Liner Notes

Happenings Ten Years Time Ago...

by Benjamin Ray

One of the pleasures of being a reporter is seeing the reactions of people when they read one of my stories.

They are not always good reactions. I've received my share of angry phone calls and the cold shoulder from sources. I have also watched people read my stories in the supermarket, over lunch, in line at the bookstore. It's gratifying to know your work can have an impact, for better or worse, and it's one of the reasons I'm a journalist.

The problem with writing news is that one can rarely indulge in creativity, in deviations from the standard format. Working for a weekly has now given me the opportunity to broaden this approach, but my topics are limited to news, as they have been for some time.

So it was quite an interesting summer day in July 2004 when I happened across the Vault. Heavily into progressive rock at the time, I wanted to find some reviews of early Genesis albums, and once I got to the Vault I immediately bookmarked it and went back daily.

Many music review sites offer analysis by critics who feel they are above everyone else. Others focus on certain genres or stick to indie reviews. The beauty of the Vault is that it covers everything. And I mean that. Two weeks with us and you will read about Celtic music, rap, heavy metal, country, emo, classic rock, jazz and movie soundtracks. It's what keeps this site compelling and it's why I wanted to join.

Being a staff member for two and a half years has given me a great chance to flex my creative muscles a bit, to discover old favorites and to be exposed to tons of new music that I may not have heard otherwise. But what I try to keep in mind is that I'm not writing these reviews for myself -- like my news stories, I'm writing them for you, and I hope you have enjoyed and found some use from my reviews.

I was lucky enough to join at a time of change for the site. After a two-year transition period, Founder Christopher Thelen was formally handing the site over to Editor Jason Warburg. In summer 2005, I volunteered to be assistant editor to help out with various editorial duties, and also floated the idea of increasing our monthly retrospectives to include genres and themes as well as individual artists. Both ideas were well-received, and the site's continuing evolution -- along with the mid-2006 redesign -- has given us the chance to streamline our reviews, explore a lot of new music, hire a diverse group of writers and bring you, the reader, the best music reviews you'll find on the Web.

Of course, none of this would have happened without Thelen's foresight and Warburg's hard work. Likewise, it is our writers who are the lifeblood of the site: from mainstays like Jeff Clutterbuck and Sean McCarthy to newcomers like Michael Smith and Melanie Love, from the diverse interests of Vish Iyer and Paul Hanson to the energy of Brian Birnbaum and Benny Balneg, from the sarcasm of Shane Liebler to the hip-hop knowhow of Ben Ehrenreich, the writers ensure the site stays fresh and relevant. And Bruce, Duke and Roland? You guys rock too. But you knew that.

If you have any leftover champagne from New Year's Eve, join me in a toast to 10 years of the Daily Vault. I'm honored to be part of this site and I hope to be here for the next 10 years. We're just getting started.

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