it's on:  airborne toxic vs. pitchfork
  • THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2008

  • Posted by:


It's got to be one of the more electrifying moments in any young band's lifecycle; the moment when they get the call that Pitchfork Media - the current authority on which artists live or die in the market - are preparing to weigh in on that band's artistic masterpiece. Which way will they go? Will that band score a triumphant mark that paves the way for a long and storied career? Or will they equate all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into record making to a monkey relieving himself in his own mouth? Those kinds of extremes will morph any cool headed soul into a crazed crackpot, needlessly teetering on the edge until the arrival of the big day.

In the case of LA upstarts the Airborne Toxic Event, that day came yesterday...and it was not a good one. Declaring the band's self-titled debut "almost insulting in its unoriginality", the record scored a 1.6. That unfortunately puts the band in rather infamous territory, conoodling with disgraced (by Pitchfork's standards) releases by Jet and Travis Morrison. Ouch

So what is a band to do when faced with such a devastating thrashing? If you're the Airborne Toxic Event, the answer lies in having your publicity company circulate an open letter to the company. In an 11 paragraph defense of their work, the band fired back. Accusing Pitchfork of "bad journalism", the letter declared, "You're wrong about our intentions, you're wrong about how this band came together, you don't seem to get the storytelling or the catharsis or the humor in the songs, and you clearly have some misconceptions about who we are as a band and who we are as people."

But the band also admitted that they "decided a long time ago not to take reviews too seriously". If that's the case, why circulate such a letter at the risk of being labeled a bitter bunch of Pitchfork rejects? Perhaps it's nothing but a knee-jerk reaction...the result of what seems to be gathering, anti-journalistic sentiment amongst artists. Remember when Black Crowes had their feathers ruffled by the folks over at Maxim? That was sort of silly. Or maybe Airborne Toxic just needed to rub some dirt on their wounds. Personally, I imagine it was most likely very calculated; a moved designed to make the most of a bad thing. It will work...

Whatever the answer is, things were said, and feelings were hurt. But that is kind of the deal when you decide to start a band. Here at Baeble, we loved the album. The band didn't write an open letter to us discussing our positive critique of the record. But they did address the Pitchfork review...a feat which may open a new dialogue on music journalism, and the artists' reaction to it. Very interesting.

Decide for yourself. You can read the entire letter HERE. For the album review that set this whole thing into motion, head HERE. - david pitz

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the Airborne Toxic Event @ MySpace

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