Simon Reynolds

Last updated
Simon Reynolds
Simon Reynolds.jpg
Reynolds in 2011
Born (1963-06-19) 19 June 1963 (age 57)
London, England
OccupationMusic critic, author
ResidenceLos Angeles, California
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Spouse Joy Press

Simon Reynolds (born 19 June 1963) is an English music journalist and author who began his professional career on the staff of Melody Maker in the mid-1980s, and has since gone on to freelance and publish a number of full-length books on music and popular culture, ranging from historical tomes on rave music, glam rock, and the post-punk era to critical works such as Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past (2011). [1] He has also contributed to Spin , Rolling Stone , The New York Times , The Village Voice , The Guardian , The Wire , Pitchfork , and others.



Early life and Blissed Out (1990)

Reynolds was born in London in 1963 [2] and grew up in Berkhamsted. [3] Inspired by his younger brother Tim, he became interested in rock and specifically punk in 1978. [4] In the early 1980s, he attended Brasenose College, Oxford. After graduating, in 1984 he co-founded the Oxford-based music journal Monitor with his friends and future Melody Maker colleagues Paul Oldfield and David Stubbs along with Hilary Little and Chris Scott. [2]

In 1986, Reynolds joined the staff of Melody Maker , where his writing was marked by enthusiasm for a wave of neo-psychedelic rock and hip hop artists that emerged in the mid-1980s (including A.R. Kane, My Bloody Valentine, Public Enemy, Throwing Muses and The Young Gods). During this period, Reynolds and his Melody Maker colleagues set themselves in opposition to what they characterized as the conservative humanism of the era's indie rock, soul, and pop music, as well as the unadventurous style and approach of most music criticism. [5] Pieces from this late Eighties era would form the remixed collection Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock, published in 1990. [1]

Freelance and Energy Flash (1998)

In 1990, Reynolds left the staff of Melody Maker (although he would continue to contribute to the magazine until 1996) and became a freelance writer, splitting his time between London and New York. In the early 1990s, he became involved in rave culture and the electronic dance music scene, particularly that of the UK, and became a writer on the development of what he would later conceptualise as the "hardcore continuum" along with its surrounding culture such as pirate radio. [1] Much of this writing was later published in Energy Flash: a Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (1998), a history of the hardcore, house, techno and later rave genres like jungle music and gabber. The book was published that same year in America in abridged form, with the title Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture.

During this time, he also theorized the concept of "post-rock", using the term first in a Melody Maker 1993 feature about Insides and then in a more developed form in a May 1994 thinkpiece for The Wire and in a review of Bark Psychosis' album Hex , published in the March 1994 issue of Mojo magazine. [6] In late 1994, Reynolds moved to the East Village in Manhattan. In 1995, with his wife, Joy Press, Reynolds co-authored The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock 'n' Roll, a critical analysis of gender in rock. In 1998 Reynolds became a senior editor at Spin magazine in the US. In 1999, he returned to freelance work.

In 2013, a second expanded update of Energy Flash was published, with new material on the rise of dubstep to worldwide popularity and the EDM or Electronic Dance Music explosion in America.

Rip It Up and Start Again (2005) and Retromania (2011)

In 2005, Reynolds released Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 , a history of the post-punk era. [7] In 2007, Reynolds published Bring the Noise: 20 Years of Writing about Hip Rock and Hip Hop in the UK, a collection of his writing themed around the relationship between white bohemian rock and black street music. In 2008, an updated edition of Energy Flash was published, with new chapters on the decade of dance music following the appearance of the first edition. In 2009, a companion volume to Rip It Up and Start Again was published, Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews, containing interview transcripts and new essays.

In 2011, Reynolds published Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past, a critical investigation into what he perceives as the current situation of chronic retrogression in pop music, with a focus on the effects of the internet and digital culture on music consumption and musical creativity. [8]

Shock and Awe (2016) to present

Reynolds's eighth book, a history of the glam rock era, Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, was published in October 2016. [9]

In addition to writing books, Reynolds has continued freelancing for magazines, giving lectures, writing liner notes, and appearing in music documentaries. He also operates a blog, Blissblog along with various satellite blogs such as the book-focused outlets Energy Flash, Retromania and Shock and Awe, and the drivel blog Hardly Baked. Reynolds also maintains an archive for his writing, the blog ReynoldsRetro. He resides in Los Angeles. [10]

Critical style

Reynolds' writing has blended cultural criticism with music journalism. [11] He has written extensively on gender, class, race, and sexuality in relation to music and culture. Early in his career, Reynolds often made use of critical theory and philosophy in his analysis of music, deriving particular influence from thinkers such as Roland Barthes, Georges Bataille, Julia Kristeva, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. [1] He has on occasion used the Marxist concepts of commodity fetishism and false consciousness to describe attitudes prevalent in hip hop music. [12] In discussing the relationship between class and music, Reynolds coined the term liminal class, defined as the upper-working class and lower-middle-class, a group he credits with "a lot of music energy". [13] Reynolds has also written about drug culture and its relationship to various musical developments and movements. [14] In the 2000s, in tandem with fellow critic and blogger Mark Fisher, Reynolds made use of Jacques Derrida's concept of hauntology to describe a strain of music and popular art preoccupied with the disjointed temporality and "lost futures" of contemporary culture. [15]

Year-end critics' polls

Reynolds has voted in a number of year-end critics' polls, most often for The Wire 's Rewind and for The Village Voice 's Pazz & Jop. Since 2011, when The Wire renamed its year-end poll from Records of the Year to Releases of the Year, Reynolds has cast several votes for songs rather than album-length releases. Reynold's full voting ballots and year-end commentaries for a variety of magazines, going back to the late 1980s, can be found at Reynolds's Faves/Unfaves blog.

1991 World of Twist Quality StreetReynolds's blog (ballot for The Wire) [16]
1994 Tricky "Aftermath"Reynolds's blog (ballot for The Wire) [17]
1995 Tricky Maxinquaye Reynolds's blog (ballot for The Wire) [18]
1999 Position Normal Stop Your Nonsense Reynolds's blog (collecting writings from The Village Voice and Uncut) [19]
2000 Isolée RestThe Wire [20]
2001 Pulp We Love Life The Wire [21]
2002 The Streets Original Pirate Material The Wire [22]
2003 Dizzee Rascal Boy in da Corner The Wire [23]
2004Dizzee Rascal Showtime The Wire [24]
2005 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti Worn Copy The Wire [25]
2006 Scritti Politti White Bread Black Beer The Wire [26]
2007 Black Moth Super Rainbow Dandelion Gum The Wire [27]
2008 Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend The Wire [28] and Pazz & Jop [29]
2009Tie: Micachu and the Shapes / Dirty Projectors Jewellery / Bitte Orca In Pazz & Jop, Reynolds allocated equal points to both albums. [29] In The Wire, which does not allow tie votes, he voted for Jewellery only. [30]
2010Tie: Rangers / Ariel Pink's Haunted GraffitiSuburban Tours / Before Today In Pazz & Jop, Reynolds allocated equal points to both albums. [29] In The Wire, he voted for Suburban Tours only. [31]
2011 Metronomy The English Riviera Pazz & Jop [29]
2012Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti Mature Themes The Wire [32]
2013 Sage the Gemini featuring Iamsu! "Gas Pedal"The Wire [33]
2014 Tinashe featuring Schoolboy Q "2 On"The Wire [34]
2015 Future "Fuck Up Some Commas"The Wire [35]
2016eMMplekzRook to TN34The Wire [36]
2017 Travis Scott "Goosebumps"The Wire [37]
2018 Migos Culture II The Wire [38]
2019Baron MordantMark of the MouldThe Wire [39]




  1. 1 2 3 4 ReadySteadyBook - Simon Reynolds Interview
  2. 1 2 Rock's Backpages - Simon Reynolds
  3. Worth Their Wait | Features | Pitchfork Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  4. Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 . London: Faber and Faber. ISBN   978-0-571-21570-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  5. Reynolds, Simon (1990). Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock. Serpent's Tail. ISBN   1-85242-199-1.
  6. Reynolds, Simon (March 1994). "Bark Psychosis: Hex". Mojo . Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  7. The A.V. Club, Inventory: 17 Essential Books About Popular Music
  8. Adam Harper, "Record Recollection", Oxonian Review , 2 June 2011
  9. Faber Social. Shock and Awe by Simon Reynolds. 18 July 2016.
  10. M3 - Simon Reynolds Interview
  11. Berman, Judy. "From Bowie to Gaga: How Glam Rock Lives On". Pitchfork Media . Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  12. Simon Reynolds: Review of JAY-Z, Vol. 3... Life and Times of S.Carter / DMX, And Then There Was X / JUVENILE, Tha G-Code /THE LOX, We Are The Streets Uncut, May 2000 (online copy at Reynolds "Bring The Noise" blog)
  13. Perfect Sound Forever: Simon Reynolds interview on post-punk
  14. Simon Reynolds: High society - Irvine Welsh's film 'Trainspotting'. Artforum, Summer 1996
  15. The Guardian - Hauntology: A not-so-new critical manifestation
  16. Reynolds, Simon (14 December 2008). "The Wire, 1991". Blogger.
  17. Reynolds, Simon (14 December 2008). "The Wire, 1995 - End of Year Comments and Votes". Blogger.
  18. Reynolds, Simon (14 December 2008). "The Wire, 1995 - End of Year Comments and Votes". Blogger.
  19. Reynolds, Simon (16 December 2008). "Faves and Unfaves of 1999". Blogger.
  20. "Rewind 2000: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 203. London. January 2001. p. 43 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  21. "2001 Rewind: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 215. London. January 2002. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  22. "Rewind 2002: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 227. London. January 2003. p. 55 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  23. "2003 Rewind: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 239. London. January 2004. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  24. "2004 Rewind: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 251. London. January 2005. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  25. "2005 Rewind: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 263. London. January 2006. p. 51 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  26. "Rewind 2006: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 275. London. January 2007. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  27. "2007 Rewind: Records of the Year Top Ten" . The Wire. No. 287. London. January 2008. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  28. "2008 Rewind: Records of the Year Top Ten" . The Wire. No. 299. London. January 2009. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  29. 1 2 3 4 McDonald, Glenn. "Pazz & Jop Statistics: Simon Reynolds". Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  30. "2009 Rewind: Records of the Year Top Ten" . The Wire. No. 311. London. January 2010. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  31. "2010 Rewind: Records of the Year Top Ten" . The Wire. No. 323. London. January 2011. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  32. "2012 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 347. London. January 2013. p. 35 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  33. "2013 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 359. London. January 2014. p. 35 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  34. "2014 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 371. London. January 2015. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  35. "2015 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 383. London. January 2016. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  36. "Rewind 2016: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 395. London. p. 35 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  37. "Rewind 2017: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 407. London. January 2018. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  38. "2018 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 419. London. January 2019. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  39. "2018 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 431. London. January 2020. p. 34 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)

Related Research Articles

Glam rock is a style of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s performed by musicians who wore outrageous costumes, makeup, and hairstyles, particularly platform shoes and glitter. Glam artists drew on diverse sources across music and throwaway pop culture, ranging from bubblegum pop and 1950s rock and roll to cabaret, science fiction, and complex art rock. The flamboyant clothing and visual styles of performers were often camp or androgynous, and have been described as playing with nontraditional gender roles. Glitter rock was a more extreme version of glam.

Throbbing Gristle English band

Throbbing Gristle were an English music and visual arts group formed in 1975 in Kingston upon Hull by Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter Christopherson, and Chris Carter. They are widely regarded as pioneers of industrial music. Evolving from the experimental performance art group COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle made their public debut in October 1976 on COUM exhibition Prostitution, and released their debut single "United/Zyklon B Zombie" and debut album The Second Annual Report the following year.

New Romantic 1970s British pop culture movement

The New Romantic movement was a pop culture movement that originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. The movement emerged from the nightclub scene in London and Birmingham at venues such as Billy's and The Blitz. The New Romantic movement was characterised by flamboyant, eccentric fashion inspired by fashion boutiques such as Kahn and Bell in Birmingham and PX in London. Early adherents of the movement were often referred to by the press by such names as Blitz Kids, New Dandies and Romantic Rebels.

Shock rock is the combination of rock music or heavy metal music with highly theatrical live performances emphasizing shock value. Performances may include violent or provocative behavior from the artists, the use of attention-grabbing imagery such as costumes, masks, or face paint, or special effects such as pyrotechnics or fake blood. Shock rock also often includes elements of horror.

<i>The Wire</i> (magazine) British experimental music magazine

The Wire is a British music magazine publishing out of London, which has been issued monthly in print since 1982. Its website launched in 1997, and an online archive of its entire back catalog became available to subscribers in 2013. Since 1985, the magazine's annual year-in-review issue, Rewind, has named an album or release of the year based on critics' ballots.

Dance-punk is a post-punk genre that emerged in the late 1970s, and is closely associated with the post-disco and new wave movements.

Neo-psychedelia is a diverse genre of psychedelic music that originated in the 1970s as an outgrowth of the British post-punk scene, also called acid punk. Its practitioners drew from the unusual sounds of 1960s psychedelia, either updating or copying the approaches from that era. After post-punk, neo-psychedelia flourished into a more widespread and international movement of artists who applied the spirit of psychedelic rock to new sounds and techniques. Neo-psychedelia may also include forays into psychedelic pop, jangly guitar rock, heavily distorted free-form jams, or recording experiments. A wave of British alternative rock in the early 1990s spawned the subgenres dream pop and shoegazing.

Quadrant Park also known as the Quad or Quaddie was a nightclub in Bootle, UK opened during the late 1980s to the early 1990s. and one of the most important in the UK at the time. and was known to attract a number of international guest DJs. The main styles of music played were Italo house and acid house, retrospectively it could also be defined an early Superclub.

Barney Hoskyns is a British music critic and editorial director of the online music journalism archive Rock's Backpages.

<i>Burial</i> (Burial album) 2006 studio album by Burial

Burial is the debut studio album by London electronic producer Burial, released in 2006 on Kode9's Hyperdub label. Considered a landmark of the mid-2000s dubstep scene, the album's sound features a dark, emotive take on the UK rave music that preoccupied Burial in his youth, including 2-step, jungle, and UK garage. Critics have variously interpreted the release as an elegy for the dissipated rave movement and a sullen audio portrait of London.

Garage punk is a rock music fusion genre combining the influences of garage rock, punk rock, and other forms, that took shape in the indie rock underground between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Bands drew heavily from 1960s garage rock, stripped-down 1970s punk rock, and Detroit proto-punk, and incorporated numerous other styles into their approach, such as power pop, 1960s girl groups and garage bands, hardcore punk, blues and early R&B, and surf rock.

Post-punk is a broad genre of rock music which emerged in the late 1970s as artists departed from the raw simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock, instead adopting a variety of avant-garde sensibilities and non-rock influences. Inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented with styles like funk, electronic music, jazz, and dance music; the production techniques of dub and disco; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature. These communities produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines.

<i>R.I.P.</i> (Actress album) 2012 studio album by Actress

R.I.P. is the third studio album by British electronic musician Actress. It was released on 23 April 2012 on Honest Jon's Records.

<i>Rip It Up and Start Again</i> book by Simon Reynolds

Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 is a book by Simon Reynolds on the post-punk musical genre and era. It was first released in the UK in April 2005 by Faber & Faber. The US edition was published by Penguin Books and released in February 2006. It is a shorter version, with several chapters either removed or condensed, and without the large number of illustrations in the UK edition. Reynolds notes this was for space and cost reasons.

Hypnagogic pop Microgenre of pop music

Hypnagogic pop is pop or psychedelic music that evokes cultural memory and nostalgia for the popular entertainment of the past. It emerged in the mid to late 2000s as American lo-fi and noise musicians began adopting retro aesthetics remembered from their childhood, such as radio rock, new wave pop, lite rock, video game music, synth-pop, and R&B. Recordings circulated on cassette or Internet blogs and were typically marked by the use of outmoded analog equipment and DIY experimentation.

Electronic rock is a music genre that involves a combination of rock music and electronic music, featuring instruments typically found within both genres. It originates from the late 1960s, when rock bands such as the United States of America, White Noise, and Gong began incorporating electronic instrumentation into rock music. Other early acts to blend synthesizers and musique concrète's tape music techniques with rock instrumentation included Silver Apples, Fifty Foot Hose, Syrinx, Lothar and the Hand People, Beaver & Krause and Tonto's Expanding Head Band. Many such 1960s acts blended psychedelic rock with avant-garde academic or underground influences.

<i>C86</i> 1986 compilation album by various artists

C86 is a cassette compilation released by the British music magazine NME in 1986, featuring new bands licensed from British independent record labels of the time. As a term, C86 quickly evolved into shorthand for a guitar-based musical genre characterized by jangling guitars and melodic power pop song structures, although other musical styles were represented on the tape. In its time, it became a pejorative term for its associations with so-called "shambling" and underachievement. The C86 scene is now recognized as a pivotal moment for independent music in the UK, as was recognized in the subtitle of the compilation's 2006 CD issue: CD86: 48 Tracks from the Birth of Indie Pop. 2014 saw the original compilation reissued in a 3CD expanded edition from Cherry Red Records; the 2014 box-set came with an 11,500-word book of sleevenotes by one of the tape's original curators, former NME journalist Neil Taylor.

Position Normal are an English musical duo, formed in London in 1986, consisting of Chris Bailiff and John Cushway. Their music is sample-based, incorporating existing music and found sound from whimsical records into collage-like tracks.

Rewind (<i>The Wire</i>) year in review magazine issue in Britain

Rewind is the annual year-in-review issue of The Wire, a British music magazine founded in 1982. The year-end issues have been published every January since 1986, adopting the current "Rewind" title in 1997. Each year-end issue has included an annual critics' poll, collating critics' ballots into a list of the year's best releases. The polls survey writers affiliated with the magazine.

Hauntology (music) Musical genre

Hauntology is a genre or loose category of music that evokes cultural memory and the aesthetics of the past. It developed in the 2000s primarily among British electronic musicians, and typically draws on British cultural sources from the 1940s to the 1970s, including library music, film and TV soundtracks, psychedelia, and public information films, often through the use of sampling.