As strong a supporter of the Wolverine State as Eminem, Michigan native Phares not only attended University of Michigan and wrote for the Michigan Daily but also calls Ann Arbor her home. The reason you should know about her is the impressive writing that she’s done since 1995 for All Music Guide, where she’s an editor. Just about any of her reviews will give you perspective on the history of a band, useful historical comparisons, good descriptive language that captures the music and info about where the album falls in the overall picture of a band’s work — in short, everything you should be getting from a review. She’s also responsible for AMG’s News Roundup, culling stories from numerous online sources to give readers a well-rounded overview of the music world.
Though she started out writing in her native Philly, it was as a freelancer for the Village Voice (2001-2006) that Phillips made her mark, specifically with her plea to Sonic Youth to disband, which earned her piles of hate mail. That recognition helped put her name on the map, and in 2005 she migrated to Pitchfork, where she became the news editor. Though they’re mostly known for their single-digit-integer-with-decimal grades, Phillips helped to change that — she was one who was responsible for beefing up Pitchfork’s news department into a respectable reporting contingent.
Anyone who thought that Powers (co-editor of Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap and author of Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America) wouldn’t be able to top her post as music critic for The New York Times and editor for the Village Voice should’ve been pleasantly surprised when she upped the ante with her insightful work at The Los Angeles Times, which she joined five years ago. Her specialty’s been to dissect meaning in the pop world with uncommon flair. She can even explain why music she doesn’t care for still has significance. If that wasn’t enough, she spent five years organizing the annual music conference at Experience Music Project in her native Seattle and is now set to conquer yet another medium as the main voice of NPR’s music blog.