Trying to rate albums, like rating any kind of art, is an inherently subjective task. In order to remove as much bias as is humanly possible, we try to rate albums based on what they are trying to accomplish more so than their genre, “sound”, or authenticity. To do this we try to take into account the artist’s intentions, the content of the album, and our personal responses as listeners before assigning each album a numerical value. We love all kinds of music and it is at the core of our mission to help artists, so we do not publish negative reviews or hit pieces. We would rather praise things we think are worth praising than fish for clickbait with negative reviews that don’t help artists or our readers.
That said, it should be noted that our rating scale looks a little different than that of many of our contemporaries. Where a score in the 6-6.9 range would be considered a mixed review in some blogs, here it is the baseline positive score. Rather than signifying a flawed album that could be better, it instead signifies a strong album with a modest goal (which is often to fit neatly into a narrow genre category). The majority of the albums we cover will land in the 6-7.9 range, with a few stand out albums in the 8-8.9 range, and only a hand full of albums scoring 9 or above. The most important thing to remember is that if we are reviewing the album, we like it and think it deserves to be heard, so don’t take offense if we don’t give your favorite band a 10, it doesn’t mean we don’t like them!
Here is a rundown of our scoring system:
6.0-6.9 – It’s Solid
It’s a good example of its genre, or what it’s trying to do. It may not be the most impressive or ambitious example, but it does what it’s trying to do well. It’s a meat n’ potatoes kind of album. These are the kind of albums that you’re going to listen to multiple times over the year when you’re in the mood for a specific sound. For instance: “man I really just want a good old-fashioned pop-punk record, I’m gonna put on Knuckle Puck’s second album.”
7.0-7.9 – It’s Great For its Context
It’s a great example of its genre, or what it’s trying to do. Of all the artists trying to do this thing, these folks are some of the best at it. These albums stick out compared to other similar albums and might be great gateway albums to get people into the genre if they’re not familiar with it. These albums might be considered dark-horse classics in their respective genres.
8.0-8.9 – It Transcends its Genre/Context
These are albums that do something special and might merit a listen from people who don’t usually like the genre this album is coming from. Oftentimes these are cases where the artist pulls off something very poignant in his/her art. Or, this can happen when an artist begins to successfully experiment with new ideas and sounds that aren’t traditionally found in his/her native genre and pulls off something that feels ambitious and groundbreaking.
9.0-9.9 – A Masterpiece/ A Front-Runner for Album of the Year
We think that this album stands head and shoulders over all the other albums that came out this year (or in a down year, comparably to the prior year). This album hit all the right notes, tugged all the right heartstrings, pulled off all the right ambitious moves and left us awestruck. We will come back to this album for years to come.
10.0 – A Generational Classic
This is the rare album that comes out maybe once a decade or so that redefines what we thought was possible in music, makes an incredibly poignant and timely statement, and should be remembered as a highly potent cultural landmark for the foreseeable future. We do not give out 10s on a regular basis.