Loose Strife

An MP3 blog

Saturday, December 30, 2006

#34 - My superfluous year-end list

"Katie Cruel" - Karen Dalton
"Katie Cruel" - Bert Jansch w/Beth Orton & Devendra Banhart

Last I checked---which was December 14th---my kinfolk at the excellent MP3 blog Largehearted Boy had counted 520 year-end musical best-of lists online. That's not counting the massive aggregate lists, of which there are now two. The Village Voice Pazz-Jop critics poll used to be the only game in town. But then the paper was bought by the New Times chain, who fired Bob Christgau, who created and helmed the Pazz & Jop poll for thirty-some years, and which prompted some folks to think P&J was dead (the sacking was an incomprehensible move since he's also clearly the greatest living workaday rock critic, even if he sounds like a bit of a curmudgeon on those NPR podcasts). Now Idolator, that amiably snarky new music blog affiliated with the talented media gossip-mongers at Gawker, is doing a similar poll. It's being helmed by a fellow named Michaelangelo Matos, an excellent music writer whose blog will give you some idea of how scarily obsessed some of us are about our musical passions, and will also remind you that some Americans still think electronic music rocks.

So why do I think the world needs another list? I don't. But this is ostensibly a music blog, so here goes:

1. Juana Molina - Son
2. Cat Power - The Greatest
3. Niobe - White Hats
4. Au Revoir Simone - Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation
5. Joanna Newsom - Ys
6. Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
7. El Perro Del Mar - El Perro Del Mar
8. Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
9. Jolie Holland - Springtime Can Kill You
10. Karen Dalton - In My Own Time

I'll spare you longwinded explications of the list hiearchy (which shifts daily, to be honest) and the individual specifics of greatness. I should note, though, that one record is not a new release, though it has been out of print for years. But Karen Dalton's In My Own Time, first issued in 1971, is such a fine record, and so influential in terms of music that's being made now (Joanna Newsom, to cite but one example, cops to studying her vocal style intensively), I couldn't omit it. For a taste, I offer you her version of the traditional song "Katie Cruel" from Own Time, and a version inspired by it sung by two other Dalton fanatics, Beth Orton and Devendra Banhart, from a recent CD by '60s British folk god and champion drinker Bert Jansch, Black Swan.

One final observation, on looking back at the list: every record, with the exception of the cozy fantasy-land created by the dudes in Grizzly Bear, features a distinctly otherworldly woman's voice. Make of that what you will.

Happy '007 and Merry What-have-you...


At 6:26 PM, January 18, 2007, Blogger kingofbash said...

Good list, and nice observations.


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