I the 14 years I freelanced for Louisville Music News, I tried hard to avoid the common cliches that infect a lot of music writing.  I could write that a band:

“. . .melds the sounds of Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain period with a touch of early Steely Dan and a hearty splash of Squeeze’s “Mussels from a Shell” era.

But if you had no clue as to what Sketches of Spain, early Steely Dan, and “Mussels From a Shell” sounded like, how would you know what the band sounded like? And even if you did, what the hell would it mean?  Too often critics overreach in their erudition and come off as elitist smartasses, inflating their reviews with those common cliches.

For me, I would try to convey a song’s attitude or atmosphere, and try to convince the readers that the whole recording was worth the 10 bucks or so  they’d spend to add it to their collection.  More challenging to write, yes, but less likely to be pumped full of cliches.

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