Something about Pitchfork has always rubbed me the wrong way, but I’ve never understood exactly what. The most obvious answer would be that most of the bands it covers suck; as if engineered for obscurity. They often dismissively review ground breaking albums, otherwise totally omitting them. Many of modern music’s most annoying tendencies can be directly correlated to pitchfork’s influence (excessive reverb, nostalgia, awkward fusions on genres).
Most remarkably they have used the listener’s confusion and insecurities to market them music they cannot comprehend; turning the underground into the enemy. In past decades mainstream music has always been the target to rebel against, underground music being the life-source of creativity leading to forward momentum and changing the trends in music (punk, hardcore, grundge, etc). To be a listener to this kind of music required dedication since none of it received airplay or was readily available in chain record stores. Ideologies and identities formed around the values of these movements, bands would purposely act against their financial interests refusing to sign to major labels or make music videos. Eventually this imploded, the values became dogmatic and fans would jump ship on a band as soon as it showed any sign of popularity. Today, becoming an expert on any trend in music is as simple as going to pitchfork.
This leads us to our present conditions where everything in popular culture is void of credibility, all consumers of any intelligence having long ago abandoned the radio. The underground rock scene is fractured into competing sects fighting for their own obscurity (bands breaking off from any affiliation as soon as it gains any kind of audience). Amongst this confusion, the listener, having nowhere to turn to find new music goes to pitchfork. Modern music fans are so concerned with avoiding the humiliation of backing a band that has succumbed to mass culture that they have ceased to listen to music they enjoy. Pitchfork is not about music at all, it’s about fashion. Underground rock has been compromised; pitchfork is here to sell us books, tickets, and advertising. The bands it promotes write music that is specifically hard to like, preserving it’s obscurity.