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  • Susan McTigue
    An article on them from today s L.A. Times: The zeitgeist guys *Pitchfork.com has its finger on the pulse of indie rock. By David Pierson CHICAGO — Indie
    Message 1 of 11 , Mar 7, 2005
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      An article on them from today's L.A. Times:

      The zeitgeist guys
      *Pitchfork.com has its finger on the pulse of indie rock.
      By David Pierson

      CHICAGO — Indie rock is a fickle thing. One moment the
      reconceptualization of 1970s guitar rock rules the underground
      zeitgeist. Then, without warning, the '80s are cool and you had better
      own an electronic keyboard.

      Those who seek to chronicle this milieu need a finely tuned cultural
      barometer and the authority to speak convincingly to the kind of
      musical purists who swear by vinyl records and gag at the Grammys.

      The music webzine Pitchforkmedia.com possesses both. Nine years after
      it started, Pitchfork has become an essential part of the iPod
      generation's lexicon, a must-read for music geeks seeking snarky
      critiques and timely news columns. It's a regular destination for
      concert promoters, radio programmers and record label executives
      advocating artists and bands with an aversion — intentional or
      not — to mainstream acceptance.

      "They are one of the best front-end places for people who are
      interested in finding out what's about to happen next in music," said
      Celia Hirschman, a New York-based music consultant who also manages
      Bjork's record label, One Little Indian, in North America. "The
      reality is, the record business has gotten so small as an industry
      that people like Pitchfork perform an enormous service because of the
      credibility and traffic they generate."

      Pitchfork speaks to the music fan who attends the Coachella Valley
      Music and Arts Festival and spends too much money at Amoeba Records in
      Hollywood. Buoyed by the increasing popularity of indie rock acts such
      as Franz Ferdinand, the Shins, Wilco and Bright Eyes, the site has
      carved out a following of about 1 million online visitors a month, a
      figure that rivals Rolling Stone magazine online.

      In some circles, Pitchfork has become synonymous with indie rock and
      has higher visibility than competitors such as epitonic.com and
      dustedmagazine.com.

      Launched by its editor in chief, Ryan Schreiber, from his parents'
      suburban home outside Minneapolis, Pitchfork in 1999 established
      itself in Chicago and has since evolved into the online equivalent of
      a glossy magazine with daily features and columnists.

      Generating buzz
      One of the site's big coups was helping unveil the critically
      acclaimed band the Arcade Fire to an audience beyond its hometown of
      Montreal. Shortly after a glowing Pitchfork review came out in
      September, the Arcade Fire's label, Merge Records, was hounded by
      nearly two dozen publications asking for copies of the album.

      "I said, 'Sure, but didn't I send you a copy two months ago?' " said
      Martin Hall, a promoter for Merge, which has seen its fortunes change
      after the band's debut album "Funeral" made critics' Top 10 lists from
      the Village Voice to the Los Angeles Times.

      "They're obviously passionate music fans," Hall said of Pitchfork.
      "What started out as a forum has developed a lot of cachet and clout.
      In the last three to four years, they have really hit their stride and
      have become the first thing I read every morning. They've gotten to
      the point not only where record buyers rely on it for recommendations,
      but plenty of journalists read Pitchfork to get tips on new bands."

      While Pitchfork has benefited by appearing painfully hip, its chief
      editor, Schreiber, seems anything but. The 29-year-old runs Pitchfork
      from a gray basement in Chicago's north side and looks nothing like
      the fashionistas from Echo Park, Brooklyn or his neighbors in Wicker
      Park — the kind of people you can picture dancing to the music he
      champions. Instead, he personifies the Second City's distaste for
      pretense: Schreiber's jeans appear several hundred dollars' short of
      vintage.

      His Vans sneakers are contemporary, not the retro slip-ons that are de
      rigueur among the urban set. And his neat hair is specked with white
      along his sideburns.

      'They deserve success'
      With a look of boyish ambition (think Tom Cruise circa "Risky
      Business"), Schreiber is inclined to say earnest things like, "I think
      these bands we like and write about are so great that they deserve
      success and deserve to make a living off their art."

      When you meet Schreiber and his two full-time staffers, managing
      editor Scott Plagenhoef and advertising director Chris Kaskie, it's a
      mild shock that they are amiable, considering the vitriol their site
      is capable of at times.

      For instance, they've skewered experimental records such as Sonic
      Youth's "NYC Ghosts & Flowers," describing it as "an unfathomable
      album which will be heard in the squash courts and open mike nights of
      deepest hell."

      With its rising profile, Pitchfork itself has become the target of
      indie backlash on Internet chat forums and even from people at
      established record labels who questioned how much recognition
      Pitchfork deserved for discovering some bands.

      "I don't mean to imply they jump on any bandwagon; I give them credit
      for their success," said Chris Jacobs, marketing director for Sub Pop,
      an institutional indie rock label from Seattle best known for
      releasing Nirvana.

      "I just don't like the notion that Pitchfork staff are as important as
      the bands. The extent to which they can take credit for the Arcade
      Fire ... is probably overstated. The credit has to go to the bands."

      Sub Pop staffers even went so far as to spoof Pitchfork with a mock
      webpage that suggested the men of Pitchfork were trend junkies and had
      trouble wooing the ladies.

      Ears everywhere
      Turns out Schreiber is married. As for the reviewing, Schreiber leaves
      most of that these days to 60 freelance staffers spread throughout the
      country, mining small clubs, listening to releases from mom-and-pop
      record companies and seeking word-of-mouth buzz. The site features
      five new reviews of mostly never-before-heard-of bands five days a
      week. A news department keeps up on things like which group's
      drug-addicted guitarist has been dumped for burglarizing his
      bandmates' apartment.

      "I call Ryan the Walter Winchell of indie rock," said Cory Brown, the
      owner of Absolutely Kosher Records in Berkeley and the person who
      introduced Schreiber to the Arcade Fire.

      The operation today is a distant cry from when Schreiber started
      Pitchfork out of his childhood bedroom in 1996. The site's name is a
      reference to a moment in one of Schreiber's favorite movies,
      "Scarface," when Al Pacino's character reveals a pitchfork tattoo
      — the sign of an assassin, though Schreiber says he has no
      designs of assassinating anyone, even metaphorically.

      Growing up listening to everything from Olivia Newton-John to the
      Cure, Schreiber said he dreamed up Pitchfork shortly after discovering
      the Internet. Its early success was often driven by the fact that it
      was the only destination online where fans could read about bands that
      sometimes had fan followings no larger than a junior high school
      classroom. Today, almost any obscure band or record label maintains a
      website.

      Pitchfork supports its site with advertising, with indie record
      companies such as Matador, Epitaph, Interscope and even the skeptics
      at Sub Pop paying for space on the site's home page.

      Despite scathing critiques, the Pitchfork staff knows of no label that
      has pulled advertising over a review. Schreiber would not disclose
      financial details but said Pitchfork was doing well enough to soon pay
      some of its reviewers more than the $40 per review they get now.

      As the site's recognition grows, there are signs that Pitchfork's
      musical tastes have expanded. Reviewers have come to embrace
      commercial hip-hop, essentially giving the soundtrack of modern
      night-clubbing the kind of artistic scrutiny often reserved for those
      who strum acoustic guitars.

      "I used to fear getting older," Schreiber said. "The key is to be open
      minded about music. I didn't like hip-hop and electronica for a long
      time. But the problem with a lot of critics is they stop loving music
      and start loving the nostalgia of music they used to love."
      ---

      Susan
    • Carl Zimring
      Good profile of Pitchfork, but I m a little mystified that Pierson did not mention its precursor Addicted to Noise, which established the format for online
      Message 2 of 11 , Mar 8, 2005
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        Good profile of Pitchfork, but I'm a little mystified that Pierson did not
        mention its precursor Addicted to Noise, which established the format for
        online music news that Pitchfork more or less uses. Neumu, Michael
        Goldberg's post-AtN site, still does long features on the kinds of artists
        AtN used to feature, but the news is far less regular than either AtN or
        Pitchfork.

        Carl Z.
      • Barry Mazor
        ... Well now, THAT S one large group of purists..
        Message 3 of 11 , Mar 8, 2005
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          --- In fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com, "Susan McTigue" <semctigue@y...>
          wrote:
          >
          > An article on them from today's L.A. Times:
          > the kind of musical purists who ... gag at the Grammys.
          >
          >
          Well now, THAT'S one large group of purists..
        • Jason Gross - Perfect Sound Forever
          ... Phillip Sherburne used to a great column for them. Goldberg was definitely ahead of his time. At the time, ATN was THE online music site- always had a
          Message 4 of 11 , Mar 8, 2005
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            >
            > Date: Tue, 08 Mar 2005 07:45:31 -0500
            > From: Carl Zimring <cz28@...>
            >
            >Good profile of Pitchfork, but I'm a little mystified that Pierson did not
            >mention its precursor Addicted to Noise, which established the format for
            >online music news that Pitchfork more or less uses. Neumu, Michael
            >Goldberg's post-AtN site, still does long features on the kinds of artists
            >AtN used to feature, but the news is far less regular than either AtN or
            >Pitchfork.

            Phillip Sherburne used to a great column for them. Goldberg was definitely
            ahead of his time. At the time, ATN was THE online music site- always had
            a lot of great, interesting material, features and interviews. Neumu is a
            fine publication but it's... I don't know, a bit more muted.

            PopMatters is a great online music pub that deserves a lot more
            recognition. I don't always agree with them but they always have a lot of
            thought-provoking features: <http://www.popmatters.com/>

            Best,
            Jason






            Perfect Sound Forever
            online music magazine since 1993- now new and semi-improved!
            <http://www.perfectsoundforever.com>
            Yei Wei Blog aka Wild Taste: <http://yeweiblog.blogspot.com/>
          • David Atteberry
            I agree with you on popmatters. But for every headscratcher review or article (and there have been quite a few) there are two or three well written and
            Message 5 of 11 , Mar 8, 2005
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              I agree with you on popmatters. But for every headscratcher review or article (and there have been quite a few) there are two or three well written and insightful pieces.

              Gloriousnoise.com is a bit more ragged than a lot of the sites being mentioned -- think of it as the Crazy Horse of music info. sites -- but there are some good pieces and the writers unlike so many others on afore referenced sites don't take themselves so damn seriously.


              PopMatters is a great online music pub that deserves a lot more
              recognition. I don't always agree with them but they always have a lot of
              thought-provoking features: <http://www.popmatters.com/>

              Best,
              Jason






              Perfect Sound Forever
              online music magazine since 1993- now new and semi-improved!
              <http://www.perfectsoundforever.com>
              Yei Wei Blog aka Wild Taste: <http://yeweiblog.blogspot.com/>


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            • Dave Purcell
              Just wanted to say I was happy to see a couple mentions of Addicted To Noise out here. IIRC, it was one of the first websites I visited on a regular basis.
              Message 6 of 11 , Mar 9, 2005
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                Just wanted to say I was happy to see a couple mentions of Addicted To
                Noise out here. IIRC, it was one of the first websites I visited on a
                regular basis. Good stuff, I was sad to see it go.

                dp
              • Jason Witherspoon
                ... Has anyone mentioned Perfect Sound Forever (http://www.perfectsoundforever.com) in this thread? I very rarely visit any of the
                Message 7 of 11 , Mar 9, 2005
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                  At 8:54 AM -0500 3/9/05, Dave Purcell wrote:
                  >Just wanted to say I was happy to see a couple mentions of Addicted To
                  >Noise out here. IIRC, it was one of the first websites I visited on a
                  >regular basis. Good stuff, I was sad to see it go.
                  >
                  >dp

                  Has anyone mentioned Perfect Sound Forever
                  (http://www.perfectsoundforever.com) in this thread? I very rarely
                  visit any of the what-you-should-think-about-music sites, but when I
                  do it tends to be PSF.

                  --
                  Jason Witherspoon
                  --- ---
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                  --- ---
                  ----O----
                  ---------
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                  DJ Zardoz' Kozmik Romper Room:
                  http://64.81.51.169:8000/playlist.pls
                  (open odd hours...)


                  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info
                • Carl A Zimring
                  Perfect Sound Forever is the gold standard in online essay-length features. Dig into the archives when you have a spare eight hours or so. I mentioned AtN
                  Message 8 of 11 , Mar 9, 2005
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                    Perfect Sound Forever is the gold standard in online essay-length features. Dig into the archives when you have a spare eight hours or so. I mentioned AtN because its format so closely mirrored Pitchfork (albeit from an older perspective). (AtN's demise also serves as an ideal case study in the history of internet businesses in the 90s.)

                    Car; Z.

                    Jason Witherspoon wrote:

                    > At 8:54 AM -0500 3/9/05, Dave Purcell wrote:
                    >> Just wanted to say I was happy to see a couple mentions of Addicted To
                    >> Noise out here. IIRC, it was one of the first websites I visited on a
                    >> regular basis. Good stuff, I was sad to see it go.
                    >>
                    >> dp
                    >
                    > Has anyone mentioned Perfect Sound Forever
                    > (http://www.perfectsoundforever.com) in this thread? I very rarely visit
                    > any of the what-you-should-think-about-music sites, but when I do it tends
                    > to be PSF.
                  • Justin Hopper
                    Does anyone know anything about the group touring under the name, The Impressions ? They re booked for the Burgh on June 19. I m super-wary of these groups
                    Message 9 of 11 , Mar 9, 2005
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                      Does anyone know anything about the group touring under the name, "The
                      Impressions"? They're booked for the Burgh on June 19.

                      I'm super-wary of these groups for all the obvious reasons, but I must
                      say I can't recall an "Impressions" coming around before - and ALL those
                      knockoff groups come through Pittsburgh...

                      juddy
                    • richard fannan
                      ... I would be VERY suspicious. They clearly don t have Curtis Mayfield or Jerry Butler. And of the other two original members, Fred Cash and Sam Goodin, I
                      Message 10 of 11 , Mar 9, 2005
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                        >From: "Justin Hopper" <juddy@...>
                        >Reply-To: fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com
                        >To: <fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com>
                        >Subject: [fearnwhiskey] Impressions
                        >Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2005 15:04:39 -0500
                        >
                        >Does anyone know anything about the group touring under the name, "The
                        >Impressions"? They're booked for the Burgh on June 19.
                        >
                        >I'm super-wary of these groups for all the obvious reasons, but I must
                        >say I can't recall an "Impressions" coming around before - and ALL those
                        >knockoff groups come through Pittsburgh...
                        >
                        I would be VERY suspicious. They clearly don't have Curtis Mayfield or
                        Jerry Butler. And of the other two original members, Fred Cash and Sam
                        Goodin, I pretty sure that one of them died a couple years ago.
                        >
                        >
                      • Nina Melechen
                        ... Nope, they re both still alive, and still touring from time to time. I dunno whether the band coming your way is them or not--but if it isn t, whoever it
                        Message 11 of 11 , Mar 10, 2005
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                          --- In fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com, "richard fannan" <rfannan1@h...> wrote:
                          > >Does anyone know anything about the group touring under the name, "The
                          > >Impressions"? They're booked for the Burgh on June 19.
                          > >
                          > >I'm super-wary of these groups for all the obvious reasons, but I must
                          > >say I can't recall an "Impressions" coming around before - and ALL those
                          > >knockoff groups come through Pittsburgh...
                          > >
                          > I would be VERY suspicious. They clearly don't have Curtis Mayfield or
                          > Jerry Butler. And of the other two original members, Fred Cash and Sam
                          > Goodin, I pretty sure that one of them died a couple years ago.

                          Nope, they're both still alive, and still touring from time to time. I dunno whether the
                          band coming your way is them or not--but if it isn't, whoever it is will be hearing from
                          Cash and Gooden's lawyer, because they own the name.

                          Nina M.
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