Posted in music on September 18, 2008

Airborne Toxic Event

Dear Ian,

Thanks for your review of our record. It's clear that you are a good writer and it's clear that you took a lot of time giving us a thorough slagging on the site. We are fans of Pitchfork. And it's fun to slag off bands. It's like a sport -- kind of part of the deal when you decide to be in a rock band. (That review of Jet where the monkey pees in his own mouth was about the funniest piece of band-slagging we've ever seen.)

Continued below...

The Airborne Toxic Event - Does This Mean You're Moving On

We decided a long time ago not to take reviews too seriously. For one, they tend to involve a whole lot of projection, generally saying more about the writer than the band. Sort of a musical Rorschach test. And for another, reading them makes you too damned self-conscious, like the world is looking over your shoulder when the truth is you're not a genius or a moron. You're just a person in a band.

Plus, the variation of opinions on our record has bordered on absurd. 80 percent of what's been said has been positive, a few reviews have remained on the fence and a few (such as yours) have been aggressively harsh. We tend not to put a lot of stock in this stuff, but the sheer disagreement of opinion makes for fascinating (if not a bit narcissistic) reading.

And anyway we have to admit that we found ourselves oddly flattered by your review. I mean, 1.6? That is not faint praise. That is not a humdrum slagging. That is serious fist-pounding, shoe-stomping anger. Many publications said this was among the best records of the year. You seem to think it's among the worst. That is so much better than faint praise.

You compare us to a lot of really great bands (Arcade Fire, the National, Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen) and even if your intention was to cut us down, you end up describing us as: "lyrically moody, musically sumptuous and dramatic." One is left only to conclude that you must think those things are bad.

We love indie rock and we know full well that Pitchfork doesn't so much critique bands as critique a band's ability to match a certain indie rock aesthetic. We don't match it. It's true that the events described in these songs really happened. It's true we wrote about
them in ways that make us look bad. (Sometimes in life you are the hero, and sometimes, you are the limp-dicked cuckold. Sometimes you're screaming about your worst fears, your most vicious jealousies and failures. Such is life.) It's also true that the record isn't ironic or quirky or fey or disinterested or buried beneath mountains of
guitar noodling.

As writers, we admire your tenacity and commitment to your tone (even though you do go too far with your assumptions about us). You're wrong about our intentions, you're wrong about how this band came together, you don't seem to get the storytelling or the catharsis or the humor in the songs, and you clearly have some misconceptions about who we are as a band and who we are as people.

But it also seems to have very little to do with us. Much of your piece reads less like a record review and more like a diatribe against a set of ill-considered and borderline offensive preconceptions about Los Angeles. Los Angeles has an extremely vibrant blogging community, Silver Lake is a very close-knit rock scene. We are just one band among many. (And by the way, L.A. does have a flagship indie rock band: they're called Silversun Pickups). We cut our teeth at Spaceland and the Echo and have nothing to do with whatever wayward ideas you have about the Sunset Strip. That's just bad journalism.

But that is the nature of this sort of thing. It's always based on incomplete information. Pitchfork has slagged many, many bands we admire (Dr. Dog, the Flaming Lips, Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Black Kids, Bright Eyes [ironic, no?] just to name a few), so now we're among them. Great.

This band was borne of some very very dark days and the truth is that there is something exciting about just being part of this kind of thing. There's this long history of dialogue between bands and writers so it's a bit of a thrill that you have such a strong opinion about us.

We hear you live in Los Angeles. We'd love for you to come to a show sometime and see what we're doing with these lyrically moody and dramatic songs. You seem like a true believer when it comes to music and writing so we honestly think we can't be too far apart. In any case, it would make for a good story.

all our best-

Mikel, Steven, Anna, Daren, Noah
the Airborne Toxic Event

---

      

Comments (103)

slag these nuts

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:04 AM

they don't sound that bad.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:06 AM

There goes your intended 'hype machine'...The mighty pitchfork has spoken. Prepare to be forgotten very soon...

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:08 AM

"We love indie rock and we know full well that Pitchfork doesn't so much critique bands as critique a band's ability to match a certain indie rock aesthetic."

Spot on.

Posted by Drew | September 18, 2008 9:15 AM

I always thought the decimal rating system was ridiculous and must have been made up by sissy hipters. A scale of 1 to 10 would do just fine, thank you.

Posted by FRANK | September 18, 2008 9:17 AM

Song wasn't bad at all. What's the deal with the girl in the band? Does she always just dance around or does she have some musical role?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:18 AM

don't know this band so I'm only going by the video --
the lyrics are pretty silly but it's not a bad song. i mean, sure, it's 'formula' indie rock - disco beats, ning-ning-ning guitar lines - but a lot of stuff out there is formula and that doesn't automatically makr it awful.

the band is right though - it is fun to trash bands!

Posted by yoga | September 18, 2008 9:21 AM

"Congrats, Pitchfork reader-- the Airborne Toxic Event thinks you're a demographic."

that's the last line of the review.

so it's alright for pitchfork to cater balls over ass to a demographic, but not for a band? what a clown.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:21 AM

Only time I read pitchfork is when Brooklyn Vegan links to it.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:23 AM

it's nice to see a band own pitchfork. i've never heard of these guys but...respect to them.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:30 AM

i mean, pitchfork has made some of the shittiest bands "careers". trail of dead, a place to bury strangers, just to name a couple. who really even cares what they think anymore?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:40 AM

"And by the way, L.A. does have a flagship indie rock band: they're called Silversun Pickups."

Huh?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:45 AM

i saw airborne toxic event at the annex a while back, i though they were ok, not bad, pretty good. when i looked at the lyrics, yes the lyrics are very bad, but I enjoyed the show.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:45 AM

OMG-BAWWWWW!

TEH INTERNETS NO LUV US!


Posted by cranky | September 18, 2008 9:46 AM

a place to bury strangers - very very good.

pitchfork, who cares? everyone. too many people by shit music based solely on their reviews. you can exist in the indie world without them, but they sure help. we've given them too much power, they're like the bush administration! run!

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:46 AM

hmm i wrote that comment about the annex, but i take it back after watching the video. at the show the singer seemed like a pretty genuine, straight-up guy, but that video, jesus. such precious posturing, give me a break.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:49 AM

"a place to bury strangers - very very good."

What band are YOU listening to?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:49 AM

"We decided a long time ago not to take reviews too seriously."

But we're writing this insanely long letter in response to a review.

Posted by drewo | September 18, 2008 9:53 AM

any press is good press, bro.

and also...

"We decided a long time ago not to take reviews too seriously."

So we wrote a dissertation on your review of our crappy album.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:55 AM

Pitchfork can soap my balls....but I still read them everyday.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:55 AM

If they had received a 9.8, would they have wrote this letter about Pitchfork who "doesn't so much critique bands as critique a band's ability to match a certain indie rock aesthetic.???

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:57 AM

WELL NOW IM CURIOUS AND WILL DOWNLOAD

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:58 AM

pitchfork = sorta bad sometimes.
this band = not worth the time ever.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 9:59 AM

"We decided a long time ago not to take reviews too seriously."

ok, um, yeah RIGHT!

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 10:03 AM

A sad PR cry from a blah band.

Posted by J | September 18, 2008 10:12 AM

OMG this band was on the new 90210!!!!!!!

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 10:21 AM

Ian Cohen is king of the Pitchfork dis review. That's just about all he writes.

Posted by bill p | September 18, 2008 10:23 AM

after listening to this band, i'll have to agree with the pitchfork review.

but i'd give them a 2.25

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 10:26 AM

The performance scenes kind of look like a JET video.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 10:30 AM

This must be settled over a kickball death match!

Posted by dave | September 18, 2008 10:41 AM

Pitchfork gave Vampire Weekend a 9.0 something. Need I say more? Sometimes they can get it right. But more often than not they are too full of themselves and think they are oh so clever and knowledgeable. Life is too short for them.

Posted by Matt Bialer | September 18, 2008 10:44 AM

i liked the response from the band - good for them. 1.6 is better than 4.2 as it is clearly a silly rating.

the song...its has a flash of catchiness that fades and become annoying before the song ends. not for me...

good for a LA sweet 16 party though. pays the bills..

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 10:45 AM

I like a lot of Mikel has to say here. He's a very good writer in his own right, and he used to do some music journalism, so this makes sense he'd write this to Pitchfork. It's an interesting dialogue to have.

For more info about The Airborne Toxic Event, you can watch the video we made about them earlier this year:

http://www.zoom-in.com/spotlights/rehearsal_space_the_airborne_toxic_event

Posted by Katie Camosy | September 18, 2008 10:45 AM

what does dan deacon think?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 10:53 AM

by the length and depth of that retort, looks like he sat in his los feliz apartment all day yesterday penning that letter. i hate when bands write letters back to critics when they get fucked in print or internet. so lame.

Posted by Lester Bangz | September 18, 2008 11:02 AM

Them writing this letter clearly shows that Pitchfork was right all along about them. Generic.

Posted by slob | September 18, 2008 11:05 AM

Good job band! Way to make me listen to a crappy song.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:09 AM

what does queebaroo think?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:13 AM

When I read the title of this post, I wondered who BV commenters would hate more: a band being earnest or Pitchfork.

Posted by Katie Camosy | September 18, 2008 11:15 AM

What time does Pitchfork give Daft Punk a crappy review?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:25 AM

I have a term for all the dumb indie rockers who live and die by pitchfork reviews - I call em Bitchforks.

Personally I like interpol, arcade fire and bright eyes, so i dont think its bad if they come out sounding like it...look at what it did for Editors


Posted by Raj Bajaj | September 18, 2008 11:34 AM

it would have been much better if the retort was like, half as long as it was. or better yet, an eighth! it should have summed up after the jump. instead it just endeed up sounding too pathetic. which is a shame, b/c pitchfork is kind of douchey.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:35 AM

Is Pitchfork SURE its 1.6, and not 1.5 or 1.7? Hell, it might even be a 2.1! How do they decide this bulllshhhittt?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:35 AM

"When I read the title of this post, I wondered who BV commenters would hate more: a band being earnest or Pitchfork."

But you assume that Pitchfork is not earnest?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:43 AM

I give Pitchfork an F.U

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:49 AM

Haven't heard the album, but can we give their name a 1.6?

Posted by David | September 18, 2008 11:54 AM

but their name is so literary!

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:57 AM

a single music review is not intended to be ready by everyone so the reader can make a snap judgement to like/hate or buy/not buy their album. they are OPINIONS. assholes...we all have them.

any semi-intelligent music fan knows to go to numerous sources of reviews on a particular album to get a myriad of responses before deciding to check out the band.

this LA band is nothing but a bunch of bitches...and y'all commenting are (mostly) a buncyh of bitches.

and just to make sure we're on the same page - this comment is simply my opinion. but i feel like it needs to be heard....

Posted by anon | September 18, 2008 11:59 AM

their name in it's original context gets a 10!

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:00 PM

First reading the review, then the letter, and then all of these comments, I am struck by how staggeringly ridiculous we all are.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:07 PM

Writing a letter to a website that gave you a shitty review is so rock and roll.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:11 PM

Well-written response, but the ability to write in an intelligent fashion (and make literary references in your band name) says nothing about the actual music.

Intellect makes it that much easier to convince yourself that your taste is legit.

This stuff is boring, bottom line.
Pitchfork can be an evil, but it's not like they're gonna change your grade. That's what your next album is for.

Posted by Onanymous | September 18, 2008 12:15 PM

They should've launched a DDoS attack on Pitchfork instead.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:21 PM

I love how heated this letter is, pretending to be cool...
They would've gotten a lot more respect if they just said "F*ck you PF! We're still gonna sell some records."
But instead, they HAD to get out every goddamn thought and explenation like therapy.
Welcome to the internet age, everyone has an opinion and takes plenty of time laying it out.
(look at me go!)

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:22 PM

jesus I just listened to sometime around midnight on their myspace

got to the be the cheesiest song I've heard in ages

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:29 PM

Fuck you Pitchfork - this album deserved at least a 1.7

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:37 PM

Dear Mikel, Steven, Anna, Dare & Noah, shit happens, as did your album. Your letter should have been given only to your therapist. I'm not expecting anything good for you in the next future. So long...

P.S. This was an interesting artistic suicide.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:45 PM

This letter is retarded, it's tone is soooo transparently passive aggressive. Just shut the fuck up and be happy you got a 1.6 - don't they know how difficult (and cool) that is? I would have given them a listen just based on the bad review, but this letter is truly a 5.0, i.e. worthless.

Posted by Quarter | September 18, 2008 12:47 PM

those who cannot..... become critics

Posted by chaz | September 18, 2008 12:57 PM

hmmm the disco national.

Posted by jeff | September 18, 2008 12:58 PM

i'd like to see an album get Pi.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 1:00 PM

Pitchfork rules the universe. Admit it.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 1:23 PM

I wish Pitchfork had just given them, like, a 4.0 so they could have just been routinely dismissed instead of giving them all of this undeserved attention.

TATE are mediocre... not exceptionally bad. Pitchfork is giving them too much credit, too many myspace pageviews, and a chance to make fools of themselves.

Giving LA a bad name!

Posted by BangalterEgo | September 18, 2008 1:40 PM

if you want to read something really bad (not to mention pedantic and self-serious) from a pitchfork writer, read amanda petrusich's latest "book" (i.e. a collection of diatribes from paste and pitchfork), "it still moves". seriously, these pitchfork writers have an astonishing sense of hypercritical righteousness and smugness.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 1:52 PM

I only read Pitchfork for the I'd hit it comments. No, wait, that's BV, right? Right?

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 2:05 PM

Oooo, our band is named after a Don Delillo novel, how clever!

Posted by Wiz | September 18, 2008 2:20 PM

Pitchfork can be elitist and unfair in their judgements. But this band deserves a 1.6.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 2:20 PM

pitchfork was right, this band is utter drivel.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 2:29 PM

"i'd like to see an album get Pi."

Earlier this year, they gave one (was it British Sea Power's?) a U.2.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 2:33 PM

give them another .4 and show them the virtual door.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 2:34 PM

"What time does Pitchfork give Daft Punk a crappy review?"

Human After All O clock.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 2:43 PM

i don't know why, but for some reason this letter makes me feel sympathetic for pitchfork.

i now wish these guys had gotten a dog photo review.

Posted by allday | September 18, 2008 2:57 PM

Pitchfork does rule the world, it's true, and unfortunate. They praise bands like High Places who would be nothing without echo and reverb and Animal Collective. Its not that every writer is a douche, but their whole cause is effectively douchey and perpetuates mediocrity and sameness among popular indie music. Reading it every day would poison your mind. Comon people, its independent music! Look to more authentic sources for music criticism. Pitchfork is to the indie music community what Sarah Palin is to America, a figure with a lot of influence and likability and accessibility but not much authenticity. They want to smear a mediocre band with a sensationalist review because they have they can.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 3:01 PM

these guys rocked the bottom floor of pianos to a packed crowd! Their live sound is far better than anything on their myspace site, and I would urge anyone on the fence to see them live...

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 3:12 PM

their lyrics sound like my writings as a 15 year old.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 3:34 PM

A bad review from Pitchfork should be construed as praise. The days of PF raving about fantastic records such as The Wrens' "Meadowlands" are over. Their writers are self-absorded ("Oh yeah, that (enter very obscure film/book/record) was my favorite when I was five!"), fawning fools. I mean, who's that freak hipster from that terrible band Deerhunter or something who's all over their site? He's a frat boy in a hipster outfit, which nowadays, is one in the same.

PF has lost all credibility in its efforts to be the most credible source. It's a bastion of BS.

Posted by john doe | September 18, 2008 3:59 PM

Such a pathetic cry for attention. You're band sucks. Deal with it.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 4:05 PM

>> the disco national.

haha, toadally!

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 4:16 PM

ian cohen is consistently a negative nancy

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 4:49 PM

la sucks

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 5:12 PM

The only way to resolve this is for all gentlemen involved to bring their grievances & brass knuckles to a large, deserted open field.

Once there, they can make grunting love.

Posted by Nestor, A Poet and CupCake | September 18, 2008 5:15 PM

Pitchfork handed out a .02 a week or so ago. They're on a roll.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 5:54 PM

Those that can, do. Those that can't, review.

Posted by greg | September 18, 2008 5:58 PM

It was a point 0.2, actually. And it was also given by Ian. Hah.

Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008 6:05 PM

this song sucks

deserved

Posted by vvv | September 18, 2008 7:42 PM

Mouth and MacNeal called from the 1970's...they want their song back.

How do you do
Uh huh
I thought
Why na Na-na
Just me and you
And then we can
Na-na Na-na
Just like before
And you will say
Na-na Na-na
Please give me more
And you will think
Na-na Na-na
Hey that's what I'm living for

Posted by bomboloni | September 18, 2008 9:23 PM

Just to let you know, the drummer went to some school where you learn how to be a rock and roll drummer.
I find that offensive.

This band sucks.

Freedom of the press, buddy. Sorry.

Posted by Anonymous | September 19, 2008 8:09 AM

I heard the pitchfork writer went to a liberal arts school bent on getting a job on the new yorker but had to settle for a fryer at wendy's and reviewer for p4k.

Posted by Anonymous | September 19, 2008 9:04 AM

I saw the ATE at the Annex and thought they were fantastic.

Posted by ultragrrrl | September 19, 2008 11:22 AM

the song is pitiful. BUT, their letter has some truth to it. Probably not worth the time they spent to write it though. My sources say, they will break up and be forgotten in about 6 months time. As far as Pitchfork, anyone with half a brain knows that they're talentless dip-shits.

Posted by Dr | September 19, 2008 12:50 PM

Great letter. Would read again.

Posted by Anonymouse | September 19, 2008 1:16 PM

It scares me to imagine how they would react if they did take reviews seriously.

Posted by Anonymous | September 19, 2008 1:23 PM

They nailed it. Kudos to them for speaking up.

Posted by Anonymous | September 19, 2008 3:00 PM

A lot of folks don't like TATE because their lyrics are so on-the-nose and earnest. Sometimes coming out with what you think or feel is better than stressing over how to say it in the most clever or ironic way.

Their live show is great.

Posted by Mouse | September 19, 2008 5:54 PM

A lot of people don't like TATE because they are shit.

Posted by Marcus | September 22, 2008 2:02 AM

I have a love and hate relationship with pitchfork but on this particular review, they NAILED it. TATE is a terrible, fake indie band.

Posted by Edward Con | September 22, 2008 11:42 PM

why does this band suck? because they try too hard. case closed.

Posted by Anonymous | September 23, 2008 11:37 AM

maybe Ian Cohen secretly liked this band, but because he couldn't appear to like them, and be dissed by all his Brooklyn hip buddies, he slammed them so bad so that they could actually get some publicity, rocketing them to stardom. this theory seems to make sense. Ian, if your out there and read this, its OK to secretly like a terrible band, everyone has at least one hidden guilty listening pleasure...

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2008 5:10 AM

For those who think the band didn't do right by responding, you are the bigger assholes for actually taking the time to read through all the other comments and adding to them. At least ATE has something at stake in their response.

No band can please everyone. I don't know anybody in this world that has the exact same collection of music that I have.

Decide for yourself if you like the music. If you're going to let some music critic decide for you (even if is Pitchfork), you're an idiot.

Posted by Anonymous | January 22, 2009 11:52 PM

Hey guys! I respect the letter you wrote and I realize it was very brave. However you say that you don't take reviews seriously and then note that the majority of people liked your album. Also I realize 1.6 is a very low score and probably was not deserved. However next to bands like Fleet Foxe, TVOTR, Vampire Weekend, The Dodos, M83 and many others your album isn't to hot and you shouldn't hate P4 cause they gave you a bad review.

Posted by Peter K | June 9, 2009 1:45 PM

you guys suck, but respect for actually creating something even if it's terrible.

Posted by god | November 23, 2010 11:25 PM

New album out yesterday. Yup, they still suck.

Posted by Anonymous | April 27, 2011 10:43 PM

""We love indie rock and we know full well that Pitchfork doesn't so much critique bands as critique a band's ability to match a certain indie rock aesthetic.""

Where do you come up with stuff like this? If anything, Pitchfork catches heat for not seeming to have anything resembling a consistent barometer of what constitutes "good music". Pitchfork isn't some music blog where this kid compares every indie rock record to Slanted & Enchanted, their favored aesthetics are constantly mutating and that seems to be why they've become this posterchild for trendy hipsterism, ie: the new Africa HiTech album probably wouldn't have even got a review a few years ago because that style of music wasn't "in" enough to capture any of the writer's attention.

Maybe it's just me, but the things I'd actually criticize Pitchfork for are the opposite of the reasons listed here. I guess that could explain why I dont like the airborne toxic event's music. Then again, whoever said "They suck because they try too hard" exposed more truths than the review and the rebuttal combined. It's just that simple. There's nothing wrong with trying too hard, but sounding like you're trying too hard is instant musical death.

Posted by obert | June 9, 2011 1:50 PM

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