So what d'ya think about this? Loveless Records, a new label owned by KCMU morning DJ/Seattle Weekly music columnist John Richards and freelance music journalist Michael Hukin (whose pen name is the ridiculously poncey "Reef Valmont"), hosted a showcase recently at Sit & Spin featuring several bands either signed to Loveless or on their wish list. Turnout was good, with the room count no doubt bolstered by the appearance of Acetylene, which features members of the popular but defunct band Western State Hurricanes. I logged on to local "garage media and proud of it" webzine Pandomag.com (formerly the print music publication Pandemonium), glad to see that Pandomag Editor in Chief Dave Liljengren had written a review of the showcase himself, which I assumed would provide an unbiased account of the bands' performances. I couldn't have been more wrong. Liljengren's "review" consists of long quotes from Richards and Hukin, who both also write columns for Pandomag.com, fellating themselves and the bands in a nasty display
of compromised journalism (the issue also contains a piece by Hukin that speaks positively about the showcase). Even though all parties concerned revealed their various conflicts of interest, it's still hard to believe an article about a Loveless show that's basically written by the two guys who run, and profit from, the label. In fact, in Liljengren's 1,654-word piece, only 456 words are his own. Liljengren even admits to having left without seeing Voyager One, allowing Richards and Hukin to lavish 483 words of unbridled praise on the band, who are rumored to have been offered $8,000 to record an album for Loveless. In addition, Richards and Hukin have slobbered endlessly over Voyager One in their respective Pandomag columns, the Deathbag and Kill the Lights (a.k.a. the People's Column), noting that they're achin' to sign the band to Loveless. How can we trust the opinions of these two-in any journalistic medium-if they are so literally invested in the bands they cover? Richards and Hukin have a tangled web of loyalties in the local music community, including an allegiance to a respected college radio station (KCMU), two publications that one would assume pride themselves on journalistic integrity (Seattle Weekly, The Rocket), and one that appears to require no such integrity-even from its editor (Pandomag.com).
Tuffy guitarist Pete Everett-co-owner and business head of Loveless Records-also weighs in on the Loveless showcase in Hukin's column, making a point of mentioning how well-attended the event was. Everett makes no secret of his ties with Loveless, but he does go to great lengths to conceal another connection: Pete's last name is actually Nordstrom (Everett is his middle name). In fact, 37-year-old Pete is one of the locally based retail giant's five co-presidents-not exactly an image synonymous with indie rock. Even when Pete's not doin' the talking about his mediocre band, Tuffy gets praised repeatedly by Pete's business partners in Kill the Lights and the Deathbag. Perhaps next, Pandomag.com will ask Sub Pop President Jonathan Poneman to "review" a Heather Duby show?