By John Verburg
I kink of have this internal debate with myself every year when December rolls around. Is there some value in multiple indie magaizines/websites ranking the top 50 albums every year? Or does this whole process of ranking albums became watered down and meaningless, and more likely just a vehicle for every hipster and their mother to criticize either these magazines or websites’ choices for said lists?
If you are in favor of lists, which admittedly, I do participate in list-making from time to time myself, end of the year music lists are a time to look forward to. NME, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Spin, Rolling Stone, and Paste are just a few of the sites and mags that participate in the phenomena.
Even if the world of indie rock which is filled with cynical writers, commenters, and too cool for music popularity attitudes, end of the year lists do have their positive aspects.
First and foremost, these lists inevitably have albums on them that you haven’t seen or heard yet. This is probably the biggest reason to check out these lists. As an example, have you ever heard of a band called Parquet Courts? Well, me neither until I saw them on a couple of end of the year lists. I checked them out, and as a result, I found a new band to like. A second reason these lists are a good thing is debate. What would this great nation be without a little debate? While “this should be on the list…” comments can get a little annoying, there is nothing wrong with discussion about music that comes from it. I mean, I just got into a discussion about who was better between Cinderalla and Slaughter with a friend yesterday, and those bands suck! Sticking up for your favorite bands or albums should be a passion, because that is what music is all about…eliciting passion, thought, and any other feeling we tend to romanticize when discussing what music means to us.
There is also a downside to the Album of the Year, or Single of the Year lists we come across. First, you have to realize the scope and focus of the site you are reading. For instance, readers of Mojo magazine tend to be of the more mature crowd, while Pitchfork readers tend to be the snobbiest of indie music fans. Mojo is way more likely to have Springsteen on the best of lists, whereas Pitchfork is undoubtedly touting Grizzly Bear or the newest shiny toy for the day. You also have to take into account the reliability of these lists. Let’s be honest. Naming 50 albums on a list is a little disingenuous at best. Can these list makers honestly say that they have listened to enough albums with certainty to compile these accurately? Do they cover all genres? Is the list your reading even attempting to cover all genres? How many times did they listen to each album? That’s important because some albums grow on you and some fade.
Thing is, lists are subjective by nature. I say this, because it was my intent to provide you with a top 50 albums for 2012 list on this site here. But I don’t listen to hip-hop music, or country really either, so any list I compile isn’t going to have Frank Ocean on it or even country/indie hybrid Daughan Gibson. By all accounts, those are fantastic albums. I just can’t fairly make a judgment to make a list that big. But what I can give you is some albums in the indie rock genre I felt to be of upmost quality.
Down below, I would like to see some album of the year lists from all of you. Maybe just a top five or ten. Maybe we can generate our first discussion here on West Michigan Indie. I’m looking at you Phil! Mine? Check it out below…
Let me know if it’s awesome…or sucks
10. Ceremony- Zoo
9. Wild Nothing- Nocturne
8. King Tuff- King Tuff
7. Metz- Metz
6. The Fresh And Onlys- Long Slow Dance
5. Nude Beach- II
4. The Walkmen- Heaven
3. Ty Segall- Twins
2. The Macabees- Given To The Wild
1. Cloud Nothings- Attack On Memory