Everyone’s a critic. From discussions about last week’s episode of “House, M.D.,” to the endless blogs on every topic, all the way up to the popular press, there’s an opportunity for everyone to give their opinion on the latest whatever. Many of those who make their living analyzing the fruits and flops of pop and underground culture are the “go-to” critics for the consumer who can’t decide whether or not they should go see “Jackass 2” or buy the Killers’ new album.

But with all those critics out there, the reviews are bound to differ, so who should you listen to? Who has the “best” opinion? Well, I’m no expert – so chances are you might want to ignore my reviews – but I am quite the connoisseur of other people’s opinions!

The individual critics one respects and trusts will vary from person to person, and thus telling you my list of favorite journalists would be pointless unless you and I share the same likes and dislikes. Instead, I will review the overall content of critical music publications, so that the next time you’re at the magazine rack you’ll have an idea of on which ‘zine you should blow that precious $3.99 – or $6.99 in Canada.

First on the chopping block – American Music Press – AMP.

If I wanted to spend my free time reading typo-filled articles, I’d pick up a few pages from the Campus Times copy desk. Editing is something the people over at AMP need to seriously consider paying more attention to both in terms of overall content, as well as the grammar and punction.

The black-and-white, newspaper print pages are filled with interviews and articles from both obscure and well-known musicians alike. However most of this content seems to be lacking significant? well? content.

Picture this – you’re an aspiring journalist who has been given the opportunity to pick the brain of the frontman of a band who have catapulted from the underground to the alternative mainstream in a matter of months. Although your time is limited, you don’t want to blow this opportunity. You want this to be memorable, with the artist and your future readers unable to get over what an amazing interview you conducted!

Sadly, the journalists at AMP rarely take advantage of the great opportunities their given, asking mundane and banal questions. Usually I’m a cover-to-cover reader, regardless of my personal interest in the content. Even if I’ve never heard of the artist, I’ll read the article because it’s usually well-written and at least somewhat interesting.

This is not the case with AMP. But when the standards for publication are “read through it twice, make sure it’s presentable, and send it [in],” I guess expectations can’t be too high.

Nevertheless, AMP gives coverage to very obscure unknown bands, breakthrough artists and everyone in between. Each issue, published bi-monthly, offers space for musicians, such as Russ Rankin of Good Riddance and Tripp Underwood of The Unseen, to write about whatever it is their hearts desire. These columns often give more insight into the inner workings of a band than you would get in your average interview, which is another unique feature.

Personally, I prefer quality before quantity, but if you’re interested in nuts and bolts information about a vast number of bands in the alternative scene – and you don’t mind the typos – AMP is your go-to rag.

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