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August 20, 2014 10:47 PM   Subscribe

Pitchfork recently released a list of what they consider the 200 best tracks of the decade so far (2010-14).

The Ministry of Low Blood Pressure would like to remind you that you are free to treat this simply as 200 capsule reviews of good recent songs.
posted by threeants (158 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite

 
This list reminded me that, if it's at all possible to even say (which I'm not sure I believe), Good Intentions Paving Company has probably been my favorite song from the past 5 years.
posted by threeants at 11:13 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Not enough Destroyer.
posted by pixelrevolt at 11:15 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]


Fuck anthems.
posted by Quilford at 11:15 PM on August 20


Fuck Anthems

I'm surprised nothing from either their ep or self-titled album made it to this list. Shows how useless these kinds of things are.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:21 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


I have to admit it seemed a bit more Rolling Stone-ish than I'd expect to include (what seemed like about) 93 Arcade Fire songs.
posted by threeants at 11:22 PM on August 20


There are these narratives that people have about pop music, where like punk was a response to masturbatory prog bands and grunge was a response to terrible overproduced 80s rock. I feel like the whole indie-Pitchfork-Brooklyn thing is basically the mainstream of music at this point, or at least near it, and it's starting to get stagnant and like, inbred?

I think it might have something to do with rock criticism in general. Rock critics can't or won't or aren't allowed to do any kind of formal analysis of the music they criticize, which basically limits them to talking about the image of bands, their genre, and their historical influences. And 2000s indie music, while pretty wide-ranging in style and genre, is identifiable and definitely all belongs together -- I would argue that it's music by and for people who frequent record stores (or would have) and who are therefore deeply influenced by these critics. The whole thing is about self-consciously playing with style: the really successful bands are the ones that combine some interesting experimentation with good pop songwriting. But nobody seems to give much consideration to the actual rhythm and melody -- just some things sound good or they don't, nobody worries about why.

Paying attention to historical influences and playing with genre has led to a lot of great bands that I like a lot, but it just seems like it can't go on forever. I feel like we've reached "Peak Retro" ala The Onion -- like, when people are talking about a revival of the revival of post-punk. Of course, much like Peak Oil I'm sure people will find deeper and deeper sources to tap.

Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, or maybe I'm getting old, but I kind of just want something good and new. (Of course, Grimes is #1 on the list and she's a contender for that.) Or if the retro thing has to go on can we have ska back?
posted by vogon_poet at 11:26 PM on August 20 [22 favorites]


Also: Oblivion is a good song and Grimes should feel good. As the kids these days say.
posted by threeants at 11:26 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


somebody said it. I can't remember who. It takes fifteen years before you really know what's essential in terms of culture, what's going to stand the test. So in the light of that, I'm way more interested in what the essential records of the last half of the 90s were ... because I'm still not finding many.
posted by philip-random at 11:27 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Yeah, good points all around; formal analysis is so scarce that even the lightest hint of it seems remarkable. Like, this list pointed out that that Disclosure/Sam Smith joint is in 6/8, which I had never noticed before.
posted by threeants at 11:29 PM on August 20


Flipping back through my old Top 100 playlists, these are my top 20-ish in no order... probably a lot of overlap with Pitchfork's list, for better or for worse. What really stood out to me is that I'm very fond of 2009 these days, and I couldn't include any of my favorite stuff from that year... balearic, chillwave, etc. It's weird to be compiling a post-RIP-chillwave list as if it's nostalgic.

Sophie - "Bipp"
Joanna Newsom - "Good Intentions Paving Company"
Grimes - "Oblivion"
Deafheaven - "Dream House"
Radio Dept. - "Heaven's On Fire"
Beach House - "10 Mile Stereo"
Oneohtrix Point Never - "Chrome Country"
Chvrches - "The Mother We Share"
Grouper - "Alien Observer"
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - "Ponponpon"
Colin Stetson - "The Stars In His Head"
Purity Ring - "Fineshrine"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe"
M83 - "Midnight City"
Destroyer - "Kaputt"
Tim Hecker - "In The Fog I/II/III"
Cold Cave - "Confetti"
Kanye West - "All of the Lights"
Women - "Eyesore"
Robyn - "Dancing On My Own"
Dirty Beaches - "Lord Knows Best"
Sleigh Bells - "Rill Rill"
Miley Cyrus - "We Can't Stop"
Julia Holter - "Marienbad"
posted by naju at 11:30 PM on August 20 [8 favorites]


Oh man, reading the equivalent thread over on Reddit just reminded me that Age of Adz came out in 2010, and in that light Sufjan really got robbed here (IMO).
posted by threeants at 11:37 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


It's interesting that Azealia Banks' 212 is considered relatively timeless (which I'd totally agree with) when Grimes' album feels a bit dated and yet gets rated higher.

These lists are all subjective, of course, but I wonder if it realistic to gauge the impact of music that is so young.

It'd be interesting to see music media review their bestof lists every few years to see which highly-rated works of pop music actually had the staying power to remain relevant.
posted by Mr. Six at 11:39 PM on August 20


at the very least Adz set the tone for the tsunami of baroque homoerotic Christian electronica that's had an absolute stranglehold on the Billboard charts for the last few years
posted by threeants at 11:42 PM on August 20 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I really liked Age of Adz but I remember quite a few people hating it. I liked All Delighted People even more (which was billed as an EP but was an hour long.)
posted by naju at 11:48 PM on August 20


Does pop music stay relevant in any meaningful sense, considering 99% of it is just irritating truisms about being alive? I feel like when we ask 'which works of pop music will still be relevant in 25 years', what we're really asking is 'which works of pop music will we remember hearing, while at some chain bowling alley in 25 years.'
posted by Quilford at 11:48 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


I really like Djohariah and Heirloom but I find All Delighted People (the song) way too meandering even by Sufjanian standards.
posted by threeants at 11:51 PM on August 20


Drake, Drake, Minaj, who?, who?, Arcade Fire, Drake, who?, Arcade Fire, Drake basically.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:51 PM on August 20


IMO Pitchfork has three primary blindspots/biases in their big lists like this:

--middlebrow stuff that they think they're rehabilitating but are actually over- rather than under-rated (Adele, Arcade Fire, etc.)

--weird premature pronouncements about pop canon (if any Rihanna songs at all are remembered in decades to come, I don't see why "We Found Love" would necessarily be one of them)

--sludgy, dull indie critical darlings (Beach House, Tame Impala, etc.)
posted by threeants at 11:58 PM on August 20 [11 favorites]


FYI, they've also released their top 100 albums of the decade so far list. Appropriately for the modern era, the list also includes mixtapes.

As a non-rockist I actually thought they did a pretty decent job with their hip-hop picks on the albums list.
posted by C^3 at 12:00 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


and to anyone who thinks they can guess which pop stars will leave a lasting cultural impact, I simply ask, WHERE IS YOUR GAGOD NOW
posted by threeants at 12:03 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


First list ever that has both chief keef and taylor swift.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:29 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


List fails without Mastodon
posted by Renoroc at 12:33 AM on August 21 [8 favorites]


Interesting list. Had hoped for more Burial, or a least a little higher.
posted by greenhornet at 1:30 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


I was shocked to read the list and realize that not only had I actually heard of more than a few of the artists on the list, but I actually knew more than a few of the songs on the list! I'm not as old a fogie as I thought I was.

Plus, two Janelle Monae songs, and two great ones at that.

Still a bit shocked to see some REALLY GIANT ARTISTS being named as having released best songs. Has Pitchfork changed so much that they have stopped only pushing forward bands that nobody will ever hear of outside a Pitchfork review?

(That may be unfair of me, but that's the impression I've had of them for years.)
posted by hippybear at 1:32 AM on August 21


I know very few of these songs and artists. I FEEL SO OLD.
posted by zardoz at 1:42 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


I don't know nearly as many of them as I might, and many of them I know their names but not their music. Maybe I should take some time and actually listen to the entire list over the next week. There are worse ways to entertain my ears while I muck about online...
posted by hippybear at 1:47 AM on August 21


Has Pitchfork changed so much that they have stopped only pushing forward bands that nobody will ever hear of outside a Pitchfork review?

They have and it happened a long time ago. They're a lot closer to a venerable, even handed institution with sensible taste, rather than a scrappy e-zine that gets carried away.

Look at their scores for example. The extreme scores and joke reviews (in 2008 Black Kids just got a picture of two pugs saying sorry, Jet in 2006 got a video of a monkey pissing in its own mouth) are basically gone - the last initial release 10.0 was My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010 and it's been much longer since the last 0.0. Most reviews these days are bland but favourable 7.0s.
posted by kersplunk at 2:04 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Liking that many songs of such wildly different styles and genres seems to call for a new definition of 'like'.
posted by colie at 2:38 AM on August 21


Bah, Pitchfork is all crap. I hate indie music, it's crap. Almost all new music is crap. Someone tricked me into listening to Neutral Milk Hotel and it was the worst thing i've ever heard. I bet all these songs suck!

-listens to #1, Grimes, Oblivion-

..........okay, i like that. Grumble. You kids. I might check out the rest of the list on my vacation. Unless i feel like listening to Queen. Which i might.
posted by ELF Radio at 2:49 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Unless i feel like listening to Queen. Which i might.

Oooh, and you doing so well up to that point.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:22 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


List fails without Mastodon

The list is for 2010 onwards, not last ten years.
posted by effbot at 3:34 AM on August 21


Nice, eclectic list. Discovering some good music I'd never given a shot before. Also: Dance Yrself Clean feels like it has been around in my life forever. Wow.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:48 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


The vast number of those I have never even heard of shows me just how out of touch with the music scene I've been for the last five years or so. Odd. I never expected that to happen, but there it is.
posted by Decani at 4:50 AM on August 21


The vast number of those I have never even heard of shows me just how out of touch with the music scene I've been for the last five years or so. Odd. I never expected that to happen, but there it is.

I started reading this list to see if I recognized any song titles at all. I did catch one, and then it got to that damned Taylor Swift "ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever" song that was playing in every restaurant and shop for four solid months, and I had to stop reading.
posted by Foosnark at 4:56 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


See, the thing is to let the good ones pass through the finer and finer mesh of passing years. Then you don't have to ever hear them all. Wait until the kids are in their 30s and Pitchfork will do it again with more accuracy.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:09 AM on August 21


Still a bit shocked to see some REALLY GIANT ARTISTS being named as having released best songs. Has Pitchfork changed so much that they have stopped only pushing forward bands that nobody will ever hear of outside a Pitchfork review?

Yeah, that happened a long time ago. They were doing this kind of thing in 2007, when I was just entering college.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:16 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Wow, my computer locked up right as i was just finishing writing out a long ass post.

Basically, i'm sort of annoyed that grimes is #1. I don't dislike grimes, i just think that she's not the best thing evar. I remember when that song and album dropped and i could not go anywhere without hearing it. It was sort of like get lucky last summer. There seemed to be an enormous mobilized fanbase of early 20something women who were totally obsessed with her too.

I just remember the huge internet circlejerk about how amazing she was, and how quickly it died and everyone basically forgot about her. #1 of the past four years, seriously? I couldn't give you a 5 second instant answer of what i think should be there instead, and i'd still put one of her tracks in the top 10 or 20, but yea... just... not #1. It seems like it's just acknowledging the fact that it was a huge internet meme among "cool" 20somethings means it was actually that good.

Funnyish story, I was fairly excited to see her live... and it was one of the most hilariously limp performances i've ever seen. It was at a decent sized festival that's small enough that the shows usually don't feel completely dead and festival-y... and it seemed like she basically just pressed play on a CDJ and danced around a bit, and the crowd went apeshit. I'm not even sure if she sang. Me and my friend cracked up at a bit and walked off.

There was also a huge rant about how shit i think best coast is that got deleted, but i don't really see a point in reprising that. Suffice to say, i feel like only people like p4k writers and people who think p4k is a cultural zeitgeist ever liked that crap.

If you take away one worthwhile thing from this list though, please check out Kelela. Holy shit, she is amazing.

This is actually a pretty good list, too. I don't understand why taylor swift or rihanna are on it, but there's a lot of good stuff you might not have heard.


Overall, i think they do this sort of thing much better when there's some time between now and then. Their 90s one was pretty much spot on(although the top ten was basically just "pavement, lol"). They've done other recent-ish ones OK too. I just think this one is too close to the launch pad to really have lifted off properly.

Also: Dance Yrself Clean feels like it has been around in my life forever. Wow.

You should check out the new project the LCD soundsystem guys contributed to, new build. "false thing" is an amazing track.

That said, yea, i would have sworn that track was from some alternate universe version of the early 2000s pinback/!!!/etc dance-punk era. It seems like it would have come out not long after intensify or something. I swear i've been hearing it for longer than i possibly could have.

There's also a DJ night named after that song at a venue i used to like. They always close out the night with... that song. They play generally great stuff, and because of that i ended up going a lot... and hearing that song way, way too many times.
posted by emptythought at 5:16 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


then it got to that damned Taylor Swift "ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever" song that was playing in every restaurant and shop for four solid months, and I had to stop reading.

Some site's list of their favourite tracks of the past four and a half years ranked a song I was overexposed to at number 169 and I was outraged, outraged!

(Personally: List contains some tracks I like, and many I've never heard. Some tracks I like are placed lower than I would have liked, probably because I've never heard the ones they like more, except for the ones I have heard that are placed higher than I would have liked relative to the ones placed lower than I would have liked, which I don't like.)
posted by rory at 5:24 AM on August 21


I still can't get past the 0:40 mark in Grimes's Oblivion without turning it off in utter revulsion. I'm absolutely comfortable disliking an artist everyone else likes, but it astonishes me how immediate my gut feeling is here, given that she's such a well-reviewed artist. The song's just so precious.
posted by LSK at 5:39 AM on August 21


I dipped in & out of the list listening to random tracks - only to get my deep, abiding love of Antipodean indie pop confirmed. Hello Courtney Barnett.
posted by kariebookish at 5:43 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Pretty sure if I had to pick a single album to ever hear again for the rest of my life it would be Grimes' Visions.
posted by griphus at 5:51 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Also: Oblivion is a good song and Grimes should feel good. As the kids these days say.

Ha, swear to god, last night I was at a bar trivia game where the final question was "In Pitchfork's just-released Top 200 songs of the past four-ish years, this Canadian artist's track 'Oblivion' from the album Visions was rated #1." Faced with a team full of blank faces and never having actually heard the song (I think), I still was able to pull out "Pitchfork + Canadian* = Grimes, probably" out of the depths of my subconscious AND WIN IT ALL. Never change, hipoteurs!

*Knowing that it wasn't Arcade Fire or the New Pornographers based on the album name helped a leeeetle bit.
posted by psoas at 6:02 AM on August 21


I've heard of some of these artists.


That's all I've got.
posted by tommasz at 6:04 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Courtney Barnett is just about my favorite thing happening right now, musicwise.
posted by thivaia at 6:05 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


W A R N I N G
W A R N I N G
W A R N I N G
W A R N I N G


The popularity of Death Grips could mean the resurgence of rap rock..

W A R N I N G
W A R N I N G
W A R N I N G
W A R N I N G

THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING

posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:13 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Alright, I'm just going to say it, Pitchfork is a goddamned national treasure.

Their taste is truly eclectic and includes mainstream hip-hop (Kanye, Jay-Z, Kendrick) Unerground Hip Hop (Danny Brown, Killer Mike, Chance the Rapper) Major Pop Stars (Beyonce, Rihanna) People making pop music but aren't superstars (Grimes, Robyn, Sophie) Indie Rock (Deerhunter, Vampire Weekend) Heavy Metal (Deafheaven, Pallbearer) Crossover EDM (Disclosure, Daft Punk) Underground EDM (Todd Terje, Andy Stott, DJ Rashad) and Ambient music like Tim Hecker and Nicolas Jaar.

They have been very influential in legitimizing Hip Hop (the non-backpack variety) in mainly white cultural circles, they have been outright champions for women in indie music for the past couple of years (Haim, Chvrches, Perfect Pussy, Savages, Grimes, Courtney Barnett) and have been drawing attention to the LGBT artists in underground music (Deerhunter, Mykki Blanco, L1ef)

They have semi-weekly columns about Garage, Metal, and Hip-Hop. They have regular features and interviews about both old and new music. They review a shit-ton of tracks and 25 records each week.

As far as I'm concerned the only music website that is even more inclusive and eclectic is NPR. Do people hate Pitchfork because they're not NPR? Because that's not really a good reason.
posted by R.F.Simpson at 6:18 AM on August 21 [25 favorites]


Yay Grimes!
posted by gwint at 6:19 AM on August 21


Some site's list of their favourite tracks of the past four and a half years ranked a song I was overexposed to at number 169 and I was outraged, outraged!

If it wasn't a terrible song I wouldn't care. And actually I don't care all that much anyway, as long as I don't have to hear it again.
posted by Foosnark at 6:21 AM on August 21


I carry the fact that I don't know who most of these acts are as a badge of honor. I'm 53.
posted by Billiken at 6:39 AM on August 21


I didn't see any Boards of Canada, Squarepusher, Autechre or Venetian Snares, so... Phooey on the lot of them. ;)
posted by symbioid at 6:42 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


I think that at this point we just have to acknowledge that 'newness' and 'no one but me knows about this band' are things that actually make music qualitatively better for some people, albeit for a limited timespan, and that while that is intellectually revolting at first pass, it really shouldn't be, joy comes in many forms. Some people feel the opposite, and they tend to listen to the same music they liked best in their early 20s for the rest of their life. That's OK too. Everything is OK when it comes to individualized experiences, even if that means you want to listen to Yani, Live at the Acropolis all day.

It's natural to try and put music on some sort of linear scale of quality, and to be upset when other people show you their scale and it doesn't match. But really, what music we like reflects as much on our own temporary psychological state as it does the music itself, which really can't be examined in isolation.

The list is just a list. I liked maybe 33% of it personally, and I bet if I check back in 10 years it'll be 10% of the songs, and that 10% won't be a strict subset of my current 33%.
posted by sp160n at 6:47 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Also, Oblivion totally blew my mind hearing it for the first time, and I continue to love it. It's a beautiful song and entirely original in so many ways, ways that seem very of the moment in the best possible manner.

Maybe after a horde of copycats it'll lose its luster in 10 years, but for now, I say good on Pitchfork for pushing it to the top.
posted by sp160n at 6:57 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Yeah a list of 200 songs is basically worthless. Including the most popular music on it at all or near the top is even more worthless. Congrats you are Billboard Magazine. Nothing wrong with pop music its just the opposite of criticism to just name things.

I'd rather read 3,000 words about Yanni Live At The Acropolis.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:57 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


So in the light of that, I'm way more interested in what the essential records of the last half of the 90s were ... because I'm still not finding many.

A lot of the bands that would come to define the sound of aughts indie music were already coming out with albums in the late '90s. 1998 alone saw the release of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Wilco's Mermaid Avenue, Death Cab for Cutie's Something About Airplanes, and Belle & Sebastian's The Boy With the Arab Strap.

The trouble is, though all those albums were great and influential, none of them "sound" like 1998 because people wouldn't start listening to them in large numbers until maybe five years later. If we're talking about sheer popularity, Moby's Play has to be on any list of essential late '90s listening. God, those songs were everywhere.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 6:58 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


*Looks in vain for Spotify playlist*
posted by rossmeissl at 6:59 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]


I just can't follow music satisfactorily. It feels like I'd have to devote hours a week to listening to tons of new shit in order to claim to "be into music." Liking shit I grew up listening to, or shit my roommates played for me in college, brands me as an utter philistine, but I just don't have the spare time to Be Informed.

How on earth do people actually Follow Music? It seems impossible.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:01 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


It feels like I'd have to devote hours a week to listening to tons of new shit in order to claim to "be into music."

That's what I used to do from ages 18-27. Get a few new EPs or albums a week, listen to them on the train to work/back from work and at home, go to shows for the stuff that sounded okay, get stuff from the opening bands at the shows, etc.

Now if doors are at 8, the show is at 9 and there's two opening bands, I don't even bother because I have grown old and tired and will soon complain loudly about how there hasn't been any good music released since Wish You Were Here.
posted by griphus at 7:10 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Man, this is a really well thought out list of generally good songs that are fairly accurately placed in an order reflecting how good they were, and it does a good job encapsulating what we can all agree are the last decade's 200 best songs.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:10 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


HA JUST KIDDING THIS LIST SUCKS!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:10 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I follow music people on Spotify and put new releases on a massive playlist.
I listen to new release podcasts like this one from KEXP and this one from CokeMachineGLow
Follow music nerds like this guy on twitter.
Read a couple blogs (semi-self-link).
Check out the front page of Bandcamp once a month or so.

No need to peep everything, just find a couple outlets and be open to getting obsessed. With spotify its never been easier to get into new stuff (part of the problem, because where do you stop?).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:11 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]


Also I gave up pretending to be into music when I got a black metal album because I read about it in the New Yorker.
posted by griphus at 7:13 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


90s you say? Pitchfork has you covered!

Top 200 tracks of the 90s

Top 100 albums of the 90s
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:14 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


With spotify its never been easier to get into new stuff (part of the problem, because where do you stop?).

My only problem with Spotify is that it takes fucking forever to load on my computer - longer than iTunes! - so I barely ever use it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:17 AM on August 21


The list is for 2010 onwards, not last ten years.

Which means they neglected Mastodon's The Hunter (2011).

I'll give them a pass on neglecting their newest release since it's barely a month old but Once More 'Round The Sun is as good.

Check out the video for High Road, it's awesome.
posted by Renoroc at 7:38 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I gazed at this list of mostly unfamiliar songs, and thought, man, I have lost touch with the contemporary sound, but then I looked at the top 200 tracks of the 90s -- a decade when I bought records avidly, went to shows constantly, was into music -- and I'd only heard 9 of their top 20. There's no monoculture. And there wasn't a monoculture 20 years ago either. Everything you think is "everywhere," there's lots of places it's not.
posted by escabeche at 7:39 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I would like to thank Death Grips for the singular experience of having to explain to my boss what I was doing on the computer, at the end of 2012, when I was compiling a list for our site of which CDs we owned out of what various critics were calling the best CDs of the year, only to get this giant cock on my screen as he walked by.

Luckily a) I work at a library, b) he was reasonable, and c) there's a drawing of an S&M scene being used as the cover of the CD we got from wherever we got it from. Because freedom of speech rah rah rah, but I doubt he wanted to field all the angry complaints that would have ensued.
posted by johnofjack at 7:39 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]



My only problem with Spotify is that it takes fucking forever to load on my computer - longer than iTunes! - so I barely ever use it.


I've had this problem too. Increasingly I just listen to the webplayer when I'm on the computer.
posted by thivaia at 7:39 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I wish Pitchfork and others in the indie music press (or at least, someone) ventured outside the usual PR channels a little more often to discover and share good new music from outside the bubble. Truth is, music press still mostly tends to cover whatever's being hyped, whatever comes to them through established and trusted channels--no one really devotes a lot of time and resources to scouring the web or otherwise seeking out undiscovered music from outside the bubble, and I think that would be a really great, valuable service to people in the confusing jumble of the media marketplace, since traditional A&R seems to have gone extinct. It'd be nice to see music media focused on discovering exciting and interesting new music from outside the conventional channels. I'd subscribe to that. But advertising is what drives most of the revenue models, so there's a lot of incentive to work closely with established gatekeepers, and I don't think there's really enough money or passion out there for what I'm envisioning here... People have tried various crowd-sourced models for bringing attention to new music more organically (like OurStage, The Sixty-One, etc.) but none really seem to have quite gotten us there yet. And the reality is, the image/PR stuff is an important part of what we look for in our music and the framing/spin greatly influences how we hear and engage with the artists and the music itself, so it's complicated...
posted by saulgoodman at 7:42 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]


I quite like Grimes, but holy cow is she ever terrible in concert.
posted by Nevin at 7:42 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


The popularity of Death Grips could mean the resurgence of rap rock.

Then I guess I have some good news for you...
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:43 AM on August 21


How on earth do people actually Follow Music? It seems impossible.

Volunteer at the campus radio station and write for the campus radio station blog/newspaper. The thing is, only Music Nerds actually Follow Music.
posted by Nevin at 7:45 AM on August 21


*Looks in vain for Spotify playlist*

Here ya go.
posted by escabeche at 7:53 AM on August 21 [13 favorites]


God, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire are terrible, and it would be nice if they eased up on pushing them, but I'm sure somebody paid them too much for them to stop.

Meanwhile, it was criminal that the album chart didn't contain either of the Neil Cicierega "Mouth" albums, which are easily the best two albums of 2014 so far. Jai Paul is on there, so they can't say they only review official releases. No excuse.
posted by koeselitz at 7:53 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


I have an irrational hatred of lists that I have to click through 20 pages to see. So... I only looked that first page so far. But... Parquet Courts Fuck Yeah! (But "Stoned and Starving" is sort of the obvious choice. The first two tracks that proceed back to back with no gap, on that same album, are what really send me.)
posted by mondo dentro at 7:56 AM on August 21


I have an irrational hatred of lists that I have to click through 20 pages to see.

Good news! This list is contained in 10 pages!
posted by hippybear at 7:57 AM on August 21


It's great that Pitchfork writes about music you've never heard of. That's how you learn about new music. It doesn't have to be a snob thing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:58 AM on August 21 [9 favorites]


Thank you escabeche! I too am currently in Madison
posted by rossmeissl at 8:02 AM on August 21


It's great that Pitchfork writes about music you've never heard of. That's how you learn about new music. It doesn't have to be a snob thing.

So weird. I always forget this stuff is really obscure to most people. To some of us, outlets like Pitchfork don't necessarily feel adventurous enough sometimes (not that adventurous necessarily = focused on the obscure).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:11 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


God, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire are terrible

Delectably ambiguous comma.
posted by escabeche at 8:12 AM on August 21 [24 favorites]


I carry the fact that I don't know who most of these acts are as a badge of honor. I'm 53.

I'm kind of annoyed at myself for not knowing more of these acts (and relevant tracks). I'm 55.
posted by philip-random at 8:14 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I know very few of these songs and artists. I FEEL SO OLD.

I counted. I've heard OF 25 of the artists. I've actually head 3 of these songs. I guess I'm kind of 1. OVER radio. 2. Old.

I'm not being snarky -- I'm ambivalent at best about these facts. I used to love radio -- my fantasy job when I was a teen in the 70's was radio DJ. Wanted to own a station. I am really finally feeling the generation gap between me & the "kids these days," musically. Most of what I listen to would be the equivalent of my parents listening to Benny Goodman, or at best, 50's bop or cool jazz. Neko Case & Steven Wilson are the only artists whose albums I've bought in the year they came out in the last 3 years. That's pretty sad. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not being able to adapt to new musical styles, which really hadn't been a problem until the last 10 years, but I've gotta say it's mostly Auto-tune & everything replaced by computers that finished me off. That's not a complaint about the music per se, it's more of a complaint about me. I'm a living anachronism, despite my best intentions.

For Halloween this year, I'm getting me some white patent leather shoes, some black knee-high dress socks, some plaid bermuda shorts & an Izod polo. I'm gonna park it in a lawn chair, & spray trick-or-treaters with a hose.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:16 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I'd like to thank my parents, God, Vampire Weekend, and Arcade Fire
posted by threeants at 8:16 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


God, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire are terrible

Delectably ambiguous comma.


Sing it with me:

Interjections
Show excitement,
Or emotion.
They're generally set apart from a sentence
By an exclamation point,
Or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong. Mmmm...

posted by hippybear at 8:17 AM on August 21


Well I agree with the first one. That Father John Misty album is fucking great. Good show too from what I remember.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:20 AM on August 21


I'm pleased that Phosphorescent's Song for Zula made the list, though I'm honestly not sure what the capsule review of it is trying to say. Still, it's definitely one of my favorite songs of the past few years, one that effortlessly elicits a swell of emotion in me every single time.
posted by yasaman at 8:26 AM on August 21


Given the vast quantities of music Pitchfork expects us to get familiar with (of which it would take a lifetime to even scratch the surface), and also given the prevalence of Garage Band on Mac/Pro Tools/free apps/grid-based music programs/microphone on your laptop, etc., I wonder if we have reached the point where it's less arduous to actually produce this stuff than to consume it.
posted by colie at 8:33 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


somebody said it. I can't remember who. It takes fifteen years before you really know what's essential in terms of culture, what's going to stand the test. So in the light of that, I'm way more interested in what the essential records of the last half of the 90s were ... because I'm still not finding many.

Really? OK Computer. Odelay. Play. Early Jay-Z. And that's just stuff that was commercially popular (so no In the Aeroplane Over the Sea or Music Has the Right to Children) that I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure there's more.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:35 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I'm actually surprised at how many of these I've heard of; at least fifty by a quick count. I even own a few of them.
posted by octothorpe at 8:41 AM on August 21


In my tiny (electronic) corner of musical preference:

Happy to see Burial make the list.

Notably missing:
Eskmo
Feed Me
Far Too Loud
Infected Mushroom
posted by poe at 8:45 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


God, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire are terrible

Delectably ambiguous comma.


WAIT WAIT LET ME TRY THAT AGAIN
plink plink plunk
ME DAMMIT ONE MORE TRY
WAIT
WAIT
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE GOING? YOU'LL SIT HERE AND LISTEN TO ME GET THE OPENING TO 'SMOKE ON THE WATER' RIGHT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE SOME REAL FIRE IN THE SKY
THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT
plink plunk pa-plink
DAMMIT
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:48 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


in the light of that, I'm way more interested in what the essential records of the last half of the 90s were ... because I'm still not finding many.

69 Love Songs--The Magnetic Fields
If You're Feeling Sinister--Belle & Sebastian
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill--Lauryn Hill
Endtroducing.....--DJ Shadow
Moon Safari--Air
The Soft Bulletin--The Flaming Lips

I have to admit it seemed a bit more Rolling Stone-ish than I'd expect to include (what seemed like about) 93 Arcade Fire songs.

Well, Pitchfork were early champions of Arcade Fire, so it makes sense to me...what would be truly Rolling Stone-ish would be to include terrible new material by certified Baby Boomer rock gods. Who knew that 2009's "Moment of Surrender" was the 160th best song ever?

Drake, Drake, Minaj, who?, who?, Arcade Fire, Drake, who?, Arcade Fire, Drake basically.


For all the fuss about Arcade Fire, they didn't even crack the top 20. And the Minaj and Drake songs that did make the top 20 totally deserve to be there. I could listen to Super Bass or Hold On, We're Going Home on repeat. And I don't even like Drake, the mopey tortoise that he is.

I still can't get past the 0:40 mark in Grimes's Oblivion without turning it off in utter revulsion. I'm absolutely comfortable disliking an artist everyone else likes, but it astonishes me how immediate my gut feeling is here, given that she's such a well-reviewed artist. The song's just so precious.


I don't get this. Why is it precious? Because she has a high-pitched voice and a lisp? I mean, the song's about recovering from being violently raped. That seems like the epitome of Real Talk with Claire Boucher.

How on earth do people actually Follow Music? It seems impossible.


My trick--not that I'm exactly totally aware of every new band at all times--is to wait for the end of every year, when everybody and their mom spits out a "Best of the Year" list. Then I spend January and February exposing myself to all the albums and songs I've never heard of. I inevitably find gems that make it into regular rotation for the rest of the year. It's true that doing it this way you're always a few months behind, but there's just So. Much. Out. There.
posted by zeusianfog at 8:57 AM on August 21 [7 favorites]


Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of the 1990s puzzles me - I liked "Dirt", "Sublime", "The Score", "Superunknown", but the forkers do not.
posted by koebelin at 8:58 AM on August 21


in the light of that, I'm way more interested in what the essential records of the last half of the 90s were ... because I'm still not finding many.

Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile (1999)
Madonna - Ray Of Light (1998)
Ween - The Mollusk (1997)
posted by hippybear at 9:04 AM on August 21


I like this list just fine, the usual quibbles aside. But it reminds me how much I miss Robert Christgau. Between his album ratings, Pitchfork's album and track reviews, and the occasional visit to Metacritic, I felt like I was keeping up pretty well on the mainstream music scene. But only Christgau (who had his weirdness and foibles, god knows) was really hipping me to amazing African music like Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba's "Jama Ko" and tradition-of-quality singer-songwriter stuff like Withered Hand's "Horseshoe".
posted by Mothlight at 9:05 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


*opens link, Control-F's for "chvrches", sees matches, closes tab*

All is right in the universe.
posted by rensar at 9:12 AM on August 21


I mean, I know Sufjan's status as a tastemaker was in doubt for a while, but I think the success of Justin Bieber's 2013 single "A Hearty Salute To The Industrialists of Rochester!!!, or, David The King (I Kissed Him On The Cheek)" and Taylor Swift's recent 23-minute jam "Naphtali" only attests to his influence.
posted by threeants at 9:18 AM on August 21 [13 favorites]


I'd rather read 3,000 words about Yanni Live At The Acropolis.

Challenge accepted.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:23 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I don't know whether I should be pleased that I know as many of the top 20 songs as I do, or concerned on behalf of Pitchfork's hipster cred.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:34 AM on August 21


I dunno... I"ve been through 10 pages of Google results already and so far not one single article about Yanni: Live At The Acropolis has contained anything nearly 3000 words. I guess you'll have to read several selections to achieve that word count? I hope it's not too redundant....
posted by hippybear at 9:34 AM on August 21


List fails without Mastodon
posted by Renoroc at 3:33 AM on August 21 [5 favorites +] [!]


Its top tracks of the decade, not from 2000-2009 ;)
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:37 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I wonder if we have reached the point where it's less arduous to actually produce this stuff than to consume it.

Only if we're willing to set the quality bar really low, because as easy as it is in theory to make music now using computerized tools, just doing the standard canned loop/Garage Band thing in most cases is not going to yield a finished product that satisfies most people's minimal quality standards. Even non-musicians can probably easily tell the difference between canned computer music that wouldn't even exist if not for the tools, and well-crafted recorded music that simply uses computer tech as part of an expanded production tool set.

Casual Garage Band/Fruity Loops (or whatever trendy products are out there now) users couldn't easily produce an album anyone would mistake for, say, Kid A, even though the basic production techniques might be similar (although I assume Kid A wasn't made from canned loops). There are reasons for that. The underlying skills required by the medium don't change just because the tools do. The medium is still ultimately just sound, as it's always been. The tools for working with and creating the palette of sounds available has just vastly expanded.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:41 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Acclaimed Music munges all available lists from critics.

2010
2011
2012
2013
posted by goethean at 9:42 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


"Dancing on my own" is a perfect pop song though.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:43 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Okay, I combed through the rest of it.

I must have been living under a damn rock for the past few years, because this is the first I've heard of Grimes. And I know I probably just completely invalidated what I'm about to say, but I am usually pretty current on music. I spent the whole last year working for and hosting a weekly show on my college's radio station, and not once have I heard Grimes. But I like what I just listened to, so thank you for the introduction, Pitchfork and Metafilter.

I don't have many complaints about the rest, except to say that I don't think Katy Perry belongs anywhere within a ten-mile radius of this list, and where the fuck was Lucius? Wildewoman was absolutely one of the best albums of 2013.
posted by rensar at 9:45 AM on August 21


I don't think Katy Perry belongs anywhere within a ten-mile radius of this list

She at least attempts wit and self-parody, unlike Rihanna who also made the list. 'California Gurls' was as influential as 'Umbrella' in pop.
posted by colie at 9:51 AM on August 21


My goodness, they certainly do like Arcade Fire.
posted by desuetude at 10:06 AM on August 21


Its top tracks of the decade, not from 2000-2009 ;)

I already made that joke :)

(but instead of ranting about how they jumped the megalodon with The Hunter, here's my favourite mastodon performance on this side of 2010: one amazing album, one uninterrupted take, one white whale.)
posted by effbot at 10:34 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I have no clue what 90% of these songs sound like.

Am I out of touch?
posted by omegar at 10:38 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


My entire "following music" routine is:

1) Every Tuesday, new albums get released. Go on the streaming service of my choice and pick a handful of things I've vaguely heard about or seem interesting. Listen to a minute, move on or keep listening.
2) Listen to new stuff on my commute to and from work.
3) Occasionally hear about artists through my social media feeds and make mental notes about them. (Following music writers/thinkers on twitter helps; there's probably a good AskMe to be written about which ones)

That's pretty much it. I don't read reviews or sites/blogs anymore really.
posted by naju at 10:39 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


My biggest problem with Pitchfork is probably what lots of people like about it now, but at some point (2001/2002-ish) they branched out into so many genres and sub-genres that I could no longer reliably count on their recommendations to actually be things I'd like. Back in college I pretty much knew that if Pitchfork gave something a great review I was almost guaranteed to like it. I tried to give underground hip hop and electro/dancey-whatevers a chance, but in my advancing age I've realized I just want to listen to fuzzy guitars all day. And sad Scottish dudes. I have been listening to nothing but Scottish indie rock for like a month and I couldn't be happier about it.

Also, if Whenever, If Ever by The World Is a Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid to Die isn't on that list then the list is dead to me.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:43 AM on August 21


As a young pup, I used to get so mad whenever my elders/betters would cluck their tongues and wistfully tell me that someday, I would wake up and realize I was completely out of touch with indie rock. I felt insulted, diminished, like the depth of my devotion was being called into question.

"Just you wait and see, geezers! I'm going to go to at LEAST three shows per week, EVERY week, until I shuffle off this mortal coil! Even if there are no seats! ESPECIALLY if there are no seats! Because I am invincible, and I have infinite energy! I will forever champion the concertgoing rights of music fans who have yet to turn 21 and never complain about all-ages shows! I will enthusiastically attend outdoor music festivals even if they are held in the height of summer's sweltering heat! I will seek out new music at all times and in all arenas until I am dead and buried! I will never tire, I will always be at least this intoxicated, I will never be hung over, I will always be young!"

[fifteen years later]

"I've heard six songs on this entire list and a third of them are by Fiona Apple. Wait, why aren't the Wrens on here? Where's Death Cab? No D-Plan? What do you mean, it's not 2003? Fuck, I'm tired."
posted by divined by radio at 10:47 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


Paying attention to historical influences and playing with genre has led to a lot of great bands that I like a lot, but it just seems like it can't go on forever. I feel like we've reached "Peak Retro" ala The Onion -- like, when people are talking about a revival of the revival of post-punk. Of course, much like Peak Oil I'm sure people will find deeper and deeper sources to tap.

Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, or maybe I'm getting old, but I kind of just want something good and new.


listen to rap
posted by p3on at 10:48 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


And the reality is, the image/PR stuff is an important part of what we look for in our music and the framing/spin greatly influences how we hear and engage with the artists and the music itself, so it's complicated...

One of the interesting things about going on Rdio (my streaming service) on New Music Tuesdays and randomly picking albums that seem interesting. Often they're not covered on Pitchfork or any other blogs, but are just as good or better than anything being covered. Music is a PR game, there's no question about it. It can be fun to dig underneath even what the professionals "discovering music" are writing about.

Lots of people don't hire publicists or get themselves out there, so their shit never gets to the right ears. It's unfortunate but it's that simple.
posted by naju at 10:49 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Another interesting thing to note, I think all of the blogs focused on rabidly discovering new underground artists have disappeared. That ended up being a very 00's thing. I don't think anything's replaced it. We just don't have an active music critic push to discover the secret new stuff anymore. There's no pageviews or unique hits in it, it turns out. You can write about Bon Iver and get millions of hits, or you can write about Podunk Iowa Bandcamp Band and get some tepid clicks. Something needs to come along and revitalize that excitement we once had for discovery.
posted by naju at 10:54 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Also, if Whenever, If Ever by The World Is a Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid to Die isn't on that list then the list is dead to me.

Its not, but given Pitchfork's strong anti-emo bias, the fact that it got above a 7.0 gives it some cred. Plus Stereogum is the place to go for emo reviews.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:54 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Wait, why aren't the Wrens on here?

Next decade? hopefully?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:55 AM on August 21


Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, or maybe I'm getting old, but I kind of just want something good and new.

listen to rap


Very true. My ears are 42 and I can rarely, if ever, find pure instant aural excitement with stuff like the Arctic Monkeys or Arcade Fire, but rap (or hip hop or whatever I am supposed to call it) does it. It's only the constant swearing that is a problem, especially since I get used to it after a bit but it means my family look at me like I'm insane if I ever play it around the house.
posted by colie at 11:12 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I'm way more interested in what the essential records of the last half of the 90s were ... because I'm still not finding many.

Just get your hands on Funcrusher Plus.

Also I guess Radiohead mighta done a thing or 2 around then. Some people also really feel strongly about Neutral Milk Hotel and Wilco and Magnetic Fields. Personally I thought Wordsound Records was pretty interesting in the late 90s but I'm probably in a pretty tiny minority there. The Macro Dub Infection compilations were pretty great too, but the first one was 1995 so I dunno if that counts as late 90s. Also New Kingdom's Paradise Don't Come Cheap. Talk about overlooked. I'll also go to bat for Tricky's Pre Millenium Tension. And the latter half of the 90s also saw the resurrection of Kool Keith with Dr Octagon and Dr Dooom etc.

There's a lot of things from then that looking back didn't age well. There was some good underground hip hop I still like, but also a lot of things came out then like Fatboy Slim and a couple Beck albums that I find incredibly dated and not in a good way. Something about the sound of the final mix from that era, I dunno.

But stuff was going on then too and there's definitely more than a few essentials.
posted by Hoopo at 11:14 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


You can write about Bon Iver and get millions of hits, or you can write about Podunk Iowa Bandcamp Band and get some tepid clicks. Something needs to come along and revitalize that excitement we once had for discovery.

OK, here are three songs released by Wisconsin indie-rock acts between 2010-2014 that are superior to anything by Bon Iver.

Sat. Nite Duets, "All Nite Long" (Milwaukee)
The Fatty Acids, "Oven Mitts" (Milwaukee)
Yellow Ostrich, "Whale" (Appleton)
posted by escabeche at 11:18 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


saulgoodman

If you're still reading this thread, could you recommend some "outside the bubble" resources for finding really new and different/"undiscovered" music? Not being snarky, just generously interested in finding venues for new stuff and don't know where to look.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:26 AM on August 21


Besides what I said before, clicking the Related Artists button on Spotify new releases by stuff you like gets you some pretty bad ass results. This is a list of my some of my favorite bands that also released stuff in the past couple years, in a Related Artists link.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:30 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Wait, I forgot my latest favorite, "Many Words," by Little Red Wolf, a terrific off-kilter all-female "little bit indie, little bit country" act out of Madison. There really is a lot of stuff going on in southern Wisconsin. Probably the same is true in places I don't live.
posted by escabeche at 11:41 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


(Adding to my last comment, MF Doom's Operation Doomsday came out in 1999)
posted by Hoopo at 11:42 AM on August 21


could you recommend some "outside the bubble" resources for finding really new and different/"undiscovered" music?

Aurgasm used to be amazing for this, but sadly it looks like they haven't posted anything new since last year. Still, it's worth combing through their archives if you don't mind a super-eclectic mix. There's a lot of great stuff in there.
posted by rensar at 11:42 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Not enough Destroyer.

YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT... this fucking list instead.
posted by snottydick at 11:53 AM on August 21


I thought I would no longer get all het up about Pitchfork's rankings, but I did utter a WTF when I found out where Let England Shake stood; I think it's far more important a record than they do, and even if P4 acknowledges its political engagement in general terms, I would like to have seen some recognition that Polly Harvey wrote an entire suite of songs burning with anger and loss and grief about the invasion of Iraq, and who else has done that?

Interestingly, FKA twigs has already been fully canonized (Best Album list, Best Video List, Best Song list) even though her album just came out a couple of weeks ago. But that's okay because she is fucking amazing.

There are bands that Pitchfork used to love which have just disappeared from their consideration... on the other hand, I just Do. Not. Get. Kanye and I draw a blank at why his record--the one with the King Crimson sample, right?-- is supposed to be the best of the last four years. Is it his whole sound collage thing with unexpected sources? Are his lyrics really supposed to be so great ("I want to fuck you on the sink/and then get you something to drink"-- seriously?). I dunno.

These are my thoughts, they are the thoughts that are mine.
posted by jokeefe at 11:56 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Does pop music stay relevant in any meaningful sense, considering 99% of it is just irritating truisms about being alive?

That is exactly why the best of it often stays relevant for so long. Being alive is a difficult thing which we all do; most people are grateful for the help.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:00 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Totally right, re: pop music. We're always going be wondering some version of the question who put the bomp in the ho put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp and who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong.

(not sarcasm)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:07 PM on August 21


If you're still reading this thread, could you recommend some "outside the bubble" resources for finding really new and different/"undiscovered" music? Not being snarky, just generously interested in finding venues for new stuff and don't know where to look.

Wish I could. The only way I ever really managed to stay on top of new music and discover cool unknown stuff in the past was from direct exposure because my wife and I were active as musicians ourselves (we even ran a small regional indie label for a little while, so we would also get lots of random unsolicited submissions that were occasionally interesting), and we used to host bands touring through town at our house a lot, so we were constantly getting new leads from touring musicians we met and respected and learning about new projects that way. We're also lucky enough to have a decent college radio station in our town to clue us in to more new/unknown stuff. It's harder for me to find really new music organically anymore because there's just so much to sift through, and well, two kids and a full-time professional gig have a way of taking you off-the-scene a bit. Our local live music scene seemed to take a bit of a crash a few years back, though it seems to be picking up steam again lately... A big part of why I think there's a need for more of that traditional A&R work somewhere else in the market is because I don't have any simple answers to your original question. It's easy enough to follow what's "hot" in the indie world with Stereogum, Daytrotter, Pitchfork, et al, but that usually seems like music that in a certain sense has already been "discovered."
posted by saulgoodman at 12:07 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, FKA twigs has already been fully canonized (Best Album list, Best Video List, Best Song list) even though her album just came out a couple of weeks ago. But that's okay because she is fucking amazing.

Actually (you probably already know this) she released a couple of EP's about a year ago, which had already cemented her reputation. That and what seem to be amazing live performances.

Anyway, for new music I usually go to YouTube and click on one of the autogenerated playlist. Sometimes I find some great new music.
posted by Nevin at 12:41 PM on August 21


Thanks for the recs escabeche. Only about 20% of the way into it, but I like these three songs better than most of what I've heard on the pitchfork list so far.

One thing I notice with a lot of music on this list is a tendency to take our ever-increasing power to create samples and weird new sounds and incorporate them into safe, vanilla pop with the same generic chord structures and time signatures we've been chugging out since at least the birth of recorded music. Go pop!
posted by aspersioncast at 12:47 PM on August 21


There are these narratives that people have about pop music, where like punk was a response to masturbatory prog bands and grunge was a response to terrible overproduced 80s rock. I feel like the whole indie-Pitchfork-Brooklyn thing is basically the mainstream of music at this point, or at least near it, and it's starting to get stagnant and like, inbred?

The garage rock/New Wave/post-punk revival of the early-00s was in response to nu metal. Along the way most of the "the" bands faded and somehow we're in the indie-Pitchfork-Brooklyn stage. How did that happen? I get that the post-punk revival (and Zach Braff) helped make indie music mainstream, but how did we land in peak indie?
posted by Apocryphon at 12:58 PM on August 21


Do people hate Pitchfork because they're not NPR? Because that's not really a good reason.

No, I hate pitchfork because they are tedious and pretentious. I hate NPR because it is tedious and boring.

Sorry, I don't get how grimes is the best thing from the last four years. I don't get how it's not just generic pop trash brimming with faux-80s-nostalgia backwash.

They posture as indie and underground, but are just dedicated to whiny indie crap. The hip hop and metal and what-have-you just seem like token inclusions. Like those guys in the 90s who said they were into rap because they liked the beastie boys.

At the end of the day it's like a dorm room list by someone who would have been into TRL and the local corporate "alternative" station, if it were the last half of the 90s, this list would just be the spice girls, jewel, Dave Matthews, and whatever crap radiohead had put out recently.

It's like how rolling stone did "best songs of all time", and it was just the fucking Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, who gives a fuck?

Anyway, those guys can't hold a candle to the needle drop for overwrought, pointless opinions.

I bet they all wrote great essays in high school.
posted by lkc at 1:08 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I get that the post-punk revival (and Zach Braff) helped make indie music mainstream, but how did we land in peak indie?

This is an insanely complicated question and there should rightfully be an entire book written about it. This was written in 2009 and is still the best essay on the subject I've read.
posted by naju at 1:18 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


The hip hop and metal and what-have-you just seem like token inclusions.

What do you mean? How are the metal reviews token? I'm scratching my head here.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:26 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


They posture as indie and underground, but are just dedicated to whiny indie crap.

There were loads of things on the list that weren't that. Weren't there?

It's like how rolling stone did "best songs of all time", and it was just the fucking Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, who gives a fuck?

Surely this list was trying to do something consciously very different from the Rolling Stone type of predictable list. Dylan, Stones, Beatles all cross-fertilised each other's music (and you're quite entitled to dislike all of it), but you couldn't say the same for the artists on this Pitchfork list.
posted by colie at 2:09 PM on August 21


At the end of the day it's like a dorm room list by someone who would have been into TRL and the local corporate "alternative" station, if it were the last half of the 90s, this list would just be the spice girls, jewel, Dave Matthews, and whatever crap radiohead had put out recently.

I haven't heard anyone complain about posers since I was wearing JNCOs and rockin' out to Korn, so thanks for that heady dose of nostalgia.
posted by griphus at 2:12 PM on August 21 [10 favorites]


One thing I notice with a lot of music on this list is a tendency to take our ever-increasing power to create samples and weird new sounds and incorporate them into safe, vanilla pop with the same generic chord structures and time signatures we've been chugging out since at least the birth of recorded music. Go pop!

That's Rihanna for sure, and from what I can hear, also the Grimes No.1 song. The now much-derided Radiohead, on the other hand, have given it a good shot at trying new chord progressions and metre etc.
posted by colie at 2:21 PM on August 21


is this thread inactive enough yet that I can safely admit how I feel Dave Matthews Band is one of the most unfairly maligned musical acts of all time
posted by threeants at 2:39 PM on August 21


or at least, maligned for the wrong reasons
posted by threeants at 2:40 PM on August 21


I'm not sure I understand the Dave Matthews hate, either. I liked Under the Table and Dreaming and thought they had a few good songs here and there on the others that I listened to, but mostly they just strike me as inoffensive and mildly interesting, not really stirring up any intense feelings one way or the other.

Hating the stereotypical Dave Matthews Band fan, though--the brash, obnoxious dudebro--that I can get behind.
posted by johnofjack at 2:54 PM on August 21


They're really musically talented - the drummer in particular - and there are a few tracks I'm fond of on the debut album. But the fanbase reflects the music, overall - bland, suburban, vacuous. It's default music for a kind of privileged non-existence.

Lots of praised stuff these days is the exact same, though - Real Estate, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend. This stuff isn't any better, but it's critically lauded.
posted by naju at 2:59 PM on August 21


Hating the stereotypical Dave Matthews Band fan, though--the brash, obnoxious dudebro--that I can get behind.

I think a lot of people hate the artists they do because of their fans, and i don't think that's entirely wrong. Some of it is just an awful first impression, and some of it is that there's a limited amount of fun to be had with something if you can only really ever enjoy it in private without being associated with those awful fans. Ditto if you want to go to shows, etc.

There's a lot of things i dislike primarily because i'm take it or leave it on the actual content, but i hate the fans. I'm pretty much OK with that.
posted by emptythought at 3:02 PM on August 21


I liked Under the Table and Dreaming

Under the Bridge and Smelling wasn't exactly a hit, though.
posted by effbot at 3:02 PM on August 21


Hating the stereotypical Dave Matthews Band fan, though--the brash, obnoxious dudebro--that I can get behind.

Reminds me of the joke:
Q:What is the worst thing about Tool?
A: The fans *

*I love Tool, but yeah, that joke is pretty spot on
posted by Twain Device at 3:22 PM on August 21


The KEXP live stream and their various podcasts pretty much replaced Pitchfork for me a long time ago.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:29 PM on August 21


Here is the thing. Everyone has a different opinion about music.

To me music is the most wondrous and powerful thing human beings have created. It is a weapon, a gateway to a person's soul, a powerful tool. It can be used to move us, to uplift us, to inspire us.

I strive (and I fail a lot) to never make fun of someone for what they like musically. I like a lot of bands that a lot of people hate, but I don't care. Music has incredible power to me.

I feel as though I'd like to live for as long as there is new music to be discovered. On the day there is no new music to listen to and absorb is the day I would no longer wish to exist.

So any time ANY thing can come along and introduce us to music we've never heard of I consider it the highest blessing the universe can bestow. I don't care if its Pitchfork, Facebook, Cat Fanciers Magazine, or the US government, I say bring it. Show me more. It isn't pretentious. The only way it can be pretentious is if they put in the article: "Here is so and so, I'm sure you've heard of them unless you suck at life"

If I believed in Hell, I know what my Hell would be. It would be this world with no music in it.
posted by Twain Device at 3:31 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


Best album list invalidated by lack of Janelle Monae.
posted by supercrayon at 5:36 PM on August 21


Oh my goodness I know now that I am getting old because the main thing I've gotten from this discussion so far is that DAVE MATTHEWS WILL NEVER BE OK, NO, DON'T EVEN TRY WITH THE REVISIONISM. (I'm not sure what it is exactly that I'll never forgive him for. Relentless mediocrity, annoying hiccuping vocal tics, gratuitous fiddle? Probably just being inescapable on the radio in the 90s. If there were some special hell-dimension to which we could send him, Hootie, the Spin Doctors, Blues Traveller, 4 Non Blondes, STP and RATM to, to annoy each other almost to death for all eternity, I think that we as a society should make it a priority.)

That's pretty pathetic. Maybe I'll go check out the list. Or maybe I'll just wait 'til the end of the decade so they can whittle it down a little, hell, if I was current with pop music nobody would know anyway, so I don't really bother anymore, it's sort of a relief...
posted by hap_hazard at 6:23 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I hate Dave Matthews, and I will always hate Dave Matthews because it is my childhood birthright to hate Dave Matthews – I could probably come up with some reasons if I had to concerning pretension and annoying folk-rocksiness in the 1990s (hi there, Counting Crows!) – but this makes me inordinately happy, because it is my childhood in musical form.
posted by koeselitz at 6:50 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Say what you will about Pitchfork (I didn't even bother reading this list, because life is short), but their editorial design is pretty great. I've really been enjoying the amount of love that feature and longform articles on the web have been given lately, especially from the likes of Medium and the New York Times. Pitchfork is no slouch in the design department.
posted by tschichold at 8:30 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


*opens link, Control-F's for "chvrches", sees matches, closes tab*

Yeah, but the song they picked isn't "Lies", so once again I can confidently proclaim: "lolpitchfork".
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:54 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Was expecting to know fewer than five. Came away empty-handed (empty-eared?). Few repeat pick artists on there, I notice.
posted by comealongpole at 2:46 AM on August 22


Everyone has a different opinion about music.

Just noticed this: Cool Teacher Fired for Playing Sixth Graders Beyoncé's "Drunk in Love" (#44 on Pitchfork's list)
posted by effbot at 4:42 PM on August 22


Good. A teacher shouldn't be playing a song with the lyric 'pull the panties to the side I aint got time to take drawers off' to sixth graders.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:32 PM on August 22


MisantropicPainforest: "Good. A teacher shouldn't be playing a song with the lyric 'pull the panties to the side I aint got time to take drawers off' to sixth graders."

Oh good grief, agreed.
posted by desuetude at 10:15 AM on August 25


Its a great lyric and quite sexy in context. It also has the added benefit of giving me a great joke when I was helping a friend move a heavy desk and I recited the line when he suggested we take the drawers out of it to ligthen the the load. Buts its explicitly adult material.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:14 AM on August 25


Good. A teacher shouldn't be playing a song with the lyric 'pull the panties to the side I aint got time to take drawers off' to sixth graders.

Well, I agree that it's inappropriate (assuming the kids heard and understood the lyrics), but likely ruining someone's career over it is not the appropriate punishment.
posted by zardoz at 5:23 AM on August 26


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