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You Make the Call – Artsy Indie Album Edition

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Sometimes Pitchfork and I see eye-to-eye and sometimes not. I’m actually genuinely surprised, though, that they had my six on this one (them writing their review roughly 10 years ago, me writing mine this week):

But let’s skip all this classification and reification of “horrible” and cut to the chase: Joan of Arc make unlistenable faux-art records.

Just to be clear, I didn’t read this review before I posted the other night, calling it, and I quote, “unlisteneable.” The review finishes:

Joan of Arc comprise a tiny, relatively new niche in underground music. A so-called “art band” on a disrespected, bleached, college-boy pop label [[Jade Tree – which, to be fair, put out Jets to Brazil, who still hold up, but did put out the Promise Ring albums I was complaining about]] that impresses few Wiresubscribers, the Arc will never shake their whiny emo roots. Nor do they deserve to. Kinsella might remain the token “difficult” artist in the indie pop collection of University students, but Joan of Arc are as Chicago, low-class, unknown, and unappetizing as Green River cola.

Ouch. The final rating?

the gap - 1.9 (out of 10)

Which is pretty harsh. To get that low with Pitchfork you have to pretty much offend them – examples include “The Sun and Moon” by The Bravery (1.8: “Have you no sense of decency, Bravery?”), “St. Anger” by Metallica (.8: a long review trying to weave in Marx, for some reason), and “Audioslave” by Audioslave (1.7: “Duck, because America’s gonna vomit.”).

When I found the Pitchfork review I was actually going around looking for evidence of what I’d thought were people tripping over themselves to praise Joan of Arc, which I’m sure was the reason I downloaded it when I did. I didn’t have to look too far – check out these glowing praises from PopMatters:

Much more realized then it’s predecessors, The Gap seems to be the ultimate presentation of orchestration for a band that has had the layers all the time.


Some people have a vision that will make great changes with a great amount of foresight. Some people create new ways of perception just out of the need to try something new. Both methods have proven to be failures and successful in moving man to new places. The music of Joan of Arc is not so much a vision, but a necessity with enough patience (or lack of funds) to bring a whole new perception of what music is into the world.

I see. Well, that makes it interesting. I went back and have been listening to it while I’ve been finishing up this post – and I have mixed feelings.

So. Here’s the challenge, if you’re up for it – listen to a song or two, then weigh in in the comments. Pick either side, or somewhere in the middle, but the requirement is that you’ve actually listened to a song (at least one) all the way through. These aren’t long songs – but let’s keep it real and review things we’ve actually listened to.

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