A couple weeks ago we told you about David Byrne, Kim Gordon, and Marissa Nadler’s year-end lists in Artforum. The list-giving season continues, so here are a slew of additional artists-on-artists top 10s. We’ve come to discover that artist lists are often more idiosyncratic and varied than the others sorts of lists we’ve been investigating from magazines and blogs alike. Why is that? Seems like it could be a curious mix of honesty and less cynicism toward things that are “over-hyped”? Who knows, but it makes for some fun reading.
At All Songs Considered, famed Thunderant comedian and ex-Sleater-Kinney shredder Carrie Brownstein weighed in on some favorites.
Please Read the Letter
Artist: Robert Plant/Alison Krauss
Album: Raising Sand
Biggest Surprise: “It’s amazing to realize (Robert Plant) is still a seaker and he’s still searching out music to explore. And I was just surprised this was good and had a soul. I think Alison Krauss is immensely talented and when I saw she’d hooked up with Robert Plant I thought, ‘yes!’.”
Album: In Rainbows
Biggest Letdown: “The disappointment is not in Radiohead as much as it is in myself. And Radiohead always reminds what a letdown I am because I never really get it. I cannot be the only person who feels that way. I like music that is difficult and challenging but there’s this blankness that I can’t get over.”
“Comfy in Nautica”
Artist: Panda Bear
Album: Person Pitch
Most Innovative: “I suppose innovation is relative but I love how Animal Collective and the people that comprise the band have innovated the idea of solo projects. Most solo projects are stripped down acoustic affairs, but (this record) is a sprawling effort and I think more artists should shoot for Beach Boys-like stadium rally cries.”
Wild Mountain Nation
Artist: Blitzen Trapper
Most Innovative: “They sound a little like Grateful Dead meet Pavement. They’re not afraid to destroy their songs in the middle of them. Everything unravels with this sloppy sledgehammer. They make me want to dance and I have to give them credit. I only had to hear the first four songs from this record to know they were my new favorite band.”
“Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse”
Artist: Of Montreal
Album: Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Song of the Year: “I’m just a sucker for a conflicted song. And I love a song that renders me useless and incapable of doing anything but listen to it. It’s just a great pop song. I probably put it on more mix CDs than anything else this year.”
NPR has some other choices, mostly with sound files over at their site. Filter has Mountain Goat/sometime Decibel writer John Darnielle’s faves, including QYDJ album Bowerbirds, the truly awesome Rwake, and the controversial (but awesome for at least one Stereogum staff member) choice of CocoRosie:
01 Bowerbirds – Songs for a Dark Horse (Burlytime)
02 Cocorosie – The Adventures of Ghosthorse & Stillborn (Touch & Go)
03 Bloody Panda – Pheromone (Level Plane)
04 Pig Destroyer – Phantom Limb (Relapse)
05 Rotting Christ – Theogonia (Season of Mist)
06 Various Artists – The Kings of Reggae (Rapster)
07 Foetopsy – In the Bathroom (Barbarian)
08 Mayhem – Ordo ad Chao (Season of Mist)
09 Missy Higgins – On a Clear Night (Eleven/Virgin)
10 Rwake – Voices of Omens (Relapse)
Paul Banks of Interpol weighs in on his year in albums for Filter as well, showing some love for fellow Brooklynites, past tourmates, and the death of hip hop::
01 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Is Is EP (Interscope)
02 Blonde Redhead – 23 (4AD)
03 Liars – Liars (Mute)
04 Deerhunter – Cryptograms (Kranky)
05 Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury (Re-up)
06 Busdriver – Roadkill Overcoat (Epitaph)
07 Spank Rock – YOYOYOYO (Downtown)
08 Battles – Mirrored (Warp)
09 Clark – Body Riddle (Warp)
10 Nas – Hip Hop is dead (Def Jam)
Missing two Yos and late by a year on the Spank Rock tip, but big propers for looking beyond the guitars. Further, Filter summoned Sam Fogarino for another round Interpolation:
01 Spoon – GaGaGaGaGa (Merge)
02 Von Sudenfed – Reflexxions (Domino)
03 Deerhunter – Cryptograms (Kranky)
04 Matthew Dear – Asa Breed (Ghostly Int’l)
05 Film School – Hideout (Beggars Banquet)
06 Blonde Redhead – 23 (4AD)
07 Bumps – Bumps (Stones Throw)
08 Liars – Liars (Mute)
09 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Is Is EP (Interscope)
10 The Good, The Bad And The Queen – Live In Salzburg, Austria
More Filter, then — here’s ten from Black Lips’s Cole Alexander:
01 King Kahn And The Shrines – What Is?! (Hazelwood Records/Revolver)
02 Peter Bjorn And John – Writer’s Block (Almost Gold)
03 BBQ – Tie Your Noose (Bomp)
04 Deerhunter – Crytograms (Kranky)
05 Amy Winehouse – Back To Black (Republic)
06 Project Pat – Walkin’ Bank Roll (KR Urban)
07 Stud Cole – Burn Baby Burn (Norton)
08 M.I.A. – Kala (XL)
09 Demons Claws – Satan’s Little Pet Pig (In The Red)
10 Porter Wangoner – Rubber Room: The Haunting Poetic Songs of Porter Wagoner 1966-1977 (Omni)
Kings Of Leon seem to split everyone in half on this side of the Atlantic so somewhat fittingly, Jared Followill went halfsies on a top ten: “I swear I can only come up with five. I looked through my entire Itunes. If it was for 06 I could kill it.” Too bad one of those five had to be Black Rebel Motorcycle Club:
01 Arcade Fire – Neon Bible (Merge)
02 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81 (Red Int/Red Ink)
03 Explosions In the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (Temporary Residence)
04 Interpol – Our Love to Admire (Capitol)
05 The National – Boxer (Beggars Banquet)
Interesting to see Deerhunter on so many of these lists! It really is a great effort, if not a complete album. And Fluorescent Grey was killer. Wonder if hype killed it for non-band fans and critics — or maybe it was the LP’s very early release (see also: Deerhoof’s Friend Opportunity). Speaking of Deerhunter, here’s Bradford’s list, which he posted on his blog:
random list of things i enjoyed this year…
… some of which might not have come out this year(and in no order):
01 grizzly bear – he hit me and it felt like a kiss. i’ve decided that i actually like this one better than the original in a lot of ways. mainly because it opens up in the middle and at the end with all the floaty vocal harmonies and it makes me feel like i could cry. if i had feelings anymore. MWA HAHAHA.
02 jay reatard – blood visions (might have come out a while ago, can’t remember….) and his live show.
03 my new fender jaguar bass that is red and has the word “badass” engraved on the bridge.
04 a new set of mallets. i’ve been working on some new atlas sound songs for a new album and i’ve been using mallets on a floor tom and maracas a lot. its convenient because i don’t have to walk downstairs and mic an entire drum kit, plus i usually stay up all night recording and thusly can’t be pounding on a drum set with the neighbors and all. The floor tom keeps a nice minimal pulse, and with mallets you don’t have to play very loud to get a nice strong sound. you just have to compress the fuck out of it.
05 boredoms – rebore vol. 0 mixed by eye. i used to listen to this all the time. i would smoke grass and listen to it and then get panicky and take some xanax and go into my childhood bedroom which i had converted into a make-shift music room and plug in a bunch of mic’s and record drums on a four track, or four tracks of drums. lo-fi polyrhythms. it was fun and i was stoned and younger and had no aspirations beyond making tapes to listen to in my broken ass saturn while i drove around delivering chinese food. i started listening to it again and had drug flashbacks.
06 jim o’rourke – all his old shit. damn.
07 all these old collages me and my girlfriends (non-sexual, as in friends that were girls) used to make while sprawled out in the hallways and garages of suburban homes. i wish i could scan them but most of them are way to big. one of them had an image of a family of progressively taller dogs.
08 tea tree face scrub. scrubs rock. i want scrubs. all. of. the. time. i like to feel the dead skin being ripped away.
09 sony mdr-7606 headphones. i started realizing that all the songs i was posting on here kind of sounded like shit on stereos and stuff. that’s because i recorded them all using these fancyprancy bose headphones that had all kinds of built in eq and compression. i decided i wanted to buy a set of dedicated headphones for recording. so i did. they are rad. i recommend them. i was going to get grados but nobody sells them around here and i hate ordering things online. does anyone have anything to say about grados? or monitors? or mixing? i’m interested in learning any tips anyone has to offer. i feel like i am always abusing compressors and you already know about my fling with the vintage warmer.
10 my bloody valentine – sometimes. when i was in new york doing press for the atlas sound record i listened to this song 73 consecutive times before i stopped counting. it’s nice to walk around subway stations and down random crowded avenues with this pounding at maximum volume in my headphones. it makes everything seem more interesting than it is. i really like it when the flute starts being delayed. i guess its pretty predictable that i would talk about mbv since they are obviously an influence on like a million bands including ours but i really can’t get over this song. is it in an open tuning? what’s up with this shit?
i just realized that non of this shit has anything to do with this year except grizzly bear. congratulations grizzly bear.
Over at Harp, Devendra Banhart exhibits excellent taste in naming Matteah Baim’s The Death Of The Sun numero uno on his Top 10. All said, his is one of the more interesting year-end lists we’ve come across.
01 Matteah Baim – The Death of the Sun (Dicristina Stair)
02 Caetano Veloso – Ce (Nonesuch)
03 Passaro Do Pomar (Demo; Check Out Myspace.Com/Passarodopomar)
04 Kath Bloom – Finally (Chapter Music)
05 David Crosby – Voyage (Rhino/WEA)
06 Hecuba Music of the Sadness and the Gladness (Demo; Check Out Myspace.Com/Hecubahecuba)
07 Arnaldo Baptista – Let it Bed (Tratore)
08 Bat For Lashes – Fur & Gold (Caroline)
09 Los Hermanos – Quatro (Sony BMG/Ariola)
10 Michael Cashmore (w/Antony & David Tibet) The Snow Abides EP
Before we leave Harp, check out Sondre Lerche’s list:
01 Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (Republic)
02 Sylvie Lewis – Translations (Cheap Lullaby)
03 Wilco – Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)
04 Erik Halvorsen Trio – Erik Halvorsen Trio (Acoustic)
05 Julian Berntzen – Rocketship Love (Universal/Vertigo)
06 Cornelius – Sensuous (Everloving)
07 Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nighmare (Domino)
08 Matias Tellez – Tamias Mellez (Gjøa/Flake)
09 Albert Hammond, Jr. – Yours To Keep (New Line)
10 Lionheart Brothers – Dizzy Kiss (Nons)
Mark Ronson gets into it a little with Paste, offering up list plus some annotation:
Richard Swift – Dressed Up For the Letdown
I heard him play live last year in a tiny club and was pretty much counting down the days til this came out. It’s got lovely Lennon-ish songwriting and warm and fuzzy bass lines.
The White Stripes – Icky Thump
Even if “You Don’t Know What Love Is…” was the only song on the album, it would still be in my top 10.
The Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future
I only like it cause they’re trendy. And amazing. Of all the young bands out there, they’re my favorite live show as well.
LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
The dance-y stuff you expect from him is still great, and there are also heartbreakingly lovely songs like “Someone Great.”
The Pipettes – We Are The Pipettes
It’s the slightly more sugar-y side of the 60’s sound than me and Amy Winehouse were going for, and it’s fucking wonderful.
The Go! Team – Proof of Youth
A lot of the reviews seem to focus on the fact that it’s not much of a departure from the first record. I really don’t care, the formula is so good and no one else gets near what he does.
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Yeah, me and everyone else.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – Beggin': the Ultimate Collection
It’s probably the 17th “best of” of theirs, but the first to have the Pilooski re-edit of “Beggin'” and the first time I realized there was much more to them than “Walk Like A Man” and all that.
Candie Payne – I Wish I Could Have Loved You More
I came in at the end and produced one track, “One More Chance.” But the whole record is an incredible collection of slinky 60’s Dusty-style UK songs.
Radiohead – In Rainbows
I’ve only listened to it twice so far, but I probably wouldn’t even have to listen to it all to know it would be in my top 10. When are they ever not the best?
Hear ya on that last bit, Mark. In fact, some amongst you are calling for giving Radiohead a “lifetime acheivement award” and retiring them from future album-of-the-year list consideration all together. A megapost about lists is as good a place as any to hash that out, so, have at it. But abstract propositions aside, if you haven’t had enough, check out P4K’s big roundup of everyone from Kevin Barnes to J Mascis to No Age’s Dean Spunt. And if you haven’t had enough, seriously what is wrong with you.