So Pitchfork‘s Matt LeMay laid the smackdown on the Now That’s What I Call Indie comp This Is Next today, bestowing upon it a 0.0 and printing a long screed about how there’s really no point to it existing, because not only is the whole concept of it “condescending,” the Forkcast had already posted the songs on it, like, months ago, man. While the comp certainly has its problems–starting with that awful, anonymous cover–one of the bloggers at Merry Swankster summed up our issues with the review’s thrust, namely that it was seemingly written by someone who’s been living in indie-land for a bit too long, quite nicely:
Blinded is he who takes for granted the “joy” of downloading MP3s and perusing the Internets for tunes. Obviously this album isn’t for him, or for most of us for that matter. With a tracklist that reads like the top 15 Elbo.ws tracks of the last two years, this is a compilation for the uninformed, the casual shopper; or, people with priorities that exist outside the musical underground – a term used very loosely in this context, but perfectly on point for the potential owners of the disk. …
Kudos for pointing out irrational fickleness from the indie folks, but then again the entire review can be summed up as so: “This is Next is shit. People should just buy these bands’ albums.” Which of course would likely be followed by another F-bomb laden tirade from the news desk should the Wal Marts of the world start carrying the latest Merge releases. Confused yet? So am I. Clearly Mr. Average Joe living his day ignorant of this little niche in the music world benefits by the availability of these compilations, because that guy is never going to purchase the Of Montreal album. However, after listening to “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” (included in the comp.) he might just go out and buy the amazing Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? which of course is the point of these releases. Am I missing something here?
Not really, no, although I would have sniped at the bitching about the sequencing–”Would Neko Case into Bright Eyes into Of Montreal make more sense than Neko Case into Of Montreal into Deerhoof?”–by asking, “I don’t know, how did you guys sequence them on the Forkcast?”
Anyway, what’s confusing me about this project right now is the process of actually getting the comp to those casual shoppers beyond just sticking copies in endcaps at Target. And the one thing that’s striking me so far about the marketing for This Is Next is that it seems to be aimed at, well, Pitchfork readers. For example: the other night I was watching the latest TiVoed episode of MTV2′s Subterranean, and it was completely devoted to the comp–there were ads for it all over the episode, and the videos were hand-picked for maximum cross-promotional purposes–and I spent most of the episode thinking two things: “Are these ads running on TRL?” and “Shit, could they have made these commercials any more boring?” The first question, one would think, would be answered “yes,” since the Subterranean-viewing demographic probably knows its Yeah Yeah Yeahs from its Spoons–and that might even explain away the Time-Life nature of the ad (hey, we don’t want to confuse the kids with irony). This whole enterprise is just mystifying me more and more by the day, and I’m seriously starting to think that it was designed expressly for the purpose of giving Internet-chained music nerds something to complain about in the slow-ass news cycle of late August. (And if it was? Seriously, thank you.)