In my first post, I mentioned my last post to the last blog. Here’s a quick review.
My Top 20 Records of 2014:
1. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
2. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
3. Tweedy – Sukierae
4. FKA twigs – LP1
5. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
6. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
7. Caribou – Our Love
8. Beck – Morning Phase
9. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
10. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
11. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
12. Andy Stott – Faith in Strangers
13. Drowners – Drowners
14. Aphex Twin – Syro
15. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free
16. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
17. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
18. Ex Hex – Rips
19. Hospitality – Trouble
20. Woods – With Light and With Love
Honourable Mentions (alphabetical order):
The Afghan Whigs – Do to the Beast
Alvvays – Elvis
Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
The Antlers – Familiars
Clark – Clark
Kevin Drew – Darlings
J Mascis – Tied to a Star
Mogwai – Rave Tapes
Thurston Moore – A New Day
MSMW – Juice
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness
Phish – Fuego
Real Estate – Atlas
Ty Segall – Manipulator
Spoon – They Want My Soul
A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent
Tennis – Ritual in Repeat
TV on the Radio – Seeds
In retrospect, I stand by most of that. There were some misses. The Spoon record, for starters, should have been close to the top ten. And the Aphex Twin record should have been alot higher. TSMZ should have been lower – that record creeped up because that band always reminds me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, which always reminds me of my best friend MRH. FKA twigs and Caribou should been lower, too. Those were probably last-minute hipster calls in the endless, pointless search for indie cred. (More on that later.) Real Estate and Tennis could have been higher, I guess? Maybe TVOTR, too, though I can’t remember their record at all. And who are A Sunny Day in Glasgow, and why did the one time I listened to their record on the bus home make any impression, much less an honourable mention one? Then there’s Ryan Adams. And Phish? I think I was making up shit toward the end. Sorry.
And, wow, sorry for that whiny-ass post. My heart wasn’t in it, tbh. The core point was solid-ish? The opposite of the listener-driven “music is the best” view from my 2013 list/post is something like the artist-driven “music is the point” view from my 2014 list/post. (Point may not be the right word.) Both are important, but while the former unites us in collective appreciation, the latter makes that possible. What’s cooler? Enjoying something or making something that people enjoy together?
Probably making? Yeah, it’s making. Producing content, something that didn’t exist before. Kinda like this blogpost, right?
No, jk. I’m definitely not equating what I’m doing here with the truly magical process of creating music. I’m just saying, being a struggling blogger is like being a starving artist (without the romantic gauze or, you know, the art) in the sense that it’s difficult to find anyone who cares what you have to say. I’ve done this a fair amount. The personally interesting stuff – my fiction writing and my music writing – rarely gets a click, not even from my team. The other stuff, specifically the Finnegans Wake blog that OM and I are doing (are we still doing that, btw?), yeah. The page counts on that one are great. Or they were great, last year when we posted regularly. Apparently, if you try to read the hardest book ever written in the English language, then get on the internet to sorta complain about it and riff about what little you understood, people will check out your blog. Like super smart people, who totally understood the book and have read it umpteen times. True story, who knew?
Well, I’m bogged down somewhere in Book II, but I just listened the new Kamasi Washington record all the way through, again. What you got, smarties? That record, unlike the new Joanna Newsom record, has nothing to do with FW (as far as I know), so those people probably didn’t hear it. Or Joanna Newsom’s record, for that matter. Or the new Floating Points or some of the amazing stuff Nils Frahm put out last year. Probably not, huh? Actually, I just realized that I have no idea what Joyce-heads on Twitter listen to. No idea. Maybe their tastes are super snobby, even snobbier than mine, and also super informed and refined. It’s possible that there are some people who are really into Joyce and really into Pitchfork-reviewed indie music.
Again, for me, it comes back to Pitchfork. Not because that website or its writers are so great (a lot are very good at their jobs), but because it/they are so great at identifying interesting music – or, at least, music that’s interesting to me. And they literally cover the field. OM and I challenged each other to come up with one non-Pitchfork record for our lists. I don’t think that I had a single one that wasn’t at least mentioned there.
So what can we add to what they do? Best of Last Year lists? The few folks who once might’ve cared and read this in their spare holiday time are long gone onto other things. Then there’s everybody else who doesn’t care and wouldn’t have read this anyway. Blahblahblah, Zooey saying something to Franny on the phone about how you do it for the lady on the porch, blahblahblah, something about how the lady was actually listening, so that’s a dumb reference.
But, really, who do you (I) do this for? And why? Obviously, I’m having some difficulties understanding why I should bother – difficulties that I didn’t express to OM when we talked about LN3. The days where I imagined that I would be discovered as a writer (my Great American Novel remains unfinished, almost intentionally, so it’s never proven worthless), much less a music critic, have passed. That may be sad to me personally, but it’s honest. Maybe the reference should be not Salinger, but Bishop Berkeley. Q: If a blog is written in the forest and no one reads it, does it make an impression? A: No, it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t make an impression, it’s hard to say it should exist. I can just text my list to OM.
Well, we talked about it, and he kinda wants to try this again. So here we go – I’ll start us off. A new platform, a new address, a new year’s list, and a new attitude, which might have something to do with shining my shoes (even though none of you can see them). No editorial blurbs this time – those would take me weeks. If you want to talk personally about anything here, let me know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Top 20 Records of 2015:
- Joanna Newsom – Divers [a detail from the cover is the header image above]
- Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly / Kamasi Washington – The Epic
- Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
- Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
- Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
- Nils Frahm – Solo
- Björk – Vulnicura
- Beach House – Depression Cherry
- Wilco – Star Wars
- Chvrches – Every Open Eye
- Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
- Grimes – Art Angels
- Tame Impala – Currents
- Kurt Vile – b’lieve I’m Goin Down
- Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
- Deerhunter – Fading Frontier
- Blur – The Magic Whip
- Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness
- Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
- Floating Points – Elaenia
My Baker’s Dozen of Honorable Mentions (abc order):
- Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
- Arca – Mutant
- Battles – La Di Da Di
- Beirut – No No No
- Andrew Bird – Echolocations: Canyons
- Built to Spill – Untethered Moon
- The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World / Florasongs EP
- Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
- FKA twigs – M3LL155X EP
- Hop Along – Painted Shut
- Laura Marling – Short Movie
- The Sidekicks – Runners in the Nerved World
- Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
If OM reteaches me how to post a Spotify playlist, I’ll do that. I’m working on one for my fave songs of 2015. Right now, it’s 90-plus tracks/6-plus hours of music, and all essential haha. Oh, and it’d be super cool if I could post a “Next time on Liner Notes…” audio clip, like when Sarah Koenig (or is it Ira Glass?) says, “Next time on Serial…” and then there’s a preview of the next episode. Can we do that, O? Surely, somebody has created a WordPress widget for that by now, right? Right?
Hello? Anybody there?