Pitchfork tranches

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Cloning while they're multiplying
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Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson
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Postby cool party » Wed May 23, 2018 10:43 am

black mamba wrote:
cool party wrote:
Zurich wrote:
cool party wrote:
however, although p4k had a lot of readers at the time of that review, it had nowhere near the influence and readership it does now. from what i recall reading the site/responses to it at the time, that review was one of the first times that a wider audience started recognizing p4k's influence as a thing. i'm not sure that p4k itself knew at the time the impact that that review would have.

i can't get behind proscribing critical treatments of things just because they aren't as popular as other things. it's true that p4k BNMs can do a lot to make music careers. but nowadays, for the most part, a bad or lukewarm review wouldn't stop people who genuinely enjoy your music from going to a show or downloading your stuff from bandcamp. most musicians i know would be desperate to get "tranched" if the alternative was being ignored. there are plenty of artists who have released a bunch of albums reviewed in the 6.0-7.5 range (and probably lower than that, too) who are still prolific, playing shows, etc.

i agree that it's unfortunate for morrison that it happened for him at a time when p4k seemingly had this monolithic power in indie music.


I'm confused by your response tho. you start by saying p4k didn't have the influence/readership they do now then say middling p4k reviews don't stop people from going to shows or downloading stuff from bandcamp and end referring back to a time when p4k had a monolithic power in music.

it sounds like you're agreeing with me that it meant more and was more powerful back in the day because there weren't as many outlets to discover/try music for free, like bandcamp. also, pitchfork was speaking to a much smaller audience with probably a higher share of voice.

by no means do I think anyone should get a fair pass critically. i'm just arguing that the review itself and the 0.0 were a bit over the top/petty. it felt even a bit out of step with how they were writing by 2004.

i would also argue p4k's influence really "arrived" a couple years prior with the reviews of source tags and codes and, if that's a stretch, then definitely with you forgot it in people.


sorry, you're right that i was unclear. my main point was that i would completely believe that the Travistan reviewer had no idea that that review would have the impact that it did, because Pitchfork was not as popular then as it is now. but at the same time, i agree with you/the Slate piece that because music distribution is so much more diffuse and decentralized now, p4k's influence has lessened.

i'm not going to criticize how a musician feels about a review, but i do think that there are many musicians who would've received that review and laughed it off (especially if they already had the luxury of a cult following) and kept on making music. liz phair, who is cited in the Slate piece, went on to have the most commercially successful part of her career. sonic youth went on to a string of three albums that were all critically lauded. i'm not a big follower of travis' so i defer to you if you are, but it does seem like part of what happened to his career had to do with him not producing as much music/promoting it in the years after that.


liz phair and sonic youth existed well before while pitchfork basically made the dismemberment plan (for lack of a better way of putting it.)


there are plenty of artists who came to prominence post-pitchfork who got a bad review and went on to have artistic and commercial success. i used those two as examples because they seem to have both reached an even wider audience after their respective bad reviews

it seems morrison consciously chose to no longer produce as much music. i'm saying that if he stuck around a few more years to take advantage of all the changes in distribution/the Internet, there's a good chance imo that he could have played festivals, maintained credibility among his core fans, had success that drew on the credibility of his old band (which many people don't have to start their music careers) etc.,
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Postby neuartillery » Wed May 23, 2018 11:16 am

I don’t agree with that take on the potential of Morrison’s solo career at all. Two things are clear post-Travistan: 1. He wasn’t making music as good as the Dismemberment Plan 2. He’d lost a huge chunk of his audience.

The Dismemberment Plan reunion was when he got the chance to play festivals / draw on their old appeal, and it was very successful in the initial phase. Friends of mine that hadn’t seen them previously were incredibly happy to get the chance. But Uncanney Valley was a lead balloon and rather than getting a second wind, they all went back to their lives.
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Postby ripersnifle » Thu May 24, 2018 2:08 pm

steakspoon wrote:sorry if sounds corny fellas but i'll always remember where i was when i heard my first big star song..the internet.
Totally wrote:also to the really creepily obsessed kid frothing NON-US SPORTS GEAR IS A COMPLEXITY-SIGNALING DEVICE FOR AGEING HIPSTER ACOLYTES WHO DOWNLOAD MOANA: I have a lot of friends (and an apartment) in Geelong. Get a fuckin life man.
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Postby bongo » Thu May 24, 2018 2:12 pm

uggghgh
yeaaaaaaaaaaaa american nostalgia love it suburban living civilized families this could be my life
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Postby number none » Thu May 24, 2018 2:23 pm

a Pelly joint™
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Postby Grumby » Thu May 24, 2018 2:31 pm

vagabon? oh yeah. that album was forgotten pretty quickly huh.
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Postby loaf angel » Thu May 24, 2018 2:33 pm

I saw her live. she has an incredible voice
goldsoundz wrote:i'd bang that moron
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Postby cool party » Thu May 24, 2018 4:47 pm

silent barn at least was a space for genuinely DIY unsigned artists to play, unlike a lot of the valorized NYC DIY venues of the past that wouldn't respond to an e-mail unless you were on a Beggars label or whatever

it is kind of ridic that they asked for another 5 figures in donations months before they decided they couldn't continue, though
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Postby alaska » Thu May 24, 2018 6:42 pm

But Child himself remains idiosyncratic, averse to pigeonholes.


Get these goddamn pigeonholes away from me
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Postby adam sampler » Sat Jun 02, 2018 1:22 pm

cool party wrote:silent barn at least was a space for genuinely DIY unsigned artists to play, unlike a lot of the valorized NYC DIY venues of the past that wouldn't respond to an e-mail unless you were on a Beggars label or whatever

it is kind of ridic that they asked for another 5 figures in donations months before they decided they couldn't continue, though


person who was their "grant writer" on staff also worked at MoMa so you can imagine how much actual energy was being put towards fundraising
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Postby bongo » Sat Jun 02, 2018 1:46 pm



:|
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Postby black mamba » Sat Jun 02, 2018 2:56 pm

cool party wrote: there are plenty of artists who came to prominence post-pitchfork who got a bad review and went on to have artistic and commercial success.


name some

i used those two as examples because they seem to have both reached an even wider audience after their respective bad reviews


exile in guyville is certified gold and sonic youth is...sonic youth. the idea that pitchfork would be a factor in the lives of these major label artists, good or bad, is absurd. it would be like saying that it's amazing that the rolling stones kept going after they got a bad review from spin magazine or something

i also find the idea that a writer for that website would just be oblivious to their influence even then to strain believability. like at that time iirc they used to have a mailbag section and they would post emails from bands that got bad reviews to basically laugh at them. if someone wrote for pitchfork one of the top questions they would get from people would be 'do you get to pick the score'. like, it's embedded in the entire rating system. they don't do one to five stars or thumbs up/thumbs down they do a 100 point scale where the implicit meaning is that all music can be ranked against each other from worst to best and they are the authority that is able to do it. so basically pitchfork, a publication that i would imagine that all of travis morrison's peers read at the time, put travis morrison's record at the bottom of all recorded music.
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Postby black mamba » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:01 pm

oh also it is universally understood that it is a big deal to give something the lowest score possible. like even if you're writing for your high school newspaper you would probably think twice before giving your theatre club's rendition of rent a zero out of one hundred
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Postby cool party » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:59 pm

black mamba wrote:name some


i mean, i'm hesitant to since this seems like a rhetorical putdown instead of an honest ask. you can find an idiosyncratic factor for any artist with a bad review to say why it didn't matter for them, but that's sort of my whole point--if you have fan support/other credibility going for you as an artist and keep plugging away at it, you can work against bad reviews. if you read my posts honestly you'll see i'm not denying the importance of previous credibility/popularity/cult fanbase/being on a major label. but since you asked:

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/2232-transatlanticism/ [same label and rough timeframe as Travistan and their fame/success far exceeded what pitchfork could impact]
https://pitchfork.com/artists/28716-ariel-pinks-haunted-graffiti/
https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15722-coastal-grooves/
https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/5717-the-national/
https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/7723-tiny-cities/ [i know this is a covers album but that doesn't make it count less under the criteria that pitchfork was influential at this time--he also didn't get a BNM until 2014]
https://pitchfork.com/artists/3933-stars/ [bad to mediocre reviews for past decade and still touring successfully]

exile in guyville is certified gold and sonic youth is...sonic youth. the idea that pitchfork would be a factor in the lives of these major label artists, good or bad, is absurd. it would be like saying that it's amazing that the rolling stones kept going after they got a bad review from spin magazine or something

i also find the idea that a writer for that website would just be oblivious to their influence even then to strain believability. like at that time iirc they used to have a mailbag section and they would post emails from bands that got bad reviews to basically laugh at them. if someone wrote for pitchfork one of the top questions they would get from people would be 'do you get to pick the score'. like, it's embedded in the entire rating system. they don't do one to five stars or thumbs up/thumbs down they do a 100 point scale where the implicit meaning is that all music can be ranked against each other from worst to best and they are the authority that is able to do it. so basically pitchfork, a publication that i would imagine that all of travis morrison's peers read at the time, put travis morrison's record at the bottom of all recorded music.


in none of my posts did i defend pitchfork's attitude at the time or say they weren't antagonistic. nor did i say it wasn't a "statement review" to give that album a 0.0 or that it had no impact whatsoever. clearly it was and it did, and i feel as sorry as anyone that it was probably a terrible experience. none of my posts deny that this is "universally understood."

all i'm saying is if travis made a conscious decision to make less music after that review (from what i can tell he mainly had one 2007 solo album and then the DPlan album in 2013), you can't put it entirely on pitchfork. to make a living as an artist is an incredibly privileged position in the first place and any number of things can make it difficult for someone to do that. to decide to keep going in spite of that is often what makes artists finally realize that potential.
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Postby black mamba » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:34 pm

cool party wrote:
black mamba wrote:name some


i mean, i'm hesitant to since this seems like a rhetorical putdown instead of an honest ask. you can find an idiosyncratic factor for any artist with a bad review to say why it didn't matter for them, but that's sort of my whole point--if you have fan support/other credibility going for you as an artist and keep plugging away at it, you can work against bad reviews. if you read my posts honestly you'll see i'm not denying the importance of previous credibility/popularity/cult fanbase/being on a major label. but since you asked:


it wasn't meant to be a put down. those were just two not germane examples imo and the ones you have posted make much more sense.

exile in guyville is certified gold and sonic youth is...sonic youth. the idea that pitchfork would be a factor in the lives of these major label artists, good or bad, is absurd. it would be like saying that it's amazing that the rolling stones kept going after they got a bad review from spin magazine or something

i also find the idea that a writer for that website would just be oblivious to their influence even then to strain believability. like at that time iirc they used to have a mailbag section and they would post emails from bands that got bad reviews to basically laugh at them. if someone wrote for pitchfork one of the top questions they would get from people would be 'do you get to pick the score'. like, it's embedded in the entire rating system. they don't do one to five stars or thumbs up/thumbs down they do a 100 point scale where the implicit meaning is that all music can be ranked against each other from worst to best and they are the authority that is able to do it. so basically pitchfork, a publication that i would imagine that all of travis morrison's peers read at the time, put travis morrison's record at the bottom of all recorded music.


in none of my posts did i defend pitchfork's attitude/behavior at the time or say they weren't antagonistic. nor did i say it wasn't a "statement review" to give that album a 0.0 or that it had no impact whatsoever. clearly it was and it did, and i feel as sorry as anyone that it was probably a terrible experience. none of my posts deny that this is "universally understood."


i don't think you were ever defending pitchfork in any way. i was giving circumstantial evidence for my assertion that the critic had some idea of what the impact of that review would be

all i'm saying is if travis made a conscious decision to make less music after that review (from what i can tell he mainly had one 2007 solo album and then the DPlan album in 2013), you can't put it entirely on pitchfork. to make a living as an artist is an incredibly privileged position in the first place and any number of things can make it difficult for someone to do that. to decide to keep going in spite of that is often what makes artists finally realize that potential.


i think this is true but what i and others are saying is that the source of the review matters as well. a jazz musician would probably care more about a pan from a jazz publication than from pitchfork etc. honestly i have no 'skin in the game' and don't even listen to the dismemberment plan but the whole travistan thing, to me, was the indie equivalent of this



anyway this has been a productive conversation. ty for your thoughts and time user cool party
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Postby buriedinspace » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:34 pm

cool party wrote:
black mamba wrote:name some



https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/2232-transatlanticism/ [same label and rough timeframe as Travistan and their fame/success far exceeded what pitchfork could impact]

That's... kind of the point with the Liz Phair/Sonic Youth stuff, sort of? They also had a pretty big following already. Plus 'Something About Airplanes' got a 8.1.

https://pitchfork.com/artists/28716-ariel-pinks-haunted-graffiti/

I think he broke out more than he had before when they named one of his songs the best song of the year. If anything Ariel Pink feels very Pitchfork tastemaking approved?

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/5717-the-national/

No one cared about the band at the time of this record. They later gave glowing reviews to most of the records people did care about and carried water for them in that timeframe.

https://pitchfork.com/artists/3933-stars/

Their biggest claim to fame is still probably 'Set Yourself on Fire' which got an 8.4.

I think you're confusing the role Pitchfork has. The National and Death Cab are both good examples of bands that Pitchfork had positive things to say about when they broke out and even if they backed off over time, their names were made by the time they did. They can definitely effect the cycle of who is regarded as serious in their sphere of influence but at a certain point being seen seriously isn't that big a deal - in the same way that college radio could help make early R.E.M. but by the time of Document and Out of Time the college rock audience was no longer their main concern.

Also: there's a difference between giving something a 6.0 and giving it a 0.0. Especially when the review says 'this shows some promise but overall seems underbaked' or whatever, like the Ariel Pink review flirted with at times. If you give someone a 6.0 for their debut and they soldier on to the record where they get a Best New Music, then Pitchfork is a net positive. Some bands are just buzz bands and those bands can be knocked down by an initial Pitchfork review - a lot of the stuff you're point to at the moment is from a time where a radio hit could still power a buzz band past that sort of critical marketplace.

But Travis Morrison wasn't a buzz band - if he was going to make a good solo career, he was going to have to be seen as a well respected singer songwriter or whatever and that 0.0 showed that a major taste-maker thought he was not worthy of consideration and even more so that he was worthy of derision. And that was after being a major part of making Dismemberment Plan a big deal.

I bet if Pitchfork had given Boxer a 0.0 it'd have been a giant blow to The National. A much bigger deal than giving them a mediocre review for their debut. But they didn't do that. They gave their debut a middling/mediocre review and then, their better regarded follow ups they gave a lot of praise to. And the same is true in the reverse - they gave Stars an 8.4 for their first big record of note and that record broke them. Now they give them lesser reviews but they'd already broken past the need for it to sustain as a touring band. They haven't succeeded in a larger way though- they're just a mid-tier indie band that lasted past their buzz period, with a small audience that remembers them and can probably 2/3 fill the sort of venues that sell out for the new buzz bands, which makes them a fine but not indispensable band for those venues to book.
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Postby black mamba » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:37 pm

i agree with user buriedinspace
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Postby buriedinspace » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:43 pm

The National seems like a bizarre choice tbh. After giving their debut a 6.7 (which seems... about right, if generous?) they bookended their least recent to most recent albums with a 7.9 and an 8.0 and otherwise have given every full length a Best New Music. They were integral to their success and have never really turned against them. If they ever gave them a 0.0, especially at this point in their career, it actually could have a major impact, as it would be part of a narrative of them having become not just insignificant to this audience but hated by it, but they'd still do fine, in large part because Pitchfork approved them as a major critically acclaimed act. They are maybe a slightly more delicate version of the Sonic Youth scenario, in that I do think it could make a dent but also the people who love The National would still love them.
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Postby cool party » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:21 pm

black mamba, i appreciate the discussion as well

buriedinspace, i don't disagree with most of what you say. but i think rather than me confusing the role pitchfork has, you're confusing the scope of the original topic/question (which is easy to do because it's been a confusing discussion when we naturally end up talking about such a large timeframe). black mamba asked me to cite examples of my statement that there were bands who got bad reviews from p4k and went on to have success, so that's what i did in my last post. i did this because that supports my overall point that "if you don't cut down on your music output/touring after one/a few bad reviews, you might still have success in the future." but within making that argument, i never said that p4k didn't play a role later on in "approving" those bands. clearly, with p4k's position in the market, it would be impossible for them to not have some influence. i didn't say that i could cite bands who *never* got a good review from p4k and still had success. i concede that that would be harder. but i guess i was getting at whether p4k can be "pushed" to change course on something by persistent musicians, and i think they clearly can. you are right that they played a big role in making the national.

but just because ariel pink (whatever one thinks of him personally) might have later become "pitchfork approved" after years of getting panned, this doesn't disprove my overall point. they panned his first four albums over the span of four years, while meanwhile he developed a strong cult following who supported him and thought the pitchfork reviews were off course (as i suspect pitchfork themselves probably do now, as well). anecdotally, pre-Before Today, i remember his stuff being widely shared/discussed on this board, and talking about him with friends in real life and wondering why his pitchfork reviews were mediocre. i imagine that at the time he wasn't deriving anywhere near the income he does now from music. nevertheless, he just continued producing a ton of material until finally breaking through to more mainstream success. similarly with death cab, they got a mediocre review on an album that generated a huge following for them (and was later given an 8.4 in a reconsidered review). i agree with the point about radio play, but that's consistent with my argument--indie artists finding ways to achieve success in spite of reviews. i would point to the opportunities provided by the diffusion of music distribution as being an analogous asset to artists now to get buzz in spite of a bad review. i'm not saying "pitchfork has no influence," i'm just saying if whether through hard work or luck you can get other factors going in your favor, a bad review shouldn't discourage a musician who wants to keep producing from doing that.

obviously a 0.0 is different from a 6.0, but the latter in most cases is a good metric for "bad review" from p4k. however, i could even make the case that with the way the diffusion of music distribution worked out, travis could have manipulated that publicity into something positive down the road. either way, like black mamba, i'm not a big d-plan or travis fan anyway, so don't know much about him and am only interested in this discussion for the broader issues. maybe the key point here is what black mamba said earlier about p4k essentially being responsible for a lot of dplan's success in the first place.
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Postby buriedinspace » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:35 pm

Double post.
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Postby buriedinspace » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:35 pm

Mostly, I guess, I'm saying that a 6.0 or 6.7 is just not a disastrous review and that pans before you break out are less important than highly critical reviews of bigger deal releases. But yes, certainly the specificity of your examples makes some more sense. Though I don't even really read the National review as a pan - it begins by basically saying that they sound like a band the reviewer clearly likes and ends by saying that he sees potential for them to have their own voice soon and that once they do they'll have a lot of potential. It reads very even handed leaning toward positive to me and definitely nothing like the 0.0 we were discussing (or recent pans, like, for instance the 2nd most recent Joan of Arc record where they gave it a 3.8 and basically called it hateful, nasty trolling)
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Postby cool party » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:38 pm

that's fair. i probably shouldn't have included the national alongside my other examples
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Postby neuartillery » Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:36 pm

In terms of bands that had > 0.0 reviews affect them, I know that The Beauty Pill lost momentum / had trouble booking shows after this 5.7 review: https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/614-the-unsustainable-lifestyle/ . That was after the first EP (which is admittedly better) got a 9.0, although the review is no longer up.

After Chad Clark had cardiomyopathy and nearly died (a few times), it's hard to cite the review as the main hurdle, but it definitely killed that press cycle.
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Postby ripersnifle » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:54 pm

i'm just catching up but i just wanted to say that the least mid-00s p4k could've done for us was kill Stars
steakspoon wrote:sorry if sounds corny fellas but i'll always remember where i was when i heard my first big star song..the internet.
Totally wrote:also to the really creepily obsessed kid frothing NON-US SPORTS GEAR IS A COMPLEXITY-SIGNALING DEVICE FOR AGEING HIPSTER ACOLYTES WHO DOWNLOAD MOANA: I have a lot of friends (and an apartment) in Geelong. Get a fuckin life man.
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Postby Grumby » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:03 pm

ripersnifle wrote:i'm just catching up but i just wanted to say that the least mid-00s p4k could've done for us was kill Stars


this is funny from an american perspective. i know they're like huge as shit in canada but i pretty much think of them like clap your hands say yeah or something
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Postby ripersnifle » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:05 pm

that's very heartening to hear lol
steakspoon wrote:sorry if sounds corny fellas but i'll always remember where i was when i heard my first big star song..the internet.
Totally wrote:also to the really creepily obsessed kid frothing NON-US SPORTS GEAR IS A COMPLEXITY-SIGNALING DEVICE FOR AGEING HIPSTER ACOLYTES WHO DOWNLOAD MOANA: I have a lot of friends (and an apartment) in Geelong. Get a fuckin life man.
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Postby ripersnifle » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:11 pm

i really like this discussion that people are having.
it's interesting to think about the publication securing bands a certain core audience that will then weather future tranche and subtranche level reviews.
steakspoon wrote:sorry if sounds corny fellas but i'll always remember where i was when i heard my first big star song..the internet.
Totally wrote:also to the really creepily obsessed kid frothing NON-US SPORTS GEAR IS A COMPLEXITY-SIGNALING DEVICE FOR AGEING HIPSTER ACOLYTES WHO DOWNLOAD MOANA: I have a lot of friends (and an apartment) in Geelong. Get a fuckin life man.
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Postby gold and glass » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:15 pm

it's worth remembering that The National had Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! set to open for them on their Alligator tour, then Pitchfork gave Alligator a strong but still dismissive score while blowing up Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! and The National experienced terrible walkout for their sets. I remember a lot of interviews from the time where The National described that experience as demoralizing, they didn't know if they should keep trying, etc.
Pitchfork didn't really give The National any attention until Boxer, or at least that was the feeling at the time.
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Postby gold and glass » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:17 pm

This board was also hugely pro-The National when Alligator came out and then a lot of the most vocal boarder fans (Totally, Iambic) did a 180 on them when Boxer came out
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Postby bongo » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:18 pm

the sad jocks?
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