this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

bottom feeder: dear pitchfork

There was a time when I thought we were close, and it seemed that we might make it. I was still young and the world seemed so big and open to me. Napster and Soulseek got me listening to all kinds of stuff I had never heard of, and sometimes I would just get way too overwhelmed by the choices. When I felt lost though, you were there for me.

I checked in with you between classes and homework to get tips on records that you thought were cool. You were like a collective of the record store clerks, older siblings, and "in the know" people that, well, I didn't know. Sure, you facilitated a bit of completely unfounded music snobbishness, a wash of subcultural elitism, and some really mixed up notions of objectively "good" music. BUT between you, Stylus, Dusted, and TinyMixTapes*, my friends and I learned about the Microphones, TV on the Radio, the Unicorns, Fela, Lightning Bolt (!), Deerhoof, and all those other bands that filled my headphones a few years ago. And your Top 100 features for the 70s, 80s, and 90s blew my mind. Sure, I didn't like all of the records or even the idea of a Top 100, but I mean, the highlights of my father's record collection didn't go too far beyond Neil Young's Zama, some Trinidad steel pan albums, and that Devo album with "Girl U Want" (all of which I dig ... except that the Devo album really isn't so hot for a Devo album).

Something happened over the past few years though, and, Pitchfork, I don't know whether it is you or me, but we need to talk. Somewhere along the way we just out of touch. Maybe it's something about those American Apparel ads or something about the return of cocaine. Maybe it's gentrification. Maybe it's that I'm not so young and naive anymore, I don't know. And in a lot of ways, I really don't care at this point. But I wanted to say something about it because you were special to me until it just sort of "cooled" off, y'know? Our interactions just seem a little absent now. Like, you aren't even really there anymore.

I think the thing is that I met these other people. They make music here in Austin or they stop in town here and we set them up with shows. They make awesome music and they are humble and smart and funny and they don't spend all their time setting up ads or synthesizing some sort of indie culture taste regime. They make their own stuff rather than just talking about other people making things. And beyond that, they support their friends and help one another put shows together and have a good time. And they don't just jump from band to band to be hip with it.

But you don't cover them. Or if you do, it's only after a bunch of other people did and you get a free promo and a few recommendations. You don't even seem to know or care anything about what is going on with the good music in my life now. Yes, maybe that's a little egocentric, but the fact of the matter is most of the music that you recommend doesn't seem all that spectacular to me anymore. I almost wonder if you, Insound, and a lot (but definitely not all) of these other "supporters" of the independent music scene are behind this weird urban hipster showiness thing AND with the disappearance of good partying. You just seem so passive. You just sit there with your American Apparel ads and your indie music festivals and make me think of our belovedly bohemian Miller's talk about the Grange, a rural farmhouse where "there is a remarkable neighborliness, but no community spirit."

Now, when I was younger and all this internet mediation was still exploding, I thought our abstracted anonymity thing could work out. I mean, who says we have to know each other to have fun, right? It was hot, but the party just isn't as fun anymore. Maybe you are going through a bad transition stage like when early crazy MTV transformed into lame establishment MTV. Maybe people aren't putting in the same kind of creative freaky honest effort anymore and it's just business and maybe it's time to move out of the city and get away from this shit for awhile. I just don't like being around what has become of us.

And I know that I have changed over the past few years too. I am less naive about how the rock music game works for sure. I just wanted you to know that I miss what we had.

If you want to talk, I'm all ears.

Tall Reed

P.S. No disrespect to the Flaming Lips, but I never really thought The Soft Bulletin deserved that 10.0. Just had to come clean about that one.

*TMT, please go back to your old design. Or get a new one like it. This webcomic style thing with the red and blue has been killing me for the past two years. I swear I would check you guys daily and maybe still be writing for you if the appearance of the site didn't make me want to rip out my eyes and mail them to Stan Lee. Somebody had to say it, and besides, I always thought your content was way better than Pitchfork's anyway.

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