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Pitchfork Pitchfork: Vagabon Infinite Worlds Album Review

I’ve found that pretentiousness in music seems to be most despised by people who are extremely pretentious about music themselves. In order to fully embrace this phenomenon, I have created Pitchfork Pitchfork, a column in which I review Pitchfork.com articles based on their pompousness.

To start things off, I’m going to take an in-depth look at Pitchfork’s review of Vagabon’s latest release, Infinite Worlds. The ‘fork gods were generous enough to bestow the highly coveted “best new music” label upon this album, anointing its 8.5 score with the red glow usually reserved for legends. Normally, Pitchfork’s scoring system is their downfall. The seemingly arbitrary assignment of decimals to various music can lead to outcry from spurned fans and artists alike. It’s made Pitchfork’s writers seem like that one friend you have who refuses to listen to anything that has over 10,000 plays on Spotify because it’s been tainted with mass appeal at that point. For Infinite Worlds, however, the 8.5 score is well-earned. I can’t argue with it. Points for you, Pitchfork.

The review goes downhill from there, unfortunately. The first sentence raises some eyebrows. The writer, Kevin Lozano, claims to have been so struck by one of Vagabon’s lines that he “had to remove my headphones and take stock of my surroundings.” Really? Really. I get that Vagabon’s lyrics are powerful, but I highly doubt Lozano was so shaken that he had to check to make sure he was still in his studio apartment or ultra-mod Pitchfork cubicle. Infinite Worlds is certainly potent, but it hardly transported me from the broken futon in my living room.

Another aspect of my grading rubric is readability, with specific regards to vocabulary. I get that music writers don’t want to be just another idiot with a WordPress account and opinions (haaaaaaa), but Jesus Christ, if I have to look up half the adjectives in the dictionary in order to understand what they’re trying to say, then it’s gone too far. Case in point: Lozano described Vagabon’s work as “pyrrhic”. That is some shit I haven’t heard since my 9th grade ancient Greek history class. I get that a pyrrhic victory is one where the winner loses so much they’re practically defeated, and I recognize that it’s totally a phrase. But dropping that in an album review is just showing off.

The review goes on to a track by track overview, and the writer describes the song “The Embers” as a “paean.” I have literally never heard that word in my life. Maybe I’m uncultured and illiterate, but to me it seems like this guy is struggling to put his useless English degree to good use.

All in all, this review isn’t bad. The score is reasonable, and aside from a few five-dollar words, the author does a good job summarizing the emotional content behind Vagabon’s album. Not bad, Kevin.

Pitchfork Pitchfork Score: 7.2

Now, go listen to Vagabon’s new album below.

 

Song of the Day: Destiny Frasqueri- Orange Blossom

https://soundcloud.com/vice/orange-blossom-by-destiny

“Orange Blossom” is a precursor to Destiny Frasqueri’s (Princess Nokia) album, 1992. The song itself is reminiscent of Frasqueri’s Afro Futurist style. “Orange Blossom” was released after Frasqueri’s experimental hip-hop album Metallic Butterfly. The song serves as a segway between Metallic Butterfly and 1992 as she departs from the experimental and recalls a soulful R&B influence instead.

 

 

SONG OF THE DAY: Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty – “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly”

For a good chunk of my life as a music consumer, I’ve described my taste as “anything but country.” I’m not sure where this antagonistic view comes from. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a region where country music dominates the airwaves. Maybe it’s my general aversion to corn. Maybe I’ve just pigeonholed myself as an urban elitist liberal and am the reason Hillary lost the election. Who knows.

All of this is to say that I’ve been making an effort to diversify my music library, and venturing into the world of country has been a major part of my journey. Along the way I came across the work of Loretta Lynn. She’s got some pipes, and her tunes are catchy enough that I’ve started humming honky tonk under my breath. “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” has been a repeat offender in this regard. Anyone who’s got a bone to pick could get some satisfaction from singing the chorus out loud.

Song of the Day: Galaxie 500 – “Tugboat”

After his time as the Velvet Underground’s guitarist and bassist, Sterling Morrison left New York for Houston of all places, and became a tugboat captain. Galaxie 500 singer Dean Wareham seems to like that idea, too. Simplicity is a staple of Galaxie 500s music, but it never becomes boring. Reverb-soaked vocals and dreamy, distant chords are cut by gorgeously melodic riffs that make you nostalgic for something that you can’t quite place. “Tugboat” is a hazy, blissful, sincere song. It makes me think of aspen trees in the fall, and I don’t know why the fuck that is. And maybe thats why this whole album is so amazing. Galaxie 500 evoke vivid imagery without saying much at all. And given the sound of indie rock in the late 80s, Galaxie 500’s Today is far ahead of its time. The band carved out a comfy little niche in the overdriven walls of sound erected by Sonic Youth, J Mascis and others, and in many ways redefined what guitar music could be.

 

Song of the Day – “I Wanna Boi” – PWR BTTM

Today’s Song of the Day is “I Wanna Boi” from the queer punk duo PWR BTTM. Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins met at Bard College and spend their playing shows on the Bard campus. Their raw punk sound is reminiscent of something heard at a house party somewhere around CC. However it is their unconventional lyricism that works do break down norms of sexuality and music makes PWR BTTM worth a listen. If you love the song email ob8419@Bard.edu.

 

SONG OF THE DAY – Ben Aqua – “Don’t Play Dumb”

DON’T

lol don’t we know this by now? SMART is cool! KIND is cool! DUMB on purpose is NOT cool.

If u smart, listen to this song. It is from Ben Aqua, who has worked with PC Music (audio gold), DFA Records (unknown to me) and has his own “experimental electronic music and art label #FEELINGS”. Despite the questionable but likely satirical naming of that label, I am often fond of this kind of music. Which surprises me. Isn’t electronic music #MINDLESS? I’m starting to think not!! Imagine the landscape of this track in physical space with every beat and type of sound possessing a different line — how complex and calculated!

This being said, Ben Aqua and those that he might associate with  (AG Cook of PC Music) are getting a lot of attention for what is being called “The online underground: A new kind of punk?”. An article/podcast of this name from Resident Advisor explores this concept using Ben Aqua as a main talking point (find at residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?2137). Even though the nuances and specifics of this comparison are beyond me (I will read the full RA article and get back to you), the idea is not far fetched. With a record label that contains a “hashtag”, successful sales of a T-shirt  with “NEVER LOG OFF” printed on it, and a proliferation of ideas manifested aesthetically across some sort of media is undoubtedly similar to the progression of the punk movement.

“signs and connotations of the digital medium are appearing all around online music in the same way that punk wore its gritty origins on its sleeve” (RA).

don’t play dumb, b as smart as u can b

SONG OF THE DAY: Neil Young – The Needle and the Damage Done

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the music of Neil Young has dotted many times in my life. When I was really little I used to hate his voice, not understanding how meaningful and personal that sound was for my parents.

His music will always be so tied to the time it was made in whether it be about heroin in the 1970s or his current campaign against GMOs and monocropping. This song is in response to his grief over the loss of more than one close musician friend to the “needle”. Neil seems to always have been able to translate intense personal tragedy into something beautiful, without compromising the inherent pain of the situation.

This from Neil in a recording of “Live at Massey Hall 1971”:

“Ever since I left Canada, about five years ago or so… and moved down south… found out a lot of things that I didn’t know when I left. Some of ’em are good, and some of ’em are bad. Got to see a lot of great musicians before they happened… before they became famous… y’know, when they were just gigging. Five and six sets a night… things like that. And I got to see a lot of, um, great musicians who nobody ever got to see. For one reason or another. But… strangely enough, the real good ones… that you never got to see was… ’cause of, ahhm, heroin. An’ that started happening over an’ over. Then it happened to someone that everyone knew about. So I just wrote a little song.”

“Every junkie’s like a setting sun”

Song of the Day: Night Moves – “Carl Sagan”

Whenever I see an artist from Minneapolis making waves on national music websites, I always feel a little swell of hometown. Even if I’m being a total bandwagoner who just discovered said artist through Pitchfork or Spotify, I’ll make up for it by creating false memories of listening to their music before they got big. I might even convince myself that I’ve got mutual-mutual friends with the bassist, or that I saw them open for Of Montreal back in 2009. Something like that.

 

That said, I can’t exactly remember if Night Moves is a band that I first heard on my local NPR station or if I found them through a more mainstream source. In any case, I’m going to pretend that I’m a #dayone fan of this band because not only is their music a freak-folk dream, but they also grew up in the same metro area as I did.  The newest single from their forthcoming album, “Carl Sagan,” is laden with beachy guitar hooks and falsetto vocals, an ambiguous sound that could easily hail from another decade.  Major music outlets like iTunes and Entertainment Weekly recently brought Night Moves to my attention again after a brief hiatus, which is also why I’m promoting their music to overcompensate for sleeping on these hometown heroes.  If this track strikes your fancy, stay tuned for Pennied Days, which is set for release March 25!

SONG OF THE DAY – “IT G MA” – Kieth Ape

 

This South Korean punk trap music has me captivated. Music is changing quick. Kieth Ape demands you forget what you know about music, and just enjoy this energy packed 3 minutes. Vibe to this during your pleasant Wednesday evening.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: WILLIAM ONYEABOR – “Fantastic Man”

WILLIAM ONYEABOR is hopefully but not likely a name you have heard before. The music of the mysterious man, released in the late 1970s and early 80s, characterizes a unique form of African electronic funk. After self-releasing eight albums during this time, he became a born-again Christian and essentially denounced his whole music career. To add another level of intrigue, there are rumors of his having went to Russia to study filmmaking.

After recently being “discovered” by Damon Albarn, David Byrne and other powerful male white British musicians, his music has gotten a little more exposure.  There is apparently a short documentary released by Noisey (affiliated with Vice) on Onyeabor and — someone — has been trying to write a biography on him for a year and a half – but no luck there.

David Byrne’s world-music focused record label Luaka Bop recently re-released a lot of Onyeabor’s music with his approval and enthusiasm, but was unable to secure event a statement from him much less a live performance. He did, however, make an audio appearance on the radio program BBC 6 Music in 2014, where he stated that he “only create[s] music that will help the world,” and sort of announced to his fans that more music is to come… We can only hope.

I was first introduced to Onyeabor through a friend who has a habit of finding precious things in small crannies in the music world; I initially had absolutely no idea if this music came from one of this friend’s obscure, hyper-modern Soundcloud-only DJs from this decade or if it was from the middle of last century. If I ever find myself in Enugu in Eastern Nigeria, I will be looking to make contact with the High Chief William Onyeabor, operator of a flour mill and proponent of the local Christian music scene.

see another track: “Good Name”