So it's coming up on 6 AM as I begin my typing, and I haven't gone to sleep. I'm awake, is what I am. Rather than try to get sleep, I'm going to catch an early bus and do some grocery shopping. I am going to weird up my mind.
But as of this moment, I am going to talk about records, like I'm nerdy and coked up at 6 AM and I just found out someone else at the party is really into The Mountain Goats too, wow, that's so awesome, YOU'RE so awesome.
Fucking Pitchfork and other people are making lists of the best records of the first half of the decade, a bad and gross idea in many ways (although funny in others, like when The Arcade Fire chart in the middle of the list when a month ago they were the best thing of 2004, ha ha ha) that I nonetheless feel the need to respond to. No rankings, just thoughts on music as they come to me.
First off Radiohead's Kid A, the default list-topper. It almost makes sense until you realize that two songs on it suck ass, they're sequenced right next to each other, and In Limbo isn't that great of a song either. Sorry kids but I'm just not that high. And I fucking got this record straightaway, or at least, you know, the good parts. It is indeed a very good record, but I mean shit.
Modest Mouse's The Moon And Antarctica is a better record, came out earlier the same year, and has many of the same moods, but expressed in a variety of different ways. It also has Third Planet on it. It's the work of people staying prolific as opposed to taking a few years off. I like thinking that the next Modest Mouse record will actually be their Kid A though, as they attempt to alienate all the fuckers that like the new record more.
Boredoms Vision Creation Newsun. Dude fucking Boredoms. Alex and I were talking about taking the cheapest form of transit down to California when they play in May. Fucking Boredoms dudes. Give it the fuck up. They own.
Lifter Puller's Fiestas And Fiascos came out in 2000, I just heard it thanks to John Darnielle being all "You have to hear this record, it's indie rock, you'll like it" and lyrically it kicks ass. It's got some flaws, like the one song where the one dude's all "yes yes y'all" but sometimes I feel the urge to say "yes yes y'all" just as a LFTR PLLR reference. There was some talk on the Last Plane To Jakarta forums about the best lyrics of 2004, and there were lots of Hold Steady quotes until someone said that going with Craig Finn is practically cheating, like people asking your favorite superhero and you say "God." I'm writing a paper about Craig Finn's lyrical acumen and power with fractured narratives kind of now.
The Mountain Goats- All Hail West Texas. No shit, people like his other stuff better? This one is kind of a no-brainer, I think, all lo-fi but a concept record so it gets a narrative going so shit hits harder. Source Decay is a great song, The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton is a great song, Color In Your Cheeks... Most of this record is a dude with an acoustic guitar and a voice and a tape recorder, except one song has a MIDI keyboard. The phrasing of lines and the melodies is what puts this record all those other bullshit "listen to the lyrics" records, but I mean fuck: When shit is sparse, those lyrics have got to carry a lot of weight. This is a minimalist record for people who like lyrics.
The Wrens' The Meadowlands. No one I've met likes this like I do. My fondness for the sound of nineties indie rock is unstoppable. This is pretty much it in terms of being a nineties indie rock record. It ditches obtuse non sequiturs and a vibe of contentment for disappointment. It's kind of emo but it's kind of middle aged. Record deals and relationships all falling apart. If you have the inclinations towards that sound that no one is even making anymore, this is going to affect you. That it's going for being emotionally affecting, heartbreaking actually, just puts it all the more over-the-top for that mood.
Deerhoof: The most true thing of all the things on Pitchfork's list was Nick Sylvester saying that Deerhoof are the best band. Yeah they are. Holy God. Sadly at this point they haven't made the best albums, although I like Reveille more than the others because it nails their sound. But I saw them live too, and the drummer is a madman and the frontwoman is adorable and they just own. The only competition for best band is The Boredoms and Liars. Their lyrics are the most "lyrics don't matter" of all lyrics, ESL haikus about fictional creatures who kidnap children and take them to dreamland or something.
Liars: People talked shit on They Were Wrong So We Drowned but it still sounds like Liars to me. And Liars kick ass. The first record is kind of better. The Fins To Make Us More Fish-Like EP is better still. The rhythms persist as does Angus Andrews yelling shit. The shit he yells is what goes through my head when I want to impersonate crazy people. I like I like I like I like jai alai. The hallway ceiling, it's just four feet wide. I saw this thing in Magnet where they were asking people about how laws should be changed and the things that Angus said were this great combination of being smart and non-cliched. He had a five-point plan, which included things like benefits for people who don't own cars and only showing news made from a foreign perspective, and taxes for fast food like liquor and cigarettes are taxed. They compete with Deerhoof for being the best band, but their albums are better and more coherent.
McLusky: Rock music. They broke up now. Do Dallas is their best record, but I like a lot of their other stuff. They might've been one of the best bands if they were weirder, didn't break up, and I had seen them live. But they're all loud guitars and profane sarcastic lyrics and these are things that rock music should be.
Les Savy Fav are kind of like that too. But they didn't do anything as good as McLusky Do Dallas. Also: How did the Emor EP make an albums list?
Enon are friends of Les Savy Fav and have a dude from Brainiac in them. When I was talking about The Art Project I cited influences like Brainiac and Liars as things to aim for. Enon are like Brainiac only they exist right now and have this girl singer sometimes. Get The Letter Out is a fine fine song.
Daft Punk are shitty. I wanted to write about that earlier, but I got distracted. I also hate their respectability, from some people. They are trash. Much like the movie Orange County uses the song "butterfly" by Crazytown as a signifier that certain people are bad people and you have good reason to hate the world, Daft Punk is the soundtrack to a certain moment which I kind of had twice. I'm in the backseat of a car on a hot summer's day, got myself a headache. There are other people in the car who I am feeling alienated from and don't understand our friendship. The reason Daft Punk is the soundtrack is because that's what on the car stereo for real, exacerbating all my thoughts.
Microphones/Mirah: I think Advisory Committee is the best of all the records Phil Elvrum's involved with. Mount Eerie is good in that it's got all of his people on it, and feels like a big statement of purpose, but has moments of tedium like Kid A. If I really wanted to big up Olympia, I'd say Mount Eerie was the best record of the first half of the decade in that it's the best depiction of the Olympia community. It even includes people who suck! But Advisory Committee... Um, Mirah will pretty much forever be the sound of my freshman year at Evergreen, methinks. I like her voice, I like her songs. Her lyrics have this preoccupation with people coming and going and being missed which is the kind of thing that you can relate to when you're having yourself a freshman year at college and at the end of that year, a handful of the people you really liked (including the one who first lended you a copy of You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This) move on. Also Mirah is from Philadelphia originally but then moved to Olympia and went to my college. Also I saw her live and talked to her. All of this is more biography than criticism, but yeah Advisory Committee gets big ups. Big fucking ups.
The Blow's Concussive Caress is really good too. So is the Poor Aim EP which most people haven't heard. I think that the Hit Factory album is going to blow the fuck up though. Seriously. Gonna' be huge. Get the hell out of the way of the volcano.
The White Stripes' White Blood Cells is yes. Yes yes yes. Not the what all rock music should be of McLusky, but it's what The White Stripes should be in a way that Elephant totally fucking wasn't.
I am swearing lots. You don't know how many times I've restrained myself. Profanity seems like the best way to talk about music, though. It's extreme and it simultaneously negates itself and doesn't need to be there while getting across a good deal of emotion that couldn't be expressed otherwise. Really, profanity is the linguistic equivalent of music, and that isn't even getting into the beauty that is inventing profanity combinations and swearing well, saying things like corpsefucker and dicksock and ass-fag.
Is This It was okay, you know. Okay.
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's Source Tags And Codes really isn't as good as McLusky Do Dallas. I never even compared the two until just now, but there you have it. It's good though.
Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a thing of beauty. Better than anything else they've done. The only close comparison is Loose Fur, really.
I used to like Sonic Youth's Murray Street but I just listened to it again and wasn't feeling it so much. Still better than Sonic Nurse though by a good wide margin.
The Dismemberment Plan's Change has its moments, but not enough. The best are the ones that seem the moodiest, but there are all these songs that go for big hooks and end up sucking.
Animal Collective are rather good indeed. My interest in writing this list is waning.
The Beauty Pill put out some great stuff that no one bothered to hear.
As did Black Eyes. But these are two very different bands.
Both were on Dischord, home of Fugazi's The Argument which is the best thing they've ever done. I don't like it now as much as I did at the time I first heard it, but that doesn't mean it's not really fucking great.
Manitoba's Up In Flames, The Notwist's Neon Golden, first Shins record, Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People, Mouse On Mars' Idiology. Maybe there'll be a second post where I talk a lot about all of these things. The Mouse On Mars I should listen to more because I know that it's great, whereas the other things I've kind of overplayed. Manitoba Up In Flames was the best thing to come out in 2003 and in fact, made that year in music for me but looking back, there are other better records. It's just that they were less innovative. So Up In Flames wins the album of the year contest but there's times when I'd rather listen to McLusky or somesuch thing.
Also: rap music, I need to listen to Supreme Clientele more, but a lot of people are giving that praise and I'll just agree. I have this tendency not to respond to the genre as much as I respond to other things, as I'm sure you all know.
I totally won't write a follow-up to this, as most of the music I can say things about I did. Mainly I wanted to talk some shit and say some praise.
How sad is it that Dischord and K are pigeonholed and neglected? A lot of their stuff is shit, yes, but that's what gets the coverage and becomes the stereotype. I figure it's the regional label thing, which in many ways is a bad idea. But I mean: No one talked about Black Eyes (although they probably did in DC) and no one talked about The Blow outside of Olympia. This is music which largely denies the label's stereotype while at the same time no not at all. I shouldn't even be grouping these two entities in with one another. Whatever. The next Blow album should be huge and Black Eyes broke up already.
Oh and Matmos put out some great records, despite Drew Daniel liking Daft Punk and Bjork and not listening to Radiohead and generally, just listening to music wrong (this is sarcasm mostly) except for that made by his friends and a surprising diversity of tastes outside of the stuff he's most drawn too.
But mainly fuck music ranking. These are the best records in their respective micro-genres and moods. The mood I'm in most aren't even represented by any of this music though, which is kind of funny. Although maybe it's the Lifter Puller record.
Shitty thing about the Pitchfork list is how many good people they have access to didn't do a list. The new nineties list is more consistent because there are more good people and less total fucking tools. Also: there were other people doing similar lists but this bit's phrased as a Pitchfork response because generally they are the ones I most agree with, and have good people working for them, a confidence I don't have in many other things.
Oh and Destroyer's Streethawk: A Seduction was really good at what it did too.
I'm going to go buy groceries, I think.