10:41 PM Sean: So these end of year lists I keep hearing about do we need em?
10:42 PM Karl: Need is a strong word. They do some fairly useful work though.
They define what a person/magazine/site’s taste was for a year, and they tell you about shit you missed.
10:43 PM Sean: I do like the shit-you-missed bit, but the What Was Good This Year bit can unintentionally be a bit sinister.
10:44 PM like, it can turn into an obscurity competition, or an I-love-everything-me contest or, to go a bit more local, a giant circle-jerk over The Scene
Karl: There’ve been some weird ones.
10:45 PM Sean: Dublin turned into a Hold Steady song in December
IT”S ALL SO DEADLY, OH MAN THE SCENE IS UNREAL bit weird
10:46 PM Karl: Hardcore For Nerds made a decent point about this actually. That just having one amorphous “scene” that people are supposed to believe is great is actually a shit way to operate and promotes mediocrity
10:47 PM Sean: That’s basically it. I’ve always thought it’s a bit too incestuous here. Like there can barely be a difference between building up a following and having a load of mates arrive in.
10:48 PM And if you say any Irish band is shit, you are an evil wanker
Karl: did State have any Irish music high on their end of year list? I’ll check
10:49 PM Sean: Their list was mental though, if I remember
Karl: Adebisi Shank and Villagers in the top 10 – That’s basically consensus, if you’re Into The Scene, I’d say
10:50 PM those two albums, somewhere near the top but not at the top.
Is that valuable?
10:51 PM Sean: Well everyone likes them but non-Irish magazines or sites don’t cover them. So if you, like everyone, like them, you can feel part of this Scene yoke.
A lot of music criticism is about helping people feel clued-in
10:52 PM Karl: Yeah, like an end of year list is a reassurance to your ideal reader that you’re on the same page about shit.
Sean: I don’t have anything against Villagers or Shank though, they’re very good. It can come across as THIS IS CANON sometimes though.
10:53 PM like if you did not make it into the approval circle of the Pitchfork anopticon, in future years people will not check out your album like pre-internet criticism those lists in magazines were like the bible to me. What you should have listened to or whatever.
10:54 PM Karl: I kinda like that function of it especially in the internet world a particular site’s canon
10:55 PM and they kind of interact, you can see where The Fader intersects with Pitchfork intersects with the NME etc
10:57 PM Sean: That’s good if you’re like us and spend a large amount of time reading music criticism and shouting the word “FUCK” but if you’re a casual reader it could lead to you ignoring shit. I think maybe if they were clearer about the intent. Like people mock the shit out of that NME Cool List, but it’s honest about being about influence rather than quality of anything. Although ‘influence’ is hard to quantify.
10:58 PM Karl: Especially when you’re trying to square the fact in your head that Laura Marling apparently has the most of it
Sean: She is very cool though. I bet she can breakdance and does a great Tracy Morgan impression.
10:59 PM English music criticism is the worst though, it’s the most incestuous and wanky and mostly about how all good music comes from there. Or how an american has ‘managed’ to make good music.
Karl: I bought one issue of the NME this year, with the new editor, it was about the US invasion.
11:00 PM there were some good bands, and some shit ones, like the Drums, but there was also Animal Collective who have a hundred albums and are not invading anything
Sean: But the very idea of a ‘US Invasion’ is so classically British and up its own hole.
11:01 PM They are stopping in your country while on their European tours, lads.
11:02 PM It sounds dramatic but I actually had to deprogram myself after three years of NME from the ages of 12 to 14. I think that’s why I’m so angry
11:03 PM Karl: Those were the worst years of music criticism anywhere, ever.
Sean: I had to endure years of “The Vines are the saviours of the world” while at my most impressionable. This is where the list thing comes in, those publications that ‘cover everything’ tend to establish with their lists “here are the two rappity men you can like and the one metal bloke it s okay to be in to”
Karl: I wonder which magazines didn’t include Kanye
11:04 PM Sean: Well, Kanye isn’t necessarily the best album or even the best rap album. But people talked about it the most. So it should be in there somewhere I suppose
Karl: Yeah but it’s really obviously the one that you have to either include or exclude. It’s a political thing, whether you do or don’t.
11:05 PM I checked if Paste had it, because that is a magazine for old people to try to be cool. And it did, at 4.
Sean: Paste is a pile of shit though. They famously don’t pay anyone.
Lots of magazines do this. But they do it Famously.
11:06 PM Karl: Sandwiched in between Titus Andronicus and Mumford & Sons, Kanye is. Yeah, fuck Paste.
11:07 PM Sean: Some of the worst music journalism of all time happened around that Kanye album. I’ll be glad these lists put that to bed
Karl: Kanye is the Metacritic ‘consensus’ album of the year by a mile from Arcade Fire
Sean: why do people like Arcade Fire? This is a genuine question
11:08 PM Karl: I listened to them a good bit back in the day. I really liked the first album and I think I made myself really like the second one too, and went to see them and all. I didn’t even get this one though. Why is it the second best album that came out this year?
11:09 PM Sean: Because it is full of emotion (ie shouting)? It just seems bland enough to appeal to everyone
11:10 PM Karl: That whole idea seems real condescending, that appealing to the common denominator thing. But it seems broadly to be the case. Like, everyone loves The National.
11:11 PM Every time they get into an end of year list, that’s an album people might not have heard that’s actually good, missing out
11:12 PM Sean: Yeah, it should be just you-missed-this-maybe lists
11:13 PM they are way cooler, anything else is a pat on the back or something for people to argue about on message boards
11:14 PM like now that people can listen to anything, there being a critical consensus is weird
Karl: But then that’s just ‘a couple of things I heard that you didn’t’. It could be a million things.
There’s nothing Being Said
11:15 PM Sean: I don’t understand the need to Say Something.
Especially when it’s something like “that vampire weekend album everyone thought was okay is actually the best piece of music this year”
11:16 PM But that’s consequence of sound, the worst music site on the internet
11:17 PM Karl: Vibe had Pink Friday in their top 10.
Who even reads Vibe?
Sean: Black People?
I do too sometimes. Pink Friday was a ridiculous mess though
11:18 PM to put it in the top ten is the ultimate concession to “this is just a measure of hype”which is fine, as long as they said that but to say that’s the tenth best piece of music this year is legitimately insane.
11:19 PM Karl: ninth
Sean: Even most Nicki fans I know hated it.
Karl: Have you ever done a list?
11:20 PM Sean: Just the one I did for you. Wait, I think I did one for the paper last yearbut that was billed as “records I enjoyed a lot”.
11:21 PM I have never gone “HERE ARE THE BEST, DICKHEADS” which is funny, cause that is pretty much all I do the rest of the time.
11:22 PM Karl: I’m on my fourth, but it never ends till the end of January and it doesn’t exactly get any hits so I can defend it on the grounds of no-one giving a shit. It’s interesting to look back on what you had convinced yourself you liked though.
Sean: I saw you had Salem on there, so it announces you as a racist with no ears
11:23 PM yeah, I like the diary aspect though. So much more interesting.
I made an end of year mix for 2009 that was such bullshit. I only really liked 60% of it I think but it was a nice reminder.
11:24 PM Karl: were you trying to look cool with the other 40%?
Sean: I think was trying to include shit I felt I should like but had not really listened to enough.
11:25 PM Karl: Always a difficulty.
Have you heard that band with the stupid name that were high on Pitchfork and Wire’s things. Maybe not a band. Oneohtrix something something, or something like that?
11:26 PM Sean: He was in my end of 2009 list and I actually listened to him enough for him to legitimately be there. I like that sort of stuff
11:27 PM Karl: see that he is post-noise – what does that even mean?
Sean: some people seemed to reject it for “being too simple” or then “being too different from his old stuff”
11:28 PM he is a noise musician that has gone back to making melodic stuff, but with the kind of approach cultivated by noise musicians and informed by the same shit. He submits beats to Lil B sometimes. I don’t think he’s ever used one but you can see why he might be interested.
11:29 PM Karl: Maybe Lil B‘s saving it for the album.
Sean: this is a Onetrix thing. It is pretty deadly:
11:31 PM Karl: Lil B should definitely jump on this shit.
Not my thing though.
Sean: I like the idea of recontextualising this stuff:
That’s The Big One. I think anyway
Karl: I try listening to that kind of thing but unless I’m high I last thirty seconds and then listen to music about surfing
Sean: I am crap at knowing what the big one is
11:33 PM I like stuff like that when I’m writing or playing a game or something or going to sleep. It’s for that layer of your consciousness
11:34 PM I listen exclusively to old rap when I am high – and the Convoy song
Karl: Safe choices
Do you mean the actual convoy thing?
Like, we got a great big convoy?
11:35 PM Sean: yeah, it’s the best
11:36 PM I listened to it 30 times in a row once, never failing to be amused a man was calling himself “the rubber duck”
Karl: if we don’t cut this earlier when we finished talking about lists, we should end with a link to that
Sean: I think ending on that is perfect
We’ll call this one Convoy too I think
11:37 PM Karl: Excellent plan.