Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pitchfork's Year

That time of year again continues, with the ultimate annual tradition: Years Best Lists. And the first one out is one I look forward to all year: Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of the Year.

There's a lot of shit on there I don't know. That didn't use to be the case. Then again, Pitchfork didn't always review hip-hop, although it has always enjoyed styles of music I consider uninteresting or un-listenable (like their fixation on electro-punk bands like Black Dice and Broadcast) so I've always been able to forgive certain differences of opinion, but there seems to be a lot of fucking hip-hop on that list. Remind me: What part of Chicago you kids from?

This is the first year I've disagreed with them so much, especially in their Final 10. Down the line from Wolf Parade, there's nothing I like except for #1. LCD Soundsystem? too upbeat. MIA and Deerhoof? That shit gives me a headache. Art Brut? I listened to them once for two minutes (should I have listened more?) Same for Animal Collective. And never heard nor even want to hear anything from Kayne "My name is unpronounceable" West: Late Registration.

Major Gripe #1: Bloc Party's Silent Alarm is way way way WAY to high up on that list. Fuck this short-memory shit, I know this album was from the beginning of the year, but this is genius stuff right here. This album is classic and this ranking is something Pitchfork going to regret in the future.

Major Gripe #2: No Broken Social Scene. Well, fuck you, too. No love for followups continues. Maybe it's the album. It's tough and difficult and loud sometimes. One of their members called it a "fucking mess" and he loved it anyway. I feel the same way.

Franz Ferdinand's romp is also way too high. Come on! This stuff will be party fodder for the next decade.

Real nice to see The Mountain Goats' wonderful Sunset Tree get a nice placement. A truly inspired album. Any lover of fiction (or, incidentally, non-fiction) needs to hear these words.

Nice Thing #1: Also, surprised to see The Decemberists' latest get such nice praise. I feel like Picaresque is uneven. Smart and funny and powerful, but holding back, somewhere. More polished, maybe, and I liked the looseness of old.

Nice Thing #2: It's nice to see the guys at Wolf Parade get their due. In my opinion, they've crafted a brilliant and nuanced masterpiece in Apologies to the Queen Mary. I would put the album higher in my personal list but it's still nice to see something you support do well.

Really nice thing: Sufjan Stevens. I don't know how I feel about calling his truly epic Illinois "the best album of the year." It's a (seemingly) small, often quiet, often shy, narrative about a boy and a little state up in the north. It's too sedate next to Kayne West and his hommies. But, the wonderful thing about that album is that it's surprising. It starts quiet, but then explodes with horns and strings and a thousand colors of sound. There's so much creativity and heart and power in those words, in each plucked strung and roared note.

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