I’m fucken useless. I’m a bit of curlicue filigree on the swinging front gate of a disused steel mill. I’m the deeply intricate workings of a giant pre-digital TV slumped at 180 degrees in a five-storey pile at the local tip. I’m Sartre’sCollected Works, on Brendan Fevola’s bookshelf. If you wind up on a desert island, post-apocalypse, you’d better hope I’m not your only companion. I’ve spent a lifetime polishing my otiose caboose while the train’s well and truly left the station. People make communities, build cities, cure illness, raise tomorrow’s leaders, machete a path through the jungle of modern living and, meanwhile, I spend all my time on a rhyme for ‘lugubrious’. I blame music. It had a paralysing effect on me from the moment my parents bought the All My Loving EP for my fifth birthday. Since then, it’s all I know. Don’t ask me about China’s Gang of Four, but I can tell you all about the rock group. I’m no good with a drill, but I can name the Blur song that features one. As life’s great widescreen drama unfolds, I’m there with my eyes closed, listening to the soundtrack. But don’t worry. I’m not that bad. There’s a happy ending. A lifetime spent on music has only made me a talent of mediocre proportion – in fact, by the seat of me strides, I’ve only just managed to claw enough ability to MAKE music. And thank Christ for that. Because if I was REALLY good, if had real music taste, brains, coolness, perspicacity, I’d be fucked: I’d be writing for Pitchfork.
Can you imagine what it’d be like to write for Pitchfork? Wandering around all day with a Marvin the Robot-sized brain? Fucken torture, that’s what it’d be. Your mutant powers would turn every musical encounter into a thesis, a journey through a hellish, endlessly cross-referential, self-inverting, Proustian nightmare. Like Superman down at the boobies bar, you’d be unable to see the simple artistry of opposite rotating pasties for all the sternum and organ. For most of us, music is subjective. Each individual’s distinct configuration of musical tastebuds, emotional backpack, history, chronology, prejudices, create the conditions to find intrinsic worth in just about anything… well, OK, there is the Nickelback argument but, natural disasters aside, the theory works in most cases. I can understand and support my friend and bass player Douglas Lee Robertson’s right to harbor a secret enjoyment of some of the recorded works of ELO, even though I find Jeff Lynne’s entire catalogue, his unmistakable megaproduced aural trademark like a dog cocking its leg on every project he is involved in, his temerity to make two posthumous Beatles songs sound like Jeff Lynne songs, his silly phased falsetto interjections, his stupid sunglasses/perm/beard look, all make me want to yell obscenities at passers-by. But I understand this is my problem, not Jeff Lynne’s music.
But imagine being so good that you transcend subjective opinion. So good you can denounce even the music that smart people like. Imagine being the princess who can feel the pea in the smoothest mattress. Imagine seeing music like a corn flakes packet with a picture of a corn flakes packet on it, with its picture of a corn flakes packet’s picture of a corn flakes packet-brandishing corn flakes packet – yeah, that’s yer poor Pitchfork writer, deafened by internal dialogue, stumbling around as if Edvard Munch painted their head. No wonder they take it out on so many fuckers.
And here’s a few.
At this point, it’s no secret that Fountains of Wayne are not the world’s best lyricists. I could fill this review with forced, awkward, and downright embarrassing lines from Traffic and Weather, but few people are looking to this band for lyrical wit and insight.
Shit! I actually like Fountains Of Wayne for their lyrics! Now I feel like a dickhead. But there’s more. What about this, from a review of a Sasha album that I quite enjoyed and still enjoy, years later:
Far as I can tell, you ripped off some of Pete Namlook’s ambient noodling, tealeafed a few stale breaks and spent three months on hold with the ProTools helpdesk.
Jesus, who’s fucken Pete Namlook?? I’d better not say that at some cool party, I’ll be turfed out with the other poor bastards who don’t know what ‘blog house’ means. And what if you’ve never heard of ‘ProTools’? (Another Pitchfork review name checked Ableton, also a high-end music software system, possibly even more obscure to non-musicians/producers. I once walked into a wanky music store and asked Mr cool DJ-fucker behind the counter for ‘Alberton’, which is not in fact a music software system, but the oval where Port Adelaide trains. You should have seen his face.)
And here’s a new Pitchforkian technique – the retrospective put-down. This guy reckons Weezer’s fifth album actually made their previous albums worse:
I still get hate mail for saying ‘Make Believe’ was so bad that it retroactively ruined the ‘Blue Album’ and ‘Pinkerton’, and I still believe it – ‘Beverly Hills’ was the sound of a band that had learned to do as little as possible to write a hit.
Note also the calling card of the Pitchfork writer: the assumption that a performer’s every move is calculated. And why wouldn’t the poor bastard assume that? After all, that’s what’s been up his arse the whole time: the fact that he’s totally forgotten what it’s like to be dumb about music.
Yep, I’m a lucky feller, I am. Every morning when I struggle out of bed, wipe my eyes, and confront mediocrity, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief. Cos my music might get me run outta town, but I ain’t never gonna be the one wielding the Pitchfork.
(Oh, by the way, I wrote this because I mention Pitchfork in the DC3’s new single ‘I Was The Guy In TISM’ – you can buy it on iTunes. You know that bit about the performer’s every move is calculated? They were right.
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