It's that time of year again, when critics, reviewers, amateur enthusiasts of all things aural -- hell, every basement blogger and his tone deaf brother -- pull tiny muscles in their large heads compiling and posting for public consumption their lists of Top Albums of the Year. Ah, be still your beating heart...
A female friend once pointed out that these oftentimes inane lists are (strangely, suspiciously) almost always the domain of men. "It's a real guy thing," she said. And I'm fairly certain that wasn't a compliment considering she expounded by suggesting that spending precious time attempting to rank what is in essence unrankable -- how can one even suggest that one work of art is actually better than another? -- is anal, compulsive. A real sickness.
Inexplicably, women seem to have no need or, more remarkably, no desire to even attempt to rank the oftentimes unrankable (unless figure skaters or contestants on Dancing With The Stars are involved). They seem quite content to just listen to music and not even contemplate what album should be sagaciously declared the year's best. And similarly content not caring about who happens to be topping what list. I know this for a fact because I asked the many females in my world if they knew who ruled Rolling Stone's roost (or Spin, or NME, or Pitchfork, or whatever), and the answer I received most often was: "How did you get my phone number?" Followed closely by, "Who cares?"
Who cares? My word, I care. That's who!
Honestly, I'll tell you who really cares. Sports guys care, and I'm one of them. And why do we care? Because, we are the worst. We are the most anal, the most compulsive, the sickest seekers of some sort of hierarchy in all things, as established by... us. We demand demarcation. We want to know. We need to know. We won't leave a bar or a dinner party until it's decided, definitively, which means we're there until someone turns out the lights, or the sun comes up, or the booze runs out, debating, say: Top 10 Lefty Relievers Ever. Five Best Goalies to Ever Wear the Blue & White. Did I mention that this is a sickness?
Eventually, of course, we run out of sports topics to demarcate to death, so we turn our musings to music. I cannot tell you why so many sports journalists are music nuts. But they are. And they tend to not be paddling their dinghies down music's mainstream. Check out any indie or alternative concert at any oddball hole-in-the-wall venue and you'll find them, front and centre, generally not acting their age -- all the guys who write-up sports stories, or put their ballsy baritones into jock broadcasts, or light-up the nightly sportscasts with their wit and wisdom. And all probably inventing more infernal lists as they jabber amongst themselves between sets of alt-rockers Capitalist Pigs Eat Paste & Die!
Top 10 Songs By The Jayhawks, Original Lineup. Or how about this gem, an old post by the A.V. Club breaking down Ten Great Songs Nearly Ruined By Saxaphone. Yeah, that one actually happened.
You know, I'm pretty sure that deep down most of us get it. We know that these lists are purely subjective and sans all science. And that our pathological postings on pecking order are no more definitive than anyone else's lousy list, no matter how obviously undiscerning and stupid their tastes. Now, as we zoom toward the close of 2013, as the lists just keep on piling up -- hey, how about a list of the Top 10 Album Lists? -- we surely become acutely aware that the world does not really need another curious cataloguing of the Top Albums of 2013.
It's been a banner year for new music. Here's my list (Editor's note: this list is indeed definitive and makes all other lists look like Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers -- that is, pale Pretenders):
1. Okkervil River, The Silver Gymnasium
2. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
3. The National, Trouble Will Find Me
4. Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold
5. The Avett Brothers, Magpie & The Dandelion
6. Sam Phillips, Push Any Button
7. Jake Bugg, Shangri La
8. The Head & The Heart, Let's Be Still
9. Paul McCartney, New
10. Cayucas, Big Foot
11. Jimmy Eat World, Damage
12. Foxygen, We Are The 21rst Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
13. Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight
14. Generationals, Heza
15. The Olms, The Olms
16. Laura Marling, Once I Was An Eagle
17. Dawes, Stories Don't End
18. San Fermin, San Fermin
19. The Shouting Matches, Grownass Man
20. Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind
21. The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars
22. Lorde, Pure Heroine
23. Washed Out, Paracosm
24. Haim, Days Are Gone
25. The Milk Carton Kids, Ashes & Clay
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