The Observer recently had lunch with Michael Azerrad, the rock journalist who edits a new music website called The Talkhouse, in Williamsburg. Mr. Azerrad has many connections in the field, and when we met, the site had already featured reviews by well-known musicians like Roseanne Cash and Bob Mould.
But Mr. Azerrad hinted to us that he had an even bigger name in the docket. When pressed for an answer, he kept quiet, saying it was a surprise.
Well, we think we can safely say that that name is Lou Reed, who reviews Yeezus, Kanye West’s new album, in The Talkhouse today.
This represents a major get for the fledgling music site, which publishes one review a day. Already the review — which is overwhelmingly positive but flecked with cutting asides — is garnering lots of attention.
Mr. Azerrad likes to make clear that, although he is editing a website that showcases writing solely by musicians, he doesn’t think they make better music writers. “I just think that they provide a point of view that’s been underutilized,” Mr. Azerrad told us.
With that in mind, one particular paragraph from Mr. Reed’s review stuck out; after calling the album’s “gussied up and processed” opening “perverse,” Mr. Reed gives an insight that only a musician could make:
Still, I have never thought of music as a challenge — you always figure, the audience is at least as smart as you are. You do this because you like it, you think what you’re making is beautiful. And if you think it’s beautiful, maybe they’ll think it’s beautiful. When I did Metal Machine Music, New York Times critic John Rockwell said, “This is really challenging.” I never thought of it like that. I thought of it like, “Wow, if you like guitars, this is pure guitar, from beginning to end, in all its variations. And you’re not stuck to one beat.” That’s what I thought. Not, “I’m going to challenge you to listen to something I made.” I don’t think West means that for a second, either. You make stuff because it’s what you do and you love it.
This is the kind of stuff The Talkhouse can offer that most other music websites can’t.