I’m not sure if I mentioned my NME-related incident before, but I can’t find any reference to it on this blog, so here goes.

A few weeks ago, No Rock and Roll Fun published a critique of the new-look NME. Then last week, I found a copy of said new-look NME on the train, and decided to take it home. It prompted an almost Proustian rush from me and Mr P, that quickly turned into a rant.

The NME I remember (I wasn’t a weekly reader: more of a monthly MM/NME alternator) was huge, thick, messy and opinionated. The new NME is slimmer than a Dell Computer insert, dull and…safe. Some of the pictures are nice, but there’s an interview with that fuckwit “indie” boy off Fame Academy fer chrissakes. It still has the same old obsession with white boy rock; it’s still sniggering and self-referential, but there needs to be at least a bit of depth to this self-regard.

Are there really only a couple of bands on the circuit? And are NME journalists all shagging these bands’ PR fluffies? That’s the only excuse I can find for hardly any negative comment about anything (I mean, this stuff makes me nostalgic for Charles Shaar Murray, and that’s an achievement in itself). The news stories are typed-out press releases with the address details removed; the interviews are bog-standard, pic-ridden Q&As covering about 2000 words at most; and after reading the cover story, I still couldn’t tell you much about the Kings of Leon other than they’re all related, they’re from the South US and they’re very hairy. Oh, and one of them has a John Malkovich beard. I rather miss the 15,000-word, drug-fuelled musings on Flavour of the Month’s lead singer’s choice of sandwich fillings, tales of life on the road mixed in with vague references to a ten-minute chat with the drummer, plus some huge, muddy photographs. Or the pithy reviews that left you either loving or hating the band, but they left you with an opinion – something to discuss. You had an obligatory stab at an interview with an “urban” music person (ie, a hip hop bloke), and some weird questionnaire thing about a festival that treated standard 80s pop bands like the Floyd and dissed The Cure.

The only thing this NME left me with was a feeling of gratitude that I hadn’t paid for it.

Next week: Observer Music Monthly. The magazine that my mate Paul (ex MM writer) didn’t even get a look-in on. I bet I find a Norah Jones review.


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