Speak Up For Yourself, Son: Individual Thoughts on Musical Taste
  • THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012

  • Posted by: Joe Puglisi

Today I read Ian Cohen's review of Yeasayer's new album, 'Fragrant World'. This is my reaction.

Pitchfork -- the most influential music-critical voice of the Internet -- has a problem with mass appeal, no matter how well-executed the music might be. It's as if before deciding the tone of each of their reviews, they poll an audience of ten music fans of varied demographics, and if too many of them enjoy an album, it must be declared sanctimonious drivel. Many critics of these critics claim they play favorites, and I think this is not true at all. Pitchfork plays to the greatest common divisor. If you can't understand that expression, it's probably because you haven't listened to enough Animal Collective.

At this point in the online conversation, it's difficult to say that everything's made up and the points don't matter. There are definitely enough narrow minded people who will take all Pitch-scores as litany, skip the grain of the salt, and regurgitate everything they read, whether theyre aware of it or not. I'd argue that this genre of listener is the most dangerous weapon against the advancement of today's musical landscape.

Before the Internet, we had niches and subgenres, populated by engaged, discerning fans of that music. But with ubiquitous access to information comes ubiquitous malformation of taste. The music fan no longer needs to discover songs for himself when there are so many outlets and tastemakers, critics and pundits, yelling and screaming that their own personal brand of taste is the most valuable, the most reliable. Radio personalities -- limited by FM bands and geographical location -- have been retired in favor of an infinite landscape of megaphones screaming for attention. They say everybody's a critic, but it's never been so true for music.

In the world where everyone's a critic, suddenly, no one's voice is unique anymore.

People want to have "cool" taste in the eyes of their peers. Pitchfork is an established tome of "cool" criticism, and although they maintain that brand for page views and Festival ad dollars, there is an army of brainless "cool"-chasers that digest their information, absorb it, and refuse to find out the truth of any sound for themselves. Songs that do not appear on Pitchfork might as well not even exist to these people. And isn't this the kind of narrow-mindedness that Pitchfork is trying to stamp out? It's worse than those with eyes only for radio hits.

In short -- make your own choices. Listen for yourself before you read someone else's discourse.

You might miss out on one of the best albums of the year.

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