Sunday, February 13, 2005


Let us rejoice, er, um, something, now that Tommy Bartlett has a fucking daily column at Salon, called Audiofile. Similar to Salon's other newly launched feature The Daou Report, which gives a "greatest hits" glimpse into the daily developments in the political blogosphere, Audiofile aims to provide a digest of current happenings in the online musical world by offering a daily download "followed by sporadic postings of music news, artist lists and interviews, mixes, concert reviews, and whatever else strikes my (and your) fancy."

Is it just me or does this sound like it's trying to be a one-man version of Pitchfork?

Salon's new editor-in-chief Joan Walsh says that the decision to upgrade Wednesday Morning Download to a daily feature was due to its popularity on the site. I have no doubt that WMD was extremely popular. There absolutely does need to be someone out there combing through the scads of exciting MP3 blogs with an unbiased eye and a true passion for the revolution in musical fanship that becomes possible with responsible yet unfettered access to free downloads. However, this someone is not Tommy Bartlett.

Though his youth explains a lot of the attitude problems in his writing voice (go look 'im up on Friendster--according to the limited version of his profile you're allowed to see if you're "not closely connected" to him, he's only 23), I'm still convinced that he's mostly interested in furthering his own agenda and disseminating his own snobbishly limited ideas of what is artistically valid and noteworthy in the tiny, Gotham-centric realm of his awareness/experience. This is obviously impossible to prove or quantify in any way, but I just don't feel any love emanating from his writing. I don't know how he came to be hired at Salon, and I'm sure he's happy to have achieved this much prominence as a writer at this point in his career, but his stuff always reads to me like he thinks he's, begrudgingly, doing his audience this gigantic favor by gifting us a glimpse into his superior tastes. (You don't earn the right to that kind of shitty tone until you change your name to Clinton Heylin. And even Clinton readily acknowledges in print what an ass he can be.) Many music journalist-types are cranky, to be sure, and there seems to be little point in reading music criticism if you're looking for humility, but, gosh, you know, do we really need one more young white guy who thinks so highly of himself that he can't help looking down his nose at the rest of us? Why do his columns have to come off as these withering efforts to **sigh** finally set the record straight, to provide the **sigh** definitive take on whatever is indie-as-fuck du jour, rather than as an eager and excited chance to share something fun and interesting and perhaps not yet widely known that the rest of us might get a kick out of too and if we don't oh well we're all in this together?

Sidenote: Though it would obviously be a flagrant conflict of interest to post Doveman downloads on Audiofile--despite the fact this hasn't stopped him from pimping friends and fellow musicians like Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly in the past--when is he going to get around to providing some MP3s of his band on the official Doveman site? Put your money where your mouth is, sport, for the benefit of those of us who aren't as spectacularly blessed as you are to live in NYC and therefore can't see you perform live at Tonic or Sin-E.

Really, I know this sounds like sour grapes from an equally music-minded blogger with a small (but fucking mighty! I lurv you guys!) readership, a blogger who can't (and wouldn't want to) begin to pull in the kind of numbers that Salon can, and I know I'm not saying much of anything new here about my issues with Dr. Bartlett that I didn't say during September's crusade. But, honestly, I would love nothing more than to be able to respect and support a column of this nature, even when I disagree with it. (Hello, cf the many, many links I've provided to articles and interviews on the 'Fork.) It just irks me that his ego and abrasive opining have been given a pass (especially by a site as sharp as Salon) because of the merits of the column's concept and current need it fills.

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