Eventually, the frustrated editor told Waxman that he didn't like the record and if he were to write a review, it would be negative.
"I said to him: 'I don't care if you like it or you don't -- if you don't review it, no one knows it exists!'" Waxman recalls with a laugh.
Things are different now.
Waxman argues that the appetite for journalistic discovery -- for unearthing a treasure in the soil of a local rock club -- has subsided as more media have focused on celebrity journalism. For a new artist, being noticed by the bigger press is "next to impossible" and tends to require arduous buzz-building on the blog circuit first.
Somewhat similarly, Weingarten argues that the system is now publicity-driven, with overworked music scribes taking tips from a few industry taste-makers and rushing to serenade the same sudden sensations.
The musicians themselves, meanwhile, feel an understandable ambivalence toward the decreasing importance of reviews -- particularly given how many still harbour resentment over one or two especially mean-spirited pans.
But many acknowledge that a well-considered piece of music criticism can be constructive.
"I think there are critics whose writings are useful and those whose aren't," said Ottawa folksinger Bruce Cockburn in a recent interview.
He's had vitriolic negativity spewed his way -- one particularly rankling review he remembers referred to his fans as "sycophants" -- along with more positive notices too, of course, and both have had some effect.
"Did that (negative review) affect my work at all? I doubt it. But it certainly affected my state of mind... But a lot of the time, the positive stuff is as off the mark as negative things," he said.
"But I guess the point is, these things do inspire you to stand back. Even if the writer gets it all wrong, what did I do for that guy to get it so wrong? Whether it's positive or negative. And that's useful. It's another tool in sharpening the focus."
Ryder, meanwhile, said that the reviews that sting the most are sometimes most helpful.
"I find that when I get really defensive about a bad review, it's probably because it's true," she said. "If I'm super defensive ... well, probably what they said was a little true then, you know what I mean?"
Of course, other artists take a slightly less reverential approach.
"I've never given a (crap) about (our) reviews," said legendary Who guitarist Pete Townshend in a recent interview in Toronto, in fact using a different four-letter word to sum up his lack of interest.
"No, never. Oh God. There are so many ways that you can get 'round the other side of it. You can say, 'Well, he's a frustrated guitar player and he's jealous.' Or, 'This is a phase I'm going through, he's right, it's a crap record but who (cares) because I'm rich and he's not.'"
And Townshend is quick to point out that some artists weather a persistent critical drubbing before having their reputation miraculously restored over time. Led Zeppelin is a popular example, while Burton Cummings recently mused on the Guess Who's lack of early traction with rock scribes.
And it's not always easy to parse the cause behind the shifting winds of critical opinion.
"For years and years and years and years, in the U.K., record reviewers really had it in for Phil Collins for some reason," Townshend recalled. "You know, he wasn't allowed to exist anymore. And suddenly, about a year ago, suddenly it stopped.
"I couldn't quite work out why but people suddenly started to talk quite favourably and kindly about Phil Collins."
Those artists didn't need friendly feedback from rock scribes to succeed. And highly successful acts still don't -- observe the soaring popularity of Canada's own lowbrow midtempo sludge-rockers Nickelback, who scarcely even acknowledge the print press anymore after absorbing years of critical arrows.
"A lot of these artists don't need us at all -- it's so funny," said Weingarten.
"I can't even begin to run down a list of bands who are doing great without the help of good reviews. That Mumford and Sons record got savaged by every critic -- including us -- and they're doing just fine. They made the best-selling rock record of the year."
The other side of the argument, of course, is that with consumers facing what feels like a never-ceasing avalanche of new music, critics are still needed to help sort through the snow.
And even those who believe reviews hardly matter the way they used to haven't given up on criticism in general.
"I think music criticism is an artform -- I think (it) needs to exist for its own sake," Weingarten said. "To get people to make connections between records and other records, to get people thinking about the things that are in the air."
Like everything else in this turbulent time in the music industry, the importance and form of criticism is simply shifting.
Even those most cynical about critics still acknowledge the thrill of discovery, and see a purpose behind thinking carefully about music -- both the stuff we love and loathe.
Townshend, for instance, might not have any time for reviews of his own material. But he still trusts the words of a few sage scribes when it comes to finding new music.
"When I first went searching and I found Pitchfork for example -- this is a long time ago and it was fairly new then -- it was so exciting," said Townshend.
"If you read somebody who writes a review of an artist that you end up liking, you'll go back to them again. It's taste-making, isn't it?
"I think (reviews) still count," he added. "I do."
With files from Canadian Press reporters Victoria Ahearn and Cassandra Szklarski in Toronto.
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