There are plenty of annoying music snobs in the world, but very few qualify to be considered truly Picky Bastards.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 don’t 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.
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.
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’.
Rick lives in the East Bay of Northern California. He’s seen Primus live ten times. The greatest American band ever is Pavement; this is not open to debate at least in his “house,” a ramshackle lean-to on Tightwad Hill in Berkeley. Rick captures and sells wild yeast in tiny jars so he can buy used Minutemen LPs. He plays the drums poorly, but enthusiastically. He loves bees.
The only nonmusical duffer in a family of musicians, Will began obsessively listening to music to plug that hole in his life. His teenage infatuation with Iron Maiden still remains, even now his beard is roughly 50% white hairs and he is old enough to have teenage children of his own. Neither he nor the band have become any cooler in the interim. One of those annoying people who responds to the “What kind of music are you into?” question with, “Oh you know, a bit of everything”, he will give any artist a whirl once.