20 Musicians Who Write About Music
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For the most part, the roles of musician and music journalist are filled by different individuals. But that’s not always the case—sometimes the ones writing the music are also writing about music. Look closely at your favorite websites’ bylines, and it’s relatively easy to find some of these musician critics.
If you count guest essays and one-off articles, this list would become substantially larger. But for our purposes, however, we’re only focusing on musicians who have written for an extended period of time about music—including having a staff position, writing a column, regularly contributing or authoring a book.
11. Zac Pennington
Pennington worked as a music editor for the Portland Mercury for a few years, but has since expressed his disdain for music journalism. The Parenthetical Girls frontman wrote about his writing experiences for Impose (read the entire piece here), saying: “For a period of my life, I wrote about pop music for a living. I wouldn’t claim to have done it particularly well, and moreover, I fear it did me more harm—both socially and karmically—than good.”
12. Amy Klein
As a member of Titus Andronicus, Amy Klein spent several years as the Glen Rock, N.J.’s finest female rocker. She left the group, however, to pursue other interests, including writing for publications such as The New York Times, Spinner and her own blog.
13. John Darnielle
The Mountain Goats
When John Darnielle’s not writing songs or performing, The Mountain Goats frontman has reviewed albums for websites such as eMusic as well as penned a 33 1/3 book on Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality.
14. Andrew Leahey
Leahey, a Richmond, Va. singer/songwriter who regularly pays with his band The Homestead, currently writers for AllMusic, American Songwriter and the Washington Times. In the past, he’s also worked with CMJ, Spin, Radar and Paste.
15. Mikel Jollett
The Airborne Toxic Event
Prior to playing music under the name The Airborne Toxic Event, Jollett wrote for publications such as NPR, Los Angeles Times and worked as a managing editor for Filter magazine.
16. Adam Moerder and Nick Sylvester
New York rock trio Mr. Dream features not one, but two music writers in their lineup. Moerder has written for the New Yorker and Pitchfork. Sylvester, who at one point worked for the Village Voice and Pitchfork, received a significant amount backlash after reportedly fabricating a cover story for The Voice. The scandal not only led to his Village Voice suspension, but ultimately forced Sylvester to resign from his associate editor position with Pitchfork (he’s since continued his to work the online publication).
17. Brian Cook
In addition to being the bassist for the Chicago-based instrumental metal group Russian Circles, Brian Cook occasionally contributes to Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger.
18. Travis Morrison
The Dismemberment Plan
The former D.C. frontman and occasional Pitchfork punching bag currently works for The Huffington Post as a Director of Commercial Production. Every now and then, however, the former The Dismemberment Plan writes about music (including for his current employer).
19. Riley Breckenridge
Thrice recently announced an indefinite hiatus, but even before that, drummer Riley Breckenridge worked with the O.C. Weekly as a columnist. Recently, he’s written about Pearl Jam, his favorite drummers and Bad Religion.
20. Drew Daniel
One half of the left-field experimental duo Matmos, Daniel has written on industrial music. Much of his work has been focused on Throbbing Gristle, whose catalog he reviewed for Pitchfork. Daniel also authored a 33 1/3 book on the group’s seminal album 20 Jazz Funk Greats.