Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Pitchfork and 33 1/3

I haven't felt like writing about music. I don't have many discoveries to report that haven't been covered by Robert Christgau at his Expert Witness blog/site/whatever. We haven't been doing music polls for at least four months, although there is one now in reaction to the Pitchfork poll. So, I've been content to make fun of clueless spam in this space.

Except, I didn't vote but I have been reading.

The good folks at Pitchfork decided to hold a poll. The poll let the site's readers vote for any album of the last 15 years, but Pitchfork made it much easier to vote for certain albums, albums with a Pitchfork sensibility. So, it's hardly a surprise that these albums did much better in the poll. If this was a social science experiment, you'd have to reject the data as biased. But, really, it's just a slapdash poll to get the music blogosphere talking. Mission accomplished.

Of the top 100 albums in the Pitchfork poll, I've heard 84 of them. I don't like all 84 - about half of those I find either boring or just too art rock for my taste. In general, the Pitchfork list leans very heavily on the resurgent art rock strain in alternative music. Why do Pitchfork readers like Neutral Milk Hotel more than Sonic Youth? Alas, I suspect that means the Neutral Milk Hotel album that finished 4th (?!?) is in my future listening. 

Our library has acquired the entire 33 and 1/3 series (up to early this year) published by Continuum books. Each book discusses a single album. The book are short enough to be read in a single afternoon, and that's been a good length for me this summer. The quality of the writing varies, and a lot of the albums covered strike me as unworthy of being included in the series (there's a book on that Neutral Milk Hotel album). I just wonder if there's a readership for these books beyond someone like me. The books aren't rigorous enough for scholarship and not breezy enough for the casual reader.