Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

A line I never expected to use: I’ve started reading the NME again

Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself buying and reading the NME again. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought the magazine on any sort of regular basis – maybe the early years of the last decade? …

Thu, May 20, 2010, 12:27

   

Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself buying and reading the NME again. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought the magazine on any sort of regular basis – maybe the early years of the last decade? – but it has crept up on my radar again in the last few months.

While I’ve always had a glance at it in the racks, I’ve rarely picked it up. Like many long-running music titles, NME went through a long period of time when it was down in the dumps. In a media world where absolutely everything changed – and then changed again and again and again – the last surviving UK weekly inkie covering music was out of sorts. The days of massive circulation – when an issue could sell 230,000 copies – were the stuff of history and, despite all the posturing to the contrary, they were never coming back. These days, the mag makes do with less than 40,000 sales a week and the only way is down.

So, that’s the bad news. The good news? Well, even with sales on the slide and every single music news item or review of note just a click away, the NME has suddenly found some momentum. Chalk that down to incoming editor Krissi Murison who has overseen a good revamp of the magazine which re-established that the “M” in the title stands for “music” and not “myriad of other stuff”.

Aside from this newly recalibrated focus, Murison’s magazine is much more of a “read” than the title was under previous editor Conor McNicholas. As NME lost ground to online sources, McNicholas responded by being bolshy and conservative. What Murison has done is introduced some of the better aspects of online music coverage into an offline title without appearing too “hey, look at me!”.

While the emphasis is still on new music, there is also a focus on heritage acts when and where it makes sense. Though nowhere as comprehensive or indepth as the treatment meted out by the monthlies, the coverage of Ian Curtis (in this week’s issue) and Malcolm McLaren (last month) was as you’d expect from a 21st century NME.

Yes, I too would prefer a return to the NME of the 1980s, which happily gave pages of erudite and enthused coverage to acid house and hip-hop, but a splintering media landscape has put paid to that idea. Right now, as one of the last weekly men standing on the shelves of your local shop, the NME makes some strange sense.