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Spin [Print + Kindle]
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Spin has articles on great new music and hot developments in the music industry. For example, the current issue focuses on R.E.M. and their "resurrection." I love it! They also have smaller articles with pictures of other newcomers to the music scene.
In addition, look for interesting articles like "who earns what" and "the honor roll" of new gadgets like t-shirts and wireless earphones that are rather informative about what's "hip and happening" today. It could be construed as tabloid gossip; but to me it's a great reprieve from heavy duty thinking!
Overall, Spin magazine is a fine choice for those of us who want the latest news and trends from the music industry. The writing isn't exactly Shakespearian; but you didn't buy this to read Shakespeare! The articles are actually rather well written and the humor is OK by me. I recommend this magazine for fans of modern music and people who enjoy updates about their favorite artists and bands.
Spin covers some of the same turf as Rolling Stone and Blender, but less lasciviously -- lots of coverage of popular bands. Some of them are quite good -- the Hives, for example, or indie newcomer Steve Burns (who quit his job on "Blues Clues" after hearing a Flaming Lips album, and reinvented his life as a rocker).
Unfortunately they overemphasize whatever bands are hot at the moment, and then overemphasize them again -- as well as tacking them up in whatever "coolest"/"best" lists they chalk up for the year/decade/century/history of rock. Indie cred is maintained by a few half-page articles on potentially hot bands like the Comas and Metric, but this info is halfhearted. It's like they're reluctant to tear themselves away from articles on better-known bands, regardless of talent.
The writing, however, has that certain affliction that a lot of major rock magazines have: the Need To Be Cool. Their writers always are trying to be funny, but rarely come across that way. It seems silly and strained, like a soccer mom wearing a spandex tube dress. Even the CD reviews are mediocre. However, one recent highlight is Dave Eggers' columns -- witty, funny, and a little bit skewed. In fact, they are often the best things in the entirety of the magazine.
One of the problems is the emphasis on stuff in Hollywood. Scarlett Johanssen is a wonderful actress, yes. But she doesn't sing, nor has she appeared in a music-based movie -- Jack Black yes, Scarlett no. Read more ›
If you are looking for a higher quality magazine of music criticism and rock journalism, I'd suggest seeking out some of the lower circulation, genre-specific magazines out there. Spin caters too much to evaluating pop trends and pushing bands that are already popular for my taste. If the subscription price is cheap enough and you just want something to browse, then go for it. But if you really want a quality music magazine, you'll have to look a little harder at your local bookstore, there are some out there.