This week’s artist of the week is an unsurprisingly awesome solo spin-off project from a member of one of the decade’s best bands. He’s got a gorgeous, sensual voice that bends to no conventionality, and his writing is affecting, weird, and awesome. This week’s artist of the week is…
Whenever anyone so much as mentions Pitchfork.com, the response you usually hear is, “Oh…Pitchfork.” Yeah? What’s wrong with Pitchfork? It’s either, “Oh, they just trash everyone” or “They’re just way too pretentious” or something along those lines. You know what? No. I seriously hear this everyday at the record store, in my backyard, in interviews, at concerts, everywhere.
Firstly, Pitchfork does not trash everyone. Do they occasional trash bands? Yes, and not even really, but some bands deserve trashing, and people need to deal with it. So they gave some album no one cares about a 4.0/10.0; O to the M to the G. I can only think of two instances where I was dismayed at a review: when they gave My Morning Jacket’s Evil Urges a terrible review, and when they reviewed the Black Kids album with a video of a monkey pissing in its mouth. Admittedly, the later was not a cool move.
But do you know how many bands Pitchfork has helped and supported? How many bands Pitchfork has literally “made”? You can pinpoint the moment Arcade Fire became a contender to when Pitchfork gave Funeral a 9.7/10. Even Broken Social Scene admit in Stuart Berman’s excellent book This Scene Is Broken that the glowing 9.2 they gave You Forgot It In People was a big help in breaking them in the US. When Feist’s The Reminder came out, a lot of the reviews of it were middling. Rolling Stone gave it three stars, AMG gave it like three and a half. Pitchfork gave it an 8.8, and then by year’s end it was on every “Best Of” list and Feist had become an international superstar.
Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Wolf Parade, Dirty Projectors, Fleet Foxes, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Bon Iver and numerous other bands and artists have been given huge ups by Pitchfork, and many of these bands are deservedly the biggest indie bands in the world now. The only band listed above that I didn’t hear about through Pitchfork, actually, was Wolf Parade.
When I first started reading Pitchfork, I actually was kind of pissed also that pretty much every album got like a 6.7 or something, and rarely would you see an album get over 8.0. But after a while, I kept reading, and realized that often the albums that would get over 8.0 were seriously, really good. And that’s how I came to trust Pitchfork.
And people like to complain about the writing also, and that’s just beyond my understanding. I’ve heard people say that they try and use all kinds of big words and just blabber and what not but they really don’t. The writing is phenomenally strong, often funny, insightful, sometimes personalized. Marc Hogan’s review of Deerhunter’s Cryptograms, where he compares the album to Dennis Cooper’s novel Closer, in particular is one my favorite reviews ever. True, he does a lot of band-to-band comparisons and you’re not supposed to, but you can feel his passion for every aspect of the album and the way he cuts in factual bits about the band works beautifully in conveying to the reader of true sense of who this band is, which, particularly in the case of Deerhunter, explains more about the gravity of the music than anything else one could write could.
Hogan – and, really, most of the writers on the site – have more passion, musical knowledge and sophisticated prose than I’ve found on any other music site. I’ve read Christgau, Meltzer, Bangs and plenty of the writing of other respected rock critics, and I’d argue that the writing of those at Pitchfork is the logical evolution of where they were going with their work.
Even with all the P-fork hate that goes down, its undeniable that Pitchfork’s power and influence is enormous, so there must be enough people out there who like them. For those who have never read Pitchfork, don’t be dissuaded by hipster hate. Why are the people who always accuse everything/one of being pretentious themselves the most pretentious people around? “I don’t want to be labeled” is like the moto of every hipster, their automated response to you when you call them a hipster. And I love hipsters! I think they’re so cute and colorful and artistic!
For those who have read and hate Pitchfork, please chill out and give it another chance. This time, actually read the reviews and note how many albums they actually write bad reviews of…It’s really not that many. Think of all the great bands they’ve helped and just generally try and chill out. May I point out to you that you’re reading this blog and therefore are kind of lame yourself? Yeah, that’s right.