Music is far too important to be relegated to the background. Conan Neutron’s top albums of 2011

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Worst album of the year:
Metallica & Lou Reed – Lulu
Well duh.
Hell I’d like to nominate as worst record for the next 5 years. As I wrote here (before almost anybody else I might add):

The indulgent sound of multimillionaires. Somebody should have told them “no.”

Runner up:
Radiohead – King Of Limbs

Records from 2010 I slept on:
Marnie Stern – Marnie Stern
I hide my face in shame, I really do. Because Marnie Stern does that crazy proggy thing. I guess you’d call it ‘math rock’, but does it with panache and soul that’s largely devoid from such a generally male dominated genre. It’s great to look at her YouTube comments and see the jealousness of the male commenters at her technical proficiency. Standard fare really, but the thing that makes it so interesting to me is that she writes good songs!

Beautiful, I can’t believe I slept on this record last year. Expect to hear more about this record and her from me soon.

Records I will probably love but have not heard:

The Men – Leave Home
Down and dirty NY post punk that induces nothing but smiles from me, instead of the predictable yawns.

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
Annie Clark’s off kilter awesome is produced by Mr. John Congleton. It sounds like a dream team … at some point I will certainly listen to it, contentious or hype ridden or not.

Absolutely – Learns To Love Mistakes:
Midwest folks whose opinions I certainly trust cannot say enough good things about these guys. Haven’t heard a note!

TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light
I like how this band makes songs, even though I came very, very late to them. Many people find them boring, I find many people boring.

Crooked Fingers – Breaks In The Armor
Although I hold the Archers Of Loaf in my mind as one of the greatest of all time (heh), I’ve never been super into Crooked Fingers. I like it, but it just never resonated with me that much. Odd since I love Tom Waits so much, but I’m eager to give this one a go.

Ok, that’s it; now go listen to some great music dammit.

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18 Responses to Music is far too important to be relegated to the background. Conan Neutron’s top albums of 2011

  1. sleevienicks December 17, 2011 at 11:28 am

    looks like somebody watched the movie school of ROCK way too much.

  2. Conan Neutron December 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    If liking (good) rock music is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

  3. Lucy Cage December 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    ‘Romance’ is one of my songs of the year, absolutely and for definite; it’s got handclaps, joie de vivre, several songs’ worth of tune and great guitar noise. I just didn’t enjoy a whole album’s worth of Wild Flag; too meh, too plodding. I say this with a heavy heart because the news that Mary Timony was in a new band had me hopping up and down with excitement.

    Thanks for the Mountain Goats and Hurry Up Shotgun: those are good songs. Oh, and Marnie Stern! Yes! She’s the best. ‘For Ash’ was one of last year’s wonders.

  4. sleevienicks December 18, 2011 at 12:38 am

    not sure how i missed the tom waits inclusion on this list but you should be ashamed adding that heavy jazz handed one shoe polish can short of a minstrel show asshole.

  5. Conan Neutron December 18, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Sleevie: you’ve proven yourself to be a dullard and somebody with fairly bad taste in music as well as manners. You should be ashamed at drawing breath in the morning when you use your energy to troll. Glad to see you put some vaguely racial epithets in the mix as well. I hope you feel very proud. So glad that on a post where I specifically mentioned that I will not evangelize about an artist I love so much, you felt the need to come in and poop on my coffee table. The “minstrel show” argument is old, tired, inaccurate and obnoxious. Good day.

  6. Conan Neutron December 18, 2011 at 4:27 am

    Lucy: I hear ya. It is the first album though, so I think it’ll be exciting to see what they do next. The backlash is deafening in my peer group right now, but I like the album and listen to it, and like it more than a lot of other good records. Which counts for a lot. Thanks for reading and for giving some of the other tunes a try.

    I’m still aghast at how badly I missed that Marnie Stern record. It’s a monster. May need to write a piece about that.

  7. sleevienicks December 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Conan: For such a manly name that was a very weak ass response, I almost thought you were gonna slap me with a glove and challenge me to a duel with your rockist powdered wig wearing bad self. However on the troll bit, to quote boyracer “check yr fucking history.”
    It’s what I do, I get one here and crack wise (or as you see me and my racist self should I say cracker-wise). I get on here and bust balls, most folks have fun with it, guess I know now not to comment on your stuff as you get all sensi-tits, most rock and rollers can’t take a joke I noticed. It’s cool though keep making those middle-ground picks and building up that resume you’ll be at that 10 cent a word paycheck writing for Magnet any day now getting read by more people and having even less of a voice. So keep knocking’em out there Spastic Colon Newbietron. (in the uk one might think I just called you a retarded asshole noob, yet in the states I’m just saying your defense shit all over itself just like your top picks list).

    oh, and Poison Control Center….yeah they got some rock and roll moves, it’s like Brownsville Station but without the hits. Being a total rockist I know you have to know who Brownsville Station are.

  8. jed December 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I’m a rockist and I think this list is pretty milquetoast, sorry. It’s not your fault, though, there really is a dearth of great guitar-based music out there. Maybe. I don’t know.

    So, you’re both wrong/right.

  9. jed December 18, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Also there is nothing racist about what sleevie said. C’mon now.

  10. Erika December 19, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Whats wrong with being racy?

  11. Conan Neutron December 19, 2011 at 5:55 am

    Ok, if not racist… Idiotic. But seriously, “minstrel show”? preposterous. I have heard that ridiculous attempt at a dis a few times before. It is no more clever than the first time. I have read your stuff, not really my thing… Just like Waits isn’t yours. I am all for cracking wise, I can’t wait for you to do that. Haven’t seen it yet.

    There isn’t a thing middle ground about my list, feel free to comment, but Jesus Christ man, try a little harder. “how many times can a man write an album about mules in boats?” would have been an improvement.

    (and yeah, it’s pronounced like the talk show host, not the barbarian. When your parents give you a name like that in the era I was born in, you do get a chip on your shoulder.)

    Jed: I am not a rockist, I do not like Brownsville station, and you are wrong. But thanks for checking it out anyway, I’d be curious as to what your list looks like. I’d be curious as to why you think any of these records are “milquetoast”. Wild Flag has been contentious, and well documented, but other than that…

  12. jed December 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I don’t know man, I’m just not into most of the stuff you posted. No insult intended, really. Just doesn’t grab me. I’m not into “sincerity” or “intensity” as formal acts of creative will. Also I don’t like a lot of music beyond 1985, so I probably shouldn’t even be having this conversation.

    However, I will say the “girls can rock- whaaa?” thing is a little silly. I mean Sleater-Kinney were on the cover of Rolling Stone 15 years ago or something, weren’t they?

  13. jed December 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    my list consists of Crystal Stilts’ newest album and the Beets’ newest album, and that’s probably about it. I guess I’m only a rockist if you consider rock having ended around 1967 or so, with brief resurgences in the 70s and early 80s, and Guided By Voices?

  14. jed December 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    incidentally, I totally agree with you on the background music thing

  15. Conan Neutron December 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Just typin’ ’em like I see ’em Jed.

    Specifically if you read the Poison Control Center piece, I go far more in depth with those boys. But they are one of those bands that maybe you have to see?
    I’ve grown to truly love their records though, and Stranger Ballet is a monster.

    I’ve generally tried to follow the CB orthodoxy and post live videos, but I think they made an incredible record. Here is the recorded version of the song I posted:

    Sleevie: I’ve thought about it, I think Poison Control Center are far more “Boys are Back In town” than, “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.” Cheers for making me learn/re-learn that there was ever a dude named: ‘Henry “H-Bomb” Weck’ though. Redonkulous!

    Also, if you would like to do a “battle” piece on the right Rev. Tom Waits, I would be happy to pick up that guantlet, name the format, name the time. No opinions shall be changed, much wise will be cracked.

    I am serious.

    Back to Jed: to be fair, i haven’t heard Crystal Stilts, or the Beets, but I will check them out for sure.

    I will say if you love GBV that digging your way into a PCC show at least, should be right up your alley. Few do it as well as they do, and with enough panache and vitality.

    As far as my expounding upon sincerity and intensity, i think that Pavement, as much as I’ve come to appreciate some of what they do as quite good, were something of a poison to the (indie) rock world. Disaffection and lack of commitment seem to somehow be laudible traits, which absolutely disgust me on every level. How I roll, what I do… if I decide to get mean, I may name names, but what is the point really?

    Sincerity alone is not a good thing, but when pointed to the right direction and when the aim is true, it can be beautiful. And all too rare these days. I’ll take a Hurry Up Shotgun over a disaffected, “oh, whatever” pitchfork darling any day of the week. Not every heart on sleeve is worthwhile, but it can go a long way too.

    Also: I really must say that any list that includes the Blind Shake *AND* Police Teeth, to say nothing of Helms Alee can be called many things, but milquetoast is a hard sell m’man. Virgin Islands alone make this a rather out of the mainstream/danger stricken list.

    Facing facts: there are two… maybe three bands on here that the music listening world at large has heard. But these are my top 10 records of the year, i’m just staying true to the concept.

    This list is born by the sum total of the (non-CB) top 100’s/best ofs. Most of which sound like dentist music to me at best, and insults upon the face of music at worst. I like the rock, I write about it, I read it, I play it. It’s what I love for… passive and safe consonance for consance’s sake and faux bearded sensitivity makes me wretch. Luckily, I stopped reading the main offender of pushing such things years ago, so it mitigates my exposure..

    Back to the main crux of things, I will say this:
    I think if you really give a listen to some of this stuff, and i’m not saying you will… but I think that if you did, you would find some of the wonder within. And that’s all i’m trying to share… not who has the best PR agency, not who has the most blurbs, just the stuff that personally enriched my life and made me remember… “Yes… yes… i *DO* love music. It is FUCKING wonderful.” and i’ll never stop.

  16. jackINjill December 20, 2011 at 3:35 am

    ” four very talented ladies. (WHAAAA? GIRLS CAN’T ROCK!!!) ”

    Wow someone is a closet misogynist.

  17. jed December 20, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Colin- I don’t mind sincerity when it’s not an affectation, but it usually is these days. I love Pavement and would actually argue that they were incredibly sincere- Malkmus is a sarcastic, obtuse dude and his music reflects that. THAT’S sincerity. I can’t tell you how many successful bands I know who sing romantically about being a loser, an outcast, misunderstood, when in fact they’re popular kids, and good looking kids, the rich kids, the successful kids, and always have been. Some people are fooled or contented by that kind of affectation but it’s not for me. So I think we have to define our terms when we talk about sincerity.

    Anyway I’ve played shows with PCC in New York a few times and they’re great live and swell dudes, so yeah! Agreed on that.

  18. Conan Neutron December 20, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Sincerity as an affectation is as repulsive as “noble disconnection.” I’m sick to death of everything being a reference, to a reference, to a reference to something that happened before. I’m not just sick of it, i’m done with it.

    When everything is a sort of vague sardonicism that is used as a shield to prevent hurt it devalues culture itself and makes a closed circuit of smirking self reference that threatens to create a singularity that probably looks quite a bit like an episode of Family Guy.

    I think Pavement is fine, but I hate what they helped bring about, if that makes sense?

    That said, the appropriation of geek culture and honest pariahs by those that wear them for fashion? Yeah, that sucks pretty bad. Trust me, I don’t think a single one of the acts mentioned in this list qualify for that.

    Assuming that any kind of sincerity is just a put on… well that’s just a bummer, and shows a larger problem with our society as a whole.

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