Monday, May 01, 2006

The Year's First Year-End List

Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, affectionately known as Props to Michigan in these parts, is putting me and Dezmond to shame. While we exchange best-of music lists at the end of each year, Michiganders are evidently too cool for such calendrical adherence. Before April had even fled the scene, Somewhere had posted her favorite albums of 2006. The list is here.

She admits this is premature, but ASWOBA has only respect and applause (of the delivered-standing-up variety) for list-makers who have trouble containing themselves. I only wish I felt as strongly about this year's music already. I can only recommend Hudson Bell's When the Sun is the Moon with anything resembling thorough familiarity. Past that, I really like Cat Power's The Greatest, Say I Am You by the Weepies (I just discovered this band, so I'm far from familiar), and We Were Here by Joshua Radin (super-sensitive songwriter stuff tailor-made for bad TV shows, but a pretty good example of the genre; the song "Star Mile," in it now).

There are other records I've been enjoying, but just don't know well enough yet -- Built to Spill, Calexico, Centro-matic, Band of Horses, Guillemots, Maritime, Rainer Maria, Trespassers William.

By the end of the year -- oh, believe you me -- I'll know them.* And I'll spend a ridiculous amount of time ranking them, don't think I won't.** Don't try to stop me. But a lot could change, since I know that, at the very least, there are supposed to be new records by year's end from The Innocence Mission, The Mountain Goats, and The Postal Service. Fun times ahead.
* OK, it's not necessarily true that I'll know them much better than I do now. Sadly, my listening habits have followed my reading habits, which have been decimated by the nature of my work. I was telling a fellow drone the other day that I used to live by the romantic notion that I had to finish every book I started, even if I wasn't enjoying it (though I did break this rule with Cold Mountain, the opening pages of which I abhorred for reasons lost to time). Now, there are even books I'm mildly enjoying that I just can't stand to complete. To avoid the 40,000-word essay that might break out, let's just use a pseudo-academic phrase for now and say that working in publishing, um, diminishes the "authority of the book." The one advantage to this, for categorizing purposes, is that if I finish a book these days, I can safely call it one of the all-time best I've ever read. Music is similar. Especially since I'm acquiring more of it all the time, it's unlikely I'm actually going to listen to, say, the new Centro-matic record front-to-back often enough to know it intimately, unless it snares me very quickly, which it hasn't. I'm slippery like that. So at the end of '06, it's likely I'll be able to tell you the things I already know today, but maybe not much more: the Centro-matic is more polished but less enjoyable than their early stuff; the last track on the Built to Spill record is produced in a great, moody way, but most of the rest falls short of their best; etc.

** This part's still totally true.


Blogger cb said...

Re: Josh Radin, my editor at Elle decided to do a "spotlight" on him for the July issue. It has become a running joke between us--she refers to him "as that singer songwriter guy I totally think is cute but you hate". "Oh," I say. "You mean Josh Radin?" I think he comes with a "sensitive" knit cap. Even when it's summer. You would not believe--oh, you probably would--the number of "sensitive," just about on the verge of tears, young male songwriters who are 50% percent of the time British and sound ready for their 30 seconds on "One Tree Hill" we have to fend off each month when we go through the pile of stuff to review. I feel like part of this is Zach Braff's fault. God damn him and his mawkish and patently unfunny "Garden State". I think I'll go read her list now!

12:58 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

He is just about on the verge of tears, isn't he? So sad. Oh, wait; no, pathetic. I get it.

I know. I'm usually much more discriminating about the many sad bastards I bring into my circle. There's something even more formulaic about Radin than the average Knit Capper. And I couldn't agree more about Braff and Garden State.

But none of this means I have to stop liking "Star Mile," does it? OK, good. Because even though it's a completely by-the-numbers homage to Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, those guys were good enough that even some of those homages can do the trick, if you don't mind hating yourself in the morning. I'm going to listen to it right now!

12:05 AM  
Blogger MAW said...

I must admit that I've gotten about 15 new albums in the last month alone (I get pretty ridiculous with the file sharing)and have only really listened to about half of them, so the new Built to Spill and Calexico certainly haven't gotten their fair day in the sun - so to speak. And the truth of the matter is that The Arcade Fire is going to come out and release something absurdly genious this summer and blow everything else out of the water. (At least I hope.)

And really, let's be a bit nicer to Zach Braff (or at least his soundtrack selections). Dude introduced me to The Shins who I love love love.

By the way - my husband thinks it hilarious that I refer to you as "my Brooklyn friend." Is that funny? I'm not sure.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous jpw said...

Huh...can't remember us discussing Cold Mountain way back when, but I also couldn't go the distance. In fact, I remember grudgingly giving it fifty pages to earn my readerly commitment (considering all the hype), but it failed miserably. Like you, I can't remember why. Just remember lots of long, painfully boring passages, and thinking, "What? Huh? Yawwwwwn." Meanwhile, MS read and liked it. One of the rare times our reading tasted diverged.

11:05 PM  

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