‘Tis the season for “Best of” album lists, something I generally look forward to. So far , both Popmatters and Pitchfork have come out with their lists of the top 50 albums of 2005. Popmatters’ pick for number one is Twin Cinema by the New Pornographers, while Pitchfork has gone with Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois. Meanwhile, KEXP will be starting their countdown of the top 90.3 albums of the year on December 30.
There’s an interesting discussion going on over at plastic.com about “The Perfect Album.” Unsurprisingly, the Beatles and Pink Floyd are vastly over-represented, as is classic rock in general (Supertramp? The Alan Parsons Project?!). However, it is, if nothing else, an amusing compilation of lists, and it reminded me of an occasional bar conversation I have about my Desert Island Albums. I can’t claim to be the originator of this idea, but it goes something like this—if you’re stuck on a desert island what are the five albums you’d want to have with you?
I’ve been listening to Sleater-Kinney’s new album The Woods on a semi-regular basis for the last two weeks. Although I was rather turned off by the first listen, I’ve found that it has grown on me. Part of my initial negative reaction was due, I think, to the blown left front speaker in my car, which at this point makes just about anything sound like shit. Combined with an opening track that’s a bit of downer, it was enough to put me off.
A month or so ago, I posted about some music I was listening to at the time. Among other things, I mentioned that I was pretty excited about the new British Sea Power album, but that the Decemberists’ Picaresque was okay, but not great. Funny what extended listening can do to initial reactions. I lost interest in the British Sea Power record (Open Season) pretty quickly. Like so many other albums that sound good at first, it turns out to be the same thing I’ve heard from countless bands— there’s nothing particularly bad about it, but nothing particularly good, either.
Call me out of touch, but it wasn’t until I checked out Pitchfork today that I even knew there was a new Nine Inch Nails album out. The title, apparently, is With Teeth, and it seems to be getting pretty decent reviews, once you factor out all the “He’ll never be as popular/good as he was when The Downward Spiral came out” poo-poohing. I was having a conversation a few nights ago in which Pretty Hate Machine came up, and I was saying that even though it would probably sound rather dated were I able to listen to it for the first time again, it’s probably one of my favorite albums ever.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve had a lot less time of late to search out and acquire new music, but I’ve run across a couple of things in the last week or two that merit a mention: Dogs Die in Hot Cars – Please Describe Yourself – Not nearly as morbid as their name sounds, these guys remind me a lot of XTC, mostly on account of the singer’s voice.
In honor of the truly fabulous weather we had here in the scenic Hudson Valley today, I rolled down all the windows in my car and listened to Carcass really, really loud.
On the way home from work this evening, I happened to catch a bit of Terry Gross’s interview with James Hetfield. It was completely uninteresting, and just to add insult to injury, she kept playing songs from the St. Anger album, every single one of which sucked in ways so bad that I can’t describe them on a blog that is occasionally read by my mother. To make up for it, I am now listening to …and Justice For All, and as a result, the guitar riff from “The Shortest Straw” is competely stuck in my head.