SWells : Harp “Licked Musician Ass Until It’s Tongue Bled”

Middle age has taught me that regardless of my current views on the state of print media, nobody wants to hear about the good old days reading Suburban Relapse and Sick Teen ’til 4am whilst surrounded by vomiting kitty-cats. Look, I already know that Rusty Clarke and Mission Of Burma excepted, most everything I used to love has completely gone to shit. Fortunately for the rest of you, however, former NME/current Guardian scribe Steven Wells (above) isn’t quite prepared to take the death of modern rock criticism lying down. “Once music journalism was the playground of punks, pirates, arse bandits, chancers, hardcore lesbian punk bondage freaks, revolutionaries, drug addicts and the borderline insane,” writes Wells in the current Philadelphia Weekly. Man, have you ever heard someone so romantic for the glory days of Alternative Press?

Three leading indie music magazines have bitten the dust since the beginning of the year. The spectacularly dull No Depression, the stunningly uninteresting Resonance and the jaw–droppingly mediocre Harp have all recently gone to that great Belle and Sebastian disco in the sky. All of which is great news for anybody who hates mediocrity.

Harp founder Scott Crawford was actually proud of how timid and unambitious and bland his baby was. He described Harp as ”a nice middle ground between the indie–centric Magnet and the dad–rockin’ Paste,” which is not so much a manifesto as a prenatal death rattle.

Full disclosure: I worked for Harp for a while. Publisher Glenn Sabin recently described the magazine as ”irreverent.” It wasn’t. It licked musician ass until its tongue bled. The line ”Joe Strummer must be laughing his rotting cock off,” was cut from a review I wrote of an embarrassingly necrophiliac Clash re–reissue box set because it was ”disrespectful.” And the editor who hired me—admittedly a rampaging punk rock lunatic—was told to clear his desk and vacate the building immediately.

Eventually the dullards reached a dull critical mass. They formed hundreds of dull, white, sexless and punchably smug suburban bands. And they started magazines with names like No Depression and Harp and Resonance and Corduroy. Yes there really is a magazine called Corduroy. One imagines they passed on Beige as too incendiary and Cardigan as just a shade too fucking exciting.

7 thoughts on “SWells : Harp “Licked Musician Ass Until It’s Tongue Bled””

  1. Sub-interesting to write about a magazine who did an Acid Mothers Temple feature in their second issue, and let me write a gratis Jackson C Frank reissue review for their third. Maybe they didn’t keep up that innovation as intensely all the way through, but the desire was obviously there at the very least. At least there’s the Fretboard Journal to keep things outside the norm.

  2. Wait, you print 355 words on a commercial website without payment or permission? That’ll be #100 please. Where do I send the invoice?

  3. 263 words now, Steven. If you’d like to send a pro-rated invoice to my attention, my contact details are elsewhere on the site. True, it’s a commercial website. But then again, it’s tough flogging the Belle & Sebastian back catalog in the face of such invective, so take it easy on us. Between the bill for the above excerpt and all the full page ads we bought in Harp, the company xmas party might have to be held at Arby’s this year.

  4. Well I was going to suggest you pay me in CDs but after reading that—cash please.

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