Breaking: Pitchfork to Give Wilco’s New Album a 5.8

Wilco the AlbumYesterday, we received a disturbing email from a Pitchfork Media staffer, detailing how senior management re-shaped his review of Wilco (The Album), which is set to be released on June 30, 2009.

The distressed staffer writes, “With high profile releases like this one, management will tell writers what an album’s rating will be. You have to write your review around the predetermined rating, which is partly why our reviews often contain weird metaphors and seem so hackneyed.”

He goes on to write that Pitchfork goons threatened to remove him from their staff—and office—if he didn’t comply with their wishes; he quotes one manager as saying “As you know, Pitchfork is so over Wilco, and the rest of the world should be too, whether it’s right or not. Actual merit is irrelevant. Look how much attention we got from our review of the Black Kids album. If you care about quality, you can go write somewhere else.” 

According to the writer, here’s a breakdown of what should’ve been vs. what is.

What I wrote:

The album is very good, although there are moments that feel borrowed from other people’s efforts; for example, “You Never Know” sounds a lot like George Harrison’s solo work. 

What they changed it to:

The album is a hodgepodge pastiche that synthesizes, as well as combines, elements of recent Wilco with present-day Wilco. It reminds me of a dream that I had several years ago. I was walking down an Illinois country road and I saw a Corvette plowing through a barnyard. The spellbound driver, who in my dream was eating filet mignon and avocado and listening to Wilco, was on his way back from an audition that went downright mediocre, but he had no idea. In my dream, the driver of that Corvette was Jeff Tweedy in a Nudie suit.

What I wrote:

While the album is largely enjoyable, the songs on Wilco (The Album) are of varying scope and quality.

What they changed it to:

Wilco (The Album) sounds similar to Wilco’s other work while sounding somewhat dissimilar as well, which is both a very good and a very bad thing. Listening to this album is like walking down a gravel street while wearing butter shoes. Their music is enjoyable enough, which is frankly a major problem because it’s not unenjoyable enough.

What I wrote:

The album continues in the same lived-in, comfortable vein as their previous album.

What they changed it to:

Displaying a blatant disregard for unwarranted noncomplacency, while simultaneously demonstrating an epistemological indifference toward that disregard, Wilco challenge the establishment to an existential gunfight of the weltanschauung, fought with paper bullets that have been cried on by a clown. It’s a lot like when legendary blues musician Toby Junior Shepherd eschewed his musical ethics and teamed up with Steve Joe Parkinson, the Thomas Kinkade of popular song at the time. 

When asked for comment, a senior editor at Pitchfork said “Sure, the album sounds great, but people already expect Wilco to sound great, so the band must try to do better, or worse. If Wilco wanted a higher rating, they should have gone lo-fi, or released a bonus disc of just feedback. We are totally happy with how ‘Wilco (The Album) The Review’ turned out.”

7 thoughts on “Breaking: Pitchfork to Give Wilco’s New Album a 5.8”

  1. And also, 53 years old. One of these days I'l give up listening to great tunes and caring about new, emerging and overlooked bands. When I'm dead and cold…but until then, "ears on".

  2. My comment, "Hilarious" is in reference to the column and not any other person's comments, just to be clear.

    I went back and re-read the PF review of "The Album" and I would guess that it was written, as most most reviews are, by someone who didn't have the chance to let the music grow on them because of deadlines, disinterest, etc.

    That doesn't happen here. O&B, I'm sure, gives the music they review a chance to ferment, and open up a bit, like a fine wine or great bourbon. That's why, when I want to hear something new, different or just plain good, I come here.

    This site has turned me on to so much really great stuff. Everyone should tell all of their friends about O&B…

    And no, I'm not their Mom or Dad. Just a big fan.

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