Beware: Stale blogs could lead to buzzpocalypse

By Tucker Vento

In today’s world, the music you listen to accounts for only half of your coolness — the blog… In today’s world, the music you listen to accounts for only half of your coolness — the blog that you get it from counts too.

Every wannabe hipster is starting a music blog lately, which means a lot of sifting for blogosphere hunters. Of course, there exists the gold standard of music blogs: Pitchfork, Gorilla vs. Bear, even Stereogum — but can you rely on them anymore? The music blog industry is suffering from burnt-out middle-aged men who no longer understand the concept of relevancy and hip angst.

Pitchfork Media — p4k, for the tweeters out there — was founded in 1995, which is a millennium ago in buzz-years. How has it remained relevant to the indie community over the span of almost 20 years? Well, it hasn’t.

Today, an article on the front page of Pitchfork has as much a chance of being about the new Kanye single or a terrible live performance by an alt-label-manufactured Frankenstein — via “Saturday Night Live” — as it does of being about an actual breakthrough artist. The “tastemakers” are stuck on the tastes that they made years ago and thrive on their manufactured buzz.

Once upon a time, these blogs were responsible for putting out reviews of albums that other sites didn’t. They were responsible for clueing you into the aural pleasure of an artist you never would have been exposed to otherwise. Alas, this golden era of buzz has moved on from Pitchfork to other sites, but the readers have not. We, the young, disenfranchised students of today are the market, and major blogs have lost sight of our feelings. And in music, as in all art forms, feelings and emotions are king.

We’ve all listened to albums that we first listened to years ago and immediately felt like we’re in a time warp. Music has that power — reinvigorating emotions you once had. Now that we’ve reached a so-called “adult” age, our musical tastes might have changed. The founder of Pitchfork, Ryan Schreiber, is 35, and I think it’s safe to say his musical tastes have gone through some fluctuations as well.

But despite this, older writers for the major blogs could still reclaim their thrones as buzzkings or buzzqueens of online music. I ask you, hip late-teen-to-early-twenties college students, to put down your torches fueled by buzz and your pitchforks sharpened with some really underground rocks, because Pitchfork deserves a second chance.

I probably listen to post-hardcore more than the average 35-year-old, and I bob my head to instrumental breakcore drumstep a little more than my mother. But the writers at Pitchfork have an advantage over the average 35-year-old and my mother: They grew up with the same indie and alt feelings that we have now. It’s just that, lately, they’ve been a little preoccupied with that whole “money” thing, and they’ve realized that a good review on their website can make or break an album. If Pitchfork can tap back into their early twenties and rediscover the indie that still dwells inside, we could see a resurrection of the buzz-world in 2012.

It’s looking good, too: Pitchfork has acquired the hipster-acclaimed blog Altered Zones (R.I.P.) as a regular column on its website, and many of its other featured articles do a good job of promoting content that you can’t find in other places. The problem is, taking advantage of that worthwhile content requires some sifting — on a site that used to exist so that you wouldn’t have to sift.

If things don’t change, we might witness what can only be called a buzzpocalypse, and the relevant content of Pitchfork will be buried under irrelevant reviews of soon-to-be Billboard chart toppers. If you wake up one morning and Kanye West is descending from the sky flanked by Zooey Deschanel and Lana Del Rey, you’ll know it’s happening. If Pitchfork continues its current trend, we could see this buzzpocalypse happening as soon as next fall. A revolution will occur, and new blogs will be thrust to the forefront as indie readers demand fresh content. Pitchfork has given up on trying to find anything new, and is only telling us about things we already know and enjoy. Want to survive the revolt? Clip this out and save it. You just mightneed it.

It is our job, as educated concertgoers and relevant mp3 sharers, to maintain this demand and not grow complacent with the same old releases. While it will be scary at first, start branching out from the Pitchfork intravenous feed, and check out the blogs listed here. Or take a look at the Hype Machine — — for an aggregate of the most popular mp3s gathered from hundreds of up-and-coming blogs. This way, the seemingly inevitable fall of Pitchfork will be much less painful for you. Who knows? Its writers could always rediscover themselves as the indie demigods they once were. But for most, selling out is a one-way street.


Saturate the eyes and ears with the content of:

The Music Ninja ( for electronic, indie alt-rock and everything in between.

Earmilk ( for great hip-hop and some pretty good electronic.

Said The Gramophone ( for wonderful indie folk and art rock.

Punknews ( for great reviews of the latest in all punk communities.

Tucker Vento is the music director at WPTS-FM and one of the hosts of “Slow Your Roll,” which airs every Thursday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Email Tucker at [email protected].