It’s so simple to just suggest that you go off and do a Google search for a given band. I’m sure you’ll find a MySpace page or some video on YouTube. But Link to the Web will take a look at some music sites that are around that could take you beyond just a single band. Here, I’ll try and point to places that have helped to shape some of my musical tastes – for better or for worse.
In the realm of indie rock, there is this idea of a “scene.” If you stoop to some level of generalized popularity, this may indicate your work toward “selling out.” While for a band, this new level of exposure indicates new profits, you risk losing some of your fan base over an (apparently) new set of ideals.
Sadly, sites like Pitchfork Media only help to perpetuate this indie standard. Yet, I’ve gone so far as to mention this site. What quality does it posses to even merit this appearance?
To be honest, Pitchfork seems very conceited. Each review reads like an act in self-indulgence, an attempt to prove individual superiority over the reader. In particular, the review for Radiohead’s Kid A stands out as an offender. Author Brent DiCrescenzo (no longer with Pitchfork) says:
“The experience and emotions tied to listening to Kid A are like witnessing the stillborn birth of a child while simultaneously having the opportunity to see her play in the afterlife on Imax.”
The absolute oozing of self-righteousness is disgusting here. While this represents the height of such pretentious writing, other articles are still offensive, bringing a feeling of disgust to the reader. (As a side note, I try not to end up so pretentious, and I keep the Kid A review as a benchmark for such content.)
But the text of the reviews is not the only noteworthy element of the selection offered by Pitchfork. With such an elitist ideology, relatively unknown bands are sought out; the idea is to be ahead of the curve. Luckily for the reader, this means that new discoveries are easy to find on the site. Such bands as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and artists like Sufjan Stevens have greatly benefited from exposure on the site. Indeed, the influence of Pitchfork is very powerful, so much that you’re even being touched as you sit right now; they are worth mentioning if only to discuss their hyping powers.
So with this pretentious writing and a quest to find new talent, Pitchfork might seem like a very closed-minded place where only certain types of artists succeed. While this is occasionally true (my disagreements include scores for Sky Blue Sky and Accelerate), the site generally has excellent taste in music. Bands like Radiohead and Portishead receive their often appropriate rewards, but even those that may be critically panned (like U2) are given worthy scores when they create great music (like The Joshua Tree).
Certainly indie powerhouses are revered at Pitchfork (Sonic Youth and Pixies especially), but even popular music is given worthy consideration. Kylie Minogue are Justin Timberlake are among those recognized for having excellent singles in a review of the first half of this decade.
Realistically, Pitchfork Media should not be the only source of opinion you follow. Their reviews are often tedious and create a sense of author-importance when it is the music that should be examined. However, by offering access to new music and suggesting various obscure bands, the site becomes a great place for discovery. By using Pitchfork as a resource, it’s possible to discover the depth in music that you’ve been missing – even if you have to slosh through some heavy-handed discourse.