Some of the new reviews are more like blurbs

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I've noticed in the last few weeks that reviews for new albums have been pretty poor, by and large. Many have been fewer than five sentences, and they rarely give any real information about the quality of the music. A few examples:

The recent David Byrne/St. Vincent collaboration contains information about where it was recorded, and with whom, and then briefly describes the lead single, without any discussion of the other 11 tracks whatsoever. It's not even clear that the reviewer has listened to the rest of the album.

The newest Dave Matthews Band album mentions that Steve Lillywhite is producing, and that a few of the songs have been played in concert over the last year or so. That's it.

New ZZ Top album is the same thing: info about how and when it was recorded, and no comment on the music itself.

These are not reviews. At best, they're blurbs. They're even less informative than what we could have gleaned from a press release provided by the record label.

Even the luminous Dylan earns no more than four sentences from Thom Jurek, one of which simply mentions that Dylan used his touring band to record it.

Admittedly, not every new review is like that. But I'm a little disappointed to see high profile albums by longtime artists who've surely earned a little more effort than this. I could always count on AllMusicGuide to provide complex, in depth discussion of releases by pretty much everyone ever. But now I'm finding more and more that the reviews are closer to a blurb provided as a promotional tool. Whether or not that's a result of having your reviews co-opted by Spotify, Rhapsody, et al, whose agenda is of course to sell music (which perhaps means, unless it's a glowing review, a noncommittal one is preferred), I'm not sure. But it disappoints me as a loyal reader for many many years.
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Greg Luzitano

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  • angry and disappointed

Posted 7 years ago

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Chrysta Cherrie

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Hi Greg,
Make no mistake, we haven't lowered our standards for reviews and you can look forward to soon seeing the full reviews you expect. Rather, we've been experiencing some technical issues contributing to delays in full album reviews appearing live on the site. The blurbs you're currently seeing for the albums you mentioned (and some others, for that matter) are intended for pre-release purposes but remain on the albums' pages until the proper reviews come through. You'll also notice none of the affected albums have star ratings, which also coincides with the full review posting to the site. We're aware of the issue and appreciate your patience while we work to resolve it.

Thank you for using AllMusic!
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rootsmusic

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Chrysta, I don't understand why your editors should bother with first posting descriptive blurbs. In the past, I wasn't aware about this practice so I'd assumed that some "reviews" (actually descriptions) were poorly written. Even some overviews are biographical blurbs, like https://getsatisfaction.com/allmusic/...
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hey Rootsmusic,
Many of the albums that are coming out in upcoming weeks deserve a little bit of information... maybe not with a "critical assessment" of the work itself but a brief statement on the facts around the album that can be confirmed from the press release. "This is Van Morrison's 35th release. He plays multiple instruments on the album. The album was recorded in Belfast." Things like that.

Please keep in mind that AllMusic draws its data from the AMG database which also supplies many of the online retailers with information about upcoming releases. Our customers have requested us to provide up-front information before the album comes out, then replace that with our usual critical analysis that folks expect.

Looking at the upcoming Martha Wainwright album: the pre-release review tells me that it was recorded in Sean Lennon's home studio, was produced by Cibo Matto's Yuka Honda, she worked with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline & Dirty Three drummer Jim White, and there is a song written by Wainwright's mother, the late Kate McGarrigle.

This pre-release information tells me that I will probably be interested in checking this out when it gets released. This sounds like it is providing good information, as far as our site trying to be a resource for music discovery.
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Greg Luzitano

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Ah, excellent. Thanks much, Chrysta.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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This has been resolved. Sorry about that.
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Tim Sheridan

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This is clearly not resolved for Van Morrison's "Born To Sing, No Plan B". The review has a star rating, but it is clear Thom Jurek didn't listen to the album. It's just a boring rewording of the press release. Sad!
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Chrysta Cherrie

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Hi Tim,
Despite the presence of a rating, I can tell what you're seeing for that Van Morrison album is one of the aforementioned pre-release blurbs, and I know from Thom's writing style that that isn't a typical review from him. Sure enough, looking up the album in our editorial admin tool, I see we have an almost 500-word review by Thom for the release.

I checked a bunch of other featured new releases from this week to see if the problem is happening anywhere else, but everything looks fine, so my assumption is that a checkbox in the editorial tool didn't get checked, and thus the review didn't go out. Let me check (ha ha) with my colleagues to be sure.

Thank you for using AllMusic!
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Tim Sheridan

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ok.