We jumped over the barriers

When in doubt, tidy up

We jumped over the barriers
“This Can’t Go On,” Bill Ryder-Jones [Bandcamp]

The floor is dirty because a floor underneath humans is always dirty. The hair, the crumbs, the dust, which is a combination of all that and more. And so I bought a very inexpensive stick vac a few weeks ago because a YouTuber said so and because cleaning the dirty floor had become a source of ongoing, light despair, since doing so required using either the broom (with barely satisfying results) or the big vacuum (which is heavy and must be retrieved from a closet, and it needs an outlet, which means unplugging the lamp, and then doing it all again in reverse order). Which is to say: There were a lot of barriers to getting the job done.

Now, of course, the floor is still dirty, but the stick vac has transformed my life anyway because merely knowing I can take it off the wall and I’ll be just two or three minutes from a pristine walking surface is what mattered.

This is how I feel about Pitchfork. This week’s news that the site had suffered a near-lethal blow by its owners at Condé Nast signals the end of something that mattered to a lot of people, and it especially mattered to me. When I first found the site in 1996 or 1997, it was specifically then that I realized I wanted to make websites. I didn’t know anyone who made websites, but I was told to go to San Francisco if I wanted to do the internet thing. So I moved to New York.

And the reason I did that, or maybe anything ever, was because seeing Pitchfork for the first time erased the barriers. I could do this; anyone could, really. Maybe I could design a website, maybe I could code a website (no, turns out), maybe I could start an online publication too.

Pitchfork mattered, it still matters to me, and I’m not ready for the day I go to their homepage—because yes, I still do—and am redirected into whatever basement subdomain beneath Condé Nast.

And now here’s my favorite new music (mostly) from this week. (Spotify / Apple Music)

“This Can’t Go On” Bill Ryder-Jones

I first heard this song back in September, but I willfully ignored it since it was only a song, not an album, and I only made lists of albums for reasons entirely due to my own rigid thinking. I’m not sure why I couldn’t get around that mental block (i.e., “barriers,” above), and anyway I love this song in all its melodrama (i.e., this paragraph).

“Bone Dry,” Blood

How any one song can pack this many hooks and changes in under two minutes and make it this cohesive and palatable is just astounding.

“The Precision of Infinity,” Jlin and Philip Glass

Trademark Jlin percussive magic, this time with someone also playing piano.

“BYE BYE,” Kim Gordon

An adventurous mix of hip-hop, industrial, and noise with Kim Gordon reading, if I’m not mistaken, her packing list.

“Darkness at Noon,” Astrel K

Another pop masterpiece from Astrel K, whose swirling, Stereolab-y “Is It It or Is It i?” from a couple years back set a new standard in pop masterpieces. This one exudes a lush, inner warmth.

“Slow Drip,” Rich Hinman

And now it’s outside to feel the chill in a pedal-steel sonic desert that gets compared to Daniel Lanois, but that also kind of goes all over the place (in a good way) when the jazzy middle hits.

“You Can Do Anything,” Devon Welsh

OK, yes, the drum breaks threw me for a while, like an out-of-the-box preset but it’s also my favorite preset, and Devon Walsh’s voice—which I first heard on the now-defunct Majical Clouds—is also my favorite voice.

“No Sun to Burn (for brass),” Kali Malone

My love for classic Dead Can Dance will never die, and minimal, orchestral pieces like this—that take you so far with zero ornamentation—always have a home in my heart.

“Are You There God? It’s Me, @,” @

The ungoogleable @ are doing something very special on this song (the title track from their new EP), which manages to seamlessly morph from choral melancholy into ethereal bubblegum, and it all sounds so right.

“i felt a funeral,” BIG|BRAVE

There’s only so long you can go without a dirge, and this is one of the tensest and dirgiest, struggling to carry on under the weight of its own guitars and distortion. A brutal, powerful sound.

“Un calme,” Meril Wubslin

The way this builds, with such unchanging certainty alongside elements of unpredictability—a little in the vein of the Velvet Underground—gets me every time I hear it.

“Those Left Untouched by the Light,” Fainting Dreams

There are so many subgenres here—atmospheric post-metal shoegaze—that this song borders on becoming its own genre entirely. So dark, until the sun hits.