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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Lies Pitchfork told me:

Published: November 21, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

I find it amazing that a bunch of pretentious graduate school English majors with overdeveloped record collections can effectively determine whether some indie albums live or die. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site Pitchfork (, you probably go through the largely unnecessary process of forming your own opinions about music. Good for you.

For the rest of us Internet music pawns, I believe it’s time someone stood up to those hypercritical bullies at that ubiquitous online publication. And as someone who used to maintain Pitchfork as his home page, I believe I’m the man for the job.

I could go through a list of albums that Pitchfork praised that deserve the good old waste disposal treatment. (Has anyone honestly ever listened to an entire Liars album and lived to tell the tale?) But I’d rather take the high road and rescue from infamy those records I cherish that certain power-tripping twentysomethings decried.

It’s not easy for a heterosexual male to stand up and declare his love for Death Cab for Cutie, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Aside from an extra pretentious review in the form of a rough draft outline, critic William Morris slapped a 6.4 (out of 10) rating on their seminal album, Transatlanticism, because it made him feel old.

Let’s face it, DCFC have never been hailed for their maturity. But the dudes know how to write a pop melody and buttress it with billowing arrangements like no others. “The Sound of Settling” might set crowds bouncing and “bah-bahing” along, but it’s the standouts like the Cure-influenced catharsis of “We Looked Like Giants” and the ricocheting guitar pop of “Expo ’86” that make the album worthy of vindication.

Belle & Sebastian got even worse treatment with its bestselling album, Boy with the Arab Strap, which received a 0.8 rating. While I won’t deny that a few duds—“Is it Wicked Not to Care?” springs to mind immediately—mar the disc’s flow, there are certainly enough twee-a-licious tunes to satiate any fan.

The tunes tend toward sprawling and meditative, but the lyrics are as wry and poignant as any B&S album.

Coldplay makes itself an easy target, so it’s not surprising that Pitchfork takes the bait. Perhaps I became a fan of the British piano pop maestros before it was uncool to admit it, or maybe it happened before I’d learned to care what other rock snobs thought. In any event, I find every reason to indulge in the saccharine goodness of A Rush of Blood to the Head.

Needless to say, Pitchfork does not agree. But is it really necessary to defend pitch-perfect atmospheric sing alongs like “Clocks” or “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face”?

Coldplay may have been aspiring to the stadium-rocking scale of U2, but in failing to live up to that ideal, they crafted songs most readers can’t help but hum. Miraculously, they even managed to make an album that sounds like an album. It ebbs and flows in a way that goes beyond loud-soft-loud dynamics into an emotional realm.

Finally, in case you thought I was simply an apologist for indie pop, let’s not forget my favorite divorced husband and wife duo that’s still raising hell.

Meg and Jack White did what so many over the years have tried and failed: created an original sound using only a guitar and drums (although the plural form of the word “drum” might be a little generous for Meg). When the ramshackle Get Behind Me Satan was released, a friend told me he thought it was a joke. Apparently, Pitchfork couldn’t get behind it either.

But after you accept the fact that it’s a grab bag of unrelated tracks, you can see the simple brilliance of the songs. “My Doorbell” and “The Denial Twist” replace bruising electric guitar with sunny piano licks, exposing the pop songwriting chops beneath White’s blistering distortion.

And then there’s “White Orchid” and “Take, Take, Take,” guitar-based romps that remind you why we put up with White’s eccentricities in the first place.

Needless to say, I could write countless articles about my qualms with that infamous music site.

But until people start taking its writers less seriously than the writers take themselves, I encourage music lovers everywhere to continue sticking it to the fork.