Thursday, January 08, 2009

The music will provide the light you cannot resist...

You know what I've noticed? The backlash against the multitudes of top album lists on the web. The crux of the argument may be that since everyone has a top albums list it's sort of like flooding the market with $1 bills, and the "currency" is rendered worthless. Or, to quote The Federalist Papers, which, when confronted with opposition to the ratification of the Constitution, stated, "opinions are like assholes: everybody has them and they all stink. But Patrick Henry's stinks most egregiously." Of course, that last part has no influence on today's discussion. But my response to the backlash, which came to me after days of thinking of the perfect rebuttal, can be summarized thusly: eat a bag of dicks. Since when has music criticism been worth anything? And wow, the web is now full of people infatuated with their own opinion? That is some crazy stuff. Stick it in your Facebook status update.

I fully realize I'm pissing into the wind with any list of favorite albums, and my opinions don't matter, and I haven't come within spitting distance of hearing even a small fraction of the stuff released this year. But I know for me to make a top-whatever list allows me to go back and re-evaluate the year. And you know what? It's gonna be flawed. And it might be laughable. But such is life and I know I'm imperfect and laughable. What counts is my mom still thinks I'm perfect and.. unlaughable... at? She pretty much told me so after she Irish-guilted me, over Thanksgiving, into shaving my brilliantly scruffy (and oddly red) beard, because, in her words, it made me look like a jerk off. So thanks mom.*

The other thing is, with all the top ten lists out there, it forces anyone who cares to re-evaluate, if even momentarily, what was listened to and what should be checked out. It's like the world comparing notes. God forbid a self-centered and blustery medium like the internet allow people to compare notes. Take, for example, Fleet Foxes: lots of people like it but I've avoided it. But maybe these other cats are on to something, and I'll keep it in the back of my head. Vampire Weekend, on the other hand, can keep their khaki-tinted, Ivy League afro-pop and enjoy their moment in the Paul Simon-plagarizing, cultural-pickpocketing sun. I'll avoid that crap until the day I die. And trust me, once you critics out there eat that bag of dicks, I'll respect your opinion and take it under advisement. Perhaps the bag you ate was most tasty. Of course, I'll still put that in the "no" pile with Vampire Weekend. But I may just, at a wine and cheese party one day, pass along the knowledge that, according to popular opinion, a bag of dicks pairs quite nicely with a Rioja purchased at Target. It will make me look well-informed and worldly.

That being said, my opinion here is pure gold. Buy futures in it. Print this out, cash it in at the bank, and buy a hovercraft with a rear-mounted machine gun. Or ignore it like a smoker's pole in front of a bar as you see if you can toss your cigarette into the sewer drain by the sidewalk that empties into one of this country's embattled waterways:

1. R.E.M. - Accelerate
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Lean" (We also would have accepted "muscular" but not "return to form" because not only is it misleading, but it's a phrase. Sorry.)
2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Literate" (We also would have accepted "biblical" but then people would have thought you voted McCain-Palin.)
3. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Lyrical" (We also would have accepted "Literate" but after using that to describe the Nick Cave album, no one wants to sound like they're limited in the superlatives department.)
4. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Beer" (Mostly used in connection with "soaked" or another like-minded modifier. We also would have accepted some form of the eff bomb, as in: "Man, the fucking Hold Steady... just..." before trailing off and staring at some odd corner of the room or down into one's plastic cup with a bemused look and everyone involved in the conversation slowly backs away.)
5. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Eclectic" (Also, "multicultural" if you're secretly racist.)

*Coincidentally, when I was home for Christmas, my mom recommended that I read The Federalist Papers. And I'll tell you what I told her: I'm lucky if I can get past "Rose is Rose" on the comics page without wondering if Bravo is rerunning an episode of Top Chef that I've seen 100 times already. Also, I heard new judge Toby Young is a total See You Next Tuesday. Me-rowr!


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