Bring The Noise by Simon Reynolds (Soft Skull Press)

Bring The Noise collects Simon Reynolds’ previously published pieces, dating back to 1985. Quite frankly, I found the book troubling. First, there’s a tremendous British bias in his writing, including broad generalizations about American audiences and performers, as well as a lot of ink spent on genres and groups that are largely unknown outside of the U.K. (Dubstep, Dizzee Rascal, So Solid Crew, Manic Street Preachers, Trance Music, Grime, Rave-Punk, Roni Size/Reprazent). His cheerleading for British hip-hop is especially grating, and a writer who has been in the business as long as him should understand it’s a distinctly American music-form, just as Reggae belongs to Jamaica, and Brit-pop belongs to England. He also over-intellectualizes groups and trends that don’t deserve the deeper cultural context he tries to pin on them. For example, a 1999 article on the rise of “player-hating” lyrics in hip-hop (which incorrectly credits Notorious BIG with codifying the player persona) seems silly now; or the piece on cartoonish rappers Onyx, who are likened to Oi! music (likely because Reynolds needs a British reference point to understand an American phenomenon)…and so on. Lastly, like some kind of music-nerd George Lucas, Reynolds can’t resist meddling with his own past, ending each article with a new commentary, begging the question: Shouldn’t his essays stand on their own without added hindsight?