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A Rather Tepid Defense of Pitchfork

March 27, 2010

It seems that indie music blog Pitchfork has become a whipping boy of sorts for other music sites in the blogosphere.  I suppose this is not without reason, as the site sometimes radiates pretentiousness.  Case in point, the conceit of the single decimal place on their 10 point album rating scale and their reviewers’ habit of long-winded, blown up reviews that seem more interested in turns-of-phrase as opposed to giving the reader a simple, straightforward critique.  Having said that, their news is generally on point and there’s no other site that can get the first-hand scoop from a variety of relevant artists more often than the Three-Pronged One.  Basically, they are the music blog equivalent of the Wall Street Journal, giving you really good information on the front page but with an editorial board that infuriates most readers.

I’m writing this post today because over the past couple of weeks, the Pitch to the Fork has been lighting it up with juicy musical news and nuggets, and I think they should get some props for that.  Despite their superficial and somewhat ignorant review of Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin’s new album (A 6.4?  Really?  Why not a 5.74323?), their news department has given me a great degree of happiness recently.

Let’s begin with the news that elusive and enigmatic Neutral Milk Hotel singer Jeff Mangum will be performing at a benefit for musician Chris Knox.  So far as the blogosphere knows, Mangum never leaves his house and only does shows once in a decade.  He’s getting his 2010’s concert done early, so any of you in Manhattan on May 6 you might think about attending this slice of musical history.  If you want to see a really grainy video of the Mangum experience, check out YouTube.  If you’re not familiar with Mangum and NMH, you can listen to some streaming tracks over at Last.fm.

Ah, the musical sweetness that is The New Pornographers.  I’ve told you before to be on the lookout for their new release, Together, but if it weren’t for Pitchfork, I wouldn’t know that TNP has released yet another track to delight our ears.  You can hear “Crash Years” on the Pornographers’ Facebook page and they fail yet again to disappoint.  I’m sorry but I think I’ve completely lost objectivity with this band, so please just indulge my excessive superlatives.  It sounds pretty obvious that A.C. Newman (who is genetically incapable of writing a bad song) penned “Crash Years” but the true treat is hearing Neko Case’s light, upbeat vocals.  Neko, you had me at “The steps go up before the wall” (Is that what you said?  I couldn’t really tell).

A little further down the page, the Great Satan gives us an exclusive interview with Sleater-Kinney guitarist and general all-around genius Carrie Brownstein.  Full disclosure here, I own all seven Sleater-Kinney albums but have yet to listen to one.  I actually am more familiar with Brownstein’s work for NPR Music and her Monitor Mix blog.  And despite the fact that our musical tastes rarely coincide, I love to read and hear Carrie’s take on new music.  She always brings a perspective that is fresh and new to me and I’ve learned to love a number of artists that I never would have given a chance without her endorsement.  So bottom line, you’re a real loser if you don’t read this interview.  Don’t be a loser.

Lastly, Pitchfork recently informed me about the upcoming album from Gogol Bordello.  Give all the love you want to DeVotchka (I love them too), but when I get a jones for gypsy music, I go straight to Gogol.  This Eastern European conglomerate has yet to put out a totally cohesive studio album in my opinion, and their recorded work can’t hold a candle to their live show.  Despite all this, though, they have plenty of great songs and Eugene Hütz is an electrifying lead singer and songwriter.  The new album, called Trans-Continental Hustle, is being produced by Rick Rubin, which will either result in their best album yet or a terrible train wreck.    The good thing about Gogol is that they’re interesting even when the train is wrecking, so as a listener you really can’t lose.  Word is you can get a free download of the lead single “Pala Tute” by signing up for Gogol’s mailing list at thier website.

Hopefully we’ve been able to dispel some of the more egregious Pitchfork misconceptions today. I know, it’s kind of hard to support a site that rates the new She & Him album as a 7 point freaking six, but hey nobody’s perfect right.  Pitchfork, for my money you’re the best site for music news in the vast landscape of the internet (at least in the last week)!  Later!

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3 Comments
  1. March 30, 2010 4:03 am

    Pitchfork has their designated favorites and dismisses most everything else. What also annoys me is how they often give a low rating to an album at first, but they change their mind and love it when it’s reissued.
    I read Stereogum instead…

  2. July 9, 2014 12:09 am

    Thank you!

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