On Friday, my endodonist sliced my lower right gum open and dug a large abscess out of the bone, then drilled off the ends of the root of one of my molars and stitched me back up. By the time I got home, I was in the kind of weeping, shrieking pain that I’ve only experienced once before, when this same tooth developed its first abscess, seven years ago. After a couple of days of Vicodin, ice packs, antibiotics and 800 mg ibuprofen, I look like the bad end of a bar fight.
And in this state of mind, it was maybe not the best idea to try and read an N+1 essay, but Richard Beck’s piece on Pitchfork got linked on Facebook a bunch of times, and I was curious to see what those logorrhea prone dudes with stylish eyewear had to say about those post teen kids over at what I’ve always thought of as the most annoying website on the internet. A million words later, I learned this: Pitchfork is annoying. Pitchfork has become the arbiter of indie rock taste. Pitchfork allowed its founder to move out of his parents’ house. Okay, yeah. And more importantly: Pitchfork assisted in the slow death of good music writing.
Beck’s essay slides toward obvious a little too often, but the nugget my dentally-addled brain took away was that Pitchfork has never produced a writer who might have a sustained career. I do like Nitsuh Abebe‘s work, and used to use his essay on Twee in my music research/writing course before I dropped the unit on indie last semester, but the writing at Pitchfork is generally so formulaic and grotesquely dependent on the dull music writing formula of “band x + band y – band z = verbal diarrhea” that I just gave up trying, and, in fact, have used the site as an example for my students of how not to write a music review.
But, yeah, I remember when there was a lot of intelligent, well written music journalism out there. Of course, there still is: Alex Ross, Jeff Chang, Douglas Wolk, Mosi Reeves and many more people (full disclosure: the latter three are friends of mine; Mosi and I have known one another since college). Maybe this is just symptomatic of my general feeling of boredom with indie rock, but I just can’t be arsed to read about it anymore. After Kitchen Sink folded and my indie rock loving friends spun off to go live their lives, I went back into the arms of my first true love: JS motherfucking Bach. This collection has hogged my car stereo for God knows how long; my dude, who plays jazz and Cuban music but like me, grew up playing in classical orchestras, got sucked in, and we regularly attend classical concerts these days. If you’re in your early 40s and want to feel young, go to a classical concert. Or the theater. But I digress.
I don’t want to hang out with the people above (from the Pitchfork festival via Street Carnage), so I don’t read Pitchfork. And I don’t go to indie rock shows. And, you know, it’s fine. There was a time and place when Beck’s N+1 article would have made me feel all self righteous and indignant about having been in the indie scenes since blah blah blah, but my narcotics are wearing off right now, and there are at least a hundred Bach cantatas, and hip hop albums, and country songs that I don’t know well enough to hum along with. Indie rock is dead. Let it bleed.