I started reading this magazine about 5 years ago. In that time, it has most definitely lost its edge. While it is admitedly the best mainstream music magazine out there, it no longer has the biting attitude that it once had. You can survey the downward progression as simply as reading last page of every issue, where they traditionally feature what they consider an 'edgy' comic. It has now degenerated into a boring comic strip about the 'secret lives of celebrities'.
At least it's not Rolling Stone, I guess.
Some Good Some Bad
This issue of SPIN, "50 GREATEST BANDS" was terrible. But SPIN also had best music from the 90's issue. This was very solid list. The writing was solid, the list seemed to be put togethor with a lot of thought. For example look at the mentioning of the "Buena Vista Social Club" album in the "90's issue. The writing was excellent why this album was mentioned !!
I guess I'm more of a Rolling Stone guy?
I've had a sub to SPIN and RS for a couple months now, and I tend to pick up RS a lot more. SPIN gets a skim on arrival, and then sits around til I pitch it in the recycle bin. Call it personal preference, but I'm just compelled to spend any time with it.
But don't take my word for it!
Just pick up a copy--at pretty much any store--and skim through it. Buy it if you like it, put it back if you don't. (I'm assuming you don't know how shopping works, if you've never heard of SPIN and need a review.)
Informationally Better & More Inciteful than RS
Spin was the standard "way back when" elipsed in some ways by Paste, Under the Radar, Magnet etc but still comes through in the clutch with reviewers with a a wider frame of reference than many of the above and the opportunity to review odd-ball items and get out that information quickly in its "Spin Mix" column. If the songs they ID aren't on myspace, the band usually is, thus a chance to sample new music. And the greatest advantage to a Spin subscription is that it's so bloody cheap. (Note: In two years, they'll paying YOU to subscribe!) It is respectfully submitted to start your subscription now, but remember to ignore some of the bands it hypes -- but embrace some of the others.
"Spin" is an accurate name for something like this -- a lot of hype, for an innocuous but rather tepid rock magazine. If Rolling Stone is the dirty old geezer of rock magazines, then Spin is the teenager who tries hard to convince you he's cool by name-dropping the Strokes.
Spin covers some of the same turf as Rolling Stone and Blender, but less lasciviously -- lots of coverage of popular bands. Some of them are quite good -- the Hives, for example, or indie newcomer Steve Burns (who quit his job on "Blues Clues" after hearing a Flaming Lips album, and reinvented his life as a rocker).
Unfortunately they overemphasize whatever bands are hot at the moment, and then overemphasize them again -- as well as tacking them up in whatever "coolest"/"best" lists they chalk up for the year/decade/century/history of rock. Indie cred is maintained by a few half-page articles on potentially hot bands like the Comas and Metric, but this info is halfhearted. It's like they're reluctant to tear themselves away from articles on better-known bands, regardless of talent.
The writing, however, has that certain affliction that a lot of major rock magazines have: the Need To Be Cool. Their writers always are trying to be funny, but rarely come across that way. It seems silly and strained, like a soccer mom wearing a spandex tube dress. Even the CD reviews are mediocre. However, one recent highlight is Dave Eggers' columns -- witty, funny, and a little bit skewed. In fact, they are often the best things in the entirety of the magazine.
One of the problems is the emphasis on stuff in Hollywood. Scarlett Johanssen is a wonderful actress, yes. But she doesn't sing, nor has she appeared in a music-based movie -- Jack Black yes, Scarlett no. And what is up with party coverage on TV starlet Mischa Barton and MTV couples?
Check out sublimely indie mags like Chord, Filter, Under the Radar and the online Kludge for in-depth looks at some worthy bands. As for Spin? It's still trying to convince us it's cool, but Eggers is the only regularly cool thing about it.
Spin doesn't spin
Spin magazine has gotten a lot less cutting edge. It's all MTV-related jokes and burbly articles. At times they have a good article or picture orr whatever, but most of the time they rely on trends and flavors of the month,
If you want good music magazines, try looking at Q or Mojo. Or if you want to stick with American music mags, check out the new Filter which is almost as good. They have everything Spin doesn't.
SPIN is the type of magazine that tries too hard to be hip -- which, of course, is the exact antithesis of hip. Because of this geeky obsession to remain on the "cutting edge" (the editors obviously have no clue that they're about as close to the "edge" as FAMILY CIRCLE), the magazine doesn't age well -- track down some back issues and try not to laugh. On the other hand, if you're one of those intellectually stunted individuals who think tribal tats and Staind is as good as it gets, by all means send in that subscription card and join the ranks of the Supercool....
Twenty minutes per issue
I ordered SPIN for a year, but soon found that the amount of time I spend with a new issue is not much more than 20 minutes. I'm forty now, so I don't care who is supposed to be cool. Most of the bands are not that interesting to me, but that's not the point. It's the writing, mostly pretty stupid photographs and record reviews that don't excite me. In my opinion, a better magazine supposed to cover similar ground is "Under the radar". If you really care about music and want to read an informative magazine, try "Mojo". They cover a wide range of different styles and I spend usually several hours with a new issue. Of course, you won't get it for ten dollars a year! BTW, my SPIN subscription ran out several months ago and I keep receiving it for free. But do I care?
The Best (in print media), but getting worse...
Spin circa two years ago was a pretty good read. The articles were written with that nice, biting sarcasm (not VH1 eunich-sarcasm, mind you). The reviews, while relying heavily on name-checking, were pretty damn on-target. Even the incessant name-checking was done in a self-lacerating, self-aware fashion that was entertaining (eg, FUGAZI was once mentioned in a Wu-Tang review... yeah).
Whey th' hell you gone, SPIN (can I say that)? A recent issue gave Hootie and the GD Blowfish a "B+"!! Ugh. No further comment needed. Also, a promo piece for Madonna hanger-on Ali G. lamely joked about how England was our millitary ally but still "unleashed" him on our culture...shut up.
I love you, Spin, you convinced me to buy Ornette Coleman's 1971 jazz masterpiece Science Fiction. If you get any lamer, though, you'll be just another [junk] music mag (What?! Rolling Stone? Did someone say Rolling Stone?!).
Bleak, huh? Hey, don't worry, kid, haven't you heard? The i-net is usurping all sorts of mad cred from the print world.
better in it's earlier days
I Liked SPin at first but sometime around the mid 90's through now I got bored with them.they ahve a few things I dug such as there take&asking artists too name there favorite Artists ever type of things but over time they went with the flow&just are kinda there.I don't get alot of what they have become&while I like some older issues&articles I don't pay them Mag much attention when I go magazine&book reading.