Stoking the starmaker machinery
I remember when my graduate school Kevin told me breathlessly about a new indie music website. "They use a 10 point ranking system and nobody gets a 10." Having been reared on the inadequate Rolling Stone five star ranking system, I immediately liked it. The site was Pitchfork.
For that 2003-2004 period it was really my go-to site for reviews and news. I respected the site so much that I wanted it to reach back and review older recordings so that I can find out their perspective on them. But then it became too overwhelming. Suddenly there was another recording from Xiu Xiu and I didn't know about their last one. And I didn't like Deerhof's latest offering. Then one writer raved about the Wren's "Secaucus
" and I dearly wanted to hear it, but it was way out of print. (It was re-released and it turned out to be great.)
So I veered away from the fold. I don't think the site missed me and I didn't miss it. (For the record, I sought out used CD bins and music blogs like Brooklyn Vegan
and Gorilla v. Bear
to satisfy that new music itch.) But I had to laugh when there was a backlash to their sanctimonious posturing, which included Subpop records recreating them as Popdork.
Which brings us back to the present: starting mid-month every December music websites issue their "Best of" lists for the year. This is the time that I get to catch up on what I missed the preceding year. It's actually an exciting time because all the work of distilling out the dreck has been done for me. (Largehearted Boy
aggregates the lists. What a guy.)
As part of this year-end review I listened to Pitchfork's list of 100 best tracks of 2011. I could only stand twenty of the songs. Many of the musicians seemed preoccupied with textures and rhythms to the exclusion of caring much about the songs. The site used to have more guitar-based bands and now... get this... they give some recordings the vaunted 10.0 ranking
. As you can see, things have gone downhill over there. I mean, how is anybody going turn this current crop of chartbusters into the elevator music of tomorrow?
I refuse to think that I'm all crusty and unyielding to the music uber-trends that have all the kids going gaga.