For those of you who don't check my Twitter feed with religious regularity, the dearth of posting lately has been caused by the fact that I spilled a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper on the keyboard of my laptop. The good news is that I was able to salvage the old hard drive with no problems, and currently have it installed in an external drive kit I can plug into any available Mac machine. The bad news is that, yes, I am sans computer, save for Violet's laptop of which she so very graciously allows me the use for basic tasks such as the checking of e-mail and schoolwork. So, all the awesome posting I had planned for Christmas break - ka-blooey!
Anyway, one of the unfortunate effects of the accident is that I have had to put together my year-end top-ten list for the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop as something of an afterthought. Usually in December I have plenty of time to catch up on all the music I missed over the previous eleven months, a process that involves discovering stuff I hadn't known about as well as reconsidering stuff I had dismissed. This year, because I didn't have a computer available for regular use, I had to put this together in a few spare minutes based almost solely on memory, my Last.fm charts and a quick look over the Pitchfork and SPIN lists to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything obvious. This is hardly the most adventurous list you'll read this year, and it's fairly predictable in many respects, but I've got a deadline and this is what stuck out at me.
I should point out, once I sat down to compose the list my #1 and #2 were obvious, but the rest was a bloodbath.
There's a lot of stuff I haven't heard that could conceivably have made the list but of which I can't in good conscience be any judge: the Field, the Roots, Zomby, Tom Waits, SBTRKT all spring to mind, all albums on my shopping list for the next time I go record shopping. And of course when I have the time, I need to do the usual go-through of all the other year-end lists to see the stuff I didn't know I was missing.
Albums that disappointed: Bon Iver (how the hell is such a mediocre album Pitchfork's #1?), St. Vincent, Hercules & Love Affair, Panda Bear.
Albums that didn't necessarily disappoint but didn't set the world on fire: Stephen Malkmus, REM, GaGa, Wild Flag (I'm as shocked as you), Wilco (better than Sky Blue Sky, some signs of life, but no home run), Mirah & Thao, Nicholas Jaar, Tim Hecker, Tyler the Creator (and wow am I surprised to see this left off so many Best-Of lists - or am I?), .
Albums that were shit: Fleet Foxes, Girls (considering how much I loved his debut it pains me to say that this new albums was a sleeping pill), Fleet Foxes, James Blake (this is supposed to be "good"?), Fleet Foxes. Did I mention Fleet Foxes?
Honorable mention: Boston Spaceships (nice appetizer for new GBV!), Gang Gang Dance (if the whole album had been as good as "Glass Jar" they would have been a shoe-in), Mates of State (don't judge me!), Fucked Up (kind of obvious, but still good), Atlas Sound.
Top Ten of 2011 as of 12/22/12 -If I can find some time over the next couple days I would like to write at least a few words on each of these albums. In the meantime, tell me your ideas of anything you think I missed or underrated.
10. Bill Callahan - Apocalypse
9. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
8. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong
7. The Rapture - In the Grace of Your Love
6. They Might Be Giants - Join Us
5. Low - C'mon
4. Cut Copy - Zonoscope
3. Yacht - Shangri-La
2. Destroyer - Kaputt
1. tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l