Archive for Pitchfork Media

Nostalgia For the Oughties; Or, How Did We Ever Listen to This Crap?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by peteymenz

HAHAHAHAH SOOOOOO OUGHTIES!

The eighties have an unfair reputation when it comes to music.  Yes, there was a tremendous amount of awful music released during the eighties, from histrionic synthpop to ridiculous hair metal, but there’s one thing to have to remember about this supposedly awful decade- it wasn’t too bad in a relative sense.  There was just as much crap released during the sixties, seventies, and nineties.  Every decade has an exorbitant amount of horrendous songs released during it, just like every decade has some truly transcendent music and a load of mediocre tracks.

Once I deduced that universal truth, I started thinking about the 2000s, or the “oughties,” or even the “endtimes.”  In twenty, ten, or even five years, there’s no doubt that a lot of this music that we listened to and enjoyed in the 2000s will sound mighty stupid.  You’ll know when it hits you; one day, you’ll be sitting around, listening to the Oldies station on last.fm, when suddenly a familiar track starts playing.  Let’s say it’s “So Bored,” by Wavves. And as you hear that song begin, you’ll be transported back to the time of your youth.  For a glorious second, you’ll be gripped with nostalgia.  And then Nathan Williams will start singing.

You’ll scratch your head, maybe cover your ears.  And when he reaches the chorus and starts “crooning” that heeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’sssss ssoooooooooooooo booooooooooooooooooreddd, well, then you’ll probably start laughing, because it is hilariously bad.  And when you go to your high school reunion, you can walk over to your friends, ask them if they remember Wavves, and have the satisfaction of making every single one of them crack up.

This column does not have the express purpose of bashing Wavves; So Bored is just one of those tracks that’s tied to a specific period in the oughties (the late 2000s lo-fi period) that will seem absolutely hilarious in a few years. There are many of those tracks, and thus I’ve compiled a playlist- a time capsule mixtape featuring the 10 tracks that simply must be the soundtrack to the indie teen movie set in the 2000s.  It’s organized semi-chronologically.  Enjoy.

1. Fuck the Pain Away– Peaches

Is this the legacy of electroclash?  A 2 Live Crew track fronted by a Canadian woman?  To her credit, her lyrics are nastier than anything from “Me So Horny.”  And come to think of it, does electroclash really deserve an enduring masterwork?

2. Highly Evolved– The Vines

Listening to this 90 second track again, it’s quite clear that the only reason the Vines were part of the garage rock revival was because they were a “the” band, rather than a “bizkit” band.  Also, Craig Nicholls sung rather than rapped.   But his singing is close to speaking, so rapping isn’t too far off.  And “Vine Bizkit” sounds plausible.

3. New Disco– Radio 4

Yeah, you heard the man.  It’s a new disco.  It’s a dance-punk disco.  It’s got politics and feedback.  Man, dance-punk is gonna start a revolution.  By 2007, every band will be dance-punk, and Radio 4 will have hijacked the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Yeah!  It will definitely happen.

4. House of Jealous Lovers– The Rapture

This is a controversial choice, because many people still view it as a great song.  And it is, in a very limited way.  It’s infinitely better than the dance-punk track I put on right before this, but it’s not really that different.  The Rapture hit on something with this track- a certain je ne sais quoi that makes this song almost transcend dance-punk.  That said, do you really think that future generations- or even you in a few years- will be able to take this seriously?

5.  Crank Heart– Xiu Xiu

I believe that in the future, people will study contemporary music criticism to figure out why people took Xiu Xiu so seriously (no, they were not a parody of emo bands.).  The key to figuring out this great mystery lies in Pitchfork Media’s review of Fabulous Muscles, where the reviewer describes Crank Heart as the soundtrack to “some unspeakably sad video game,” which might be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.

6. The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth– Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

I’m 99% certain that when you saw this entry, you hadn’t thought of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in three years.  And right now, you’re hunting through your iTunes library for their first album, which is not as good as you remember it.  Trust me.  What a voice that guy had.  What a voice indeed.

7. Don’t Save Us From The Flames– M83

“Out of the flames/a piece of brain in my hair/the wheels are melting/a ghost is screaming your name/Tina, Tina.” Sure, shoegazers never need to have great lyrics, but this is just creepy.

8. Alice Practice– Crystal Castles

In the year 2024, some future hipsters will have an “oughties dance party,” where they play all the DFA bands and dance ironically.  At one point, the DJ will decide to play this song, only knowing it as a popular electro-dance track from the late 2000s.  As soon as it starts, everyone will stop dancing and wonder why the DJ put his collection of 80s hardcore through a bitcrusher.

9. I Felt Stupid– The Drums

And eventually, so will we.   This is not to say it won’t be enjoyable in the future, but rather to assert that it will not get you any indie cred whatsoever.

10. Deadbeat Summer– Neon Indian

A few weeks ago, I was driving around with some friends.  We had been listening to Sigur Ros when one of my friends put on this track.  As soon as the beat kicked in, we all started bobbing our heads in an ironic fashion.  I noted the similarities to Wayne’s World, which makes this track the oughties’ Bohemian Rhapsody.  It’s almost as cheesy.

The Song Of The Decade: A Pre-Pitchfork Prediction

Posted in Track Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2009 by peteymenz

Despite the fact that this decade is in no way over, Pitchfork Media is still going ahead and publishing their top 500 tracks of the 2000s. Though I hope that Lightning Bolt’s new album, Earthly Delights (out Nov. 13) includes at least one track that makes the Pitchfork writers sorry they jumped the gun, the truth is that there’s probably nothing left in the 2000s that will significantly affect Pitchfork’s list. Which is not to say they didn’t mess up; if listing 300 tracks without a word of description for any isn’t a cheap trick, then I don’t know what is. However, I’m not here to review Pitchfork; I’m here to beat them to the punch and name my best track of the 2000s, which won’t be bettered in the next four months and probably not in the next four years. Yes- All My Friends is just that good. Read on; For all of its virtues, Someone Great never struck me as a particularly emotionally resonant song. Something in James Murphy’s falsetto lends the song a certain archness that’s been apparent in nearly every LCD Soundsystem song, from Losing My Edge to New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down. So, as good as Someone Great is, it seemed to lack a genuine emotional push, which is probably because Murphy made the music (taken from 45:33) before the words, which he probably made up on the spot. It was the “emotional” (quotation marks very important) song I expected LCD to make; musically fantastic, lyrically witty, and with a raised eyebrow All My Friends is a bit different, as it marks the point where even though Murphy references Steve Reich with the piano, he doesn’t need to make the song about Steve Reich and how he was totally into Music For 18 Musicians before you and your friends were. It’s a cutting song, but the damning lyrics are sympathetic, unlike pretty much every other song Murphy ever wrote. All My Friends is about living a hedonistic life and finding it hollow, about aging and regretting, and, despite the first person, about Murphy himself. Losing My Edge, LCD’s first song, was also about Murphy. But the difference between this and All My Friends is the difference between Rodney Dangerfield and Woody Allen. What Losing My Edge lacks is transcendent; what All My Friends lacks is the designation of best song of the decade. Coming from me, it doesn’t matter too much, but if any song represents the general mood of the 2000s (slightly elegiac, darkly humorous, emotional), it’s this one. And you can dance to it.

3 Out of 5 Ain’t Bad: Capsule Reviews

Posted in Record Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2009 by peteymenz

 

Sadly, Jim ORourkes influence is only felt on the bizarre cover art.

Sadly, Jim O'Rourke's influence is only felt on the bizarre cover art.

In the last month or so, there have been a flurry of releases that attract lots of attention, be it because the band is famous (Wilco, Sonic Youth), the band and/or record is really, really good (Phoenix, Dirty Projectors), or because the band is really good and Pitchfork gave one of its songs a 10 (Grizzly Bear).  With all of this stuff getting released at once, you may be forgiven for not knowing which ones to pick up/which one should be first in your downloads queue.  Thus, here’s a helpful consumer guide for the age where Robert Christgau gives everything an A-.  

 

 

Wilco: Wilco (The Album): Jeff Tweedy (The Increasingly Boring Frontman) and co. serve up another scoop of vanilla songwriting, complete with cutesy lyrics (I’d like to believe that “Wilco will love you baby” has some level of irony to it) and the lack of a production job by Jim O’Rourke (The Guy Who Saved Wilco AND Sonic Youth).  In addition, the death of Jay Bennett (The Foil) probably means Wilco (The Horrible Band) will only get worse.

 

Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca: The only reason it took Dirty Projectors this long to make an album this good is because their frontman Dave Longstreth insisted on doing things like covering Black Flag’s Damaged from memory and being diverse in an ADD kind of way.  Now he’s past all that, and guess what?  Bitte Orca’s great.  

 

Sonic Youth: The Eternal: Actually, there are several good things about this album.  

1) The length of the album is not in fact eternal, though sometimes it feels like it.  

2) If you’ve ever gotten depressed by listening to a Sonic Youth album because you think you and your band could never do something as great as this, this album should be a good pick me up.

3) If you’ve ever felt bad about thinking Kim Gordon is sexy, this album should be a good cure.

4) Like… cool album art, dude.

 

Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: Finally, forty plus years after the Beatles and the Beach Boys, the world produced a pop band that it’s 100% cool for everyone, from hopelessly square teenage girls to tragically hip Pitchfork bitches to enjoy.  So, yeah; it’s a really fricking good album.  

 

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest: Whenever I can’t decide whether or not I should do something, like tell you to buy Grizzly Bear’s latest album, I make a list of pros and cons.  And so…

Pros: Beautiful production, some great songs, New York band, guys in said band seem nice enough.   

Cons: Not quite as good as their last record, silly cover art.  

So the pros barely win out.  But, the cons are pretty slight.  Buy it.