18 May 2009

Mr. Pitchfork's Final Response

If you've just joined the blog, you have caught myself and a Mr. Aaron Thomas Smith in a somewhat spirited discussion on the role of the critic in society, with specific regards to record reviews. To recap, Mr. Smith took umbrage with my review of one of his favorite bands' (Kinetic Stereokids) latest release, Kid Moves. After posting a comment on my blog and the webzine I write for, Stereo Subversion, I responded in the post previous to this one. He has since "retaliated" with the following response:

"Mr. Pitchfork,

my comment was removed from my own blog to spotlight a mini-tour put together last minute. It's now back-up, it had nothing to do with anything else!

While trying to stay awake throughout your elaborate assessment of my comments, I found amusement in your presented inquiry to defend the album in words, to your readers I state 'listen to it'. My favorite quote in music is by Trent Reznor (of all people)
"the goal was to create a record that, ultimately, you'll like - but probably not the first time you hear it"

Let people judge for themselves, (especially in today's myspace world) unless you choose to promote something. In doing listening sessions (in which the Kinetic Stereokids floored me past 1,000 other applicants) for the Pop Montreal festival, I've realized it gets tiring to stroke ones own ego downplaying others music, rather spotlight what merits in your mind. See KSK live, than let's talk!

I love your patting me on the head, like a God appointed journalist telling me how it is!
"I do not take the power of the written word lightly as it is very prone to upset the balances of human nature from time to time". Wow, good thing we are in this solely for music!!!

I give you a 4.3/10. Leave it to pitchfork already!!"

What follows is my response to his response to my response to his response of my original record review:

Mr. Smith,

First, thanks for responding to my comment. I must tell you I have very much enjoyed our little back-and-forth on the role of the record reviewer in our "MySpace world [capitalization mine]." And, I have to tell you, I'm flattered that you would place me in the same league as Pitchfork Media, although I assure you I am nowhere near as large or opinionated as they. But I did have a good laugh when you graded my reponse using their 10-point scale!

I know you struggled to make it through my last lengthy response, so I'll cut right to the heart. I have two main points:

1) I assume you read, Mr. Smith. You seem to be somewhat literate and so I would have to guess that at some point in your brief tenure on this planet, you have picked up a magazine dedicated to music, musicians, art, record labels, film, books, etc. If this assumption is correct, then you have taken part in the media/marketing machine that helps comprise popular music post-1950. Therefore, I feel it is safe to suggest that at some point in your life you have read a record review--actually, you must have read one because you decided that you did not care for them (per your original comment). And, truly, how can you care for something that you have never read? That would be ignorant.

So, unless you learn of all the bands you listen to from word-of-mouth, live shows with no prior exposure, or random selection at a record store, then, I'm afraid you have to acknowledge that critics have played a major role in the dissemination of such fledgling artists as Kinetic Stereokids into the "mainstream" (whatever that is now). For more on this topic, please see the brief history of bands with the names Vampire Weekend, The Black Kids, Hootie and the Blowfish, or Green Day.

Good, bad, or indifferent, you are a part of the publicity machine. Welcome! And I find it highly ironic (and a little comical) that you would deem my opinions impertinent or somehow irrelevant just because I call myself a record reviewer and you disagree with what I say.

Which brings me to my next point...

2) Hypothetically, ask yourself (and be honest, Mr. Smith), what would you have done if I had given the Kinetic Stereokids' album a glowing review? Say I gave the album a 9.5/10. Would you have linked to my review on your blog? Would you have left a pleasant, agreeable comment on my blog or at Stereo Subversion, patting me on the back for agreeing with your opinion? Would you have ignored it completely, happy to know that others think just like you? Or would you have done exactly what you did--leave a comment disparaging me for being a critic with a narrow assessment of the world? Hmmm...puzzling isn't it? What would you have done?

Well, I've already gone on too long as it is. So, in closing, I would like to say that I am through. I doubt you will respond to me again and, if you do, I (most likely) will have moved on to destroy the next fledgling, hopeful band with my Pitchfork-wielding words.

But, honestly, I'm glad you enjoy the music that you enjoy. We certainly need individuals who are willing to get behind a band that they support; we just shouldn't be surprised when others are not as quick to support our views.

Mr. Pitchfork

PS--I gave your reponse a 2.2/10. Very little substance for me to work with!!! And why so many exclamation marks!?!? Do you get paid everytime you use one?!?!!!


Woody said...

Good show old chap, that's givin' him what for. ?!?!!!!


aaron thomas smith said...

What would I do, umm more what do I do,...promote the sites for others to hear the good word. See in the grand scheme your choosing to critique others music puts you in a really miniscal and unimportant position. Hilarious, you don't mind critizing others music, but when the reverse is on and suddenly someone critizes your spoken word, suddenly you get all red in the face and defensive, you got your cake, so pick up the fork and...

eat your poison:

1) sadly I never got my taste in music from yours or anyones magazines, keep guessing my musical merits Dr. Seuss!
Stop validating your word, I'm sure you over-exagerate even the few who dig your Indigo Girl loving machine! Things seem to be working out fine for you in the industry.