Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Pazz and Jop 2010 -- one and done

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was the only person -- out of over 700 participants -- to vote for Third Eye Foundation's "The Dark" in this year's Pazz and Jop poll. It was also my #1 album of the year, the first time I cast the lone vote for my #1 album in the six years I've been voting in the poll. "The Dark" ended up in 479th place with 23 points, but there were fourteen albums that finished higher on the list despite getting only one vote. Out of those albums, three were listed at #2 on the writer's ballot, and one was ranked #1 on a ballot that had just two entries -- AFAIC, voting for just two albums and giving them both 30 points doesn't constitute a real ballot (sorry, Nana Brew Hammond).

That leaves ten albums by critics who cast the lone vote for their #1 album and finished higher than my lone-vote #1 for Third Eye Foundation. I'm including points ties among these ten, IOW, I didn't mind if someone gave their #1 and #2 albums the same number of points, as long as the album in question was actually listed at their #1.

My goal over the next little while is to hear all ten of these albums. Call it a solidarity exercise.

This series of posts is dedicated to a couple more bits of post-2010 cleanup:

Justin Bieber, "U Smile (800% Slower by Shamantis)". This finished 105th on the singles poll, with seven mentions. After a few minutes of listening to glorious waves of shimmering ambient sparkle, it dawns on you that you're listening to JUSTIN BIEBER. Is there anything particularly new about time-stretching? Is this really an all-time classic piece of ambient music? No on both counts. It's more like "I can't believe I'm chilling out to the Bieb, and BTW the track happens to be pretty damn good." And it never ends -- it's the same wash of squeaky-clean balladry gone angelic ambient headswim for a nearly interminable 36 minutes!!

Wold, "Working Together For Our Privacy". Nobody voted for this in P&J. Nobody voted for their last album, "Stratification", in 2008 either -- except for me. Unfortunately, I flat-out missed this one and didn't even know they had a new album in 2010 until a couple of weeks ago. Which is too bad, because this is loads better than their last album. Whereas "Stratification" was metal distorted to all hell and relied a bit too much on exactly that gimmick, "Working Together For Our Privacy" is three tracks and 35 minutes worth of top-notch industrial noise clatter.


One album into this little project and I'm already way out of my element:

Shinyribs, "Well After Awhile", t-472 on P&J, 25 points (voted on by Philip Martin)

I don't listen to country music. I like country, I just don't listen to it at home, and most of my exposure to the genre consists of the pop-country that turns up on the radio. I have no idea what is considered quality for the album-oriented country fan, and the last time I listened to a new country album was ... hmmm ... Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" (which is awesome though)? Or one of the Johnny Cash "American Recordings"?

Kevin Russell aka Shinyribs is apparently known for being an eccentric with a kooky sense of humour. "Country Cool" deals with country culture and the pride associated with being from the country -- a standard topic, I know, kind of the equivalent of rap artists talking about being better than every other rap artist, or rock artists lusting after some girl, or trance artists using variations on the same breakdown all the time. But at least I feel comfortable judging the nuances in those other genres and being able to separate (at least to some extent) the artists following the crowd from those who show real ingenuity. Luckily, the humour on "Poor People's Store" is obvious enough to be appreciated even by an uninformed dope like me.

"Morning's Night" strays furthest from the country/Americana vibe of the rest of the album, and it's shimmering ending could almost be something off of 4AD. This is followed by his sparse acoustic cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come", which is a bold contrast in styles and a sweet bit of sequencing that really pays off.

I can't say that I'm a fan of this album, but it's tuneful, breezy, and very easy to listen to. There's a lot of Grateful Dead in here too (early 70's version), and the cover art is fantastic -- very "Where the Wild Things Are"!

(side note: this was the first I'd ever heard of Kevin Russell -- or so I thought. While writing this post and searching for more information about Kevin Russell, I realized that I'd heard his band the Gourds a number of years ago, via their fairly well-known cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice"!)

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