Patrick's Music Reviews is operated by Patrick Vacek, also known as Chromatic Apparition (and in the past as The Nowhere Man). I am both an active musician and an avid music fan. This blog began in 2007 with a desire to keep track of the setlists and other details of the concerts I attended. I quickly found that I enjoyed writing and so while I waited for the next exciting show to come to my town, I began reviewing albums and occasionally even wrote about other music-related topics. Gradually, I found that I had less and less time available to write about miscellaneous albums and ephemera, but I continued to write reviews of the majority of the concerts I attended in an effort to both preserve the memories for myself as well as provide a sincere analysis for any other interested parties. After all, a concert can be a very unique experience, and if it goes undocumented, who will remember the specific nuances that made it special?
When I started writing in 2007, my musical interests focused on a few specific eras and genres. First and foremost, I was obsessed with the new wave and post-punk movements of the late 70s and early 80s (The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Chameleons, Patti Smith, Gary Numan, Joy Division, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Bauhaus, etc.). I also was into a few bands from the preceding generation (The Beatles, The Velvet Underground) as well as some more contemporary groups (Radiohead, The Faint, Belle & Sebastian). Naturally, there were a few anomalous outliers as well, most notably including The Smashing Pumpkins.
A year after I began writing, I tried to analyze my perspectives and explain where I was coming from in a sort of pseudo-introductory post. While some of my statements from then still resonate with me today, they don't form a very complete picture of how I have grown since then. (At least I still like most of the same bands!) For example, I very gradually realized that I had an interest in folk music (Billy Bragg, Andrew Bird, Neil Young, CSN(Y), etc.) that continued to grow until I realized I was playing in a folk band (Missing Values)! On the other hand, I inherited a fondness for Kraftwerk from my father and for Einstürzende Neubauten from my sister, which led to a hunt for every Kosmische and Neue Deutsche Welle album I could find while living in Germany (Neu!, Can, Faust, Harmonia; Neonbabies, Nichts, Fehlfarben, Ideal, etc.). And after moving to Austin, Texas in 2013 and attending several of the big festivals around town (Austin City Limits, Fun Fun Fun Fest, South by Southwest, Levitation/Austin Psych Fest), I found myself getting into an entirely new set of bands and movements (Tame Impala, Beach House, Stereolab, etc.). That trend only continued after I moved to Berlin in 2017 with bands like Britta and Die Heiterkeit.
I think I will always like bands that try to stretch outside of their bounds. I like music that straddles the line of conventional and experimental. I like a song that tries something new. And I think I will always like a set of lyrics that has something truly meaningful to impart.
There is one last thing I should mention, and that is scoring. Most of my reviews features a letter grade, which is provided to offer a rough assessment of my interpretation of the relative quality a given recording, performance, etc. This is admittedly subjective, but I make an attempt to step back and look at the bigger picture. These scores have slightly different meanings depending on how familiar I am with a band or style, but that applies to my entire reviews as a whole anyway. (I will be more exacting, precise, and detailed about the things I know best, and more general, broad, and loose about things I know less.) The key is that a C means average, decent, respectable, mildly entertaining, not bad but not my thing, whatever. B means "good" or above average, and an A means transcendent, excellent, exceeding any expectations. An A+ means that I cannot conceive of how something could be better. (I don't give that score often.) D is for disappointing or disinterested, and F is for failure. I don't give many D or F scores because I try to avoid bad music. I am unashamed to announce that I am biased towards higher scores, and that is simply because I prefer to write about things I like.