Feeling pretty lazy this morning, so finished up a little “Woulda Coulda Shoulda” – records I should have given props, but for a variety of reasons didn’t make it onto the top 25 I put together. I admittedly could have done better if I’d taken more time crafting my list, but there’s also something inherently fallible about the process that deserves reflecting on – there are simply too many records out there to really give them all the time they deserve.
Up next, I’ll be posting a list of the records that probably shouldn’t have made my list, records that other people gave way more love than they deserved, and one site that gets particular mention for poor taste.
10. The Knife – Tomorrow, In a Year
Technically, this is both a collaboration and something closer to an EP than an album. But the Knife is maybe my second favorite band, and I still didn’t take the time to even listen to this album. This shit is exhausting.
9. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (II)
For about two weeks this was on constant blast. Then it just sort of wasn’t. I still haven’t really revisited it, but . . . hmm.
8. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II
I’ve basically spent the past four years completely writing off hip hop. I’m not gonna say this album (or really, any hip hop album this year) is deeply revolutionary or fresh. But it shows that a genre with firmly established boundaries can still produce great music.
7. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part 2 – Return of the Ankh
Every individual’s carefully hand-crafted list reflects a huge array of quirks and listening habits that keep their list from being ‘representative.’ This album probably didn’t make my list just because it’s too intense, and I spend a lot of time focusing on one thing while keeping music on in the background. In other words, if I could write and listen to Erykah Badu at the same time, this would have been on my list. (also, lots of sequels here . . .)
6. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Honestly, this one’s borderline, but there are some really fantastic moments here. Don’t believe the hype, though – this is a great album, but if someone as ambitious and gifted as Kanye can only produce a great album, it’s confirmation that hip hop is beyond revolutionary change.
5. Ariel Pink – Before Today
It took me a loooong time to really grasp what Ariel Pink was up to (not that I’m quite sure I do even now), which is probably why I overlooked it when putting my list together. But it’s a fantastic record of very strange pop, which I guess is what I’m listening to quite a lot of lately.
4. Liars – Sisterworld
I’m really into the idea of Liars – arguably, they opened up the space for bands like Women and Deerhunter to go back to really goddamn arty art-rock. But they’re still kind of on my To Do list.
3. Zs – New Slaves
I’ve really tried with this one, but all I really know so far is that it’s really challenging. I trust my people at Tinymixtapes enough that, if they gave it the #1 spot, I know I’m missing something. Just need more time.
2. Ghostface Killah – Apollo Kids
I didn’t get my promo until the day before this came out, so, way too late for it to make the list. But man, it’s a doozy. I’m not sure yet whether it’s quite a return to the levels of Supreme Clientele, as implied by the title, but it’s definitely on par with Fishscale. Kid Cudi is an up and comer with timeless instincts, but Ghostface, with his deep commitment to soul and R&B, invented the whole idea of timelessness in hip hop. (And look, another sequel!)
1. Marnie Stern – s/t
I kind of feel like Stern’s album covers and marketing have let her down – I always kind of assumed she was a folk singer (particularly thanks to her first album cover, left). But the closest comparison is Ponytail – maybe too pat, I know, but it’s apt. Absolute balls-to-the wall nuttiness, but in this case with real melodies, epic songs, deep emotions, and decipherable lyrics.