Bazan, Pitchfork, and The Onion

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With much admission, there is significant irony in what will follow. There are few artists in whom I own every album in production and David Bazan is one of them. Bazan finally shed the “Pedro the Lion” persona (and what was left of it as a band) with his latest and appropriately named album Fewer Moving Parts.

Having recently embarked on a fall solo tour, I was fortunate enough to catch a live performance this weekend at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen. Bazan, known for his ironic and honest storytelling, plowed through more songs in a given time span than anyone I have seen of late. Midst a mixture of tracks from his latest solo release and various Pedro songs, Bazan provided background to a few lyrics in addition to opening himself up to questions from the audience-an aspect of the performance that has become somewhat of a staple for Bazan shows.

Though the majority of the room was intently behind each and every song, the opening track for Fewer Moving Parts – “Selling Advertising”– garnered the most attention. This was primarily due to the fact that the song is directed at a particular Chicago-based music review site that 90% of the room (in this case) sheepishly frequents. In a hip-hop sort-of-way, Bazan does a little reviewing himself as he takes a few poignant jabs at Ryan Schreiber and crew over at Pitchforkmedia midst the track.

It could be safe to assume that a significant portion of indie musicians applaud Bazan for the move (particularly those who have received the 0.0 rating) while others have chosen to refrain from engaging in such drama. Whatever the case, The Onion stepped in the game yesterday with late breaking music news: Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8. It is a must read for those who take their cues from Pitchfork. The following is an excerpt:

“Music used to be great, but let’s be honest, it’s a 6.8 now at best,” said Los Angeles resident Lowell Radler, 23, who admitted that he just looked at the rating rather than reading the whole review. “I seriously might never listen to music again.”

As it relates to Bazan and his latest album… well, he evidently did not win over any critics with the move as the keepers of that-which-is-worthy deemed it a 5.0 (out of 10). This is a significant “upgrade” from the 4.7 that Achilles Heel received in 2004 (a personal favorite of the year). Obviously, this led to the track in which we speak about and consequently raises a few interesting questions. What qualifies music as “good”? What is being communicated to artists with a 0.0 rating? Zero value? Why do 200,000 people a day visit Pitchfork?

None the less, Fewer Moving Parts continues Bazan’s tradition in vulnerable storytelling and socio-political petitions in that post-Christian sort of way. I am not sure I know how to give it a particular number, but I can tell you this: I own it. I like it. It makes me think.

And in attempts to keep in step with Bazan-like irony, I now end this pseudo-review of a song that is a review of a review in order to check out the latest on a particular website.



Listen to “Selling Advertising”

Selling Advertising
by David Bazan

You’re so creative
With your reviews
Of what other people do
How satisfying that must be for you
Am I a christian?
Are you a jew?
Did you kill my Lord?
Must I forgive you?

I know it’s hard to be original
In fact nothing scares me more
Because Jesus only lets me do
What has been done before
The path of least resistance
Ancient holy wars
The same old easy targets
Yeah, we’ve all been there before

So if it starts to get you down
Just pretend
That you don’t make your living
From selling advertising
Tracking trends
Coraling demographics
And maximising traffic

Then if you get tired of making tapes for free
You can always start a band with me
Or anybody