Pen point dulled
November 2, 2007 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Stylus Magazine is closed. Home to some of the best writing about rockism, and Rasputin, slsking and The Stranger. Greatest hits/bluffer's guide here.
posted by klangklangston (24 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I liked them better than Pitchfork; especially in the "Seconds" and the "On Second Thought" articles where they let the facade crack and weren't insufferable hipster douchebags.
posted by heeeraldo at 10:34 AM on November 2, 2007

I was wondering what the impetus was for this The site was pretty successful and well respected. I did some googlin' yesterday and came across this:
Stylus editor Todd Burns...said there was no immediate impetus behind his decision to the end the site.

"I just got off the subway one day and said, 'I don't want to do this anymore,'" he said.
Kind of a strange way to end it.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:52 AM on November 2, 2007

where they let the facade crack and weren't insufferable hipster douchebags

They weren't?

I wouldn't know from "hipster." But. That thing about Billy Joel makes me want to strangle everybody at that magazine with a piano wire from Billy Joel's baby grand. What insulting assholes.

Rest in pieces, shitheads.
posted by tkchrist at 10:54 AM on November 2, 2007

Shit. One less thing worth reading.

posted by jokeefe at 10:59 AM on November 2, 2007

FourFour's Rich Juzwiak, an early Stylus contributor, agrees that the reason is simple:

"Stylus has closed because it became increasingly trying for Todd to hold down a day job (at eMusic no less) and run a daily website. [...] I'm happy that my friend will be able to sleep like a normal person and live life the way he deserves."
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:14 AM on November 2, 2007

tk: what thing about Billy Joel?

and yes, I wouldn't call them hipsters because they weren't afraid to care nor to look like they cared; there were (are?) incredibly personal vignettes in the archives and regular explorations outside the hipster ouevre in both the film and musical selections.

I think our definitions of 'hipster' vary, though, and so that may be accounting for most of the disconnect.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:33 AM on November 2, 2007


Yes, they should have taken Pitchfork instead...
posted by mykescipark at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2007

I thought the Billy Joel piece was overwritten, but spot-on.

i love billy joel
posted by padraigin at 1:16 PM on November 2, 2007

heeeraldo: It's "The Stranger" link in the post.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:52 PM on November 2, 2007

It was quotes like this:

If Joel were a stand-up comic or a lottery-winning truck-driver his behavior would be more apropos, as if your uncle suddenly became a pop star. Instead he swings pendulum-like between Bruce Springsteen and Britney Spears, toeing an irregular line between sympathetic yob and insufferable fuck-up. The Stranger is the lynchpin of this inspired boor shtick: there's no way to ignore the tunefulness and methodical groove of these songs, but you still wanna split his big fat skull with a tire iron.

I dunno. It's just such class-ist snobby bullshit. Joel IS working class. So what do these guys want?

Since I never read Pitchfork or the others I suppose I don't have much to compare them to. I'll have to take your word for it that they are less douchey.

Generally rock critics rubs me the wrong way. Way too much "Can't do. But I'll Bitch" about the genre. Never really gave me any insight into Music as Art Form. So why bother. I rarely read it.
posted by tkchrist at 1:56 PM on November 2, 2007

"Joel IS working class."

Eh, not really, and certainly not by The Stranger.
posted by klangklangston at 2:36 PM on November 2, 2007

I'm pretty sure one of the rules in the hipster douchebag handbook specifies that you must hate Billy Joel. Otherwise you are most certainly not hip. So I thought the screed about The Stranger was about as predictable and obvious as such things can get. (Next topic: People in the suburbs are bland conformists.) And does the guy who wrote it have any idea who plays the sax solo he complains about in "Just the Way You Are"? It's Phil Woods, one of the greatest alto players in the history of horn. And it's a great pop-song solo. (I became a big Phil Woods fan after hearing him play on Steely Dan's "Dr. Wu." He also plays the mad sax fade in Paul Simon's "Have a Good Time." Great forays into the pop world by a master jazz man.)
posted by Man-Thing at 2:39 PM on November 2, 2007

I can think of several musicians, albums, and songs that I love that Stylus eviscerated at some point, but it was hard for me to not enjoy these articulate, precise maulings. I remember the righteous indignation of Tori Amos fans to Dom Passantino's review of The Beekeeper. Boy, they hated that one -- it's the first line of the review that especially drew out the anger. I read the review after having read some examples of the outraged reaction, kind of expecting to dislike the review, as well -- I like Tori Amos, I was okay with a couple of songs from that album, I'm generally against child murder. But I loved that review bigtime. Hilarious, apt bitching about music makes me happy, as do well-done articles of adoration. So I will miss Stylus.
posted by Coatlicue at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2007

can metafilter please stfu about hipsters when talking about music? it's really tiresome
posted by dydecker at 4:04 PM on November 2, 2007

That's too bad. "Rock journalism" and other writing about popular music generally gives me the hives, but I thought they did a better job, on average, than most of their competition. I got less of a "I just read some Lester Bangs and am ready to indulge myself now" vibe from them than from that one other pop music site, though admittedly I didn't read either one all that regularly.

On preview: I'm in complete concurrence with dydecker.
posted by whir at 4:07 PM on November 2, 2007

I always thought Stylus alternated between decent features (with some excellent bits frequently scattered about) and some of the dumbest fucking music reviews out there.

Oh well. I'll miss them anyway.

Why didn't anyone else take over Burns's position?
posted by hototogisu at 4:22 PM on November 2, 2007

I really liked Stylus and I'm sad to see them go. I hope that Burns has time on his hands now for whatever he wanted to do.
posted by sleepy pete at 4:29 PM on November 2, 2007

I agree that the features tend to beat out the reviews. Skimming through their best-of page, slsking and the article about the mechanics of music promotion in the digital age stuck out as being pretty interesting. Also I'm generally opposed to jokey, don't-talk-about-the-music reviews, but I thought this review of a Kooks album was pretty well-crafted.
posted by whir at 4:57 PM on November 2, 2007

Eh, not really

Born in the Bronx to immigrant parents (though they were "educated" and came originally from means on his fathers side before loosing most of the money), raised in Hicksville. High school drop out. Golden Gloves boxer. Sole means of support for mother and sister at an early age.

What the hell else do you want? Coal mining and wife beating?

Eh. What difference does it make. By the articles linked one can only conclude those Stylus guys are snobby assholes. Essentially selling cruelty or confirmation bias by the word count. Simply not interesting.
posted by tkchrist at 5:51 PM on November 2, 2007

Yeah, high school drop-out because he already had a music career, which was supporting his mom and sister. And by the time The Stranger came out, he'd had a successful career for over 20 years. He was working class like John Edwards is.
posted by klangklangston at 6:40 PM on November 2, 2007

Hey klang, any suggestions for stuff to read/things I should follow since stylus has gone bye bye? A "Stylus Replacement" per se?
posted by snsranch at 7:08 PM on November 2, 2007

"Yeah, high school drop-out because he already had a music career, which was supporting his mom and sister. And by the time The Stranger came out, he'd had a successful career for over 20 years."

He was only 28 when The Stranger came out. The Wikipedia biography has him starting to play studio sessions at the age of 16. But, honestly, I wouldn't call him all that successful pre-Stranger, though who knows (I don't have any knowledge of his finances, really). Being on a major record label, as many musicians can tell you, is not instant wealth. The wikipedia page notes "However, due to the large sums of money involved in the legal tangles of the contract buyout, Joel netted less than $7,000 in profit from his certified Gold record" ("Piano Man").

The Stranger was the album that made him a superstar. Before that, he was basically a journeyman. Some minor hits after "Piano Man", but probably not the big bucks.

I think the linked article gets this wrong, too -- "Try to find a line as disdainful as 'a couple of paintings from Sears' deployed in any other song written by a multi-millionaire in a song eulogizing the working class." Well, I doubt he was a multi-millionaire when he was writing or recording that song. Maybe he was by the time he did the next album, though.
posted by litlnemo at 6:21 AM on November 3, 2007

"Hey klang, any suggestions for stuff to read/things I should follow since stylus has gone bye bye? A "Stylus Replacement" per se?"

I'm hoping Dusted picks up again.
posted by klangklangston at 8:27 AM on November 3, 2007

Dusted is better than Stylus (though I stopped readind Stylus a long time ago, so maybe it improved), though sometimes their critical theory is a little wonky.

And TK, seriously, relax, they don't like Billy Joel. Not liking Billy Joel, even hating Billy Joel, doesn't make someone an elitist hipster douchebag. What does hipster even mean? Seriously. People just love to throw it around when someone they don't like doesn't like something popular that they like.

Honestly I hate Billy Joel, because it sounds like Broadway music. I like Phil Collins though. So what does that make me?
posted by apetpsychic at 10:52 AM on November 4, 2007

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