-With-a-Bullet Buzzword
By Scott Woods
I was thinking at one point of starting a regular feature on rockcritics daily called "Word Nerd." I doubt I'll ever bother, but this is more or less what I had in mind. Pick a word (or a concept) in heavy circulation in rock criticism right now, and basically try to arrive at an understanding (or a heightened sense of misunderstanding as the case may be) by cataloging its usage, via--what else--Google. The 25-year old UK-bred epithet, "Rockism"/"rockist" seemed like a good place to start, for it is, apparently, all the rage again. Bloggers and chat groups have been going at it for some time now, and I've even spotted it recently in two local dailies, indicating perhaps that "rockist" is now Officially a Word. (Granted, in both instances it was surrounded by double-quotation marks, so there are still bridges to cross.) For rockist-related discussions, there's a whole category of them at I Love Music.
Out of nearly 3,000 Google returns, I probably went through something like 80 or 90. This is a long post, but it's by no means definitive. Terribly "rockist" way to spend an evening, nonetheless.
Except for a few specific arguments, these aren't posted in any order. (Upcoming "Word Nerd" feature: "Linearity." How passe!)
Bear in mind that some of these quotes are older, and I can only imagine how I might feel if someone quoted something I said last week. I quote not to mock (well, okay, on occasion...), but to present a survey. Read it in that spirit. And then feel free to mock.
These links won't work forever, presumably.
One comment: "Rockism" is often applied where "rock" will suffice. Downsizing word editors take note.
A bottle of Tylenol can't hurt.
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"Now, anyone who applies such mathematical precision to that most organic of acts is quite clearly gonna have the necessary hoo-hah to create truly tricksy and complicated and ass-wiggling beats, wouldn't you say? And that is what these Rockist, Fonda 500 types do not understand. They cannot comprehend the complex magic that can be woven from samples and rhythms and voice. They cannot cope with anything more intricate than a thudding 4/4 beat overlaid with that most cumbersome and dreary of instruments, the guitar."
--Miss Amp/Drowned in Sound/Review of Gold Chains
"Our cultural understanding of popular music is funneled through a mostly rockist intelligentsia. This is a crew always more interested in words and sociology than they are in music. They will always have more room in their hearts and their histories for a Joe Strummer than a Maurice Gibb. Jeff Miers, writing in the Buffalo News, summed up the differences (though he wasn't thinking of Gibb, still alive when he wrote) thus: 'Good pop is about craft, about the ability to create a hook, to reach the masses by creating musical dialogue within the vernacular. Rock 'n' roll needs to be good pop, but it is also something more. Pop is a product; rock 'n' roll, when it's done right, sprays blood on the tracks, offers a snapshot of deeply felt beliefs.'"
--Brian Doherty/"Death Before Disco"
"On his new creation, Chris again breaks away from the tight rockism of his early recordings, presenting captivating melodies, moving emotional lyrics and timeless examples of classic songwriting at it's best."
--Writer unknown/Forced Exposure/Chris Cacavas review
1) "Women, like blacks, have traditionally occupied delineated roles in the music. One of these is [the] female song interpreter, like Linda Ronstadt or, better, Linda Thompson. There is no real male parallel for this; since the rockist imperative of the singer-songwriter was created, with the exception of oddities like Luther Vandross and this or that songwriting star who had a parallel career as a song interpreter (Rod Stewart, Bryan Ferry), there have been no major male rock figures whom we revere simply for their voices. Sometimes, male song interpreters become subsumed in bands with another member who writes the songs. But that's just an example of how men can be forced to deal with the constraints of rockism as well."
2) "[Lauryn Hill] actually makes interesting and sophisticated points on her records. Her complex take on stardom and betrayal and jealously in 'Lost Ones,' for example, avoids sounding unkind or arrogant through a classic rockist move--delaying the (killer) chorus for a good two minutes. When it finally hits, and the built-up melodic tension of the song is released, she at once silences and proves her point."
--Bill Wyman/Slate/"Between Rockism and a Hard Place"
3) "Bill, you identify your myopia correctly as rockism--male rockism, to be precise. That's why I think we should remove the term and rubric of rock from the debate--it really doesn't fit Lauryn and Lucinda anyway. Let's be postrock, and talk about music--not 'women's music,' but the ways in which a growing number of diverse artists are using music to express themselves, maybe in ways women have never been able to express themselves before."
--Evelyn McDonnell/Slate/"Mick is the Female Mick" (response to Wyman above)
"...the big problem is clearly those who still cling to the guitar as to a rotting totem. It is one of a variety of tools with which you make music. It is very useful. It does not have a monopoly on the truth. The Cult of Unplugged is the logical conclusion of rockism, and of its fear of music's true potential. Leave them their acoustics and their sweat, and kiss the sky."
--Alex Sarll/Varsity Online/Catatonia review
"This vision is an end result (or way out) of the 'rockism' debate that raged through the U.K. music press in the early '80s. Near as a body could tell from here, rockism wasn't just liking Yes and the Allman Brothers--it was liking London Calling. It was taking the music seriously, investing any belief at all not just in its self-sufficiency, which is always worth challenging, but in its capacity to change lives or express truth. Rarely was it noted how blatantly the terms of this debate favored the growing nationalism/anti-Americanism of U.K. taste. Irony, distance, and the pose have been the secret of British rock since the Beatles and the Stones, partly because that's the European way and partly because rock wasn't originally British music--having absorbed its usages secondhand, Brits who made too much of their authenticity generally looked like fools. This polarity was reversed briefly around 1976--American punk was an unabashed art pose, while the British variant carried the banner of class struggle. But when the Sex Pistols failed to usher in the millennium, lifelong skeptics who'd let their guard down for a historical moment vowed that they wouldn't get fooled again. Hence, Dave Rimmer's unauthorized Culture Club bio, Like Punk Never Happened, a key '80s rockbook that's almost unknown here. Hence, 'rockism'--and rock versus pop."
--Robert Christgau/"Decade: Rockism Faces the World"
"Earlier generations of black youth (beboppers or Motowners) never fell for this okey-doke. Common’s 'I Used to Love H.E.R.' (always wack opportunism to me) is discussed by Sidney: 'That song reminds me of us. Hiphop was so real. Remember the first time you heard ‘The Bridge is Over,’ ‘Bonita Applebaum,’ ‘Paul Revere'!' No respectable hiphop editor would uphold such a troika. Brown Sugar reflects the hateful rock-crit tendency toward elitism--speciously validating hiphopism like rockism. Affection for pop can be ideologically great--open and inclusive--while hiphopism is ideologically insular, fascistic. Besides, it’s not 'hiphop' black people love, it's rhythm, melody and honesty--the same thing all people like about pop music expressions whether country, punk or metal."
--Armond White/New York Press/Review of movie Brown Sugar
1) "Anti-rockism was very much in the air, north of the border: The Associates's Billy Mackenzie declared 'I've always hated the rock thing' and pledged his allegiance to disco and film soundtracks. Fire Engines played 15 minute sets and released a mini-album of 'background music for action people' called Lubricate Your Living Room. Orange Juice fused Velvet Underground with Chic and projected an image of fey naivete ('worldliness keep away from me', sang Edwyn Collins)."
2) "The record's packaging--a metal canister containing three 12 inch singles--was PiL's one major feat of anti-rockism, successfully deconstructing 'the album' and encouraging the listener to listen to tracks in any order; the 12 inch's improved sound quality plunged listeners into the spacious, bass-intensified aesthetics of dub and disco."
--Simon Reynolds/Independents Day: post-punk 1979-81
"There follows a succession of little masterpieces, every one of which chills the bone. Phil Young's 'Science and Industry,' 'The Artist Speaks' and 'The Splendour That Was Rome,' such enticing promises for what lay ahead. Maddalena Fagandini's '1960 Interval Signal,' the piece most likely to have inspired the letter quoted above, an extraordinarily addictive rhythmic incantation from an era of excitement and technological mystique surrounding broadcasting (this stuff sounded every bit as 'alien' and 'other' in Macmillan's Britain as the best rock'n'roll, and the ignorance of this fact is one of the many malign influences of Rockism)."
--Robin Carmody/Structures and New Worlds: The BBC Radiophonic Workshop
"Thank goodness for the In Betweeners. For all us old foges still wary of this newfangled 'electronic music,' it's nice to have a few bands here and there to hold our hand while we wade into the shallow end with our water wings on. To lead those of us with terminal rockism towards the flickering LCD monitor glow, it's necessary to have a few artists that will meet us halfway, mixing in safe, comfortable, 'actual' instruments to make us feel at home before hitting us with the subliminal digital trickery."
--Rob Mitchum/Pitchfork/Midwest Product review
"The now-complete toppling of the empire of beat-matching DJs by scenester rockist DJs. Very democratic, that. Resist the tyranny of beats-per-minute! The next revolution: the rock 'n' roll liberation of the Gayborhood."
--Joey Sweeney/Philadelphia Weekly/"25 More Good (or at least reassuring) Things About...Philly Art and Music..."
"Most white critics over 25 grew up immersed in rock, so we demand rock's values be upheld even in hip-hop--not only musically, but its myth of the rebel poet who creates all his own music, plays it on his own axe--and never makes decisions for commercial reasons... Yet rock never really worked like that. No form of pop music has. Most of it was always made with behind-the-scenes studio help--the Beatles had George Martin, Nirvana had Butch Vig--and they were trying to make hits. Yet it generated music that's venerated now. And it's culturally specific--it's one thing to play the underdog by spurning a suburban background and another to be a black kid coming out of that community, for instance. So 'rockism' is mild compared with some other names you could give it."
-- Carl Wilson/Globe & Mail/Prince Paul preview.
"What these directions and ideas suggest is that [Paddy] Casey, as on his first album, won't be readily pinned down into David Gray territory. But the material ricochets off too many walls. And 'All In a Day' goes the whole Bowie-guitar rock and lifts a line from 'Heroes.' ... Whether his voice is up to such rockism is another matter. Frankly, it's not."
--Graham Reid/New Zealand Herald/Review of Paddy Casey
"Four lads with instruments, will travel straight out of the 916 area code, and into your hydroponic stereo with their first release of new noise that lies somewhere between melodic rockism, the second episode of Twin Peaks, and Tommy Lee’s Methods of Mayhem. Are you ready to rock? This is a wonderfully diverse release from one of the most talented acts out of Sacto since Tesla got big off a fucking cover song."
--Brad Oates/the Heckler/Review of Eightfourseven
"Maybe it’s the intrepid eclecticism. Maybe it’s because Essex Green really sound like a band onstage. On that midsummer evening at the Seaport they tackled the new songs with real aplomb, mixing tweeness and rockism so successfully that I never missed the orchestrations. And that’s something."
--Dann Baker/The Brooklyn Rail/Essex Green review
"But even if the film [24 Hour Party People] presented a rockist view of the music, two of the evening's DJs didn't--both Cox and Moby reached way into their acid-house back catalog, digging out gems like Jay Dee's 'Plastic Dreams' (1993), Nitzer Ebb's 'Let Your Body Learn' (1987), and Moby's own anthems 'Go' (1991) and 'Feeling So Real' (1994)."
--Tricia Romano/Village Voice/"Bye Bye Brownies"
"Anyone familiar with riot grrrl-ism will immediately notice striking similarities to it in Kleenex/Liliput's music. The child-like charm and lack of pretention, the loose, free-spirited presentation, the nonsense-lyrics and exuberant chants, the very embodiment of the term 'rock ditty'--it's all here in a slim, proto-riot grrl package. What's different is the Germanic heft Liliput adds to the equation. There's a nagging sense of Kraut-Rockism that I somehow can't shake. I'm also fond of the unorthodox instrumentation in Liliput's music. A violin here and a saxophone there not only lend an air of experimentalism and novelty, they help to dispel the otherwise unavoidable monotony of four dozen sub-three-minute rock hit-and-runs."
--Noah Wane/Splendid/Kleenex/Liliput review
"Many of the best exponents of American roots music have been punks at heart without attaching themselves to anything self-consciously hyphenated. And when hybrids did accentuate the punk imagery, whether it was rockabilly and swamp rock reconfiguring the punk sneer as greaseball country-rockism or the cartoonishness of 'cowpunk,' the results have often veered toward the embarrassing, but it was the obviousness of the punk and country visual and musical signifiers that penetrated journalists' short attention span."
--Chris Wodskou/Exclaim!/The End of No Depression
"Snotty guy backed with girl harmonies a la B-52's, drummer who (in coolest move of year thus far) drops stick and plays remainder of song with foot pedal beater and a surprising knack for gorgeous slow numbers ('Nerdy Girl' was it?) made this a kick-ass case study in primal decontructionist rockism. "
--Greg Heller/BAM Magazine/Dealership review
"Primarily this is due to the fact that Indicator Dogs have their own schtick, not wearing their influences prominently. It's kind of hard to put a finger on, but there's certainly elements of Helmet's economic riffery, Shihad's Churn-era aggression and Pantera's balls-out rockism."
--Gavin Bertram/Real Groove/Review of Indicator Dogs
"Licht gets a chance to stretch out a bit more on Witchcraft; while his expansive sorties dexterously fuse free-improv atonality and hammer-down rockism, the songs' connective tissue is a bit too frail to sustain the recurrent tension."
--David Sprague/Trouser Press/Love Child review
"Few critics complain about the Jackson 5's 'I Want You Back,' but for every Motown encomium, there are a hundred complaints about the virus of 'synthetic teen pop' and 'bubblegum.' Pop critics call it 'rockism,' and the (very) short version of the attack goes like this: Pop music isn't made by people, but by bands of hired guns on assembly lines, working to rationalized standards established by technocratic committees maximizing shareholder investment. The emphasis of pop songs is on transitory physical pleasures, instead of the eternal truths that rock protects. Pop is also consumed by lots of women and kids, and what do they know? "
--Sasha Frere-Jones/Slate/Justin Timberlake essay
"The argument is at times straw man (there might be less pop-culture phobic music critics than the New Yorker's), and I think that rockism is also based in things other than fear/hatred of teenage girls. But the critique is right: rock fans often forget that production and the mass produced product of the record/CD does a lot to sublimate the spontaneity of live performance into an emotional, cathecting whole (am I getting my Freud all mixed up here?). And the line separating that kind of creative whole from producer-and studio-crafted pop music is arbitrary."
--Left Center Leftblog/On Sasha Frere-Jones's Timberlake piece
"...it's kind of fun to see Sasha acting as a pop missionary among the rockist heathens. I do kind of agree, though, with the poster on ILM who said that Sasha was using rockist criteria against rockism--surely, although it's interesting to know that Justin writes his own melodies, it doesn't and can't affect the value of the music from a pop perspective, otherwise you are giving rockists permission to despise Britney and tATu and all the other good pop performers who don't write their own material."
--I Feel Love blog entry
"Something about this local mod-rock trio sticks with us where most of the others blur together. Could be the way the singer's woozy, smeary emotional pleas meet up with the band's adept free-range pop-rockism in a way that brings to mind prime Afghan Whigs or maybe Tommy Keene on a bender."
--Baltimore City Paper/Blurb for Vulgaria
"This one's as American as apple pie (with shards of glass baked in). A grueling mash-up of jazz, country, gospel and marches, sullied at times by annoying rockism. Here's a game: have a shot of whiskey every time you hear the words 'drunk,' 'remorse,' 'Jesus' or 'Satan.''
--Rupert Bottenberg/Montreal Mirror/Review of Firewater
"That said, the album has LJ's usual flaws--silly lyrics, flat rockism, a refusal to challenge themselves vocally (although Jill Cunniff's apparently taking opera lessons) and some clumsy grooves, inexcusable on Debby Harry's cameo track ('Fantastic Fabulous'). Still, it has its moments, like the Cream-thiefin' cosmophonica of 'Space Diva,' and there's simply no getting past LJ's maximum womanicity. Goddamn."
--Rupert Bottenberg/Montreal Mirror/Luscious Jackson review
"Drive-By Truckers are ex-punk, hard-rock pussy-boys who knock down doors, throw open the windows and let the funk out. While they're not above lost cause myth-mongering and rockism, their chords cut right through their own hot air. There's always a musical bridge out of their bombast. Their own entrance on Opera defines a certain kind of quintessentially American daring. Talk about young lions. These guitar cats let their Gibsons ROAR."
--Benj DeMott/First of the Month/Drive-By Truckers review
"Roger Winslet is the most unlikely-looking front man since Ian Dury. With his unfashionable haircut and glasses, the former actor looks like a market trader on karaoke night. But for Bidgie Reef and the Gas, it's all part of their bid for rock immortality. Winslet's asides are brief--'This is about the movie business,' or 'You'll see what a sad old bastard I am'--and the lyrics sound similarly bitter, but bloody hell, the band really rocks. It's the the Blockheads formula (but more rockist): ugly geezer plus red-hot band."
--John L Walters/the Guardian/Review of Bidgie Reef and the Gas/Barcode Trio
1) "He [Freddie Mercury] turns a glittering eye to me and says, 'Ah, I’m not supposed to talk to you!' and in this we strike up a conversation, Freddie seems to be an affable man. Short cropped hair and a tidy moustache suit him more than the rockist mops he once sported, and with his slightly curious diction--almost clipped Latin--he could have been a Brazilian diplomat."
2) "['Another One Bites the Dust'] is an amazing piece of rockist funk, their biggest worldwide seller, and the one that got them black radio play..."
--David Quantick/NME/Interview with Queen, 1986
"In 1994, The Cult's eponymous last album showed that Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury were beginning to distance themselves from the stadium-friendly rockism into which they'd lapsed by the early '90s. Six years later, after a stint with the Holy Barbarians, Astbury has released his first solo effort, Spirit\Light\Speed, which attests to an even more marked musical evolution."
--Wilson Neate/Westnet.com/Review of Ian Astbury
"Also must echo Nick's remarks on playing live. Please, no. There's nothing more delibidinizing and destructive to Pop than 'performing live': the revenge of Rockism? Course TOTP [Top of the Pops] is forced down this route by the increasing popularity of 24 hr music channels in the search for a Unique Selling Point. Funnily enough, I remember Pete Waterman saying he would never let one of his acts play live on TV - because of mixing. He spends days getting it right on the record--TV sound engineers throw a mix together in half an hour that any way will sound shit when broadcast."
--mark k-punk/"Clash to Clash"
"[Godspeed Black Emperor] are keen to bump up against the contradictions of the music biz in an uncompromising fashion, taking a stand in liner notes, letters to the editor, or etching their slogans onto the celluloid screened at their live shows. This in one sense trades in a rockist tradition of connecting the everyday struggle with creative struggle. It's also part of that elusive discourse of the rock star/band genius, he/she/they who transcend their circumstance because there is 'something' inside them, a deep-rooted desire, that compels them to."
--Geoff Stahl/PopMatters/Godspeed You Black Emperor review
"For good reason, the rockist vision is often attacked as Euro, male chauvinist, and so forth--as an aestheticization of the will to dominance. Yet oddly enough, while rockism continues to define metal and fuels many of the new male country singers, two of its bulwarks these days are rap (pardon me, hip hop) and the former Amerindie subculture still sometimes labeled alternative, both of which reject or redefine virtuosity while championing their own modes of rugged mastery. As so often happens in countercultures, it's like hippie all over again: in order to combat the ruling class, the media, the powers that be, the establishment, the man, both rappers and alternative rockers lay claim to an individualistic ethos they believe has been homogenized out of existence. Big on authenticity and creative control, they carry the rockist flag. But not without misgivings. Reluctant to cross over yet desperate to get paid, reliving African trickster and griot traditions as they act out against absent fathers, forced by the forces of censure and censorship to front about how literal they are, rappers suffer ugly doubts about their own autonomy. And the indie guys, who reject rockist ideology while embodying its aesthetic, don't have it so simple either. They'd be confused about gender privilege even if their girlfriends didn't hock them about it."
--Robert Christgau/Playing To Win: Pazz & Jop's Fifth (or Sixth) Year of the Woman
"The Roots do not represent a 'saved' hip hop. They represent hip hop hopelessly compromised by rockist values. Perhaps the Roots are the best possible outcome of this scenario--they don’t make horrible music, although much of it is bland and boring. It’s safe: despite a reputation for experimentation, The Roots never push hip hop to its limits. They merely show how hip hop can easily conform to Rolling Stone’s version of valid music."
--Gavin Mueller/Stylus/Really Real: Authenticity and Hip Hop
"Of course, 'young people'--however one defines the term--have also actively resisted the wholesale appropriation of their subcultures. Sometimes this has involved distancing themselves from 'adulterated' discourses such as, precisely, rock. (Hence the pejorative epithet 'rockist.') In other cases, it has involved a complex process of re-appropriation of the popular-cultural terrain. (Witness the revival of swing and lounge or 'martini' music.)"
--Robert Miklitsch/Rock 'N' Theory: Autobiography, Cultural Studies, and the 'Death of Rock'
"The rockists inadvertently got it right when they called teen pop 'disposable,' but it doesn't ring true as a damnation of the music so much as it does as a damnation of the machine, what HR departments call 'churn.' The music's not the problem, the marketing is, and once the oversaturation wears thin and the PR folks have run out of ideas they simply give up on the act. Pop stars get downsized, too, just like all your friends."
--Nate Patrin/Hipster Detritus/"2003: It Kinda Stunk"
"Presently competing for the same listening audience as stadium electronica like the Prodigy, Bush charms rockist holdovers with these strained attempts at significance. News flash: High-school boys want to be told what to do ('Breathe in/breathe out'), and lines like 'I walk--['woke'?] ['work'?]--away from my machine' can prompt weeks of mental gear-grind. Sure, drum 'n' bass can get relentlessly dark, but nothing titillates your inner-kiddie quicker than a lyric like 'there's no sex in your violence.'"
--Laura Sinagra/City Pages/Bush: Deconstructed review
"[Stephen] Davis feels it was absolutely vital to tell the tale of the boys from Boston--Steve Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton--who were legendary boozers and drug abusers for much of their career until getting clean and sober in the late 1980s. 'I think Rockism is like Romanticism,' Davis says. 'It's an artistic movement that needs to be chronicled. After I did the Zeppelin book, I thought there needed to be a history of the hard rock movement in America.'"
--Kerry Diotte/Walk this Way
"(In R&B and rap, the terms of art go like this: The 'song' refers to everything sung, and the 'track' refers to the music and beats. On Survivor, the producers provided the latter by mail to Beyoncé, who wrote and recorded all of the former with the ladies, rarely the twain meeting. This may reinforce rockists' prejudice that Destiny’s Child will not make their Music >From Big Pink, but I respectfully submit that the shortcomings of postal songwriting are no more severe than the shortcomings of introspective studio hibernation. And nobody ever backed it up to 'The Weight.')"
--Sasha Frere-Jones/L.A. Weekly/Destiny's Child review
"Here is the larger problem: According to Frere-Jones' logic, it follows that in not liking Destiny's Child I must be a racist, a sexist and--heavens to Bootsy!--a 'rockist.' So it’s really come to this. By not concurring with his high regard for some trio of waxed, bikinied En Vogue clones, by not adoring Destiny's Child as he does, I have instantly become a racist-sexist-fascist-imperialist. (If I were to tell him that that sort of irresponsible race-and sex-identity politicking sounds like the more strident critics who write for the grandpa of all free big-city weeklies, does that make me a Village Voice–ist too?)"
--Tim Merrill's letter to the LA Weekly
"'Theme From Sparta FC' I wasn't sure about at first but it gets under your skin pretty quick. Despite being about the utter waste of life that is football, it's pretty funny--and weren't the Spartans all queer? 'Come on have a bet, we live on blood--we are Sparta FC'--it's like punk without the earnest beery rockism."
--Steve Thrower/The Real New Fall Album, Formerly Country on the Click
"The dilemma at hand is Rolling Stone's identity crisis as of 2002. They're clearly latching on to the rock-as-fashion-statement idea that the pop world has embraced for the past two or three years, and they're going us one worse--they're subscribing to the tiresomely juvenile belief in (not merely rock but) RAWK, the notion that everything RAWKS and is BADASS and that if we wanna legitimize youth-oriented pop music and hip-hop we've gotta see it through the dusty old rock lens. This is rockism at its purest. And for a specifically rock-through-rock-lens magazine (i.e. what RS used to be), that's fine. But if RS is going to expand its definition of 'rock' to make room for contemporary chartpop, it shouldn't intentionally confuse the sort of thing Britney does with the sort of thing Joan Jett does. It only makes both parties look silly."
--Jody Beth Rosen/freezing to death in the nuclear bunker
"So give Sgt. Pepper bonus points for history, for the gestalt, but if you do, take some of those points away for the lesser songs that make up the gestalt...But what about the production? I'll revert to rockism here and just note briefly that I'm not convinced 'great production' was a positive contribution to rock and roll history. 'Talk Talk' by the Music Machine sounds pretty crappy, but I'd rather listen to it a hundred times in a row than listen to 'Fixing a Hole' twice. New Day Rising sounds like garbage compared to Sgt. Pepper, but it's a far greater album..."
--Steve Rubio's Online Life
"Medeski Martin and Wood can jazz with the best of them. They can rock with the best of them. They can funk, groove, vamp, comp, squeeze the little trigger on the toy raygun, do whatever it takes--with the best of them. Pick a track at random, and you're sure to find a rockism that fails to offend the jazz purist, and a subtle melodic nuance that can shake the paint off the walls, no Marshall required. And in an era of machine-generated dance music, they've produced a groove more powerful than any amount of jiggled quantizing and late nights in front of a computer monitor could ever produce."
--Lips Fresno/Ink 19/Medeski Martin and Wood review
"Hip-hop journalism is nowhere near as bad as the state of music journalism, which apparently is still stuck in the same old racist, rockist canon-making. Geezus, it feels like the late 80s and we're fighting to have women and people of color included in the curriculum all over again."
--Jeff Chang/zentronix: dubwise & hiphopcentric
"The rock disc of the year. Craig Finn is one of local punk's last damaged poets, and this crew of artsy intellectuals threw down an increasingly rare case for riveting rockism on their sophomore effort. Best served along with either the Rank Strangers' Target (Veto) or Calvin Krime's Dress for the Future (Amphetamine Reptile)."
--Simon Peter Groebner/City Pages/Review of Lifter Puller
"Look, you can learn from history: Every single time someone plays the 'real musician' card, they're wrong. They're ideologically hobbled and behind the times. They're attacking remarkable music, and defending shit because it replicates the rockist aesthetics that trace back to Clapton Is God etc. Indeed, I think analysis reveals that Boomers are the nightmare from which we cannot awaken, but that's another column."
--Jane Dark/Village Voice/"Keeping Up With the Jones"
"Dark seems to argue that we need to choose teenpop over Alicia Keys (Keys, you see, is behind-the-times enough to actually play the piano). Why does Dark place 'Britney in the same aesthetic bin as the Clash' (I assume that Dark means the 'good' bin)? Because, 'in the aesthetic marketplace' she believes we cannot free ourselves from the 'dialectic' between 'rockist aesthetics' and fresh contemporary music. Dogmatists such as Dark work to shrivel the world into binary arrangements--good and evil, with us or against us, musicianship versus non-musicianship--even if such haphazard categorizing forces us to accept, say, a Britney Spears. Isn't it possible to choose not to take sides? To enjoy Jay-Z and Hendrix, Nirvana and Mingus, the Coup and Stravinsky? I do, and that's answer enough."
--Darin Strauss letter to the Village Voice
"With its rapturous orchestration and wall-of-sound wink to girl groups, No Exit's revealingly named single 'Maria' knocked the Offspring's 'Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)'--a rockist slam defending turf against guitar-free hip-hop hordes and wiggers who dare cross over--from the No. 1 spot on the U.K. charts."
--Donna Gaines/Village Voice/Blondie review
"Every song is thick with textures and little sonic motifs. 'Mofo,' for instance, is credited to four separate mixers, including Howie B. (the avant beatmeister signed to U.K.'s Mo' Wax label), Alan Moulder (partly responsible for the guitar vortexes of My Bloody Valentine), and Steve Osborne (half of post-house DJ Paul Oakenfeld's Perfecto team), who dress it in layers of hard techno and industrial noise so that even Larry Mullen's live drum performance sounds almost machine-like. Of course, that the band has been bragging to the press about how the drum track is 'real' and not programmed only shows how rockist they still are."
--Will Hermes/City Pages/The Importance of Being Earnest (U2)
"...as history shows time and again, an ideology's point of greatest strength typically precedes the fall. The cycles shift, and I wouldn't be surprised if somebody started to renew the anti-pop critique; if a new and improved rockism didn't rear up from some quarter."
--Simon Reynolds/ blissblog
"The inducements of free human beings are taken away, and those of a slave not substituted. He has nothing to hope, and nothing to fear, except being dispossessed of his holding, and against this he protects himself by the ultima ratio of a defensive civil war. Rockism and Whiteboyism were the determination of a people who had nothing that could be called theirs but a daily meal of the lowest description of food, not to submit to being deprived of that for other people's convenience."
--John Stuart Mill/The Principles of Political Economy