By Scott Creney
What a strange year. Two of the most daring records of the year (within those records’ narrow universes anyway) featured 80s saxophone — Destroyer and Bon Iver. Ke$ha made more interesting pop music than Lady Gaga. Debates raged about racism and sexism, in the case of Kreayshawn and Odd Future, respectively. Debates raged about authenticity, in the case of Lana Del Rey. And it seems that nobody got any closer to resolving anything. In some cases, people couldn’t even agree if sexism mattered. Or if racism mattered. At times, it was hard not to read an article, let alone the comments beneath an article, without wanting to throw up.
It’s worth remembering that we live in an age when most artists release an album every three years. And that’s if you’re lucky. Forget the 60s, even in the mid-late 80s you had bands like The Cure, New Order, The Smiths, Pixies, releasing an album a year during their prime. Nowadays bands and their management, in an effort to squeeze every drop of money they can get from touring, could care less about releasing, you know, actual music. I understand that touring’s where the money is at, but seriously, how much time does it take to write and record 10 fucking Best Coast songs? Or 10 Arcade Fire songs?
And Joanna Newsom, don’t think you’re getting some kind of genius pass. Your last album (all three of it) was seriously underwhelming, and Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, etc. rode their hot streaks a lot longer, and a lot further, than you’ve ridden yours so far. Get to work.
So since 2011 was a slow year on the release schedule, it’s easy to feel a little underwhelmed. There were plenty of interesting moments, but there weren’t all that many interesting albums. At least none that were interesting enough to merit revisiting them. So instead, here’s a list of the 10 best articles I wrote for Collapse Board. Forgive me for not writing about St. Vincent instead, but creatively speaking, I think I had a better year.
1) Exclusive to Collapse Board – Greil Marcus Ponders Better Than Ezra
2) Can – Tago Mago
3) Moments In Song #2 – Mel McDaniel ‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On’
4) White America Reacts to the Death of Clarence Clemons Pretty Much the Way You’d Expect It To
5) Tyler, The Creator @ The Zoo, Brisbane, 05.06.11
6) My Morning Jacket – Circuital
7) Lady Gaga – Born This Way
8) Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
9) Depeche Mode – The Martin Luther Kings of Synthpop
10) Washed Out – Within and Without
Note: I find it hysterical that WordPress automatically turns my 8-with-right-parentheses into a smiley face wearing sunglasses, but the emoticon-ification of my list shouldn’t be interpreted as some sort of special affection towards my Fleet Foxes review.