Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"I hate music / Sometimes I don't. . . . Tommy said so-so-so-so-so what?"
April 30, 2006 1:36 PM   Subscribe

"So I think we maybe have this sort of snobbish reputation. But we're just really honest, opinionated music fans." (via)
posted by bardic (178 comments total)

 
I like Pitchfork. Sometimes. I think this feature inflates its importance, however. (via)
posted by mrgrimm at 1:46 PM on April 30, 2006


I like pitchfork because the writing is creative and they have good taste, and the reviews are usually written in such a way that even if they didn't like something, they can be descriptive enough that I'll know that I should give it a chance anyway if I'm more into that sort of thing.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:49 PM on April 30, 2006


Is it a bad sign that I read the quote and assumed it was about Pitchfork?

I'm skeptical of their power, too. Saying that they gave Funeral a 9.7 and it instantly became a huge hit is a classic correlation/causality confusion.
posted by heresiarch at 1:50 PM on April 30, 2006


I'm curious to here these "Gaskets" mentioned in the article are they any good, or do they totally suck?
posted by delmoi at 1:50 PM on April 30, 2006


There's a lot of correlation/causation problems with this article.
posted by neustile at 1:53 PM on April 30, 2006


Schreiber, 30

He's like one of those creepy old guys with a myspace page.
posted by fleetmouse at 1:54 PM on April 30, 2006


Everyone knows correlation causes causation.
posted by aubilenon at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2006


I think this is them (The Gaskets linked in the article). I really like the track "Eiffel tower rough". Pretty cheesy, but fun.
posted by delmoi at 1:57 PM on April 30, 2006


The Gaskets.

Never heard of 'em either, although I like to think I know something about Richmond bands like Rah Brahs and (mother-f'in) Avail and the House of Freaks murder/tragedy.
posted by bardic at 1:58 PM on April 30, 2006


delmoi: The Gaskets and their MySpace. They rule pretty hard, in my opinion. They're friends of mine, though. Interestingly, they had no idea the Post reporter was standing there when they bumped into the guy or that this article existed until they saw it published today.
posted by mosessmith at 2:02 PM on April 30, 2006


err... too late
posted by mosessmith at 2:03 PM on April 30, 2006


i hate pitchfork, their readers, and the music they review.

pitchfork: the worst thing to happen to music since mtv
posted by keswick at 2:06 PM on April 30, 2006


keswick, that's a pretty out-of-hand dismissal, and I can't take it seriously. It's just a music review site, and when someone takes it too seriously and says they hate it and everyone who reads it AND all the music they review, well, we just know you're being a punk about it.

Like other sites and magazines, all kinds of music goes through there, and although they come out with the dubious distinction of a number, a lot of times its music I would otherwise never have heard of. Furthermore, it's read by a huge range of people and to just decide you hate them all is a pretty ignorant way to go.

Like every other thing, you have to take the bad with the good, and if you're unwilling to do that, well, then its plain to see that you're just trolling.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:23 PM on April 30, 2006


Oops, and as for the article, yeah, I think they give Pitchfork a little too much credit for "making" bands like the Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene, which just basically needed a little prod to get into the public space and get loved, and pitchfork provided that prod.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:25 PM on April 30, 2006


Is it a bad sign that I read the quote and assumed it was about Pitchfork?

I did the same.

I like pitchfork. I think pitchfork bashers tend to "not get it," if you will.

And thanks for the insightful comments, keswick! You're really making a good name for yourself lately!
posted by ludwig_van at 2:31 PM on April 30, 2006


keswick : "i hate pitchfork, their readers, and the music they review."

So you hate the music they reviewed highly, and the music they reviewed lowly?
posted by Bugbread at 2:33 PM on April 30, 2006


I went to the pitchfork website once to check it out, and never went back. Mind you, I don't download or buy music either, so I'm not really their target demographic.

I now leave this thread in the secure knowledge that it is not better or worse for my contribution, but, instead, longer.
posted by Sparx at 2:37 PM on April 30, 2006


Also, I'd be interested in seeing specific examples of things like "the site's cooler-than-thou indie-elitist tone." Just to see exactly what it is that folks who would level such a charge would label as such. I find that a great deal of "elitism" and "pretentiousness" on the part of writers or musicians tends to be projected by the one doing the criticising.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:37 PM on April 30, 2006


Opinionated is code for snobbish.
posted by skallas at 2:39 PM on April 30, 2006


I'd never heard of them before this FPP.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:41 PM on April 30, 2006


I like pitchfork. I think pitchfork bashers tend to "not get it," if you will.

Yes. Shouldn't we be proud of Pitchfork and view it as a 'New Media' success story? Pitchfork made it when a lot of other online music zines failed (anyone remember Addicted to Noise?) by featuring good writing, finding a niche, and updating regularly. I can't remember all the other music sites I had bookmarked back in the late '90s, but most of them seemed like they were run by three friends with day jobs and would often go weeks without posting anything new. Schrieber obviously poured his heart and soul into the site, and it's paid off. I do agree that they wield too much influence and I don't always agree with their picks and pans, but if there's another music site that's covers the same stuff and manages to be as comprehensive as Pitchfork, I haven't found it.

Seriously, can anyone name one? I'd like to see it.
posted by Kronoss at 2:42 PM on April 30, 2006


I'm declaring a moratorium on the term 'indie' in all its forms and hyphenations. It's gone the way of 'alternative'; it's no longer descriptive of much of anything at all. Who's with me?
posted by Evstar at 2:43 PM on April 30, 2006


indie wouldnt be indie if it wasnt indie.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:44 PM on April 30, 2006


Man, if you want to see what Pitchfork would be like if it were every snide thing it's ever been labelled, go read Stylus. Blech.
posted by hototogisu at 2:44 PM on April 30, 2006


youre not cool enough to be in this thread evstar.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:47 PM on April 30, 2006


I'm declaring a moratorium on the term 'indie' in all its forms and hyphenations. It's gone the way of 'alternative'; it's no longer descriptive of much of anything at all. Who's with me?

But it's not the same as "alternative;" it doesn't have to be, anyway. It could have a useful meaning if people who used it were more precise.

Indie means independent. Independent means self-released, or on an indie label, or otherwise not affiliated with a major label. It implies a lot of things: DIY, lo-fi, experimentalism, etc., but none of those things make something indie necessarily.

But people are sloppy with it these days. Try to ask someone who uses indie as anything other than the above to define it, and I'll bet they have a really hard time.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:48 PM on April 30, 2006


I like Pitchfork alright, though I don't ascribe them any magical indie music ju-ju. they're easy to disagree with.

I'd be interested in seeing specific examples of things like "the site's cooler-than-thou indie-elitist tone."

check The Bangers' "Let's Go Dipset" track review on this page.
posted by carsonb at 2:50 PM on April 30, 2006


ludwig_van : "But it's not the same as 'alternative;' it doesn't have to be, anyway. It could have a useful meaning if people who used it were more precise....But people are sloppy with it these days. "

I think that's exactly what Evstar is saying. It could be descriptive, it should be descriptive, but currently, in reality, it's no longer descriptive of much of anything at all.
posted by Bugbread at 2:50 PM on April 30, 2006


The only independent, by strict definition, label to sell music nationwide is Malaco. And they don't sell "alternative" music. You'll never see hipsters slobbering over the latest Malaco release.
posted by raysmj at 2:51 PM on April 30, 2006


It's hard to take seriously anyone who would print this , one of the dumbest "reviews" I've ever read (and I've read a lot of record reviews since I bought my first copy of Creem 25+ years ago)

ludwig_van: Also, I'd be interested in seeing specific examples of things like "the site's cooler-than-thou indie-elitist tone."

See my link for a perfect example.
posted by JeffL at 2:53 PM on April 30, 2006


Kronoss: if there's another music site that's covers the same stuff and manages to be as comprehensive as Pitchfork, I haven't found it.

I've been enjoying Tiny Mix Tapes as an alternative to Pitchfork for some time now. They may not run as many reviews, but they tend to be more selective and take more risks (check out the Eureka! section). Their daily news stories are also far more creatively written than the 'Fork.

And let's not forget Almost Cool, run by MeFi's own almostcool!
posted by RGD at 2:54 PM on April 30, 2006


bugbread's on the money. ludwig, you described exactly what the term should mean. But suddenly every movie made for less than 50 million dollars is an 'indiefilm' and a lot of us are scratching our heads.

sgt.serenity, that hurts. That hurts deep and sharp.
posted by Evstar at 2:54 PM on April 30, 2006


skallas beat me to it, but I'm with ludwig_van -- accusations of pretentiousness are more often a problem of the person making the accusation, rather than the target. In kinder terms, I think that most cases of pretentiousness are cases of a difference in communication style / dialect / context between sender and receiver. No real crime in that.

In harsher terms, I'm getting really tired of this whole 'being real' garbage that tries to make everyone and everything 'equal' to everyone and everything else with reckless abandon. It feels like it's trying to drive everyone and their human endeavours to this lowest common denominator. The worst part is, the people who consider themselves 'real people' are some of the most genuinely pretentious people I've had the discomfort of dealing with.

Having said that, good job Pitchfork. Until your replacement!
posted by Extopalopaketle at 2:59 PM on April 30, 2006


JeffL:

A savig grace of that review is this phrase:
"Fusion" is too caustic a verb... "Making pudding" better describes this genre blending.
posted by Bugbread at 3:01 PM on April 30, 2006


My relationship with Pitchfork is a bit love/hate. On the one hand, without them simply putting the names up in front of my face, it would've taken me a lot longer to discover what have become many of my favorite bands. On the other hand, I find their reviews sometimes step over a fine line that separates helpful, but still very creative review writing, and overly-pretentious crap writing.

Luckily, the worst offender in the "overly-pretentious crap" category hasn't been a writer for Pitchfork for a couple years now. Man, did I ever hate the way Brent DiCrescenzo wrote reviews.

I agree that there's a correlation/causality error in assigning Pitchfork importance. A large number of the mp3blogs I read were going nuts about the Arcade Fire well before Pitchfork's review of Funeral. A band that good gets more popular the more they're exposed to new potential fans, not because Pitchfork says their album's genius (even if they're completely correct in that assessment).
posted by sparkletone at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2006


He's like one of those creepy old guys with a myspace page. 30? Old? Jesus, I must have been Rip Van Winkling it for a while now, cause I never realized that I'm old and creepy. It's true, because someone on the interweb said so.

OT- Much prefer Stylus for reviews, and Buddyhead for the snark. Wish Forced Exposure still put out issues, rather than just mail order for obscure releases.

and Arcade Fire suck.
posted by erskelyne at 3:10 PM on April 30, 2006


Tiny Mix Tapes retains the fantastic bitchiness that made Pitchfork so much fun a few years ago--beyond a brief pegging of genre and a ranking, how much more description do you need in your music reviews? You want to hear about the way the bassline does [blah blah blah] right after the chorus? Go read some old Lester Bangs reviews--a lot of those are astonishingly boring. I'd take one of Brent DiCrescenzo hateful non-reviews over an actual description of the music (of, say, Metallica's last album) any day of the week.

I can see someone not terribly familiar with music not being satisfied by a review saying only "This is a good minimal house single" before getting to the unicorn-machine elf love story, but Pitchfork isn't written for that crowd anyway. Pitchfork helped me step into an entirely different world of music. It took a summer of reading the site until I knew what the hell was going on, but it's not terribly easy for anyone to really go the distance (at that point you realize what Pitchfork's problems really are, and pretentiousness isn't one of them). If you just want a cool new album or two a year, or only hear about weird things on NPR, go read an alt-weekly. Complaining about Pitchfork's obtuseness and inaccessibility is like seeing a Harmony Korine flick and bitching about the lack of Bruce Willis and terrorist gun-downs. It dosen't make any sense.

Indie perfectly describes a general attitude for the music featured on many of the bigger internet review sites (btw, how does the application of "indie" to film have anything to do with it to music? Many "indie" films are big budget work, to the point where "indie" is an irrational appelation, but to my relatively uninformed perspective this seems a much wider disconnect in the film world than in the music one). "Indie" works great for large swathes of music. To me it doesn't seem like there are masses of people out there hearing something like The Books and expecting Pavement, all because someone tossed "indie" out there, but that's just me--the system doesn't seem that broken to me.
posted by hototogisu at 3:10 PM on April 30, 2006


erskelyne: subscribe to Aquarius Records' mail order catalog (if you don't already)--lots of the same coverage as Forced Exposure, and they review everything they carry. Good stuff.
posted by hototogisu at 3:12 PM on April 30, 2006


keswick writes "i hate pitchfork, their readers, and the music they review."

I want to know more about keswick - he's fascinating. I think he may be the single most negative person on Metafilter. His ability to hate on things is unparalleled.
posted by mullacc at 3:12 PM on April 30, 2006


hototogisu : "Indie perfectly describes a general attitude for the music"

The general attitude of "being released by a non-major record company"? I wasn't aware that was an "attitude".
posted by Bugbread at 3:13 PM on April 30, 2006


I just see a bunch of livestock advertisements. I can't find the reviews.
posted by carter at 3:15 PM on April 30, 2006


Maybe attitude is the wrong word--it's a stance, of sorts. "David Geffen doesn't own my soul (even though if he tried to buy it for a popsicle I'd say yes in a heartbeat)" could work for a lot of it, but that's maybe a bit too long. I mean, what the hell else are you goin to call The Books, anyway?

It's not perfect, but it works as long as you don't expect a lot out of it.
posted by hototogisu at 3:15 PM on April 30, 2006


I immediately figured this was about Pitchfork, too.

Blaming Pitchfork for that Dismemberment Plan guy's total failure of a solo project is pretty stupid. I happened to see him play, not knowing who the fuck Dismemberment Plan was and only knowing he was some dude named "Travis" and the show sucked. SUCKED. I left after a couple of songs.

And I know too many people that write/do other things for Pitchfork and other related "hip" things to really understand this whole thing. All of the (arguably) good writers who are obsessed with music seem to be huge dorks (in a good way). The only thing "cool" about them is that they're going to shows and listening to albums of people no one's ever heard of yet. Which is fun, and cheap.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. Perceptions of pretension are weird, and I'm trying to get it, but I don't.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 3:18 PM on April 30, 2006


This thread was so much better in its early,more experimental period.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:18 PM on April 30, 2006


A savig grace of that review is this phrase:

"Fusion" is too caustic a verb... "Making pudding" better describes this genre blending.


I guess Brent DiCrescenzo doesn't know that "fusion" is a noun.

There's nothing wrong with funny, mean-spirited music reviews, but you've gotta pick your targets - ridiculing Kenny G. - fine. Criticizing Steely Dan because their records are well-produced - you're just showing that you're a dumbass.
posted by JeffL at 3:22 PM on April 30, 2006


Criticizing Steely Dan because their records are over-produced to the point of soft-focus porn is perfectly on target.
posted by hototogisu at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2006


With regards to the whole "indie" issue, I do use it to refer to a specific- though admittedly very broadly and poorly defined- genre. There are lots of non-mainstream genres of music out there that could never come close to a major label, which never get called "indie", and which would never(or at least, only very rarely) get a review in Pitchfork. (Metal, most non-IDM varieties of electronica, industrial, hardcore, free jazz, prog rock, neofolk, the list goes on and on and on...) No one, as far as I know, refers to any of these as "indie", even though they fit the strict independant-label definition.

I think of Pitchfork as covering the genre that is known as indie rock, as well as stuff that indie rockers, in general, are willing to give a seal of approval to. (Along with the occasional glowing review of shit like Justin Timberlake albums to show how cool and ironic or post-ironic or whatever they are.) I do find it a little annoying that the term "indie" is used to refer only to that particular genre, as it sort of implies that that's the only non-major label music out there, but that's how the usage of the word has developed, it seems...
posted by a louis wain cat at 3:27 PM on April 30, 2006


JeffL: Yeah, I somehow overlooked the "verb" part. I was too smitten by the phrase "making pudding".
posted by Bugbread at 3:28 PM on April 30, 2006


I'm really positively surprised by the general evenhandedness of the thread. I was expecting more "too cool for recess" pitchfork bashing. Pitchfork has become far too important but, honestly I've been exposed to more good music through pitchfork than through any other channel. I don't love the reviews but the best new music section gives me access to a manageable amount of music that I often like. I would like to find more things similar to best new music but so far pitchforks done fine by me.
posted by I Foody at 3:28 PM on April 30, 2006


This thread was good before it sold out. Anyway it was better when this thread did it.

And I liked it before it was cool.
posted by Marnie at 3:28 PM on April 30, 2006


a louis wain cat : "No one, as far as I know, refers to any of these as 'indie', even though they fit the strict independant-label definition. "

I think it's a half-and-half situation. If a genre, as a whole, is only put out by independents, then I seldom hear of a band being referred to as an indie. However, if the genre is one which is largely put out by majors, then I do hear of bands being referred to as indie. For example, indie hip-hop groups.
posted by Bugbread at 3:31 PM on April 30, 2006


I liked it before it was cool


yeah , now everyone's wanting to post on this thread so that they look cool - well it's not about looking cool and theres only a few people in this thread who really know what it's all about , the rest are just bandwagon jumpers.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:39 PM on April 30, 2006


"indie rock" is lame. its another genre for white kids in the suburbs. i can't help but to be anti-pitchfork. besides, AMG is much better.
posted by j-urb at 3:41 PM on April 30, 2006


Kronoss - I've really been enjoying the reviews on Coke Machine Glow as well - not as comprehensive as Pitchfork - but well written, and covers some stuff that doesn't find its way to pitchfork.
posted by Isaac at 3:42 PM on April 30, 2006


I want to know more about keswick - he's fascinating. I think he may be the single most negative person on Metafilter. His ability to hate on things is unparalleled.

I think this pretty much explains keswick. I used to hate him before I read that link, and now I just feel kinda sorry for the dude. I feel that he generally sets a low bar for conduct on Metafilter, but I've never cared enough to call him out on it. I've flagged lots of his comments.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:42 PM on April 30, 2006


and who is this interrobang guy anyway ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:44 PM on April 30, 2006


Blaming Pitchfork for that Dismemberment Plan guy's total failure of a solo project is pretty stupid. I happened to see him play, not knowing who the fuck Dismemberment Plan was and only knowing he was some dude named "Travis" and the show sucked. SUCKED.

I don't know. What I heard of his solo album was pretty shitty, but the guy went from playing sold out shows at every major medium sized venue in the country to playing small mid-Atlantic clubs with equal billing as bands no one has ever heard of, including the "nascent" Gaskets. When you start over as a solo artist and drop a bad album, your popularity is bound to slip, but even among his fans Morrison's status changed from innovator to douche bag in a matter of cultural milliseconds. I'm not sure if the Pitchfork review was entirely to blame, but I know it had something to do with me never really listening to the album. And I'm sure it played a roll in the speed of his fall.

Maybe I'm over estimating The Dismembermant Plan's success, but coming from DC and living in Austin it seemed to me they were pretty on top of the scene Pitchfork plays to at the time of their break-up.
posted by mosessmith at 3:46 PM on April 30, 2006


j-urb : "'indie rock' is lame. its another genre for white kids in the suburbs."

Damn white kids with their damn lawns! They need to move into the city and become Maoris if they want any real cred.
posted by Bugbread at 3:47 PM on April 30, 2006


The money and energy that people in their 20's put into "being hip" astounds me. There was a time when I was guilty, but now I'm perfectly fine with Steely Dan, Arcade Fire, U2, Boards of Canada, Springsteen, Bloc Party...whatever. Good's good.
posted by davebush at 3:47 PM on April 30, 2006


Pitchfork is useless to me because I have different taste than most of the reviewers. Naturally, I think that's because their taste sucks, but realistically I know that it's just different.

The reason pitchfork is popular is because they have the same taste as a lot of indie kids. If that website didn't exist, another would have taken its place.
posted by Eamon at 3:49 PM on April 30, 2006


The Dismemberment Plan were pretty high up on the pile, but I think you're over-estimating people. How many people bought their albums, saw their shows, and never got around to learning the guy's name? How many people get past the "TRAVIS MORRISON" part of the poster to see "ex-Dismemberment Plan"? It seems absurd to me to own every album by a band and not know who's responsible for each and every note, but lots of people aren't as OCD as I am, either.
posted by hototogisu at 3:51 PM on April 30, 2006


You're fine with springsteen ?

I'm appalled at that statement.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:55 PM on April 30, 2006


1. What's wrong with Springsteen?

2. What's wrong with suburban white kids that isn't wrong with all the other kids?
posted by Evstar at 4:01 PM on April 30, 2006


hilariously snarky

More like insufferably.

Is it time for Pitchfork to choose considered opinion over snark in its music criticism?
posted by unmake at 4:03 PM on April 30, 2006


How I feel about Pitchfork.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:04 PM on April 30, 2006


I cannot begin to express how ugly their site looks with empty white spaces where the ads used to be (thanks to AdBlock). That being said, I'd probably read it because it's a lot like MeFi, full of pretentious know-it-alls that do, in fact, know it all. And I lurves me some of that.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:05 PM on April 30, 2006


So that was your plan all along evstar - the destruction of indie and a world full of bruce springsteen records - i'm sorry , but if you like springsteen , you're just not indie.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:05 PM on April 30, 2006


Shit! Kicked out of the clubhouse. I'll leave you guys to it, then.

re: my indiefilm remark.
that was pointed at the general dissolution of the term and the broadness thereof. (Maybe not-so)Obviously I don't think the music industry and the film industry are one in the same.

posted by Evstar at 4:14 PM on April 30, 2006


sgt.serenity : "i'm sorry , but if you like springsteen , you're just not indie."

No, if you don't like springsteen, then you're not indie. Springsteen is hardcore indie, man!

Note: this is why hipster irony is annoying

Oh, by the way...

Jonmc, where are you?!
posted by Bugbread at 4:17 PM on April 30, 2006


Pitchfork: the worst thing to happen to hay since fire.
posted by fire&wings at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2006


Meh, I'm more or less with the haters, but I just don't like "rock journalism" in general and Pitchfork is an especially self-indulgent piece of that particular pie. I do still read it from time to time, though, and it has turned me on to bands I wouldn't have found out about otherwise. I usually find it works best in conjunction with a metacritic page, so I can get a a series of takes on an album from them, PopMatters, Tiny Tape Mix Tapes, cokemachineglow, Dusted, etc.

One thing that really bugs me about Pitchfork is how self-regarding they are. Eg, from this interview with The Arcade Fire at the height of their hype:

Pitchfork: It's pretty weird that we keep getting tied together in the press. Like, a lot of the features I've read on the Arcade Fire mention Pitchfork and vice versa. [Arcade Fire guy: uh... yeah, I guess...] It's really funny. It's like we can't exist independently in the press. I mean, are you as sick of that as we are?

OMG, we're super famous, just like you!

As a side note, it's weird how much Pitchfork and similarly-demographiced US rock press seem to ape the UK's NME (cf The Strokes), which I seem to recall a British mefite as describing as the UK version of Tiger Beat magazine.
posted by whir at 4:22 PM on April 30, 2006


hototogisu : You're probably right that he didn't get a ton of momentum from D-Plan's popularity, but I still think the review was important. The kind of people that did know his name are the same kind of people that take cues from Pitchfork. I don't read the site often, but I check their reviews on stuff I'm already interested in just as a kind of barometer. If they had given him as much as a 5.0 I would have at least downloaded his record. The 0.0 made it incredibly easy to dismiss him as over, especially since a lot of fans (me, at least) already saw the guy as a bit too smug to really want to support on his own. A reviewer takes a certain condemning glee in rating an album 0 out of 10, and that glee makes it a lot of fun to agree with. When most of your established fan base is reading that review, suddenly the people you've spent 10 years developing a reputation with find it a lot cooler to dump on you than to listen to your music. Anyway, I just thought that that was the most interesting part of the article, since it's a case where Pitchfork played a big part in turning an artist's entire audience against them.
posted by mosessmith at 4:25 PM on April 30, 2006


When you start over as a solo artist and drop a bad album, your popularity is bound to slip, but even among his fans Morrison's status changed from innovator to douche bag in a matter of cultural milliseconds.

Travistan is a misfire. In this, the negative reviews are right (though I think they hyperbolize how bad it is in most cases).

Travis, from all that I've seen and heard, seems like a truly nice guy; genuine, and sweet, and dorky in a charming way. It hurt a little to watch what you describe happen after the Pitchfork review. There were some positive reviews out there, but by and large everyone seemed to think the thing was a crime against music. It calls to mind the final episode of Futurama, where Zoidberg tells Fry "Your music's bad, and you should feel bad!" moments after encouraging Fry to keep going after the loss of what had previously enabled him to make great music.

I'm hoping Travis's next album will be better. From what he's written on his website in the past, he seems happy with the new band he's got. I just hope people give him a fair chance after what happened with Travistan.
posted by sparkletone at 4:25 PM on April 30, 2006


I used to look at pitchfork, but I prefer just browsing the boomkat catalogue nowadays because they have more electronic stuff which is more what I'm into. Sure they're trying to sell you stuff so they talk everything up, but they usually have audio samples which is way the heck more important than any review.

keswick: i hate pitchfork, their readers, and the music they review.
bugbread: So you hate the music they reviewed highly, and the music they reviewed lowly?


what bugbread said. I don't even read pitchfork anymore and keswick's remark is still silly.
posted by juv3nal at 4:29 PM on April 30, 2006


I suspect it's distinctly possible that "Funeral" became a huge hit because it's damned good. End of story.
posted by Decani at 4:38 PM on April 30, 2006


Decani : "I suspect it's distinctly possible that 'Funeral' became a huge hit because it's damned good. End of story."

It's possible, but the question then is why it became a huge hit while other damned good stuff hasn't.
posted by Bugbread at 4:40 PM on April 30, 2006


Old doesn't always = suck. The hipsters have trouble with that one.
posted by davebush at 4:43 PM on April 30, 2006


Amending that to "old and popular" might make more sense.
posted by hototogisu at 4:52 PM on April 30, 2006


Gimme Springsteen over The Arcade Dismemberment Trail of Your Godspeed Black Motocycle Club anyday.

I suspect my interest in indie rock waning as Pitchfork began to wax is not a coincidence. They wield too much power, just like MTV used when it had something to do with music instead of reality TV.
posted by keswick at 4:53 PM on April 30, 2006


Old doesn't always = suck. The hipsters have trouble with that one.

Wait. Really?

Then why do they (as much as there's a "they" here) revere the likes of Velvet Underground, The Kinks, The Clash, Gang Of Four, etc., etc.?
posted by sparkletone at 4:53 PM on April 30, 2006


Delusions of Adequacy is a great source and so is FakeJazz - their year-end roundup is always worth reading.

And if I don't say so myself, my very own Robosexual is worth checking out. You need to hear Sir Richard Bishop.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:55 PM on April 30, 2006


Being hip is not the same thing as being a hipster, but worrying about either is ultimately self-defeating.
posted by erskelyne at 4:58 PM on April 30, 2006


It's possible, but the question then is why it became a huge hit while other damned good stuff hasn't.

It resonated with a lot of listeners. C'mon, there's a lot of great music that will never become popular. Bands like The Strokes, Arcade Fire, The Shins, etc., etc. became amazingly huge successes because a: good music; b: good timing; c: good distribution; d: luck; e: *mass appeal*. Not all good music has mass appeal. I mean, we all knew the first time we heard The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand that they were going to explode. Radio friendly but slightly different. That's all it takes.

Of course I'm not always right, but I think most of us who listen to that type of music can tell if something's gonna blow up or not.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:01 PM on April 30, 2006


keswick, pitchfork gave a strong review to Springsteen's latest.

It's obvious you didn't RTFA or pitchfork in general, but I'd expect no less from you bold, ignorant freethinker you.
posted by bardic at 5:06 PM on April 30, 2006


Amending that to "old and popular" might make more sense.

Yes, that's it exactly.
posted by davebush at 5:07 PM on April 30, 2006


mrgrimm,

I'm not saying that their success was due to PitchFork. I really don't know. I just think that to dismiss PitchFork's influence purely on the basis that "it's damned good" doesn't account for the other damned good stuff that resonates with listeners that people think will blow up and doesn't. Depending on how you interpret it, your own statement, "It resonated with a lot of listeners" may even point at the importance of a music review site, or an active record company promotion, or radio payola, or any other number of factors besides "damn goodness". To wit, how is it that a lot of listeners heard it in the first place, such that they realised that it resonated with them?

(Again, not saying it was PitchFork. Just that Damn Goodness by itself is Very Helpful but Not Sufficient for something to blow up.)
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 PM on April 30, 2006


the best part is that Damn Goodness isn't even required.
posted by hototogisu at 5:15 PM on April 30, 2006


Also, "Funeral" pulled good reviews pretty much everywhere. Q, Uncut, Rolling Stone - reviewers with way more clout and circulation than bloody Pitchfork. That's the stuff that gets a record sold. That and deserving the hype.

Anyone who can't see why that record got raved about is a cloth-eared nonce who probably still listens to Springsteen. Oh wait... I still listen to Springsteen. Oh wait... no I don't.
posted by Decani at 5:17 PM on April 30, 2006


Decani : "Also, 'Funeral' pulled good reviews pretty much everywhere...That's the stuff that gets a record sold. That and deserving the hype."

That seems like a pretty good combination of reasons. I'll consider my question answered.
posted by Bugbread at 5:24 PM on April 30, 2006


I can see why someone would rave about that album when it came out, but can't see why they'd still be raving--it wasn't that great. Then again, I'm still salivating over the last Flaherty/Corsano joint, so what do I know?

Rolling Stone's circulation is something like 1.5 million, and Pitchfork gets 1.3 million unique visitors per month (both off wikipedia, but they sound about right). Within the subset of the population inclined to buy a record like Funeral in the first place, Pitchfork has significantly more "clout and circulation" than Rolling Stone.
posted by hototogisu at 5:27 PM on April 30, 2006


Then why do they (as much as there's a "they" here) revere the likes of Velvet Underground, The Kinks, The Clash, Gang Of Four, etc., etc.?

Possibly because Pitchfork told them to. Possibly because they're so really fucking good that it's difficult to avoid that fact, even as a hipster. Shit, I just wish the kids were out making more music like that instead of just ripping it off. I watched 24 Hour Party People again the other night. That bastard makes me cry, every time.
posted by Jimbob at 5:29 PM on April 30, 2006


(By which I mean, do you realize we've had 30-odd years to come up with something as good as Joy Division, and haven't yet? That shames me, it should shame you too...)
posted by Jimbob at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2006


Amending that to "old and popular" might make more sense.

'cause there's no reverence what so ever for Dylan, Neil Young, Queen, David Bowie, The Clash, Talking Heads...

I could go on. That's not an accurate characterization any more than it was before amending it.
posted by sparkletone at 5:33 PM on April 30, 2006


There have been lots of things "as good" (in whatever transcendental scale that can be applied to all music equally that you choose) as Joy Division--how can you even say that? There hasn't been anything that was as good as Joy Division was at being Joy Division, but that's not really even an argument or a point about anything.
posted by hototogisu at 5:35 PM on April 30, 2006


Yeah, whatever you say, Jimbob.
posted by Evstar at 5:36 PM on April 30, 2006


Possibly because Pitchfork told them to. Possibly because they're so really fucking good that it's difficult to avoid that fact, even as a hipster. Shit, I just wish the kids were out making more music like that instead of just ripping it off. I watched 24 Hour Party People again the other night. That bastard makes me cry, every time.

This is somewhat tangential to the point I was making. I'm not particularly concerned as to why those artists are revered. I'm just pointing out how obviously false saying, "The hipster kids think old = crap," is. There's so, so, so many counter-examples, and I felt the need to point out just a few.
posted by sparkletone at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2006


Man, I could name about a billion bands better than Joy Division. I'm glad that sad sack fuckin' hung himself.
posted by keswick at 5:39 PM on April 30, 2006


well, keswick..

get naming!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:40 PM on April 30, 2006


The "Funeral 9.7 thing by PFM == their success" is ridiculous. They've given 10.0s to records by Trail of Dead, Walt Mink, Amon Tobin, 12 Rods, and others. Hasn't done shit for their careers/sales. Why? Not because the music isn't good, but because it's simply not as universal or approachable as Funeral is. It's a good record and the band is awesome live--giving PFM exclusive credit for a hard working band's success is ridiculous.

The only thing of note re: the Funeral review on PFM is that the mainstream music press saw tons of sales of the album (the band had already released an EP in Canada and opened for The Constantines (one of Canada's best and most respected live acts) and other bands) and hadn't a clue how it happened because they're so out of touch. They simply hadn't heard of an unknown band on such a small label getting hyped like that so they attributed it to the most well known of the underground music press web site: PFM. Lazy reporting all around.

I personally can't stand the writing style on PFM so no longer bother with the reviews (and the news items are often factually incorrect)--but they're a great resource for finding out what's coming out when and on what label.

Plus, after this ridiculous review, I think their credibility is shot. :)
posted by dobbs at 5:43 PM on April 30, 2006


You think that review is ridiculous? I simply cannot let this thread proceed any longer without linking the best Pitchfork review EVAR. (including my favorite sentence "The experience and emotions tied to listening to Kid A are like witnessing the stillborn birth of a child while simultaneously having the opportunity to see her play in the afterlife on Imax.")

Oh, and thanks for the shoutout above RGD, I really do try to focus on interesting stuff on my site (so if you like semi-obscure electronic and indie stuff, hop on over, ya'll).
posted by almostcool at 5:51 PM on April 30, 2006


By "old" I meant "long career / still active."
posted by davebush at 5:51 PM on April 30, 2006


bugbread: I think it's a half-and-half situation. If a genre, as a whole, is only put out by independents, then I seldom hear of a band being referred to as an indie. However, if the genre is one which is largely put out by majors, then I do hear of bands being referred to as indie. For example, indie hip-hop groups.

I never really put that together, but that's a good point. Indie hip-hop does tend to be liked by indie rockers, though, from what I've seen, so it could also be argued that the word sort of crossed over that way. I don't really know, though. This could be an interesting study for an etymologist.

Anyway, as long as we're recommending other review sites, I like the reviews at Aquarius Records a lot. They definitely have their favorite genres, but they cover a broader variety of music than any other site that I've seen, and they have sound clips for lots of stuff. I'd recommend them as a store, also- the owner's a very nice guy, and I've never had any problems with the mail order. It's sometimes been a little on the slow side, but I think that's mostly because I'm across the country from them.

Really, though, I'd recommend not relying on one or even only a few sites for anything. I've found out about lots of new bands and genres just by sort of exploring- browsing the All Music Guide and doing Google searches on different bands and genres, reading websites related to those bands and genres and checking out what they link to, listening to various college radio stations, web radio, and stations like WFMU. I've found that exploring stuff outside the range of my usual tastes can be very rewarding. Sometimes it just confirms my original opinion, of course, but that can be a valuable learning experience in itself...
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:03 PM on April 30, 2006


I'll be honest -- I love pitchfork, and I never read it. I find their writing sophomoric and boring, but the staff has a good ear for the catchy and new, so I regularly scan their front page for highly-rated albums (or more modestly rated albums in a genre I like) and check them out. There are a lot of bands I like I would've never heard of otherwise. Other than pitchfork, I like themilkfactory a lot -- it deserves a nod here.
posted by ori at 6:28 PM on April 30, 2006


Keswick, please go away and don't come back until you have a life. Listen to the new Springsteen maybe--you can order it through Pitchfork as I suggested.
posted by bardic at 6:29 PM on April 30, 2006


Anyone who can't see why that record got raved about is a cloth-eared nonce

Well damn my fuzzy worsted wool appendages, 'cause I still stand by my original opinion of their musical suckitude.

I must be the wrong demographic, or musical type. I usually get the bulk of my listening pleasure from sites like this, or this
posted by erskelyne at 6:38 PM on April 30, 2006


Criticizing Steely Dan because their records are over-produced to the point of soft-focus porn is perfectly on target.

On the contrary, it misses entirely the point of Steely Dan, which is to show off your hi-fi system.
posted by kindall at 7:00 PM on April 30, 2006


Hipsters like Springsteen, what are people saying? (I don't actually remember what people were saying). Tortoise and Will Oldham covered a Springsteen song for their recent collab, which is pretty hip.

Anyway, if someone only read pitchfork and took all their music information from it, that would be sad. But most people, like me, peruse it on a semi-regular basis along with other sites, magazines, mp3 blogs, shows, friends, radio, etc.

Whenever you think pitchfork is annoying, just think of a world where hipsters only read Wire.
posted by Falconetti at 7:28 PM on April 30, 2006


Since there's been a Gaskets mp3 (easy life rough) on my ipod since November 1st, 2004 (!), does this make me a player on the level of pitchfork?

Maybe the press should give me credit for Funeral's success. I thought it was pretty super myself.

In all honesty though, the credit for my Gaskets mp3 goes to music (for robots).
posted by illovich at 7:37 PM on April 30, 2006


Jonmc, where are you?!

Out having a life, thanks.
posted by jonmc at 7:38 PM on April 30, 2006


and i still don't like Pitchfork for what it's worth. Their main fault is that their reviews have never made me want to listen to the music they mention, since they almost never talk about how it feels to listen to it, which is ultimately what it's all about.

*cranks 'Joe's Garage'*
posted by jonmc at 7:47 PM on April 30, 2006


I didn't bother reading many of the comments on this thread, but I just want to throw in my two cents: I've seen the Gaskets live before (their lead singer is a friend of a friend), and they were the most incredibly awful band I have ever, ever heard. The fact that they're mentioned in the Post is beyond hilarious to me.

Also, I've noticed The Boss and Steely Dan being discussed throughout this thread, and if you have any doubt that either are popular with hipsters, then listen to The Hold Steady and be instantly purged of said doubts.
posted by stemlot at 7:55 PM on April 30, 2006


I saw the Gaskets live when I was in VA, and they really kick some ass on stage. Totally get the crowd rockin' along.

Then why do they (as much as there's a "they" here) revere the likes of Velvet Underground, The Kinks, The Clash, Gang Of Four, etc., etc.?

Because masturbation feels good?
posted by Mikey-San at 7:55 PM on April 30, 2006


Wow, two different FPPs about Pitchfork and no one linked this?

0.0-0.9: That ain't Radiohead

You know what, a site like that is what you make of it. I listen to a lot of things that get reviewed on that site because I just generally like it. I tend to read reviews *after* I get into a new song/band, just to get a different perspective on what I'm listening to.
posted by ninjew at 8:40 PM on April 30, 2006


nevermind.
posted by ninjew at 8:45 PM on April 30, 2006


Because masturbation feels good?

Again, this is tangential to my point that there's no "old = crap" mentality floating around where someone said there was.

Also, the point someone made regarding Springsteen and the Hold Steady is accurate. Jose Gonzalez is another artist with quite a bit of (well-deserved) buzz about him lately. One of the first things I heard of his was an astounding cover of Born In The USA, and he's also done a cover of Ghost Of Tom Joad with his band Junip.

Springsteen is okay with Them, as far as I can tell (in as much as there's a "them" there).
posted by sparkletone at 8:46 PM on April 30, 2006


I was expecting more "too cool for recess" pitchfork bashing. Pitchfork has become far too important but, honestly I've been exposed to more good music through pitchfork than through any other channel. I don't love the reviews

This is the essence of pitchfork: they're terrible critics, but they sift through so much darn music they can't help but help draw your attention to something you're going to like.

This is also why people think they're pretentious: they seem to present themselves as critics, and it's obvious they're awful at it.

But they're still useful and helpful at discovery, and that's what people are really looking for: new music to experience, not a chance to read a review and think "Wow. What a fine piece of music criticism that was."

Of course, Pitchfork would be even better if they were good critics. But they don't have to be, now.
posted by weston at 8:48 PM on April 30, 2006


You think that review is ridiculous?

I meant it's ridiculous because the album is brilliant (a 10 to my ears) and they gave it a 3.3.
posted by dobbs at 9:46 PM on April 30, 2006


My favourite review site, and quite possibly the one that directed me to buy the most albums (regardless of whether I ended up liking them or not) was Splendid, which was very similar to Pitchfork in that they would post new reviews every day, but different from Pitchfork in that they'd review anything that crossed their desk. In fact, it was that open submission policy that crushed Splendid in the end; their final letter to their readership talked about te tons of boxes full of unopened tapes, CDs and other random musical objects that had never seen the light of day after being filed away. It was simultaneously awe-inspiring and depressing at the same time—all those tiny, unsigned bands with demo tapes, or 27-minute noise prog epics recorded on four-tracks, or the latest System of a Down CD, all reduced to so much dust consigned to life in a dark, rotting basement forever more.

My personal feelings about Pitchfork—and call me a poser or a snob if you like—is that once it got popular, the allure was over. Brent DiCrescenzo was way too over the top most of the time, and I vehemently disliked Kristin Sage Rockermann, but the real problem was when people started taking their musical cues entirely from Pitchfork's top picks. It ceased to be just a review site and became a tastemaker in the most unpleasant, if unintentional, manner. And to someone who grew up liking many of the same music Pitchfork reviewed earlier on, I felt like Pitchfork had taken the little niche I'd found after years of wandering, and ripped it wide open for the world to consume. Maybe this was how Sebadoh and Pavement fans felt in the mid-90s. I don't know.

In any case, Splendid never held that same sort of power, and often I would visit their site more often than Pitchfork, but paradoxically read fewer reviews. I just didn't recognize 90% of the bands Splendid covered. So I never realized what kind of an effect they'd had on me until they stopped publishing. I found it increasingly hard to find music by bands I'd never heard of, and no review site that I could conceivably call home.

The closest site I can think of is neumu, and even then only because of the extremely tenuous connection to the extremely ancient (and extremely cool) Addicted To Noise e-zine from 1996. ATN was another site whose writers obviously loved music. Their review of Dig Me Out led me to discover Sleater-Kinney, and from then on I was never the same. ATN opened my eyes to entire new worlds of music beyond my radio dial, and for that I am forever grateful. Pitchfork, sadly, has never had the same effect on me.
posted by chrominance at 9:52 PM on April 30, 2006


chrominance, I had no idea about Splendid. That's sad. I hope they come back.

sparkletone, Jose also covers Massive Attack. Sadly, I can't recall which mp3blog had it.
posted by shoepal at 11:25 PM on April 30, 2006


sparkletone, Jose also covers Massive Attack. Sadly, I can't recall which mp3blog had it.

Yes! The song Teardrop, if memory serves (as I don't feel like searching iTunes). If you would like it, I can probably hook you up.

Most famously, he covers The Knife. He's also done Joy Division... I might be forgetting a couple other covers. He does lots of covers, all fantastic.

I love Jose. I would buy him sammiches and beer, given the opportunity.
posted by sparkletone at 11:40 PM on April 30, 2006


Yeah, ATN was a good site. At least, I thought so at the time. I (obviously) haven't read it lately. My interest indie rock waned as Pitchfork waxed. Now I don't listen to new music at all; I have more fun exploring obscure stuff from the 20th century, which is why I'm really looking forward to Bob Dylan's radio show. I'll leave the "indie" rock to the Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters crowd.
posted by keswick at 11:42 PM on April 30, 2006


I saw Travis Morrison at some coffeeshop when I was visiting my girlfriend's family in Grand Rapids, because I used to live with a girl who was obsessed with the Dismemberment Plan and the only other show in town was the Casualties and...blech. Dude did it to himself. I wish I could remember who those opening bands were, though. They were a lot of fun.
posted by elr at 11:45 PM on April 30, 2006


wrt other sites, i read this whole thread and no one mentioned brainwashed. maybe i am getting too old.
posted by peptide at 11:48 PM on April 30, 2006


i read this whole thread

I read this whole thread too, and now I want my twenty minutes back!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:46 AM on May 1, 2006


Splendid was really great (they published a "That Damn Thing List" I wrote, so I guess I'm biased).

The D-Plan thing definitely caught my eye--I liked them a lot, and saw them multiple times, but IMO their last album, "Changes," was already kind of a Travis solo thing, and I didn't like it at all. (I've been listening to free music from Maritime though, Davey and the drummer from Promise Ring and the D-Plan's bassist, and want to pick up their new second album). It's WaPo, so I guess they needed to bring in the DC angle.

Pitchfork can infuriate me, but if I had to choose one source for music reviews it would be them. I actually think they're better than ever, especially in terms of consistency, and for the fact that they get to a lot of great re-issue stuff (anyone want to lone me 80 bucks for the Miles at the Cellar Door collection?)

Anyways, as angry as I get at PFM, I'll take their advice over that offered in Rollingstone, Spin, Vibe, Blender, etc. Their best new music section alone keeps me comnig back.
posted by bardic at 1:16 AM on May 1, 2006


"pitchfork gave a strong review to Springsteen's latest"


well , that about wraps it up for pitchfork.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:27 AM on May 1, 2006


Let's trump Pitchfork here on Metafilter by helping the Gaskets go platinum...
posted by runkelfinker at 3:42 AM on May 1, 2006


Man, my connection was screwy and I missed out on the whole thread. Here's what I was trying to post a long time ago:

bugbread's on the money. ludwig, you described exactly what the term should mean. But suddenly every movie made for less than 50 million dollars is an 'indiefilm' and a lot of us are scratching our heads.

I know that's what it should mean, and that's not how people tend to use it. But my problem is, the way people tend to use it seems to mean precisely nothing. I'm not sure I follow your hypothetical problem here. Either it was made with the backing of a major studio/corporation, or it wasn't. Independence and genre are orthogonal elements.

I think it's a half-and-half situation. If a genre, as a whole, is only put out by independents, then I seldom hear of a band being referred to as an indie. However, if the genre is one which is largely put out by majors, then I do hear of bands being referred to as indie. For example, indie hip-hop groups.

This is correct. Avant-garde sound collages, or what have you, don't tend to be explicitly denoted as "indie" because there is no mainstream there to be independent from. That doesn't mean it isn't indie. And I've heard plenty of genres referred to as "indie-" besides pop and rock, although those are the most common.

But it annoys me when people use "indie" to mean either "indie rock specifically" or "sharing superficial features with some indie rock bands." And I disagree about it being an "attitude." You just can't have it both ways. If you're not on a major label, you're an indie band. If you go and sign to a major label, you don't get to still be an indie band (but hey, you get to be on a major label!). Them's the breaks.

Also, as sparkletone points out, Brent DiCrescenzo hasn't been writing at Pfork for awhile.

In terms of other sites, I read Delusions of Adequacy daily for awhile until I decided that they suck. Short reviews with shoddy writing and not saying anything that anyone else doesn't say. It's like reading pitchfork circa 1997.

Finally, yes Virgina, Funeral really is that good.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:06 AM on May 1, 2006


Only if I am, peptide. I go to Brainwashed frequently. Since we seem to be listing other review sites, I generally also check out Dusted Magazine, Fake Jazz, Julian Cope's Head Heritage: Unsung, Blastitude, The Metal Observer, and Doom-metal.com. Used to hit up Splendid before they disappeared. However, as a louis wain cat mentioned, though, the Aquarius Records New Arrivals List is generally huge and covers a ridiculous variety of music. It's probably the place where I find most of my new [or new old] music these days. Still check Pitchfork every now and then, but I'm not sure if my taste shifted or theirs did. I can't think of the last album I found first on Pitchfork.
posted by ubersturm at 4:13 AM on May 1, 2006


I liked The Gaskets before they totally sold out to the man.
posted by Joeforking at 4:35 AM on May 1, 2006


jonmc : "Out having a life, thanks."

Nonono. That's fine in general, but music threads are your responsibility. Throwing a music thread without jonmc is like throwing a mass without a priest. But you only have to make a nominal appearance for the contract to be fulfilled, so your work here is done. Thanks!

ludwig_van : "I'm not sure I follow your hypothetical problem here. Either it was made with the backing of a major studio/corporation, or it wasn't. Independence and genre are orthogonal elements."

Ludwig_van, I don't really understand what's going on with this exchange. From what I can tell, you, Evstar, and I are in complete agreement here, but you seem to think there's some disagreement. Evstar is saying "indie" is no longer being used to mean "independent from major studios". You're saying "indie" is no longer being used to mean "independent from major studios". I'm saying "indie" is no longer being used to mean "independent from major studios". So I don't think there's any disagreement here. We're probably just reading past eachother.
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 AM on May 1, 2006


That may be the case, bugbread. But I'm trying to go further than just agreeing that it's no longer used to mean "independent from major labels;" I'm saying that other way that people use it is altogether without meaning, and so unless people keep using it with its original, useful meaning, the term will go the way of "alternative" and lose all utility. I think that this is a bad thing, because I think that independence from major labels is a useful thing to know, and a useful idea to be able to refer to with one word. So I bitch about it on message boards.

Lots of people still refer to Death Cab for Cutie as an indie-rock band even though they signed to and released an album on a major label (and the difference was audible to many). It's not the end of the world (hell, I don't really care about Death Cab), but I feel like it's kind of deceptive. I don't want indie to get cheapened like that and become a meaningless buzzword. I'm not trying to give it an elevated status or anything, like indie-ness is holy, but I think it's a worthy concept that comes with some worthy ideals. Know what I mean?
posted by ludwig_van at 5:38 AM on May 1, 2006


And the MeFi music compilation is indie to the max.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:41 AM on May 1, 2006


ludwig_van : "I'm saying that other way that people use it is altogether without meaning, and so unless people keep using it with its original, useful meaning, the term will go the way of 'alternative' and lose all utility."

Right. And that's what I'm saying too, and, I suspect, what Evstar is saying as well.
posted by Bugbread at 5:50 AM on May 1, 2006


Ah, wait, unless the difference is that you're saying "we must use it correctly to restore it", and Evstar is saying "It's too late to restore, so we should stop using it altogether". If that's the case, I see the gap in y'all's positions.
posted by Bugbread at 5:51 AM on May 1, 2006


From the article: "Up until the day of the review, I'd play a solo show, and people would be like, 'That's our boy, our eccentric boy.' Literally, the view changed overnight. . . . I could tell people were trying to figure out if they were supposed to be there or not. It was pretty severe, how the mood changed.

Pretty pathetic how people will let a review influence their experience of a solo show. It just highlights my impression that few people really listen to music any more. They want to be part of a "scene." Speaking of which, a message in sgt.serenity's native language:

Baaaa, baaaaAAAAaaaa!
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:54 AM on May 1, 2006


"I'm not sure if the Pitchfork review was entirely to blame, but I know it had something to do with me never really listening to the album."

It also had to do with his outspoken support of the Iraq War, which alienated a lot of fans. That, a series of bad reviews, and a shitty album all conspired to vaporize his career.

(I gotta remember to submit clips to Dusted, since they're the only ones I read anymore. While Pitchfork often has things that I haven't heard of, nine times out of ten they're more generic indie-pop that will either be hyperbolicly raved about or will be slammed without a second thought in some sort of tortured Brechtian metaphor, and wading through all of that justification isn't worth it. I just don't think the vast majority of their writers have very good taste, and one of the things that's come to annoy me in my advanced age is people who have pretty convetional taste putting on the airs of elitism. Dominique Leone, however, I will read anywhere).
posted by klangklangston at 5:57 AM on May 1, 2006


This post reminded me of how compelling the Harper's essay on Flash Mobs - from the fellow who coined that regrettable term - had been. It's in several parts; get 'em here. The short version of the article: the Flash Mob notion was meant as a spoof of hipster flocking/conformity (broad side of the barn, I know), and was taken up unironically by hipster gulls and wannabe conceptualists. The guy's not a bad writer at all; the essay is entertaining and worth the read, especially in the context of this silly Pitchfork WaPo article (even if it's breathless and overwrought and far too self-satisfied in places).

re: Pitchfork...The real interest isn't the site itself - which swerves between an avalanche of bullshit adolescent posturing and the occasional interesting, synoptic, critical piece (cf. the review of Miles Davis's Cellar Door box set) - but the obvious effects on its ovine readership, which several commenters have already pointed out. 'Tastemaker' doesn't begin to cover its yes-man atmosphere. By the time a band makes it into the box on the lower right side of the Pitchfork review pages ('Other Recent Reviews'), it's joined the Momentary Canon of bands to be excited about, almost as an exercise for hipster readers. The sheer blandness of so many of these bands is matched only by the awfulness, the bloody horror, of 20-somethings getting nostalgic about the first fucking Strokes album.

From the CYHSY! review:
Indie rock has received a much-needed kick in the pants, and we have the rare chance to decide what a band sounds like of our own accord before any agency cooks up and disseminates an opinion for us. Damn, maybe this is how it's supposed to work!
Aestheticizing revolution down, manufacturing nostalgia for a generation with no concern for the long past, fantasizing your way into believing your musical tastes amount to more than a fashion choice, pairing sedative prose with Gosh!Wow! earnestness and a shocking disingenuousness about the importance for hipsters of 'disseminated opinion' - that's the Pitchfork aesthetic. You get the same bullshit from Rolling Stone but at least that magazine gestures toward social consciousness (sometimes even meaningfully!).

OK, this is too much virtual ink to spill on a lockstep music-review site, and anyhow I've got that interview to go read, with the Fiery Furnaces guy, he's the next Mozart or John Cage or something, whatever the hell, hell with it.
posted by waxbanks at 6:09 AM on May 1, 2006


As far as i'm concerned, Pitchfork is pretty simple. I know a lot of people roughly like Pitchfork (bear with me on this one). If they don'† like something, it's not worth writing that thing off, as there's good odds they dislike it for an arbitrary reason. If, however, they do like it, then sit up and pay attention.

All that is good and all that is bad in Pitchfork is contained in this gem of a review.
posted by jrengreen at 6:10 AM on May 1, 2006


Oh, and:
Finally, yes Virgina [sic], Funeral really is that good.
It sure is! It has the earnestness and power of early U2, and if there are a few too-cute-by-half moves (like that pointless double-time coda to 'Wake Up', or the disco section in 'Crown of Love'), gorgeous songs like 'Haiti' - or the thunderous first half of 'Wake Up' - more than make up for them.
posted by waxbanks at 6:13 AM on May 1, 2006


Oops. Virginia.

When I saw "It sure is!" I was sure you were going to be saracastic, but by the end of your paragraph I was convinced of your sincerity.

In the Backseat is definitely my favorite song. Wahwah-wee-wah!

Although, I feel it needs to be suggested: maybe when pitchfork gives something a good review, lots of people listen to the album and actually like it? Yeah, I'll give you that people can be lazy, and may adopt a stance of buying what pitchfork tells them to buy, but maybe it's because they find that they usually enjoy that stuff, and not just because they're trying to look cool. I think the whole "oh fucking poser hipsters" thing is pretty old and usually unnecessary. Sometimes people are earnest about things in a cool way, and sometimes in an uncool way, but that doesn't mean they aren't being earnest. But certainly some aren't earnest at all, I agree with that.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:28 AM on May 1, 2006


Luckily, the worst offender in the "overly-pretentious crap" category hasn't been a writer for Pitchfork for a couple years now. Man, did I ever hate the way Brent DiCrescenzo wrote reviews.

The phrase "wizard's cap" still brings instant giggles for me.

Brent used to be my upstairs neighbor, and had a band that rehearsed awful Sad Bastard Music incessantly. There might still be pock marks in the ceiling of that apartment where my broom handle tried to hit the off-beat on late nights.

We worked in the same bookstore, too. I remember him and a few others ganking the promo CDs for his Music Dept., and often seeing those reviews pop up a short time later in the magazine. Heh.

But I think a few others in this thread have hit the nail on the head: the persistence displayed by the publication has really contributed to its longevity/relevance. Once you've got a catalogue of information to provide to the public, you've achieved archival status of some kind.
posted by wells at 6:39 AM on May 1, 2006


Pitchfork Still Sucks. Arcade Fire, The Smiths, The Cure and whatever the latest indie fad is this week suck too. Now get off my lawn.
posted by jonmc at 6:46 AM on May 1, 2006


the best music site on the internet is ILM. Many posters there also write for pitchfork.
posted by dydecker at 6:46 AM on May 1, 2006


ludwig_van: Although, I feel it needs to be suggested: maybe when pitchfork gives something a good review, lots of people listen to the album and actually like it?

I don't think the problem is with good reviews so much. I think the problem comes from people rejecting music they previously liked from artists because the reviewer got a burr up his bum one week about an artist's solo work.

But I find reviews to be a really poor way to find music that fits my tastes.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:49 AM on May 1, 2006


I don't think the problem is with good reviews so much. I think the problem comes from people rejecting music they previously liked from artists because the reviewer got a burr up his bum one week about an artist's solo work.

Well, that may be the case, but this article is the first I've heard of it. Among my friends and acquaintances, for example, people will tend to check out an album on pitchfork's recommendation and end up liking it and telling friends that it's good, but I've never heard of anyone abandoning someone they used to like because pitchfork panned them. I've a few times heard of people feeling hurt when pitchfork pans their favorite band, though. I mean, I haven't heard it, but maybe Travistan really sucked?

I don't know, I really don't even think of reviews as telling me whether or not something is good. I trust myself to do that just fine. I use them solely to find things that sound like I'll like them. Or sometimes to consciously look into something that doesn't sound like what I'd normally like, but which someone who tends to steer me right thinks is good.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:01 AM on May 1, 2006


The D-Plan thing definitely caught my eye--I liked them a lot, and saw them multiple times, but IMO their last album, "Changes," was already kind of a Travis solo thing, and I didn't like it at all.

Everything I've read in interviews suggests that Change wasn't sorta-a-solo album that, say, the final Pixies album was. The material on Change was either a hold over from the previous album (Time Bomb), or written in the band's usual, fairly democratic method.

In fact, one of the primary reasons they decided to break up is that when they started working on the next album, instead of Travis bringing ideas to the table, and being okay with the band molding, shaping, and changing them, etc., he was coming in with songs that had bass lines and everything, and it was fucking up the band's christmas. As evidence for the truth of this (aside from interviews where it's said that's what happened), I would point to the fact that many of the new songs the Plan was showing off on their last couple pre-final-tour tours ended up being on Travistan.
posted by sparkletone at 8:08 AM on May 1, 2006


ludwig sez:
Although, I feel it needs to be suggested: maybe when pitchfork gives something a good review, lots of people listen to the album and actually like it?
Oh, sure. But have you ever read the talkbacks at Ain't It Cool News? The 'gorehound' types who actually talk about the relative merits of various blood-n-guts movies actually take themselves and their cinematic tastes seriously, the way one would differentiate between pieces of schlock fantasy fiction or conspiracy theories or webmail programs. I think the Pitchfork crowd tends to actually like this music, sure, but I'd claim that liking the music comes after allegiance to the group, the feeling of belonging, the imprimatur. The bands with which the Pitchforkers get obsessed - why those bands? What's that interesting or compelling about CYHSY!, or The Strokes? I understand how someone can enjoy listening to My Bloody Valentine while fucking, but how exactly do you get anything at all from listening closely to it? What do people respond to in The Fiery Furnaces, at a visceral level? Why do people give a damn about Interpol?

[We could have a separate conversation about the Velvet Underground and the Pitchfork gang's almost lily-white alternate history of rock'n'roll, but we'll leave that aside.]

Pitchfork's vision of music is as a grand/bland faux-countercultural in-joke, and the 'critical' vocabulary the reviewers use - in which the meaning of a musical choice is primarily the degree of its Approved Rock Forebear referentiality, and writing is judged by how preciously it namechecks the right bands - passes muster largely, I think, because mainstream rock criticism is exactly as vacuous but less pretentious. (Unlike, for instance, this comment!)

Check out the Top 100 Albums of the 90's list for a long example of these tiresome qualities. Lists like that are usually dumb/provocative, but the 'I love music I was listening to when I got my first awkward basement-couch blowjob from that girl who never returned my tape of Document' vibe alone is enough to discount a lot of those choices. OTOH the 'Redux' list puts OK Computer at the top of the list, which is sensible and defensible. Loveless topped their original list, which is, to put it simply, ridiculous. But then again the Pitchfork aesthetic universe is a curiously solipsistic one, and Loveless fits right into that. The AllMusic reviewer refers to its 'trippy sonics' redolent of 'druggy sex or sexy drugs' - and I hope it's not meanspirited, prudish, and immature to say that that's a more or less perfect turn of phrase, and a damning one. The Pitchfork kids talk about sexiness but sex remains a mystery, which is about as un-rock and roll as you can get, right?

We office temp workers are bitter, bitter people. Sorry for that!
posted by waxbanks at 8:10 AM on May 1, 2006


"Rock journalism." Just wanted to type that phrase a few times. "Rock journalism." "Rock journalism." "Rock journalism." BWAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA.
posted by jfuller at 8:24 AM on May 1, 2006


Well waxbanks, I think there's a degree of truth in your comment, but my main complaint is that you're being overly reductionist. Your references to the "pitchfork crowd" and "pitchforkers" strike me as straw men.

Furthermore, you lump all the pitchfork writers together but at the seem time seem to play dumb to the fact that they have a pretty clear, if not outright acknowledged, aesthetic, just as pretty much any music publication made of humans does. I think they cover a nice broad swath of music that tends to align with my own tastes, but I don't tell myself that they cover the whole world of music.

You know, I'm sorry you can't get into some of the bands that other people get into - they're not all for everyone. But I don't see why that makes it wrong for pitchfork or their readers to be into those bands. The question of why this or that band reaches x or y level of popularity is interesting and complex, but I don't see how it's relevant to this discussion, and I obviously disagree with some of your conclusions.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:25 AM on May 1, 2006


"Your favourite band reviewer sucks"-filter.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 8:37 AM on May 1, 2006


ludwig_van -

I mention those particular groups as examples of bands to whom the Pitchforkers (it's much easier to speak of them as a monolith, particularly since their tastes are mostly predictable regardless of which individual writer is contributing, though you have a point that there are slight deviations) react more viscerally than anything about the music seems to merit. And I would propose that this reaction is a demonstration of belonging, a social signal. And my personal judgment is: that kind of reaction goes hand in hand with a cast of mind unbecoming of anyone who'd use the word 'critical' to describe his or her writing/opinions on art of any kind.

And yes, there's a clear unacknowledged aesthetic. But again, I'd claim that the individual choices of favoured bands arise from the site/group's aesthetic, and not the other way around. this is only a judgment call on my part, of course, and it stems in part (of course) from my total disagreement with much of what passes for 'aesthetic criteria' among hipster music-writers. But only in part.

OK, I admit it! I only care about this because they won't review Phish's albums, and I'd argue that Phish is among the five or ten greatest American rock bands of the past 20 years!! There, I said it and I feel much better now. I'm going; good chatting this morning.
posted by waxbanks at 8:53 AM on May 1, 2006


OK, I admit it! I only care about this because they won't review Phish's albums, and I'd argue that Phish is among the five or ten greatest American rock bands of the past 20 years!!

Ah HA!

I'm going; good chatting this morning.


Likewise, cheers.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:02 AM on May 1, 2006


don't forget your hacksack, duder
posted by dydecker at 9:19 AM on May 1, 2006


> It's hard to take seriously anyone who would print this

The question is, what on earth is a hipper-than-thou outfit like this doing reviewing Steely Dan in the first place? What next? Pitchfork reviews Wayne Newton tribute acts? Fifteen crooners you don't know about but we do cover Danke Schoen at the VFW, and TheSmokingGun pitchforkmedia is there!
posted by jfuller at 9:46 AM on May 1, 2006


That Daft Punk review is awesome--it's almost a shame Nick Sylvester got himself unemployed at the Voice.

ILM is fun, but it's also a bit like wandering into a Freemasonry meeting for the first time after they've all taken a suitcase full of hallucinogens...
posted by hototogisu at 9:56 AM on May 1, 2006


The question is, what on earth is a hipper-than-thou outfit like this doing reviewing Steely Dan in the first place? What next?

Neil Young?
posted by funambulist at 10:08 AM on May 1, 2006


ILM is fun, but it's also a bit like wandering into a Freemasonry meeting for the first time after they've all taken a suitcase full of hallucinogens...

Yeah, it's a total sausage party. but it's funny, positive and people know their shit with being all snooty and assymetrical haircut about everything.
posted by dydecker at 10:33 AM on May 1, 2006


Positive? I think they might be snarkier than we are. The part I like best is their potential to accept any kind of music as good and valid, popular or not. It's a little like what Stlyus tries to get at, without all the "we're such hot shit we hate the Pixies and like Kelly Clarkson" nonsense.
posted by hototogisu at 10:42 AM on May 1, 2006


Loveless topped their original list

Scotland triumphs again !
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:47 AM on May 1, 2006


Funambulist beat me to it.
posted by bardic at 10:51 AM on May 1, 2006


(DiCrescenzo admits to liking Hall & Oates too.)
posted by bardic at 10:51 AM on May 1, 2006


Schreiber I mean. . . . Just read that Kid A review again. My brain hurts.
posted by bardic at 10:53 AM on May 1, 2006


sgt.serenity, MBV are Irish.

hototogisu (and btw I am a Matt Bower fan!), i guess I mean that if you take indie-as-preeminent point of view out of the game, there's a lot of different attitudes and yardsticks people judge things from which makes the site more open-minded and tolerant than usual. Sure if you go over there and start rabbiting on about how The Replacements are #1, people are going to moan, but there is room for that POV there too, it's just not as all-pervasive as on on lots of intelligent sites on the internet (such as here). I also like it that many poster there are music writers.
posted by dydecker at 11:07 AM on May 1, 2006


Writers and musicians--I almost fell out of my chair when I realized Momus was a semi-regular poster over there.
posted by hototogisu at 11:12 AM on May 1, 2006


Yeah, I'd take random comments by half a dozen people that post elsewhere -- or I should say also post elsewhere, as some ILM regulars do write for PFM. I think the problem some people have with Pitchfork, as a whole, is that there is a specific slice of opinion that is represented as a whole. I would say that the public face presented by reviews and articles is not the sum of the different writers, nor should it be.

There's a specific, somewhat music-and-scene elitist view that underlies the choice in review topics and editorial. Some of the missteps of past years, where an album would be reviewed just so someone could pan it, have been avoided lately. At the same time, the scope of records reviewed has changed. The track reviews are more random and pop- and dance-skewed than the albums reviewed. Monthly columns like Philip Sherburne's provide glimpses of things that are just barely touched on in other coverage.

As much as you can view a website as a whole, I think the pieces are worth evaluating too. I can name half a dozen reviewers I'd trust regardless of where they're reviewing -- but it doesn't mean I'd trust them on all types of music.
posted by mikeh at 11:41 AM on May 1, 2006


"react more viscerally than anything about the music seems to merit"

As a music writer, my GOD that is so much EASIER to write than giving things nuance. The fastest reviews are the ones where you don't really care about a band and hate the album, so you spend a little time coming up with thematic snarks. The second fastest ones are where you like the album and come up with some vaguely related hosannas. Where writing gets difficult is when you try to scale your percieved enthusiasm with how good the album actually is. The hardest reviews to write are the ones for mediocre albums.
(That's why things like the Arcade Fire get 9.8s instead of 7.5s).
posted by klangklangston at 12:20 PM on May 1, 2006


Pitchfork's alright, I just think their website looks a little too busy.
posted by ktoad at 12:31 PM on May 1, 2006


Oh GAWD, that's right. Their redesigns probably had more to do with me abandoning the site than their taste in music.
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on May 1, 2006


everyone knows my bloody valentine are scottish , don't be so silly.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:39 PM on May 1, 2006


yeah, ans the bay bity rollers are spanish.
posted by dydecker at 3:11 PM on May 1, 2006


oh aye , thats who i meant.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:16 PM on May 1, 2006


note to self: never type in the dark
posted by dydecker at 3:36 PM on May 1, 2006


The thread is dead, but I rediscovered it in my RSS reader while cleaning out old tabs (NetNewsWire fo' life, yo). I feel compelled to correc the following statement:

It sure is! It has the earnestness and power of early U2, and if there are a few too-cute-by-half moves (like that pointless double-time coda to 'Wake Up', or the disco section in 'Crown of Love'), gorgeous songs like 'Haiti' - or the thunderous first half of 'Wake Up' - more than make up for them.

The coda? Pointless? Not really. The song doesn't work structurally without it, in my opinion. Listen to the song, and then hit pause just before they enter that part of the song. The bit before the coda builds a bit of tension, particularly the last bit where they sing .

Except the song's already hit such a high energy level, that it'd be difficult to go any higher. Live, the ending of the song isn't quite so mellow as on the album. However, live or on tape, I can think of no better way to end the song than by riding out all the momentum you've created.

A song that was climactic, thunderous (a perfect word choice on your part), and somewhat dire, suddenly becomes joyous and celebratory. It's smiling, and laughing, in the face of all that's wrong in the early part of the song. It's perfect, and in my opinon is the high-point of a record made almost entirely of high points. Ending the song by petering out on the "reaper reaches" lines just doesn't work anywhere near as well.

I think the Crown Of Love example is an even more misguided one. The disco freak out (No, really. See them live, it's a freak out) is the very climax of the song! Again, listen to the song, and try stopping it right before it breaks into the dancey part.

They've done a masterful job of building tension up to that point, and the song needs a climax, and it needs to be a damn big one. I can think of no better way to release all that built up tension than a Disco Freak Out(tm). Without the climax, the song doesn't work. What should they have done?

Wow, this post was extremely long. Good thing it's over!
posted by sparkletone at 10:52 PM on May 4, 2006


wow. i can't believed i missed this the first time around. i love to hate on pitchfork.

the problem with pitchfork, is that it's really only one type of indie aesthetic. you can like all the right bands from each genre. mildly interesting hip-hop. alt-country, but not totally real country. not actual punk, but derrivative punk and so on. working at a college radio station, it's clear which dj's use pitchfork as their standard for quality. they're shows tend to all sound alike, and they all get confused by the same things. when i train new djs, i tell them that pitchfork is a good place to start learning about music, but that they need to explore beyond it.

as for the pitchfork effect, i think our charts reflect that. i guess it's the rise of m.o.r. college rock again! thanks internets!
posted by kendrak at 11:51 PM on May 4, 2006


alt-country, but not totally real country.

Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose: 9.3?
posted by ludwig_van at 3:03 AM on May 5, 2006


How many Lynn albums without Jack White have they reviewed?
posted by klangklangston at 2:10 PM on May 5, 2006


Zero. Somehow I doubt they rated it so highly solely on account of White's involvement, but good eye, my friend!
posted by ludwig_van at 2:20 PM on May 5, 2006


« Older RIAA sues family...  |  SNES OC'd... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments