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.
1. Carrie Brownstein
Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag
The Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag guitarist/vocalist/Portlandia actress first wrote for Slate and The Believer, before going on host her own NPR Music blog Monitor Mix from 2007-2010. This week, she announced plans to write a memoir focusing on her involvement in Olympia’s music scene, where Sleater-Kinney originally formed.
2. Rollie Pemberton
The Canadian MC originally attended Journalism school on his way to writing for Pitchfork and Stylus earlier in his career. Lately, he’s focused less on writing as he’s devoted his energy towards a forthcoming followup to his 2008 album Afterparty Babies.
3. Christopher R. Weingarten
Parts & Labor
Before he pursued a career as a writer and editor, Christopher Weingarten played drums with New York noise rockers Parts & Labor. Since leaving the group, he’s written a 33 1/3 book on Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, completed his 1000 Times Yes Twitter project and most recently joined Spin’s staff.
4. Ira Kaplan
Yo La Tengo
Before Ira Kaplan started Yo La Tengo, Kaplan wrote for New York Rocker and The Soho News. Looking back, he told the Baltimore City Paper in 2007: “I was always the cliché of somebody whose goal was to have a band…and failing that was doing these other things so I could hang around the outskirts of what I wanted to be doing. I knew I wanted to be in a band, but it always seemed impossible to me. You know all the stories about people who have a light bulb go off that says, `I could do this, too’? It never went off for me.”
5. Anthony D’Amato
While attending Princeton University, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter Anthony D’Amato wrote his college thesis on Bruce Springsteen. He’s continued as a music scribe, contributing to Paste and Rolling Stone. In addition, D’Amato also works as a publicist for Shorefire, penning press releases for his clients (which have included Bon Iver, St. Vincent and Mavis Staples).
6. Sasha Frere-Jones
Frere-Jones has worked on staff at The New Yorker for the better part of the last decade, while also writing for The New York Times, Slate, Village Voice and numerous other publications. Beyond his career as a journalist, he co-founded Ui in 1990, making music with the two-bass group for much of the past 20 years.
7. David Mead
The Nashville-based singer/songwriter, who “enjoys carpentry and hiking in his free time,” has also written for Paste and American Songwriter over the years. Recently, Mead received help from his fans to raise money to finish and release his most recent album, Dudes.
8. Mike Doughty
In his heyday with Soul Coughing, Mike Doughty also contributed articles to the Village Voice and New York Press. He’s returned to writing in recent years, both as a solo musician and as a writer, releasing his memoir The Book of Drugs in January 2012.
9. Elizabeth Sankey
Half of the UK duo Summer Camp, Elizabeth Sankey has written for the Guardian, Guardian Guide and NME. In addition, she’s also spent time as an editor for Platform. Summer Camp’s debut LP Welcome To Condale came out last November (read our review here).
10. Dominique Leone
Leone has put out several records of experimental, off-kilter pop music since 2007. Before that, he was a regular contributor to Paste, AllMusic and Pitchfork. It’s been several years since he wrote for us, but check out his 2006 feature on The Knife here.