Friday, January 16, 2009

The 33 1/3 Longlist

They received 597 submissions for 400-odd different albums. Wow. One could probably write an entire book about that list, about which albums are considered book-worthy by critics, and why. For example, one commenter noted that Weezer's "Pinkerton" received seven submissions during the last round (more than any other album) but none of them were picked*, whereas now "that ship has sailed" for it seems that there is no longer any interest in the "Pinkerton = roots of emo" angle these days.

I submitted something, but I'm not going to say anything about it because I'm superstitious and afraid of ridicule and all that, although if anyone guesses right then I will fess up. However, I was the only person to pitch this album, it has been mentioned in the comments section of the 33 1/3 blog, and if you are reading this, I am close to 100% sure that you have heard the album.

Of course the series has gone far beyond the simple model of writing about the making of a great album with an interesting backstory (e.g. Fleetwood Mac albums, "Loveless", and plenty of "VH1: Behind the Music"-ish stuff), so it's virtually impossible to make any judgments about what's on this longlist without knowing the quality of the pitches and the concepts behind them. But I'll thow out a few random comments anyway.

  • Biggest surprise: four, FOUR "Agetis Byrjun" submissions? Personally, I think that any of their other albums would make for a more interesting book, but some crit-love is better than none.
  • Slint's "Spiderland" led the way with seven submissions, and surely one of them will get picked? That album's high standing won't be diminishing any time soon, and a Slint book would be a big seller.
  • Hasn't the "Phil Spector: Back to Mono" story already been told many times? If the focus of the book is a tie-in with the box set revolution that was kicked off around 1990 thanks to sets like this and the Zeppelin one, it could be pretty cool though.
  • Cocteau Twins, "Pink Opaque". Fennesz, "Endless Summer". Explosions in the Sky, "The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place". Mogwai, "Young Team". Ride, "Nowhere". Great records. I have no desire to read a book about any of them. I'm almost clueless as to what the narrative could possibly be (especially for EITS).
  • My selfish picks include Galaxie 500, "Today" (I love the album and would love to hear stories about how quaint Ivy-League kids invented a new form of rock amidst the snarling East Coast indie scene, but this book would probably sell fuck all); Broken Social Scene, "You Forgot It In People" (the proverbial cast of thousands provides storybook gold); J Dilla, "Donuts" (a last will and testament by a legendary producer), Various Artists, "Artificial Intelligence" (bedroom techno is born, the rise and fall of IDM, could be a fantastic book but another one that will unfortunately sell fuck all).
  • Would be nice but do we REALLY need another book about a beloved indie rock record?: Yo La Tengo, "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One"; Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Fever To Tell"; Low, "The Great Destroyer".
  • Books that absolutely must be written at some point (i.e. the story has not been told properly or often enough and it really needs to be): Snoop Doggy Dogg, "Doggystyle"; Frankie Goes to Hollywood, "Welcome to the Pleasuredome"; Talk Talk, "Spirit of Eden".
  • It'll probably be chosen this time, we'll just have to learn to live with it: Wilco, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (two submissions); Radiohead, "Kid A" (three submissions).
* correction: my bad, Jessica Suarez is writing a "Pinkerton" book. Still, critical fawning over Weezer did seem to catch fire and die out fairly quickly ...


Leee said...

I didn't see Lapsed, so I can only presume... John Mayer? (Serious guess: Feels.)

Barry said...

Not a bad guess, but no.

"Lapsed" would fall into the category of "great album, no desire to read a book about it."

I think the same would be true of all Bardo Pond albums.