Haters gonna hate
Early last month, Pitchfork, an online indie music news and review site, posted a highly negative review of the glam rock album Rush!. by the Italian group Måneskin. Negative reviews aren’t new to Pitchfork, but this one was particularly scathing; his mood was neatly spelled out in the article’s subtitle, in which author Jeremy Larson described the entry as “absolutely awful on every imaginable level”.
You would think that a record like this would get a 0.0 on the Pitchfork scale of 10, but somehow the album got a 2.0. A low rating grabs people’s attention, and sure enough, the review got a “viral boost” on the social media of music lovers who were celebrating Larson’s massacre of an album they probably never would have listened to otherwise. And isn’t that the essence of rock criticism?
Not Nick Rahn, guitarist/vocalist for the Philadelphia indie band Grocer, due to perform at the Reverb Lounge on March 19th. group account: “Beware: we don’t need negative music reviews anymore when you can listen to whatever you want for free and form your own opinion.”
Rahn’s rebuttal continued in chain of tweets. “I understand that it’s nice to shit on something you don’t like, but is it useful? Is there a place in a public forum? With so much music, isn’t it more useful to highlight the music you like than the music you don’t? Also can we stop saying that music is “good” or “bad”? It’s okay to have an opinion. You don’t have to be an authority on the objective quality of something just because it doesn’t seem “cool” to you.
Rahn’s reaction comes a day after another critical hype flared up on Twitter, this time with legendary post-punk sound engineer Steve Albini lambasting ’70s yacht rock supergroup Steely Dan.
Albini, whose contributions to music history include recording classic albums by grunge icons The Pixies, Nirvana and PJ Harvey, tweeted a bunch of one-liners about the band behind hits like “Peg” and “Deacon Blues”, including: ” Christ the amount of human effort wasted to sound like an SNL opening act,” and “Music made for the sole purpose of letting the wedding ring stretch a little.”
As a longtime fan of Steely Dan and a longtime fan of Albini, this drew laughter. Others weren’t overly amused, as online publications, including Pitchfork, “amplified” Albini’s ranting, prompting a backlash on social media. Groser also reacted to this on Twitter: “If we get upset every time an old man gives his opinion on Steely Dan, we have no hope of surviving in this world.” Hooray!
Grocer bandmates drummer/vocalist Cody Nelson and bassist/vocalist Danielle Lauvier said people were furious about Rahn’s tweets about Pitchfork. “They reacted angrily,” Ran said in a phone interview.
“A lot of people took advantage of the comments to say we don’t want to be criticized,” Nelson said. “When a multi-million dollar company owned by Conte Nast decides to stir up conversation for a day, it will be unconvincing. The reviewer should have said he hates (the album) on twitter. For Pitchfork (review) this is evil for no reason. There was a period of time when a Pitchfork review could get in the way of a career flourishing. It doesn’t matter these days.”
“What’s weird,” Lovier added, “is that people are going to hate this album now.”
Lover is right. I only listened to the Måneskin album because of its viral negative review and 2.0 rating. I would never have done this if Pitchfork had rated it between 5.0 and 8.0. And while Ran is right that people can decide for themselves whether an album is good or bad, now that music is so freely available, that accessibility doesn’t come with the one valuable thing we all need to listen to new music: time.
Rather than hate listening to Måneskin’s latest album, Grocer would rather you listen to their new album ‘Scatter Plot’, released March 3rd via Philadelphia label Grind Select. After listening to both, I can testify that your time will be well spent.
And you can bet that despite Pitchfork’s critique, Grocer would love to have the so-called “indie music bible” review their album.
“We would like them to criticize us,” Nelson said. “And let’s face it, it’s better for (Pitchfork) to attack a band no one has heard of than, say, Greta Van Fleet.”
Grocer performs at the Reverb Lounge on March 19 with Bad Self Portraits and Estrogen Projection. The show time is 20:00, tickets are $10. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.
Over The Edge is Reader senior writer Tim McMahan’s monthly column on culture, society, music, media, and the arts. Email Tim at [email protected]