There are plenty of annoying music snobs in the world, but very few qualify to be considered truly Picky Bastards.
Fran Slater – Fran has tried to be many things. He’s tried to be an electrician, nearly tried to be a teacher, almost managed to be a successful student, and is still kind of attempting to be a novelist. He now wants to be a music critic. Stupid bastard. Fran likes folk, indie, hip-hop, and all sorts of other things that make sounds. If you’re bored, you can check out some of his fiction here.
Nick Parker – Nick has been an unsuccessful writer longer than literally anyone, having spent a ridiculously long time studying and teaching lit & writing, before he gave up and founded Picky Bastards with his arch nemesis Nirmal Trivedi. As it’s grown into an empire, he’s always claimed to be into experimental music, but really he just likes the sound of the phrase. He’s also foolhardy enough to make music himself, under the name The Impulse Powers, so you can add that to the list of bands to avoid on Spotify.
Matt Paul – Matt has no musical talent or experience in amateur or professional journalism. Yes, his first music love was The Spice Girls. Yes, he has spent a lot of time listening to Nu Metal. And yes, he still occasionally listens to Nu Metal. He does, however, listen to music nearly all the time, often to the point of irritation of those around him. For some reason he thinks this justifies him spouting his opinions at people.
Sam Atkins – Sam claims to have an eclectic taste in music, but can someone who has listened to Rude Boy by Rihanna over 300 times really make that claim? He started writing about Games as a kid and quickly realised that the people around him were much better at writing about games than him. Now he does the same for music, but usually only so he can pretend that the world has been anxiously waiting for his opinion on the latest Björk album. Sam can usually be found screaming along at a gig somewhere in Manchester.
James Spearing – James grew up in a household full of strong musical opinions, usually about Liam Gallagher. His career in music journalism began composing reviews in his head watching bands starting with “The…” in the early noughties. Next came university where writing for a student fanzine was about only thing he could later put on his CV that made him look like a proper person. He studied English, so go figure. Now that he is grown up, works full time, has recently become a parent and has no spare hours he has decided to pretend to be a music writer once again.
Tom Burrows – Inspired by his contemporary musical heroes, Tom bought a keyboard last summer. To date, he has switched it on three times and learnt to play Jingle Bells. To offset his own failings, he’ll now disparage talented musicians in the name of ‘criticism’. You should take his verdicts on music with a handful of salt.
Fliss Clarke – Fliss used to play flute in wind band. She spent every Friday night of the early noughties at an indie club in Stoke aspiring to be the girl from Mars and making timely declarations of liking her sugar with coffee and cream. During the five years she lived in Brazil Fliss learned how to pretend to samba and once put on a failed drum n bass night. She has a penchant for weird folk, dirty basslines, old soul and Beyonce.
Constantine Courtis – Constantine grew up in Greece listening to anything his father was playing on CD and vinyl. The first CDs he bought were Queen’s Greatest Hits II, Scorpions’ Best Of and Greek rocker Vassilis Papakonstantinou’s Sfentona. As a teenager Constantine grew his hair, joined a band and moved to London to go to gigs and discover new music (difficult in the pre-internet era). 20 something years the hair is shorter and thinner, he still plays some music, he tries to go to gigs (fewer) and discover new music (less so). But it’s the thought that counts.
Fat Roland – Fat Roland named himself after a synthesiser. He launched his music writing career during the thousand-week chart-topping reign of Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It for You. He went on to hang out with the Backstreet Boys for a whole afternoon, and he once made Bjork cough. These days he is a columnist for Electronic Sound magazine. Fats is a techno-head: if music doesn’t go bleep, he doesn’t understand it. He also doesn’t understand washing machines, long division or pelican crossings.
Kim Fernley – Kimberley was brought up in the picturesque town of Stockport, listening to Celine Dion and The Bee Gees. Her first gig was Boyzone. Now she enjoys her music dark, droney, distorted, and psychedelic. Kimberley likes reading menus. She would love to have a floppy eared dog called Puddles but can’t due to her working hours. Kimberley tried to learn the guitar but her hands are too small. She attempted the ukulele but just couldn’t.
Kathryn Halliday – Kathy inherited her questionable taste in music from her parents; a mix of Boston, Smokie and Fleetwood Mac. She once firmly believed she had been living next door to Alice for 24 years (despite being only 10 years old at the time of this revelation). As strange children tend to do, she grew up into an even stranger adult, with an unhealthy obsession for eyeliner and Stevie Nicks. More recently, she has been failing admirably at writing a novel and taking solace in music. She will listen to anything, but some of her favourites include Snowmine, OMAM and The Shins.
Mike Hull – Mike is an East Midlands boy who has emigrated to the north for the weather. He enjoys cosy nights in, romantic walks on the beach, and takes his coffee with precisely 2 sugars. Mike enjoys the music of Otis Redding, Beastie Boys, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Arab Strap, and a bunch of old hardcore bands. He can often be found drinking special brew and shouting at people down the local park.
Kirsten Loach – Also known in family circles as ‘the person who painted the Blu-Tack black’, Kirsten has recently finished a PhD. This is something that would probably surprise her old primary school teachers, given that she used to make regular escape attempts, barricade herself into classrooms, and once even went on hunger strike refusing to eat a mushy pea. Today she likes to listen to shouty women music, in a pitiful attempt to pretend that the Blu-Tack painting rebel child is still alive in there somewhere.
Nirmal Trivedi – Nirmal spends an inordinate amount of time pretending to be an intellectual while secretly hoping to be discovered by a 80s hair metal producer who happens to be starting a Judas Priest reunion tour and needs a stand-in for Rob Halford. I know that love bites and some heads are gonna roll, and I can’t wait to put on those leather pants again.
Pete Wild – Pete feels so old as to be practically Biblical. He’s met the likes of Jeff Buckley and Bret Easton Ellis, published badly selling books that failed to change his life, and still writes fiction with the junkie fervour of a strung out Lottery card addict who thinks maybe, just maybe, this one will be the one that earns him a measure of something (he no longer has any clear idea what that something might be). The best he hopes for, really, is to be thought of as “one of those interesting hacks” MES sang about in the song ‘It’s a Curse’.
Lisa Whiteman – Lisa has grown up and has a sensible day job, as well as a child, which means she is often seen, headphones in, pretending she is 19 again. Having (mis)spent her youth in TJs and other South Wales indie haunts, she is fond of venues in which you stick to the floor and fill your boots with that disco cocktail of beer and sweat. Looking at her CD shelf as she types, she’s pleased to confirm you’ll find everything you need and dont need, from Alice in Chains to Zola Jesus, At The Drive In to Wu Tang Clan with lots in between, including Madonna’s Immaculate Collection. And Moses, she will destroy your crazy golf game.
Anne-Marie Sims – Anne-Marie started writing published articles in 2003 yet somehow never managed to become an actual writer. She used to co-run a night that made no money, but was a brilliant way of seeing new bands for free and being allowed to play records in public. As a student, she claimed to only like obscure tracks from indie B-sides and demos. Her favourite band? “Oh you wouldn’t know them.” Older and (allegedly) wiser, she now finds all her new faves from Spotify algorithms and freely admits to her teeny bopping past. Don’t ask her to pick a genre: she can’t decide.
Sarah Moses – Sar is old enough to have seen grunge’s heyday but debuted too late for much of R.E.M.’s IRS output, a fact which still chafes her to this day. She makes better cakes than your ma and enjoys thunderstorms with deep vigour. Play mini golf or Scrabble against her at your peril.
Joe Shervin – Joe likes to think his is an eclectic music taste, but the reality is an over-reliance on guitar-led, hairy, good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. And why not, eh? It’s raw, uplifting, and honest. Just like him. He’s also hairy.