Sadly, we couldn’t hit the brakes on our cultural dinosaur/annual tradition of talking about the Pitchfork year end track list. We’ve been pre-empted by some good stuff over at Marathon Rocks twazzle feed. We excerpt:
“Look what’s bubbled up from mommy’s basement: another collection of pretentious list-twaddle coughed up between Annie Clark wank-sessions.”
about 5 hours ago from web
“Guess the Ditchspork hipsters have taken off their cardigans and horn-rims long enough to spin the UGH SO OBVIOUS (R&B/rap/pop) stuff”
about 5 hours ago from web
“Oh, so it appears that Pitchfork loves ___________ now, despite egregiously ignoring their superior existence from 200_ to 200_.”
about 6 hours ago from web
“What? Only _____ entries from __________? Someone didn’t get the ________ Records envelope, left in the _______ bus station locker.” #ex.1
about 6 hours ago from web
I admit we’re being predictable and well thumbed [Ed. note- like a CERTAIN SOMEBODY’S THESAURUS?? Ed’s Ed. STOP. JUST STOP]. I have to say that comment is like joining our life already in progress. I didn’t even get the Animal Collective last year until it was released on eMusic, I still like The Shins, and half the lifestyle questions on the Pitchfork readers’ poll were N/A. This is a runaway train of predictable bile, hurtful words and reader feedback. But, when someone pre-emptively pre-empts us we really have to raise the stakes. In addition to our list below I encourage our local Trollypants to join in on either side in comments. Remember, you have to top this. Comments, for those who are unaware is where simply anyone, and we mean anyone can perhaps have their voices be heard, or for Mitchum, not literally a voice and more accurately read, it is almost as if feedback enfranchises the audience. I don’t know, they have them at Stereogum and people just make mean jokes are argue about music, so we’ll try ’em. Before we get to our list, I’ll make fun of us:
Pre-emptive PP: Page 1: You walk into a dimly lit cafe named “White label dance track remix”. You are supposed to meet someone there who can tell you more about the legend behind the castle. Do you take a seat at the bar so that you might be seen by your contact or walk over to a table in the corner and sit with your back to the wall to keep an eye on the whole place? If you sit at the bar, turn to page 27. If you sit in the corner, turn to page 43. If you labour, while eating poutine on a colourful Chesterfield, in you toque, turn to page 54.
Page 27. Pinko Punko finds this track boring. You consume a poisonous drink and this is the end of your quest.
Page 43. Pinko Punko finds this track inoffensive, but the writing to be juvenile and forced. You are felled by a dart from a blow gun.
Page 54. UC thinks this track sucks ass.
This edition of P-fork Cobaggery watch is dedicated to Nate Patrin, who gets a funny nickname because we pre-trolled him- welcome to the club, Nate Patrollypantsin. I’ll note that Nate went from suck to grudgingly respected with this. We are VERY familiar with Last-Wordism here at 3B.
Tracks 100-81 Read and Weep
Editor’s Note: This year the songs are more marginal and less suck than last year, but the prose seems exaggerated and incongruent with the tracks- so much so that some of the bands I don’t necessarily feel like being mean about. That leaves two people in the room. Me, and the Fork.
100. Darkstar “Aidy’s Girl’s a Computer”
PP says:Andrew Gaerig would like to make computer love to this Fisher Price xylophone defective Vectrex game player with “Would that all significant others prove so rewarding.” A slightly warm organic and electronic meditation on something or other that, unbeknownst to Darkstar has been appropriated by AG in the annual P-fork drone attack on the sad village of 3B. Thirty Three Bulls readers killed for Pitchfork to appear on the late-2009 seen, emphatically saying “we’re not f*cking around, dipshits!” I’ve already resulted to profanity and the track was neither here nor there.
UC adds:This song is not entirely unlike the results that occurred when I got my first portable tape recorder and that Yamaha keyboard kinda in the shape of a guitar. Andrew Gaerig talks about the shrinking gap between human and computer interaction, but giving accolades to this track only suggests a shrinking gap between pitchforkian and siliconian interaction. I knew that humans couldn’t possibly be Pitchfork writers, but I hadn’t realized how thinly veiled and hostile the computer takeover actually was.
99. Julianna Barwick “Bode”
PP says:A wordless paean to something unknown, but Amy Granzin implies Jesus. It is quite nice. Thanks for the gratuitous subtext and insult that follows: “Call it the Sufjan Stevens factor but independent music consumers softened their stance on faith this decade, so long as it was packaged pretty and subtle. In “Bode”, Julianna Barwick offers that package without pandering or compromising.” Yes, the Independent Music Consumers Party Convention removed their “So Hard” plank concerning God, a plank that I remember personally ramming through in the first place like a Reverse Stupak. Also, I guess Pitchfork was just responding to the demands of consumers when they reviewed Winners Never Quit by Pedro the Lion or made a point about Jesusness, weren’t they, DiCrescenzo? Also, the theme of Amy Granzin getting to write about a sensitive female track avoids the awkwardness of reading an uncomfortable apologia for the inevitable ultra-misogynist hip-hop slice coming down the pipe.
UC adds:Amy Granzin writes about the “…soaring yet ecumenical electronic tones…”. I had to google ecumenical to make sure it was a word. It is. Clearly though, the results are far more emu-menical than spiritual or joyous. I am mildly disappointed that this Lion King B-side garnered critical attention, but I can’t say that musically it is any worst than anything else sure to follow on this list. The music is inoffensive. The write-up …. less so.
98. Future of the Left “Arming Eritrea”
PP says: I have to say when he yelped “pull your socks up” I laughed. Rick, that low sock-wearing mother-eff! A track designed for ironic h-ster enjoyment, made only a little weird by the odd title. Am I laughing at a human rights disaster? Makes Pursuit of Happiness’ 1988 “I’m an Adult Now” sound like a deadly serious meditation on growing up, although they weren’t tormented by the omnipresent and unrelenting Rick. I kind of feel like this is a setup. Like a joke you laugh at when you hear it but then get made fun of because that joke was sooooooo last week, and all the laughs have been used up. Well played.
UC adds:I saw this on Beavis and Butthead like 20 years ago. It was so much funnier then. But this song does kind of amuse me for its amateurish form. I am also highly amused at Matthew Perpetua’s assertion that Andrew Falkous’s anger at Rick is from his condenscention. WRITTEN IN THE MOST PEDANTIC PROSE EVER!!! I hate you Rick, I mean Matt.
97. The Smith Westerns “Be My Girl”
PP says: I can handle the high level washout on sound/tape hiss/murk from Neon Indian because he’s got a ton of good songs on that album, but the Smith Westerns feel like you are trying out a sample of some about to be released gum that is flavorless, colorless and disposable. Then you find out that this is what gum is gonna be like for a few months. And you will also be told that this is exceptional gum that will be recognized at the end of the year. You start considering taking your own life. Was that too over the top? Fine: the flavor of the gum was Wrigley’s Double-meh-nt.
UC adds: The chorus is the only part of this song that vaguely resembles a rock song, and I’m sure it was ripped off from somewhere. I’m not savvy enough to know where, but I’m not naive enough to think it has an ounce, or even a gram of originality. Kudos to Pinko Punko for the first appropriate chewing gum metaphor made about a song since Annie.
96. Gucci Mane [ft. Plies] “Wasted”
PP says: No matter what David Drake might try tell you about anything should you be cornered next to him on an airplane or God forbid an actual party because you gonna be proofing his diss. -ertation, that is. This track is so run of the mill that if I had the energy to look up the derivation of that expression, I would embark on an extended metaphor using mills and runs and a dictionary to describe it. Also, we get an egregiously superfluous that’s so over-style comment about Flo Rida and “80’s corpse f*cking.” I though Kanye and Timbaland were responsible for electro Eurohouse plastic rap anonymous club tracks, and this track sounds exactly like that so I am confused. At least I now I know there is a nefarious cabal led by Flo Rida responsible for writing hits about BJs. Also, 50 Cent and ability are linked in a sentence so we know David Drake is taking the piss. Sub marginal for the easy easy genre of blotto rap.
UC adds:I am so offing sick of non-divisive gangsta rap, that I sometimes feel compelled to off some of my home boys and urinate on them. Thank goodness then that this track by Gucci Mane is around because it is so uninspiringly boring, that I lost my homicidal corpsicidal rage. I am so glad that I am just going to get wasted instead of f*cked up, because it will keep me from ripping on this crap selection by David Drake.
95. The Thermals “Now We Can See”
PP says: Grayson Currin decides to make the inclusion of a band that records in a studio, like millions of bands ignored or marginalized by Pitchfork on an hourly basis (unless they sound like the retro sound du jour, hey kids it’s Bruce bands this Xmas!), a unique attribute and stylistic selling point. I punch my Grayson Currin pillow and burn my Grayson Currin PJs because there will be no sleeping in this house tonight. Song is OK, but not the Redeemer of Musical Sins its lonely lonely position at number 95 Grayson makes out to be. Better than whale mating. Maybe. HAL, I need a stress pill.
UC adds:Shorter Grayson Currin: “Just because a song has words, rhythm, and melody doesn’t mean it will be summarily ignored by our Pitchforkian overlords. How about this song? It it indistinguishable from hundreds of other equally forgettable songs. I deem thee #95”.
94. Best Coast “Sun Was High (So Was I)”
PP says:Tinny, trebly and lo-fi, it has to be listened to on headphones, so the sound fills out. Pretty unlistenable on computer speakers. I read on eMusic that this song was the rage this summer. It is a trifle, but can’t say it’s superior to more Jesus and Mary Chain-y Crocodiles or any Pains of Being Pure at Heart song, or the good half of the Neon Indian album. I’m supposed to be trying out Best Coast’s newer EP as it should be up my alley, but I’m not feeling the love. There is something here though, for the right person or the right moment. Rob Meh-tchum makes you sick with a sausage fest ref and a “brah” joke.
UC adds:Ignoring Rob Mitchum’s fake feminist appeal (which has all the cred of a young college male’s display of a Lillith Fair CD [Editor pretend ads, what exactly is that?], this song sounds like a bad version of a Camera Obscura song, with poorer melody, fewer hooks, and less crystalline singing. I don’t love the PoBPaH, but I take that over this.
93. Morrissey “Something is Squeezing My Skull”
PP says:I love love love Morrissey, but I couldn’t get excited about this because I don’t even see it as an alphabet-joke-side destined for another eventual Morrissey compilation. It’s OK, but Morrissey singing about prescription drugs should be better than this, which somehow remains stuck to the log when this should be so so easy for Moz. Nice try, Hogan, December Spawned a Meh-nster in the form of this review. Alternatively, the soil is falling over meh head.
UC adds:I don’t dare rip on Morrissey, because I have never had affinity for his music. The positive: it sounds just like Morrissey. The negative: I like it just as much as any other Morrissey song. I have never gotten it, and I continue to not get it. Wah wah. Morrissey is depressed. I have no empathy, only meh-pathy.
92. Cam’ron “I Hate My Job”
PP says: Sounds music wise like something 2Pac would drop for some critical loving with the rest of the album filled out with paint by numbers thug life and BJs. The rap is the best part and there are some good lines. Music seems too obvious but Cam’ron gets a pass.
UC adds:Lyrically, this song has the profoundness of a 5th grader’s essay, but it is an easy enough listen. This is exactly what I expect from the p-fork list in the ’90s, and as such, is sweet sweet comfort.
91. HEALTH “Die Slow”
PP says: A lightsaber fight in shop class, through somebody’s effects pedal, with some Faithless bits sprinkled in. Might remind some people of Gravity Kills or maybe Stabbing Westward. Better than that. I like this kind of thing- it could soundtrack an updated Miami Vice, as usual the driving fast to shoot up the club with the aquariums in slow mo part, not the Castillo as ninja crazy part. I’d listen again if Lala would let me. Good if it is your bag.
UC adds:I am absolutely terrified that this is supposedly HEALTH’s most melodic song. It is like getting stabbed to death with the world’s dullest knife; it doesn’t make your homicide any less elegant. And it doesn’t make you die any slower. Ba dum dum!!!
90. The-Dream “Rockin’ That Shit”
PP says: A cheese disco slow jam. Breaks my rule that all songs that use the “ride it like a pony” line are always somewhat redeemable because of some weird inherent giggle-awesomeness. In this case, the only redeeming feature is the notable lack of autotune for which the rest of the production seems to thirst. No seriously, picture in your mind what “celestial synth hook and those impossibly deep drums” would sound like, knowing that is exactly the sound someone would disturbingly try to describe using those words. Kind of an auditory-literary codependent relationship where murder-suicide would [Ed. note: this just seems so harsh, try again] Impossibly deep? Phil Collins’ lawyers will be in touch, asshole. [Ed. note: further note, very respectable for what it is, not one of the best tracks of the year.]
UC adds:The Pitchfork Dream: “Writin’ That Shit” [Deaf Ears]. Bonus points for punctuation and inaudible bass drum. This song is so lame that if you played it during spin the bottle, you would get laughed at.
89. No Age “You’re a Target”
PP says: My Bloody Valentine punk. Derivative, but that is never a deal breaker, unless the the derivativeness is so ruthlessly cynical it makes you feel like a shithead. Good, but likely to sound thin unless on ‘phones. Actually, good plus. Note the rather restrained Grayson Currin on the review. Well done, GC. A little goes a long way. Eat your peas.
UC adds:This is predictable. It is something that I never really like, but I think it always sits well with the indie crowd. I should be excluded from reviewing this track, because of my lousy C- grade in Stone Roseology. Doesn’t suck, but doesn’t make me want to move either. And if this is the biggest sound they’ve ever put together, I shudder to think of the low-fi-xtremity of their other tracks. Passable.
88. Passion Pit “Moth’s Wings”
PP says: Sounds enough like MGMT that I begin to worry about ruthlessly cynical wide-eyed retro 80’d manufactured serious sensitivity. Well done for the recipe they’re concocting, but I’m too cynical not to see some cynicism in here. I’m sure if I were in high school I’d put it on all my mixtapes.
UC adds:This song is totally fine. I’d just like to point out that if it were by M83, it probably would have been #17 on the list. I like the glistening synths and bells and the overall style they have put together. I’m not cool enough to have heard this song before, but I totally know which car commercial it’s going to end up in. Like.
87. Here We Go Magic “Fangela”
PP says: Seems about as thick and wall of sound you can make bedroom home wave pop. It somehow still seems like Diet. Maybe Diet Dr. Pepper, but still Diet. I wish this had gotten the full Sufjan Stevens treatment because it somehow seems a little too MacPaint for me. Guy does a really nice job filling it out. Not a huge fan, but Jason Crock actually describes this quite well.
UC adds:There is something really neat going on here. Kinda like a lost Syd Barret track. PP is right: this song needs to be fully fleshed out and properly produced. I think every part of it is interesting in its own right. There are several ideas that almost seem to big for the project. Nice selection. Damn.
86. Drake “Best I Ever Had”
PP says: One of a number of “shorty this, shorty that” songs all over the radio this summer, and I switched the channel every time. No seriously Taylor Swift owned this shit. Of course, this is the first time I’ve heard the explicit version, and it drops a notch on this end while gaining the P-fork bullpen no doubt with “making your ***** whistle like it’s the Andy Griffith theme song.” Greasy and weightless, fine for the radio but just pathetic here. I can’t wait for UC to hear this joint and for Bob Somerby to read Jayson Greene’s turd “”Best I Ever Had” synthesizes all of those oily, Clintonian charms into one perfect Summer Jam.” This is probably the hackiest thing I have ever read from the Fork.
UC adds:I wish you could meet my cousin from Toronto, who claims to be tight with Drake. You would understand then the deep disdain I have for both of these smarmy indulged individuals. I am not even cynical enough to write something this putrid. It is like a distillation of musical evil marketing genius. Jayson Greene claims, “if he never releases another decent song in his life, this will be enough”. Not like I’m trying to one-up a lame verse of Dayenu, but if Drake ever releases a decent song in his life, this will be enough.
85. Wavves “No Hope Kids”
PP says: Wavves is just sitting in my music library waiting for the right time to be listened to. I just don’t know when that will be. Does exactly what it wants to do with almost nothing. A song that you know without even hearing it, and that is a compliment. I can listen to this without all the usual baggage of whether I’m suppose to still like this now vs. start piling on this shit for not having earned it because my hands are in the air, and that signifies that I just don’t care.
UC adds:I thought it was a fair assumption that Lala was misbehaving and sending distortion to my speakers instead of music. I thought perhaps it was a bad internet connection. Nope. Then I thought that perhaps my speakers were malfunctioning. Nope. Then I thought that my auditory canal was full of marbles or jellybeans. Nope. So I am left perplexed why a perfectly well-written song would sound this bad. Is he making a point? Perhaps. Do I care? No.
84. Junior Boys “Parallel Lines”
PP says: “In the Morning” was just completely perfect and insidious a few years back, and one truly thinks that Junior Boys are doing exactly what they want, and with precision. This being said, this really doesn’t work for me, but falls short of being entirely off-putting. Empty meh-taphor indeed, Brian Howe. In fact I skip the last 20 seconds because GAGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is next.
UC adds:One of the better remixes of an ’80s song that I never liked. This sounds like the theme music to the Pitchfork summer BBQ. I can see them dancing around a campfire with their little wieners on a stick. Don’t ask me why that imagery came to my mind. Perhaps I need more cocaine to enjoy this kind of music. Sublime vapidity indeed.
83. Lady Gaga “Paparazzi”
PP says: Maybe the thinnest of the Gaga avalanche that dominated pop radio in Big Texas Honeybun/Cinnamon Roll this summer, but the one that eased back the most on the floor stomping production and letting LG just work a little pseudo-genuineness with her voice. I hope she’s around for a few more albums, she just on the good side of crazy but I worry she’ll end up a plastic surgery addict without any buttons to push. For some reason I’m rooting for pop culture not to chew her up and spit her out.
UC adds:One of the few radio hits that I didn’t immediately tune out. Shockingly, I liked Stephen Troussé’s commentary about this song, down to the apt Madonnabe reference. This probably deserves to be right around here on the list. Now, Rob Mitchum, can I have my stuffed turtle back?
82. DJ Kaos “Love the Nite Away (Tiedye remix)”
PP says: Yacht rock sleaze disco. Maybe if I were Luuding out. This is a song that maybe would deserve the off camera award at the big awards show because all the technical people could vote on its immaculate pot brownie Doobie Bros. disco production and the rest of us wouldn’t have to reserve seven valuable minutes where we could instead be watching informative commercials.
UC adds:Excuse me while I change into a robe and have a cigar. There that’s better. So first of all, why did they kidnap The Sea and the Cake and hold them gunpoint? Second of all, why I am in Quagmire’s apartment? And what is really in those little pink pills? Definitely sleazy, but better than listening to Drake, so a net win for all of us.
81. Bowerbirds “Northern Lights”
PP says: Just a tiny little fragment of this reminded me of The Jayhawks. This has a some slightly woozy piano and strum strum that is well done. I think this will be a nice spot of reflection of pilgrims being abused on their way to number 1.
UC adds:I liked this song when I first heard it in 1978. I didn’t know this kind of meh-morabilia was back in vogue. Oddly unironic and unhip. I presume that this was the result of an editorial oversight. Listenable and forgettable, but better than listening to Drake, so a net win for all of us.