HURRICANE CMJ

          As always, CMJ offered its mildly diverting assortment of daytime discussion panels offering a "comprehensive analysis of the alternative music industry." I avoided most of them, remembering how last year's debates on the validity of college radio vs. commercial-alternative revealed little more than pettiness and pointlessness. At one panel this year, moderator Bob Mould mumbled reluctantly through an ambiguous discussion of "artist moods" and "musical transitions," which included the ultra-introverted Stephen Merritt of Magnetic Fields/the 6ths fame, and ex-King Missile wordsmith John S. Hall. Panelist Kelley Deal had to cancel, and in any case, the discussion was going nowhere fast. Across the street, Village Voice music editor Evelyn McDonnell led a roomful of rock critics through the soul-searching topic, "Who Are We Writing For?" Things heated up when Philly gadfly and occasional CP contributor Chuck Eddy (who specializes in intelligent writing on "mainstream" artists) railed against the hip rock-crit establishment for being too insular, and too willing to collectively publish dozens of identical PJ Harvey raves per year. With the many new and promising bands on display that week, it was food for thought. (Simon Peter Groebner)

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