January 27th, 2012 / 11:34 am
Massive People


Richard Beck: “5.4: Pitchfork, 1995–present,” in the forthcoming n+1.

You know what Pitchfork has always most reminded me of? Ain’t It Cool News.

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  1. Michael

      FYI, this (excellent) piece ran in the last n+1 (issue 12) rather than the just-out issue 13.

  2. reynard

      thought pitchfork went to heaven & became a music festival

  3. deadgod

      [N]o genre’s fans are more vulnerable to music criticism than the educated, culturally anxious young people who pay close attention to indie rock.

      Whoa–talk about manufactured consent.  “[M]usic criticism” that’s not just an “opinion barometer: a  steady, reliable, unsurprising accretion of taste judgments”, but rather, a barometer that generates the pressure it measures.

      Is this circularity not also (generally) the case of literary canon-formation? in both the academy and in would-be ‘alternative’ indie scenes?

      In which “educated” art or intellectual communities does this manufacture not obtain?

      –and how is this essay not oriented by and targeted at that same “vulnerab[ility]”??

  4. Anonymous

      Not sure I understand the point of the article. Why does it end by saying “Most of all, though, we need new musical forms”? That makes it seem like the bands Pitchfork cover are the only bands that exist, which isn’t true. Why didn’t the writer offer examples of new musical forms? What am I supposed to take from the article, and why do I feel like what I’m supposed to take isn’t related to the preceding paragraphs? It seems like prison behavior, like n+1 is shanking Pitchfork to start its own gang. Why did the writer become suddenly self-referential too, why did the writer need to identify him/herself with the upper-class, it felt manipulative somehow. It felt like the writer wasn’t far removed from the Pitchfork mentality, and if the writer is removed from the Pitchfork mentality, why didn’t the writer just write about something else? Who is supposed to benefit from this article? People who like Pitchfork are meant to be dissuaded from liking Pitchfork because of the article? Why, who cares? I think the most the article can do is pad the criticisms of people who already don’t like Pitchfork. Why are people who already don’t like PItchfork reading an article about not liking Pitchfork?

      Genuinely confused.

  5. Mike Meginnis

      Man, I am not a huge Pitchfork guy, but a lot of this essay drives me up the wall. I knew I was in trouble when it suggested that John Darnielle’s decision to record lo-fi in his early records was a defensive maneuver to protect himself from commercial success — as if he always had easy access to a proper studio and avoided it out of fear of money. That idea doesn’t survive a glancing familiarity with the discography in question, but it was a handy example for his thesis, so he used it anyway. Which goes to show you why thesis-driven essays about vast swathes of culture are a Very Bad Idea.

  6. A D Jameson

      My bad! (My subscription to n+1 lapsed a while back.)

  7. A D Jameson

      I don’t like the way that’s phrased, either, but it is true in this day and age that almost anyone who’s been recording lo-fi over the past 10+ years has been doing it in order to embrace an aesthetic that’s largely an alternative to slicker, more polished sounds (whether those sounds are “commercial” or not). I realized this in 1998 when I first used an ordinary computer to record myself. Anyone can sound professional these days. (Well, anyone with access to a computer.)

  8. A D Jameson

      For me, its value primarily lies in its criticism of the writing and thought underlying Pitchfork (which are mostly vapid), and in its argument that Pitchfork has mostly served as a tastemaker, and little more (i.e., not a serious critical organ).

      IDK, those claims seem pretty significant to me…? Especially given how many people out there allow Pitchfork to determine their tastes?

      Maybe you were lucky, and spent the 2000s not around people who took Pitchfork Very Seriously…but that was my fate.