New New Musical Express

It seems that I had no need to fear that the changes to the NME would ruin what is currently the best music magazine in existence. Yes, the layout has changed, and there is a film review in there, but aside from that, it seems okay. In fact, I quite like it. Let’s take a look inside…

[Source: NME, 10th April 2010]

Upfront of the magazine, we have a collection of news & short articles, cleverly named “Upfront”. This includes the “What’s On The NME Stereo” list – now called “On Repeat”, “My Music” – now known as “Pieces of Me”, the NME chart, and Peter Robinson’s delightful “Versus” interviews. You may notice that we’re missing the Letters page, but it’s okay, because it’s been moved to the back of the magazine. What is not okay, however, is the lack of a contents index. One of the best things about the old NME, is flipping open the cover to find an indexed list of all bands and artists featured in the issue. This is particularly good for people like me, who sometimes “discover” bands a good few months [sometimes years] after everyone else, and then are able to go back through our collection of NMEs to see the articles that we had overlooked in the past. I’m hoping this isn’t a permanent oversight, and that we’ll see the band listing soon enough.

The layout is much cleaner, using less primary colours, which gives the magazine a more polished feel. Much of the old print design was dominated by the colour red, and, while it wasn’t bad, they’ve managed to create a new print layout that uses much less colour in general, and putting the two side-by-side, it now looks much better.

This week’s main feature is a series of interviews with each of the cover stars [Florence Welch, Biffy Clyro, Jack White, Rihanna, LCD Soundsystem, Laura Marling, Kasabian, Foals, MIA and Magnetic Man] about the current state of the music industry, and how they see it in ten years.  Here is a sample:

NME: Do you think the album format has much of a future?
Florence: “If you have put effort into the artwork and the tracklisting, and there’s a whole process about the way you’ve made your album, it would be really nice to think that people would respond to that attention to detail by buying the physical thing. I love albums. I love them as physical objects. And I remember being a kid and always singing along to music, holding the insert.”
[This sums up so much of how I feel about albums.  Go Florence!]

While the pages may not look the same, the snarky reviews have not changed.  I’m still a little apprehensive about the inclusion of “Film of the Week”, but aside from that, it’s all fine: album reviews, single reviews, live reviews…

In this issue, we’ve got a review of Noel Gallagher’s solo show at Royal Albert Hall.  Key quote:

“Then, when one bold drunk yells, “Where’s Liam?” after ‘Cast No Shadow’, that wry smile kicks across Noel’s face and he finally responds to the up-turned litter box of tabloid-funnelled insults and snubs thrown his way by his brother since last August: “He’s probably being a real northener somewhere, designing the perfect desert boot.” Zing!”

The gig guide hasn’t escaped the makeover, but it still serves its purpose well: to make me jealous that I don’t [yet] live in the UK.

Everybody knows that the best part of the NME [and the one that I was most terrified of losing] is Trevor Hungerford’s crossword.  I’m finally getting the hang of his semi-cryptic clues, and have actually been able to finish the whole thing a couple of times, which, to me is quite an achievement.  This week I’ve managed to finish about three quarters, which isn’t a poor effort.

Last, but not least, the new and improved Letters page.  Who knew that the letters page could be improved?  I honestly thought it was a work of perfection, but now it’s even better!  Not only does each letter have a suitably snarky response – but they’ve actually entered into correspondance.  The original author is then able to rebut the NME’s argument, causing some wonderful wankery.  Brilliant!

Overall, the new NME is something to embrace, not push away.  And I’m glad, because I’m not sure what I’d do without it.  Next week’s issue looks pretty good, too.  However, it might be a while before we get that one.  Damn Icelandic volcano!

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