Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Best Of 2011! And 2006! Again!

At the end of each year, I have made increasingly sporadic attempts to log my favorite pop culture (usually music) of that year. I have also attempted to engage my prior lists, mostly as a way of gauging how things have changed and new things that I discovered after the fact. Here is my entry from 2011. God, what a depressing year that was for me.

Anyway, I have been thinking and listening to 2011 albums over the last couple of weeks, so I am ready to revise my list.

Original 2011 Albums:

1. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
2. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
3. Thee Oh Sees - Castlemania
4. The Alabama Shakes - Alabama Shakes EP
5. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
6. Earth - Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light
7. Mastodon - The Hunter
8. Mike Watt - Hyphenated-Man
9. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
10. Tom Waits - Bad As Me

Honorable Mentions (alphabetically):

Boris - Attention PleaseHeavy Rocks (2011), and New Album
Sally Crewe - Transmit/Receive EP
Deerhoof - Deerhoof Vs. Evil
The Fall - Ersatz GB
The Feelies - Here Before
Jens Lekman - An Argument With Myself
J. Mascis - Several Shades Of Why
Melvins - Sugar Daddy Live
My Education - Sound Mass
Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream
Wilco - The Whole Love
Wild Flag - Wild Flag
Yuck - Yuck
Revised 2011 Albums:

1. Wussy – Strawberry
2. Thee Oh Sees - Castlemania
3. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
4. Eleventh Dream Day – Riot Now
5. The Dirtbombs – Party Store
6. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
7. Wooden Shjips – West
8. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
9. Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
10. Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream

Honorable Mentions:

The Bats – Free All The Monsters
Boris - Attention Please and Heavy Rocks (2011)
Richard Buckner – Our Blood
Sally Crewe - Transmit/Receive EP
Earth - Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light
Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer
The Feelies - Here Before
Robyn Hitchcock – Tromsø, Kaptein
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Soul Time!
Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine
Nick Lowe – The Old Magic
Mastodon - The Hunter
Reigning Sound – Abdication, For Your Love
Tom Waits - Bad As Me
Wilco - The Whole Love
Wild Flag - Wild Flag
Mike Watt - Hyphenated-Man

What is new: Wussy's Strawberry, which is my favorite album by them, was completely off my radar five years ago. I had not heard the albums by Eleventh Dream Day, Dirtbombs, Wooden Shjips, or Radiohead by the end of the year. The second Thee Oh Sees album that I moved up has been pretty regular on my stereo in the last five years. Probably should move it higher. Added albums by The Bats, Richard Buckner, Eleanor Friedberger (this one was the one I was most on the fence about moving into the top ten), Robyn Hitchcock, Sharon Jones, Lydia Loveless, Nick Lowe, and Reigning Sound (second runner up). The Tom Waits is a great album, but not one that I've been often tempted to revisit.

What fell off: The Alabama Shakes, whose shtick burnt out for me quickly, Kurt Vile's Smoke Rings For My Halo, which I haven't listened to since early 2012, Boris's New Album, my least favorite of the three, and Deerhoof vs. Evil and the Fall's Ersatz GB, both of which now seem like lesser works of great artists. The albums by Jens Lekman, Mascis, the Melvins, My Education, and Yuck also didn't move me as much when I revisited them.

My changes for 2006 are less extreme. I mean, there's some movements, some new albums I like, but for the most part, the rankings from five years ago still reflect my listening habits.

Original 2006 Rankings:

1.       Joanna Newsom, Ys.
2.       Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
3.       Mastodon, Blood Mountain
4.       Cat Power, The Greatest
5.       The Decemberists, The Crane Wife
6.       The Fiery Furnaces, Bitter Tea
7.       Mission of Burma, The Obliterati
8.       Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit
9.       Isis & Aereogramme, In the Fishtank 14
10.    Boris, Pink (came out in 2005, but had wide release in 2006)
11.    The Pipettes, We Are the Pipettes
12.    Bert Jansch, The Black Swan
13.    Destroyer, Destroyer's Rubies
14.    Ratatat, Classics
15.    M. Ward, Post-War
16.    Brightblack Morning Light, Brightblack Morning Light
17.    Six Organs of Admittance, Sun Awakens
18.    The Hold Steady, Boys & Girls in America
19.    Akron/Family, Meek Warrior
20.    Scott Walker, The Drift
Revised 2006 Rankings (2011):

1.     Boris - Pink
2.     Fucked Up - Hidden World
3.     Comets On Fire - Avatar
4.     Mastodon - Blood Mountain
5.     Espers - Espers II
6.     Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain
7.     Danielson - Ships
8.     Scott Walker - The Drift
9.     Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
10.  TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain

Honorable Mentions:

·       Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
·       Bob Dylan - Modern Times
·       Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
·       Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
·       The Hold Steady - Boys & Girls In America
·       Isis - In The Absence Of Truth
·       Mission of Burma - The Obliterati
·       Nina Nastasia - On Leaving
·       Joanna Newsom - Ys.
·       Jay Reatard - Blood Visions
Revised 2006 Rankings (2016):

1.     Boris - Pink
2.     Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
3.     Comets On Fire - Avatar
4.     Espers - Espers II
5.     Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain
6.     Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
7.     Fucked Up - Hidden World
8.     Regina Spektor – Begin To Hope
9.     Scott Walker - The Drift
10.  Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped

Honorable Mentions:

·     Akron/Family – Meek Warrior
·     Bonnie “Prince” Billy – The Letting Go
·     Richard Buckner – Meadow
·     Danielson - Ships
·     Bob Dylan - Modern Times
·     Eleventh Dream Day – Zeroes And Ones
·     The Ettes – Shake The Dust
·     Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
·     The Handsome Family – Last Days Of Wonder
·     Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 - Olé! Tarantula
·     Isis - In The Absence Of Truth
·     Mastodon - Blood Mountain
·     Melvins – (A) Senile Animal
·     Mission of Burma - The Obliterati
·     Nina Nastasia - On Leaving
·     Joanna Newsom - Ys.
·     Om – Conference Of The Birds
·     Jay Reatard - Blood Visions
·     Tortoise and Bonnie “Prince” Billy – The Brave And The Bold
·     TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain

I was not tempted to re-add anything that fell off between 2006 and 2011. I'm pretty happy with everything I added, too. The lesson is that five years out is enough time to have a pretty solid take on a year, with a few adjustments based on albums that I haven't heard or fully appreciated.

Next: the 2016 list, which I am sure to find quite wrongheaded in 2021!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Yes, I Am Alive, Thank You

So it has been a while since I've had much energy for this blog. Figured it's been about a year, so I should write an update that I continue to listen to music, old and new. I play in a band called Rapture Clause, which is fun. Build guitar pedals when I have time. Just finished a Tube Screamer clone and am almost done with three Klon Centaurs. Currently listening as of this moment: Guy Clark - Cold Dog Soup.  Don't much feel like writing anymore, not just as a statement on the brevity of this blog post, but as an existential situation of how my life has changed. I don't read much these days, either, which is a shame. Just finished The Collected Stories of Bryce D'J Pancake, which was excellent and moving. I can think of a number of writers who are similar (Madison Smartt Bell leaps to mind), but I think Pancake's fiction came first. I have a large stack of books vying to be next. Maybe I'll drop back by before the year is out to update this again.

I do want to mention this series at the AV Club, which already, in its third installment, seems as bereft of ideas as I was at my nadir of my eight-year-long quest to listen to my entire music collection. There's no real wrestling with the music in this series, just a kind of perfunctory acceptance or rejection and reportage of same. My project was based on Noel Murray's similar run through his music collection in 2008, but Noel gave it an effort to listen and then decide. I also thought I should spend some time with each album before rating it or just deleting it, and I didn't even think much about the physical object of the CD or the record, but instead about the digital music. Modell's goal is different, but his decision-making process appears to be more reactionary than any sort of real consideration. The whole process is just a confirmation of his most conservative aesthetic tendencies, which is a conversation that would be deathly dull with even my most interesting friends, and Modell's tastes - which, to be clear, I often share - just aren't that interesting. Who knew that 40-something rock critic types love Belle & Sebastian and Bedhead? I mean, besides everyone.

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