Monday, September 12, 2005

Is it time for the year end wrap-ups?

Several media outlets have proclaimed The New Pornographers August 2005 release Twin Cinema the year’s best album. I have no quarrel with this. For me it is the best new album of 2005, as it’s the only new album I purchased in 2005. Oh wait, there was Nine Inch Nail’s With Teeth but proclaiming that the best album of 2005 would be like saying that the inappropriate goth guy you dated, the one with the notebooks from high school of D+D characters like Ivo the 18th level half-elf illusionist, the one who wanted you to read his Firefly fanfic, was your best boyfriend.

But, again,I have no quarrel with calling Twin Cinema best album of 2005--it has all the things people like me like, like catchy melodies and harmonies and vaguely enigmatic lyrics that may be hiding the meaninglessness of the words. In fact, I’ll wager that 92% of you reading this will enjoy Twin Cinema on some level. The other 8% are my parents and those of you who are “post-song” and like nothing better than a good improv game like Cobra.

But this got me to thinking--what else was called The Best Album of 2005? Since the year is not yet over, I thought now might be a good time to examine this, and encourage any music reviewers who read this not to make the same mistake.

White Stripes,Get Behind Me Satan Can I say it? The White Stripes suck. There is no worse drummer for a top-selling band than Meg White, and you can’t argue with me on that. Rolling Stone said “Bad news for Satan: Jack White’s mama said knock you out.” They followed that with a sentence telling is that the title is a Biblical reference. So, OK, you can reference an LL Cool J song, but you have to explain the Biblical reference. For the record, the biblical quote, and the Pete Seeger/Almanac Singers song they are more likely referencing is “Get THEE Behind me, Satan.” If only they hadn’t dropped the “thee.”

M.I.A., Arular. Spin said this was the best POLITICAL album of the year, and cokemachineglow proclaims that this “beats out most everything I’ve heard this year in terms of creativity, energy, dance-ability (sic) and fun. “ I don’t have this album--like I said above I have none of these albums--but I’ve seen M.I.A. on TV, and besides having heard this before (because I remember ESG), she dances like she has to pee.

LCD Soundsystem. Tiny Mix Tapes said “this one won’t be beat.” Playlouder said “LCD Soundsystem have set 2005's bar very high indeed.” I say, “makes me miss Happy Mondays in a way I never thought I would.”

Gorillaz, Demon Days All Music Guide had the nerve to say, “stands alongside the best Blur albums.” All I have to say is this--I know Blur, and you, Gorillaz, are no Blur.

It’s good to know that it seems like not too many critics have prematurely proclaimed the Best of 2005. I did come across a new alarming trend in music reviewing, though, which I’ll call “name-checking spot-the-reference.” The purpose seems to be to say to the reader, “I GOT all the references, but I’m not going to outline them here. Or maybe I will.” See Rolling Stone/White Stripes above, and also Pop Matters on LCD Soundsystem (“could be annoying if it turned into a game of ‘spot the references’...") and The Onion AV on Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois (“It's easy to play a spot-the-Illinois-reference game...”). I’m not sure how I feel about this trend. Let’s see if it surpasses the Band One plus Band Two at a picnic method of CD reviewing.

(reviews courtesy of


Blogger Jon Konrath said...

I think everyone called Hotel Rwanda the movie of the year, and it was released January 7th. You might have to start scheduling your "of the year" picks for 2008 around now.

4:48 PM  
Blogger mattf said...

hello marie...
talking about albums... or "CDs" I should say (god i'm still so stuck in the vinyl mindset), I'd be curious to hear your opinions about two matters:

1) Louis XIV -- good band, or flash in the pan?

2) what do you think about this whole Gang of Four reunionizing thing?

Thanks, and I'll take my answer off the air.

P.S. Love the blog -- keep it up!

11:20 PM  

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