f you want to hear new
music, quite often the best place to find it is an
alternative station. Here, in a quite bizarre way, the
major young-audience geared radio station is Triple J.
What makes it bizarre is that a) it is a government
funded and run radio station, b) it is an alternative
music station and c) it currently is the number one
radio station in the country which means in some rather
bizarre kind of way, alternative music has become
How can alternative music become mainstream? Well
here, in Australia, what is played on Triple J these
days is a lot of emo, neo grunge, neo punk and neo goth.
And they all sound the same. Itís as if the era of the
garage band never really died.
Every year there is a fabulous new garage/emo/punk/goth
band whose biggest hit is usually something that sounds
like it should belong in either the extremely bubble pop
dance genre or the "we are going to be really bad at it
so that you know for sure we are heavy metal" genre. And
they always seem to top the charts when they countdown
to the biggest hit of the year before every Australia
So where is the real alternative music if you really
donít want to listen to a thousand new wave cure clones
who manage to be inspired by all the horrible bits of
cure and none of the good? Or if you donít want to
listen to Wolfmother ó please, no more! ó or even The
Herd? I donít want to listen to an Australian rap about
the ghetto. Australian ghettos are miles away in the
good direction from a lot of the slums of the world.
Itís in the community radio stations. These are
stations with a few paid staff and the rest volunteers.
They are backed by donations and a few government
grants. However, they are a great place for new bands to
get heard especially if your band does not fit into a
Wolfmother like clone to qualify for Triple Jís new
music programme Unearthed. Seriously I have
nothing against Triple J but when are they going to play
some really good music ó where have the staff membersí
ears disappeared to? How can you be alternative if you
But when new bands, old bands, any bands try to get
on the air with any radio station, they send them CDs.
And this is where I come in. With not enough cash coming
in to pay everyone as it is, RTR FM has called for
volunteers to write music reviews.
Writing a review
So I catch the train to Mt. Lawley, which is just
past Perth, and walk a few blocks. I go in and hunt
through a huge big cardboard box that contains all the
CDs. I eventually pick one that looks the most
interesting and I sign off for it. Then I venture back
home and listen to it. This ends up with me sticking
lots of Post It Notes everywhere. "Hmmm... voice reminds
me of Mark Knopfler" and "TOM PETTY!!!" and other such
random phrases are scattered everywhere on yellow
squares of sticky paper.
Eventually I get around to writing a review. Then I
attempt to email it but usually someone stops me and
tells me to sex it up a bit or make it seem more
attractive. Give it a hook at the beginning to make
people want to read it. That sort of thing. Which means
I rewrite the damn thing so that even if I hated it, in
all of the 250 words it requires, there is only one
really negatively critical line.
I email it off and invariably get a reply along the
lines of "Thanks, come by and pick up another one any
time." At the moment, I think there are only two people
who are writing reviews ó me and my boyfriend. The rest
of the CDs get doled out amongst the staff with most of
them dumped on the poor intern. However she must have a
growing portfolio of music reviews and a huge CD
collection. The policy is that whoever reviews the CDs,
gets to keep them.
I was rather surprised at this. I thought they would
have wanted to keep the CDs so that they could play them
once the albums are officially released but clearly they
must have several copies. Once I send in the review, I
have to wait till the album is actually released. The
CDs are available before the release date of the album
specifically so that they can be reviewed in time. Then
when the album is officially released, the review goes
up on the radio stationís website and possibly gets read
out on air as well though I havenít tuned in to listen
yet. If I was more organised, Iíd write one each week,
with about two weeks between submitting it and seeing it
This means that a) I get to keep the CDs b) I can
have free music to put on my mp3 player if I want to, c)
I get it before anyone else does without paying, d) one
day there might be an advance copy of an album by
someone whose music I really am a fan of.
My only problem is that given the size of my flat, I
am at a loss as to where to keep all these CDs.