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I don’t read enough to know whether we really ought to stop reading it to save all of music journalism, but what I have read bugs me just enough to make me not all that eager to read more. I mean, the comparison that opens the thing I’m going to talk about in a minute, with the “food bands” and “not since Cibo Matto,” sure, it makes a quirky-cute sort of sense, I suppose, since Cibo Matto had a lot of songs about food on Viva! La Woman, okay, but still, I mean, you end up juxtaposing Cibo Matto and the Books as if the logic of your lede hadn’t just leaped the bounds of common sense and run amok through your CD collection, grabbing referents willy-nill. You can almost smell the flopsweat: the writer, staring at the screen, cudgelling their forebrain for a taste of something quirky-cute to get you to read on, spinning aimlessly in an Æron chair picked up cheap at a dot-bomb clearance sale—okay, maybe that’s a bit much, but when they reach down to pick up the pencil that fell from the ceiling tile where they’d stuck it with a perfect wrist-flip toss maybe fifteen minutes before, they happen upon sitting back up, pencil in hand, to glance down at the bog-standard press pack and note that when asked to describe themselves the Books came up with “blipworld / fakegrass / speedblues / chamberclick / eccentrock / country&eastern / glitch post-anything music with samples,” and then followed that up with “food band.” And the writer sighs and says food band, Cibo Matto, whatever, let’s run with it, I’ve got to get this fucking blurb finished for God’s sake.

Maybe it didn’t happen that way. Whatever. For once I don’t care so much about form, not when there’s content that makes me sit up and cheer like this:

Late in the ’04, The Books finished their latest full-length, Lost and Safe, which has been set for an April 5 release on Tomlab.

And look! Right underneath it! The Decemberists’ new album, Picaresque! Out on the 22nd of March! And they’re touring, too! And Petra Haden’s with them! In Portland on the 17th!

So, yeah, you say stuff like that enough of the time, it doesn’t matter so much how you go about saying it. I guess. Maybe.

  1. PinkDreamPoppies    Feb 23, 06:01 PM    #
    I'll confess that I used to be an avid Pitchfork reader until I realized that there was a discernable and, to me, irritating pattern to all of their reviews and that this pattern was leaking into their news.

    Part One, in which our author recounts an extended anecdote or piece of trivia possibly related, although often not, to the album/news in question.

    Part Two, in which our author riffs on the anecdote/marginalia in such a way that is meant to elucidate the quality of the album/news in question.

    Part Three, in which the review/report becomes a nearly incoherent mess of tangled metaphors and mixed references that purport to describe the album. ("This album is what would happen if Gothmog had sex with the drummer from Broken Social Scene while listening to DJ Quickbook's remix of the K-Pax score as performed by Jeff Tweedy and Company Flow.")

    Part Four, in which the incoherent babble is dropped for brief, muddled descriptions of individual tracks. ("The song settles into a discopunk stomp before cascading waves of static arise from glittering synthesizers to pierce your already bleeding eardrums with pure sonic bliss.")

    Part Five, in which our author either wraps the review/news up with an actual paragraph of substance or else returns to the anecdote/trivia of Part One such that we're aware we've read a review but don't know much about the album except that it's an "8.2."

    At least, that's my impression of things... They're lists are occaisionally good and contain better reviews than the actual reviews themselves, although sometimes they're also nothings held together with gimmicks (see, for example, the description of Interpol's "Turn on the Bright Lights" in their Best of the 2000's list---what the hell did that say, anyway?).

  2. Alex Merz    Feb 23, 08:05 PM    #
    And why, exactly, would we read pitchfork, when we have http://www.dustedmagazine.com/ and http://www.trouserpress.com/ ...among so many others...?

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