NME vs Kassidy vs Glasgow?

Posted on April 5, 2011

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A recent NME review of Kassidy’s debut album, Hope Street, has caused a fair old storm, and in the process opened up a whole new debate.

I call what NME published a review, but it was basically an assault on the band by Jamie Crossan, where he labelled them “Topman mannequins masquerading as humans” and “a bunch of morons”, and failed to give any valid critique to explain why he disliked the album.

It’s hardly surprising to read such an article in the NME, the magazine is renowned for its band-bashing and cheap shots. I personally don’t read it anymore, and it seems I am not the only one who has long since turned off from the magazine.

I personally am not a big fan of Kassidy’s music. I reviewed the 1st EP and gave it a good write-up, which it deserved, but the following releases have not been to my taste. This post has nothing to do with whether I like the band or not, is certainly not a platform to bash them, and is simply a response to some of the current furore.

The review has garnered a lot of attention, with the link being shared on Facebook almost 800 times, and a barrage of responses ensuing. The comments on the review are littered with Kassidy fans showing their displeasure, and I’m sure some of the social network sharing has involved fans sticking up for the band.

The vast majority of what I have seen – this could be down to where I’m situated and the circles I keep – is people sharing the review, laughing about it, and basically enjoying Kassidy getting panned.

Kassidy’ stage manager feels this is due to one thing, stating on Facebook, “if you are in a band, in Glasgow, and become slightly successful, you will receive an unprovoked hatred towards you!”

This is a sentiment Hamish from the band shared in a BBC interview last year, saying:

“The Glasgow music scene is a fairly hostile place. Not many people support each other. If they do see any one of their peers – it could be their friends, it could be their family – doing anything they’re not, it becomes terribly hostile and they turn against you.”

It is a shame if a band feel like that, and I’m sure there are people hating on the band for various unfair reasons, but it doesn’t sound at all reflective of the unsigned scene in Glasgow to me.

There is simply more to the current wave of dislike for Kassidy than them being successful.

Look at the likes of Frightened Rabbit, Mogwai and Belle and Sebastian – all bands that came through the Glasgow music scene, and gained massive success, way beyond what Kassidy have achieved at this moment – where is the backlash for them? It’s more common for folk who supported them in the early days to wear their success as a badge of pride, and folk to mention their names proudly when talking of music in the city.

The band’s stage manager also commented on “the bitterness of the unsigned scene kids in Glasgow”. He believes “they should be thanking this band for attracting attention to the Glasgow music scene rather than doing the opposite”.

It’s definitely fair enough not to expect abuse from it, and it’s understandable to be annoyed by the online chiding, but Kassidy have simply never been part of an unsigned scene in Glasgow, so why should the band expect the support of said community?

Kassidy were signed to Vertigo Records – a major label that is home to the likes of The Killers, Metallica, and Razorlight – before having had a release or played a show, so there is bound to not be that affinity between the band and the unsigned scene.

I personally find it hard to believe that scouts will be flocking to unsigned gigs in Glasgow due to Kassidy – the band is not very representative of the music in the city. That’s not an attack on their tunes, it just seems obvious to me that the band don’t sound like what is popular in Glasgow, and have a far more mainstream sound, hence people who follow unsigned music in the city not taking to it.

Biffy Clyro have been darlings of Scottish music for a long time, but they have suffered a backlash of sorts recently. This is not due to them becoming successful, it’s due to them changing their style and playing very mainstream music, which was never going to sit well with the general gig-going punter.

Some people are going to be fickle and begrudge a band success, and those types of people are simply idiots. The Pop Cop recently wrote a great article about fans turning on bands when they become successful, and while this is prevalent, I don’t think it fits here.

The article also highlights (through my big online mouth) that what we put on the net often reaches the artist. It’s simply the way people communicate today – everything goes online and folk are going to voice their opinions this way, good or bad.

For every jibe at Kassidy there has been a rush of support from fans, which is good to see. I think people are within their rights to post their like or dislike about a band equally, and if it is a joke amongst friends then that’s their private conversation.

The NME review was extremely harsh, but I will still find the funny side to things like Kassidy being labelled “Crosby, Stills, and Gary Barlow”.

You don’t want to see folk getting a hard time though, and if it ever gets to the stage where a band are becoming some sort of pantomime villain then it has probably gone too far. I don’t think misguided outbursts at, what I find to be, a friendly and welcoming community help the cause though.

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