Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not Dead Yet


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 -

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
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.