Daniel Bachman <3
/r/indieheads and here. Used to read pitchfork religiously but can’t stand it anymore these days.
www.neonmusic.co.uk is great. The reviews are very good and they make good choices.
Seconding @Severed799. Looking forward to your 10/10 Machina Reissue review in 2019!
I seem to be in a minority of one in still enjoying/using the pitchfork album reviews. I am well aware that a lot of the pitchfork site is dreck but then I don’t really bother with that at all, just the album review section.
Although there are often reviews I disagree with, that doesn’t particularly bother me and sometimes they can be pretty much spot on (see their glowing BNM review of the new Low, which dissers would be lauding if it came out anywhere but pitchfork).
I find it hard to say why people have such a downer on pitchfork album reviews. Sometimes they can be rather try-hard (they had a spot recently where almost every single damn review used the word ‘quotidian’) but they’re generally well written and, by and large, show a good level of immersion in the music rather than just a cursory glance.
Do people dislike the fact that they have a much wider range of musical genres reviewed now (you’re more likely to get hip-hop and r&b than you used to be and I suppose therefore there aren’t as many ‘rock’ reviews as there once were)? Do people dislike them because they are (or were) the huge tastemakers back in the day? Maybe there’s something else terrible about pitchfork that I just haven’t cottoned onto.
Some of their reviews are certainly good but many rub me the wrong way. They have a tendency to present opinions (many of which are based on what’s clearly a single distracted listen) as fact, and hold grudges against certain artists (or place certain artists on a pedestal) to the point where it’s obvious their opinion of the album was formed before they heard it. Though they’re certainly not the only ones guilty of this obviously.
Off the top of my head, their review of Carnavas by Silversun Pickups was really bad, as was the one of the new IDLES album. I think it’s since been modified, but I remember their taking an out of nowhere shot at the Smashing Pumpkins in their review of mbv (saying something along the lines of “Billy Corgan wishes he could write a song like this”), which is especially funny given how lifeless that album is and how they would have ripped it apart if a new band had made it.
See I think we’re all guilty of this and I’m still bemused by how pitchfork get especially taken to task for it.
I knew that was going to be picked out the second I hit post!
They probably get taken to task more for it because they’re so big, and because of how ridiculous some of those early reviews were. I do think they have value and I’ve found some of my favorites of the past several years through there (most notably, the Swearin’ self-titled album and The Hotelier’s Home Like Noplace Is There), but when they’re bad they’re really bad.
Having just seen today’s review of “Dose your Dreams” I am inclined to agree. They’re clearly wazzoks, please disregard everything I said in their defence earlier in this thread:
Goldflakepaint, certain dissers on here, small albums on twitter
Totally agree with this, and I say that as someone who is paid to write music reviews for a print mag and who edits a music blog. We do essays on new releases, if a writer has a good pitch, but in an age when most people can hear most new releases instantly, the value in writing about an album (for me at least) is in adding a new dimension to it, rather than simply saying whether it’s “good” or “bad”. Let alone giving it a mark out of 10.
With some exceptions (and for all their flaws P4K are definitely one of those exceptions) album reviews in 2018 exist in order to maintain the relationships between PRs and publications, and to give PRs metrics to provide back to their clients in order to justify their existence
I think one of the issues myself and others had is that Pitchfork reviews were so influential that that they used to clearly lead people’s opinions on albums: it would set the agenda on how it was perceived in other parts of the media and across the industry, and it also set the tone for how ‘regular’ music fans approached it. It was almost like everyone else had to fall in line with what they were saying, and there was a certain arrogance to it which a lot of us came to resent. I was interning at a music place at the time and it was terrifying to see how much power a P4K review had. I’m so happy that influence has been all but eradicated now and albums have a more level playing field.
Thanks to the few people who mentioned us on here, you’re very kind.
We recently transitioned into a physical publication, with Issue One coming out last Friday. It’s sold out in the real world but the digital version is available here, if anyone’s interested: https://goldflakepaint.bandcamp.com/merch
It’s 100 pages long, interviews/essays with Mitski, David Bazan, Kathryn Joseph, Iron & Wine, Phosphorescent, Devon Welsh, and a bunch more.
If you’re low income/not in a position to buy the magazine just now and would like a free digital copy then just drop me a message, no questions asked. Thanks!
You had me at “David Bazan”.
Sold out! Darn! Love a music publication you can read in the bath, it looks amazing
User aggregate scores, cannot trust a single music critic at all, especially considering how many people have agendas nowadays.
There really needs to be a Criticker style movie service but for music ratings, RYM doesn’t have it.
Hi I’m a critic and don’t have an agenda beyond protomting music I think is great
Pitchfork’s probably not that bad for smaller stuff and it’s my own issue that my interest in music has dwindled to the point I can’t say either way
But their reviews of major releases have been absolutely awful as “reviews” for at least five years now, probably longer. They might work as isolated cultural analysis but feels like absolutely everything they do is obsessed with a zeitgeist and cultural context/meaning and establishing some kind of canon, as opposed to critiqueing the actual music and content.
Think this is a reflection of where the industry has gone. Streaming has rendered reviews obsolete, and often major releases will be surprises or no longer sent to reviewers to spend time with, so they’re inevitably rushed and ends up with reviews that are 90% a pre-established stance on whatever the artist means at that particular moment.
Also think they’ve believed their own hype and having become the ultimate gatekeeper they’re just a really boring Rolling Stone style establishment voice now.
I’ve read this a million times but I still can’t see how it’s true. Even if you can listen to new music all day long, surely you’re not capable of properly engaging with even a fraction of all the stuff that comes out? Reviews have a useful function to me in directing me towards things that might be worth my while streaming in the first place.
I agree 100%. Also, for some stuff that doesn’t click straight away, it’s easy to miss out.
As for the answer to the original question.
Alex Petridis in the Guardian is pretty good. If he raves about an album and gives it 5/5 then 95% of the time I will love it too.
I kind of scan Q, Guardian, Observer and keep my eyes open. This place has led to a couple of good finds, just people with similar tastes digging stuff is enough for me to check it out.