Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010: Bracing For The Pantheon?

Not to get all Bill Simmons on you, by which I mean "immediately and rashly overreact to an isolated incident, impregnating it with more meaning than it ever ought to have ("HOOPS ARE DEAD IN CLEVELAND AFTER LEBRON'S LAST LOSS"), spitting out superlatives ("THE CELTICS ARE AN EMBARRASSMENT" and "RONDO IS THE BEST PG IN THE LEAGUE!!" within weeks of each other) like they ought to be etched in stone ASAP*. But, here I go: is 2010's year of music angling to be a pantheon year? I know it's early and many of these albums still have to measure up to the ol' test of time, but I don't think the question is wrong. It feels like a supernaturally good year and it has to be asked:

Will 2010 go down as one of the great years in the history of music?

The National//High Violet
I know it's early, but it's about time TBC got a chance to counter all the Animal Collective and Beach House premature hype over the past year with something we think is actually deserving. I can't remember the last time I heard an album all the way through and wanted to hear it over again. And again.

The Hold Steady//Heaven Is Whenever
Josh Ritter//So Runs The World Away
Two TBC perennial favorites with what I suppose you could call transitional albums. On our initial listens, we agreed that Heaven Is Whenever gave us a great new chapter in the Hold Steady canon. We disagreed on the highpoints of So The World Runs Away, so that jury is still out
Broken Social Scene//Forgiveness Rock Record
Mose Allison//The Way Of The World
The Black Keys//Brothers
Dr. Dog//Shame
Anais Mitchell//Hadestown
There were 2 weeks where this albums sang the words "ALBUM OF THE YEAR" to me every day. Somehow the musical-hater in me could swallow a folkie musical based in mythology with guest spots by Justin Vernon, Ani Difranco, Greg Brown, and the dude from the Low Anthem. I am a sucker for ambitious high concept that's well executed (Janelle Monae, we'll get to you). And adorable voices like Anais Mitchell's.

Retribution Gospel Choir//2
Damien Jurado//Saint Bartlett
Frightened Rabbit//The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Jason Collett//Rat a tat tat
Four albums from some TBC usual suspects. Will they fare as well as Stay Positive? Or will they go the (still respectable but kind of disappointing) route of Yonder Is The Clock, following up a great record with a good one? I have my guesses, one of which is pretty obvious by the fact that I haven't dared buy the Jason Collett record yet.
Jakob Dylan//Women & Country
Patty Griffin//Downtown Church
Neon Trees//Habits (come on. Animal is catchy as catch.)
Peter Gabriel//Scratch My Back
Broken Bells//And I just got too lazy to look up album names. Bad journalism? It's a BLOG!
Jonsi's solo album
Horse Feathers
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Bettye Lavette
Sarah Sample
Sayde Price
Mumford & Sons
Tallest Man On Earth
Beach House
Drive By Truckers
New Pornographers

And still (potentially) to come:
The Arcade Fire
Tift Merritt
Blitzen Trapper
Sun Kil Moon
Nada Surf
The Roots
The Weepies
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Wolf Parade
Crowded House
Los Lobos
Fleet Foxes
Beastie Boys
Robert Plant//Band of Joy (his follow-up to Raising Sand)
the actual release of Sparklehorse + Danger Mouse

And stuff I should check out:
Roky Erickson + Okkervil River
Avi Buffalo
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Maybe the most interesting to me. NPR will do that with their special, literate, elitist Kool-Aid
Janelle Monae
Flying Lotus
Titus Andronicus
LCD Soundsystem
Merle Haggard
Laura Marling
Morning Benders
Sleigh Bells
Angus & Julia Stone
White Hinterland
Crystal Castles
The Besnard Lakes

Now, on a mass scale, I don't know that anything ever (especially in the post-mp3 world) will ever compete culturally and on a massive scale like a year that includes the Beatles and Stones and Dylan and Cash and...yeah. But as far as great and meaningful music that matters? This year has to at least sit at the kids' table while we wait for the results of the test of time.

Last year had a solid top 15 albums, but both Spike and I found a lackluster overall year to be saved by a few stellar albums. This year doesn't look like it'll have that problem.

I've often asked friends if they could only pick one YEAR of music, what year would it be?

In this new series, Annual Reports, we'll list albums from particular years and maybe even try to rate the years against each other. Some of it will hopefully help us see how 2010 fits in context and some of it will help those of us who maybe weren't there (or alive) to see/hear music in a new contextual lens, and the rest will just be an excuse to talk about music.

As the year goes on, we'll return to this post, revisit the names, see how they're shaking out. Next stop, though, is the nearly universally heralded 1967.

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