Top Ten Albums I Didn’t Actually Listen to in 2013
2013, like every other year, will go down as the year where there was too many albums to listen to. But just because I didn’t listen to them doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy them!
Darkside – Psychic
Much like last year’s best album that I didn’t listen to, Actress’s RIP, I know nothing about Darkside except that they have a cool name and probably make menacing dance music. That’s not entirely true. I believe that I read somewhere that Darkside is a side project of a some famous musician. I could just Google this, but why spoil the mystery?
(Is one of these people famous?)
Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana
Of all the albums that I didn’t listen to on this list, this one has the greatest chance of eventually gaining an audience with my ears. They had a solid show at CMJ, a cool music video/single, and a singer whose voice and lyrical stylings remind me of early Liz Phair. And anyone who knows me knows my undying admiration of Phair’s early Ouvre. (The Girlysound Tapes would easily make it into a list of my favorite 90’s albums)
The real clincher was lead singer Sadie Dupuis’s eloquent take-down of Lana Del Rey’s art film abortion, Tropico, over at the Talkhouse. Any enemy of Lana is an ally in the good fight and deserves our support and admiration.
Blue Hawaii – Untogether
I remember hearing Blue Hawaii’s fantastic song “Blue Gowns” a few years back during the great post-chillwave boom. They apparently benefited from a different kind of boom this year: the great post-Grimesian Canadian weirdo pop boom. So this group that was probably meant to be little more than a Braids side-project released an album. I heard one single that wasn’t bad, but it didn’t sound anything like my beloved “Blue Gowns,” so I didn’t bother listening to it. I bet it’s probably pretty good. Although I must say that the cover art is pretty ugly. Never trust an album that prominently features dark green. That’s what I always say.
(I know this isn’t from this album. But damn this song is good!)
Jon Wayne – Rap Album One
The modern day rap business suffers from a fascinating paradox. In order for a rapper to become buzzy/popular enough to release an album on a prominent label, they must grow their fanbase through a series of free “Mixtapes.” The problem is that the freewheeling nature of the mixtape almost always makes for a more enjoyable listening experience than the actual albums.
I listened to Jonwayne’s superb Marion Morrison Mixtape quite a bit this year. By the time he released his Stones Throw Debut “Rap Album One,” I was pretty much maxed out on his particular brand of left-field rap. I have no doubt that it’s at least as good as the mixtape. He also continues his streak of cool cover art.
Perfect Pussy – I Have Lost All Desire for Feeling
What kind of future could a band named Perfect Pussy possibly have? It’s not that they can’t be good just because they have a horrible name. It’s just difficult to imagine someone in three years eagerly awaiting the release of Perfect Pussy’s 3rd album, the one where they mature beyond the caustic yet smart thrash punk perfected on their first two albums. My prediction is that they don’t even make it to album one without a name change I didn’t listen to this demo tape/EP. All I know is that they were very buzzy at CMJ this year, and I’m a huge fan of buzz.
(Actually they do seem pretty fucking awesome)
Joey Bada$$ - Summer Knights
Last year, Joey Bada$$ released the flawless debut mixtape 1999, which got a whole lot of airplay on my car stereo and was an excellent example of just how worthless the mixtape/album distinction can be these days.
So it’s strange that I wouldn’t give Summer Knights a listen, especially even after I really liked the first single, “’95 to Infinity.”
Rappers just release too much music these days. That’s fine for someone like Lil B whose appeal relies on a constant unfiltered look into his stream of conscious. But a fully formed cohesive statement like 1999 deserves a little breathing room. I can’t really fault the man for producing a steady stream of quality music and giving it away for free. But 1999 was so satisfying that I wasn’t really hungry for more of his music so soon.
It also didn’t help that the Pro-Era mixtape was so lackluster.
Best Coast – Fade Away
I was mildly interested in listening to Fade Away because the music press made it seem like it was going to be a return to the grungy, fuzzy sound of Best Coast’s extremely enjoyable early EPs. But I guess I was just too soured on the project after the boondoggle of The Only Place. I have a sinking feeling that Bethany the professional musician and Best Coast Brand Manager will never truly recapture the scrappy charm of the project’s early days. Listening to albums first single, the one with the awkward skateboarding video, confirmed my suspicions. I’d prefer not to listen to it and just pretend that it contains a spark of that early magic.
(On the plus side. This video does feature Brian Lotti!)
Alunageorge – Body Music
Alunageorge, or at least Aluna, was integral to the success of Disclosure’s “White Noise,” a near perfect pop song. That was enough to make me curious about the project, curious enough to check out some of their videos, which were good but didn’t blow me away. I suspect that Alunageorge would suffer from the same fatal flaw as their friends Disclosure, who produced 3-4 brilliant singles, but couldn’t string together a satisfying album.
I was so very close to listening to this album. I really was. When I saw that it was streaming on Pitchfork Advance, I made a move to listen to it, only to find that I had forgotten my headphones. (I was at a coffee shop at the time) So through no fault of its own, this album blew the tiny window that my hummingbird like attention span can allow. Listening back to how great “That Awful Sound” is, this one just might get a second chance.
St. Pepsi – Hit Vibes
I know absolutely nothing about St. Pepsi. But you do have to love that name. Sort of in the vein of that band Universal Studios Florida. I wonder what happened to them. Anyways. St. Pepsi. Hit Vibes. Seems fun.
Top Albums I Actually Did Listen to in 2013
- Jai Paul – Mysterious Leaked Demos
My favorite album of the year wasn’t even really an album. Or was it? In this day an age, it’s truly fascinating to witness an artist who is truly enigmatic, not just enigmatic as part of a thinly veiled marketing gimmick. Or is it just a marketing gimmick? The mystery surrounding whether or not his mystery is manufactured or not makes it even more mysterious. I’m confused.
In 2010, Jai Paul rocketed to Internet fame on the strength a single perfect song, “BTSTU,” a song that may or may not have been over 3 years old by the time it was allegedly uploaded by the producer’s brother. Jai Paul was promptly picked up by star-making buzz vampires XL.
A year later, Jai Paul released his second perfect song, “Jasmine (Demo),” once again whipping the Internet into a frenzy. Jai Paul had accidentally wandered into kind of buzz that people would cut off their thumbs for. What did Mr. Paul do with this wave of hype? Absolutely nothing. No interviews, no shows, no announcements, no follow-up singles. Complete radio silence for two years.
Then without warning, a collection of 16 untitled Jai Paul tracks, including BTSTU and Jasmine, popped up on bandcamp for 7 bucks. The news spread through the buzz-o-sphere, raising all kinds of questions. Most importantly, was this actually the Jai Paul album? What about XL? Where was the PR push?
The album was swiftly taken down along with announcements from XL that the release was not official. Even Jai Paul himself finally broke silence in the form of a single tweet confirming XL’s statement.
But it was too late. The tracks were already out there. And they were stunning. This collection, whatever it is, is an unfiltered look into the mind of a true pop prodigy.
I suppose that RnB is the major genre touchestone on this record, but it sounds worlds away from other neo-RnB acts like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd and the scores of other trend hoppers that have bubbled up over the past few years.
I suck at describing music, but the production style on this record is downright bizarre. It’s muddy, dreamy, stitched together with the seams showing. Sounds cut in and out at weird places with no warning. Yet it all kind of makes sense.
Of course, none of this fascinating production work would be worth a damn if the songs weren’t good. And these songs are top notch. There’s at least one “banger” in song number 2 that rivals the dizzying heights of the previously released Jasmine and BTSTU. The rest of them deepen and expand the weird world of Jai Paul in other directions. Even the minute long song snippets are incredible, and set a good pace by acting as a bridge between more fleshed out pieces.
Whoever stole these songs from Jai Paul and put them on the Internet did the world a huge service. Who knows whether these would have ever reached the light of the day if it was left to the mysterious producer himself, or what form they would take if they had traveled through the official channels at XL.
This is a pure album with nothing to distract from the music at hand. No marketing or PR bullshit. No press pics, No interviews. No music videos. No live show. Hell, not even a cover image, track listing, or album title! Absolutely nothing to take away from the record as a pure musical artifact from the mind of a singular brain. Plus it’s catchy as hell.
- Kanye West –Yeezus
To quote a phrase: “You already know what it is.” I don’t need to tell you about Yeezus or why it’s great. You’ve already listened to it and read the reviews.
Remember when Jay-Z first came out of retirement and claimed that he was going to stop doing radio singles? He said he was inspired by Indie rockers like Grizzly Bear and was going to make weird music. That sounded fantastic. Except that he actually went on to make the worst, most commercial minded music of his entire career. Jay-Z has made some really good music, but he’s not an artist. To paraphrase Jay-Z, he’s a business, man. Even though he’s rich and powerful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, he’ll never been able to shake that part of himself that got him there. He has an irrepressible urge to please people and make money. What does a musician with endless resources and nothing to prove do? He releases a half-assed album that comes preloaded on a shitty new cell-phone.
It boggles my mind why big mega stars still feel the need to whore for corporations. Why does Jay-Z need to release a album length cell phone commercial? Why does Jay Leno hock Doritos? Why does Jerry Seinfeld do car commercials?
It makes me so happy to see a big star actually use their celebrity and influence to do something interesting. By the time artists get to Kanye levels of fame, you’re basically employing hundreds of people with your music. There must be a tremendous pressure to be risk averse, to keep towing the line and produce catchy singles that makes people happy. Thank you Kanye.
(Best Beat of the Year. Lou Reed compared that opening noise to a fart ^_^)
The Rest in no particular order:
R.L. Kelly – Life’s a Bummer
Why should you listen to Rachel’s music? To paraphrase Mat Cothran: You should always listen when an angel speaks. If Rachel had any brains, she would sell “You’re Not the Only Monster From Hell” to Dr. Luke, who would record it with Kelly Clarkson and take straight to number 4 on the charts. Smarten up, girl.
Elvis Depressedly – Holo Pleasures
Sorry Mat. It’s great. It should come as no surprise that Mat made the list yet again after taking the number one spot last year. Originally titled “Best New Music,” Holo Pleasures encapsulates everything I love about his music in one condensed burst of fuzz and tape hiss.
It should also be noted that this was just one of three fantastic releases by this man/boy this year. One of which was in part produced by myself.
Colleen Green – Sock it to Me
More of the same from the most consistent and hardest working pop-punker in the game. This album is full of songs about cute Misfit boys and the cute misfit girls who love them. Distorted Guitars, Harmonies, and Colleen’s signature crappy drum machine all show up in fine form and the her tightest songs yet. Love it. Standout track: Yr. So Cool.
Emily Reo – Olive Juice
Usually I’m disappointed when an artist decides to “clean up” their sound and scrub away the hazy atmosphere that gives personality to a lot of underground records. But Emily’s melodies and voice are so beautiful that they only benefit from the clean presentation. Highly recommended, obviously.
Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas
Truly great lyricists are hard to come by. Like Seinfeld or Harvey Pekar, Courtney’s music elevates mundane events to the life or death struggles that they really are. The whole record is incredibly solid, but is almost overshadowed by the instant classic “Avant Gardener,” a meandering tale of gardening, asthma attacks, ambulance rides, and a guy named Andy who looks ambivalent. Very bummed I missed her at CMJ.
Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record
Eleanor’s track record is unimpeachable. Her standard is so high, that merely being consistent is enough to land her high on my heart chart. More of the same from one of Indie Rock’s true charmers.
Wise Blood – ID
On the strength of two crazy good EPs, there was a brief moment where it looked like Wise Blood was going to be the next big thing. But this did not come to pass. After a curious leave of absense that may or may not have included jail time, 2013 saw the once proud and arrogant Chris Laufman finally releasing his debut record to very little attention or acclaim. Three years ago, Pitchfork named him a “Rising” artist. This year they didn’t bother to review his record. Damn you Buzz cycle!
This is all a shame. Aside from Death Grips, I can’t think of any other artist that makes music that truly sounds like it has no precedent. Except unlike Death Grips, Wise Blood is actually pleasant to listen to! The record starts with an undeniable banger in “Alarm” and spends the rest of the record expanding the world of white trash philosopher that Chris has constructed over the course of his releases. The sad truth is that Chris was never meant to break out. His music is too bizarre and unsettling for mass consumption, even despite the frequently catchy beats. Like most music that is truly idiosyncratic, Wise Blood is destined to be ignored and unappreciated except for us lucky few who are in on the fun.
Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond.
When Jordan Lee, AKA Mutual Benefit, got the full on Pitchfork treatment, I was living every music fans dream, proudly proclaiming to everyone who would listen that I had the superior taste to know about Mutual Benefit before the hype. Unlike lots of bands that suddenly get huge buzz, Jordan has been out there grinding and paying his dues for years now and blew up at precisely the right moment, when he had just turned a corner from making music that was just “really good” to making a record that is truly stunning. Those strings…
Best Song of The Year:
Lil Ugly Mane – On Doing an Evil Deed Blues
Was this really the best song of the year? No. But I had to throw Lil Ugly Mane in here somewhere. Besides, this is a really really really good song. A prelude to his alleged impending retirement from the rap game, “On Doing an Evil Deed Blues” is a heartwarming and inspirational tale about loving music and despising all the bullshit that is frequently enmeshed with it. I’m calling it right now that “Prelude to Panopticon,” his upcoming final mixtape will easily breeze into the top spot of next years Best Album List. The best part is that even if I don’t even like it that much, I can still put it there just to keep up appearances. HA!
Noel Thrasher – An Introduction to Noel Thrasher
If you’re into lost gems from mysterious and obscure musicians, I kindly refer you to this very special album. Hat tip to Mat Cothran for keeping the faith and spreading the gospel.
Check it out: http://noelthrasher.bandcamp.com/album/an-introduction-to-noel-thrasher
Album that I really liked that everyone seemed Lukewarm on:
Chris Owens – Lysandre
This really didn’t sound all that different from Girls in my opinion. He nailed the 70s soft rock vibe and I appreciated the conceptual ambition.
Album that People really like that I thought was Meh:
Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
Clearly the man is capable of writing a great tune. (See the songs he wrote for Solange and Sky Ferreira), but this album just blended together to me. The 80’s throwback production was perhaps a little too faithful.
Top Albums That Didn’t Come out This year that I heard for the first time this year:
Brenda Ray – Walatta
Chemical Brothers – Exit Planet Dust
808 State: 90
Alex G: Trick
Dorothy Ashby: Afro Harping
Dory Previn – Dory Previn
J-Zone – Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes
Joni Mitchell – For the Roses
Lou Reed – Take No Prisoners
Jawbreaker – 24 Hour Revenge Therapy
Crocodiles – Crimes of Passion (really loved the primal scream vibes on this one. They get better with every album)
Pure Bathing Culture – Moon Tides
Lorde – Pure Heroine
Kool AD – 19/63
Islands – Ski Mask
Action Bronson x Party Supplies – Blue Chips 2
Washed Out – Paracosms
Monster Rally – Return to Paradise
Pure X – Crawling up the Stairs
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels
Best Music Video:
Tame Impala – Mind Mischief
Best Piece of Music Related Swag:
My Public Enemy T-Shirt
Best Show (Including Kanye West):
Despite the fact that we had the worst seats in the house: $40 dollar tickets that placed us literally behind the stage, preventing us from seeing well over half of the visual components of the show. Even still, it was still obvious that Kanye was putting other superstars to shame with his vision and ambition.
The man made his opener Kendrick Lamar look like a rank amateur.
Best Show (Excluding Kanye West)
On the other end of the spectrum is this bay area soul-punk band that killed it when I saw them in someone’s back yard for a memorial day concert that momentarily restored my faith in the power of punk rock.
The No Warning Album Drop. Paul, Kanye West, Dead Girlfriends, Death Grips, Mutual Benefit, and Beyonce.
Track listings, cover art, interviews, listening parties, lyric videos, singles, album teasers (the worst offender). I’m so sick of the traditional album PR cycle that tries to squeeze maximum buzz out of everything tangentially related to what’s actually important: the album itself.
Nowhere was the great failure of the PR cycle more satisfyingly evident than the great artflop that was Lady Gaga’s Artpop which proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that no amount of manufactured hype can make a bad album good. In fact, if anything, I’d argue that albums can actually suffer from PR hyping by presenting an embarrassingly false image of an “event” without the content to back it up.
2013 saw several notable album were released that appeared with little or no warning, proposing a fascinating concept: let people actually listen to an album before trying to get them excited about it.
Artist I was Glad Put Out an Album Even though I Didn’t Bother Listening
The Blow – The Blow
I’m fascinated by people who achieve the success and acclaim that most people would kill for and then just turn their back on it.
The Blow’s Paper Television was a bonafied underground hit, blaring out of mac speakers in every cute girls dorm room during my freshman year. She could have parlayed it into a massive follow up album, world tours, piles of cash.
A big reason probably was that she was unprepared for her sudden level of success. I doubt that her bosses at DIY torch bearers K Records could have foreseen the success of Paper Television, Whatever the reason, The Blow basically disappeared save for the occasional confrontational live appearance and a rumored stint writing songs for an ill-fated Lindsay Lohan album.
Well anyways, it’s seven years later and I’m glad that she has some new music. The single sounded promising.
Most Undeserved Best New Music
Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time.
I don’t care how thought provoking your Sky Ferreira think piece is, her music is lousy. All the controversy and conversation she generated this year is so ridiculously out of proportion when you consider just how bland her album is. At least Lana Del Rey has the decency to be over the top terrible. Anyway you slice it, this is run of the mill, shallow dance pop that commits the ultimate sin of not even being very catchy. There is nothing here to suggest that she is an artist worth conversing about. The best I can say is that her album cover achieves its aim of being unsettling.
Record That Makes Me Uncomfortable (In a good way?)
Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
The first thing I heard of Majical Cloudz was “What That Was,” a stirring ode to an important relationship that is very rarely heard in song: the plutonic same sex friend ship. That song, along with the rest of their Turns Turns Turns EP was enough to get me mildly excited to hear their debut album on Matador.
Impersonator is humorless, a trait that I generally don’t value in music. It dares you to laugh at it for being corny, and I probably would laugh at its Hallmark-level lyrical ambitions if I wasn’t convinced of Devon Walsh’s self-awareness and conviction. He know exactly what he’s risking by presenting that his brand of stark and unsubtle poetry makes people uncomfortable. And I can appreciate that.
Record That Makes Me Uncomfortable (In a bad way?)
Dead Girlfriends – Stop Pretending
I believe that Elite Gymnastics was one of the great Internet bands of the last couple of years. And in true Internet band fashion, disintegrated before making a debut album after a disastrous tour that left its members not on speaking terms.
Like many Elite Gymnastics fans, I was excited to check out EG songwriter James Brooks’ first release under the name Dead Girlfriends, a moniker taken from a quote by feminist philosopher Andrea Dworkin (who was immortalized in Elite Gymnastics’ “Andreja 4-Ever”)
The production continued to be top notch, not too different from the sound of Elite Gymnastics. The obvious difference between the two projects was James Brooks lyrics. No longer were the vocals buried in the mix and abstracted with distortion and reverb. They were as clear as in the top 40 pop music that Brooks celebrates, and the new found vocal clarity found him tackling topics that were a direct outgrowth of the essays on his blog that examine and critique sexism and gender politics, especially as they exist in “the scene.”
It’s sort of hard to criticize because I can’t really blame James Brooks for singing about topics that he clearly cares about, and I can appreciate his bravery. But this is a good case study in how hard it is to reconcile dogmatic politics with music, something that generally works better with more subtle flavors. Hopefully this was just an awkward first step towards something better.
The Great Lonely Women Cassette Tape Debacle
Tales of the resurgence of cassette tapes have been greatly exaggerated.
Best Radio Song:
Lorde – Royals
When an unknown gets a good song on the radio, I consider it minor miracle. Her other songs are even good to great. Hallelujah.
Worst Radio Song:
Drake – Started From the Bottom
No one’s popularity and critical adoration confuses me more than Drake’s. Can somebody please explain his appeal? He appears to have the personality traits of a very wealthy Fern. He is uniformly bland except when he dips below bland into the realm of irritating, which is how I would describe this song.
Plus, we all know that he only started from the bottom insofar as you consider “
Song That I Wouldn’t Have Expected to Like But Did:
Mac Miller: Gees
Mac Miller is a rapper who is beloved by bros, sponsored by Mountain Dew, and previously didn’t inspire much of an emotion in me more beyond mild annoyance. He wasn’t particularly horrible, but his level of popularity seemed enormously out of whack from the level passable level of talent and personality on display.
But in 2013, it seemed that Mac made a legitimate attempt to up his game and used his star power to associate himself with people less popular but much more talented than he is like Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt and Schoolboy Q, giving him something resembling cool points.
He also started making much better music which actually flipped my opinion of him from mild annoyance to mild enjoyment.
J-Zone – Peter Pan Syndrome
I had never heard of J-Zone before this year. I read a list of underrated hip-hop classics and downloaded (and later bought from J-Zone’s bandcamp) his 2001 not quite break out “Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes,” A true triumph of bad taste delivered with a caustic wit.
After digging into the J-Zone story a little more, I discovered that he had recently released a book “Root for the Villain” chronicling his ten year misadventure on the outskirts of the rap industry, which ends with his label deleting his back catalogue and J-Zone swearing off music and taking a crummy day job.
What makes Peter Pan Syndrome so great is that it has no illusions of relaunching J-Zone’s career that never really was. There was no reason for him to make it besides the fact that he likes making beats and rapping and is really really good at both. A necessary reminder of the joyful release of music even if were not all destined to become superstars.
Disclosure – White Noise
The only thing I wonder is how much of this song’s success can be attributed to the way Aluna pronounces “Automatic.”
Amount that I made from Spotify Streams:
Amount that Lonely Women was Streamed: 26,220
Amount per Spotify stream: .004 cents
Amount of money that a band streamed 1,000,000 times would get with a comparable per stream rate: $4,000
Conclusion: If you like a band’s record, buy it on I-tunes or better yet bandcamp.
Best Music to Make Out / Make Love to:
Washed Out – Paracosms
2013 will be remembered as the year someone actually said to me: “How many times have you had sex to this record?” She was talking about this record.
Worst Music Related Anything:
Lana Del Rey –Tropico
Lana Del Rey and Art Films. You literally could not pick a combination of things that irritate me more. As is to be expected of an artifact from the Del Rey camp, Tropico achieves the curious feat of being both toxically stupid and assaultingly pretentious. Full disclosure: I could not make it past the 5 minute mark because the urge to claw out my eyeballs was becoming to powerful to resist.
Chris Ott vs. The State of Music Journalism
With Hipster Runoff seemingly winding down for good (how can you possibly top the epic think piece that won my top music writing award last year?), Chris Ott may be the last music journalist standing who still gives a shit about selling out. But whereas Carles attacked the hype cycle through satire, Ott takes the much more direct stance of being overtly cantankerous. An asshole, really. What was once the great sin of Indie music, tailoring your music to make it commercial, is so pervasive even being the slightest bit weary about it is exhausting. If you like a band, they’ve had music in a commercial. Entire bands seem to be formed with the express purpose of providing the soundtrack to cellphone commercials. When you get your song in a commercial, people don’t call you a sellout, they congratulate you. Your “cred” may actually increase.
Even worse are music publications. A casual glance at Chris Ott’s former employer Pitchfork shows you just how compromised things have gotten in their quest to make a decent buck. I mean, this is a music review website that probably makes the bulk of their money from a music festival curated by them. No conflict of interest there!
We need people like Chris Ott reminding us that, actually, these are bad things. We like music because it speaks to our souls, not because it makes certain people make money or helps corporations hock junk. That seems pretty obvious and yet look at all the mountain of hate that has been piled on Mr. Ott just for pointing out people’s undeniable complicity in selling the soul of music and credibility of music journalism for clicks and ad revenue. Of course, Ott seeks out this confrontation, but it doesn’t make his criticisms any less true.
Even if the fight is hopeless, and always has been, I’m thankful for people like Ott who think that music is still important enough to get angry over.
Check out his book Shallow Rewards for some thought provoking essays.
Best Piece of Music Writing:
Lou Reed Reviews Yeezus
Besides the novelty of seeing 70-year-old rock royalty praise a contemporary hip-hop record, Lou Reed’s review of Yeezus is novel for being his last public dispatch before he died. It may not have been the ideal send off for the worlds greatest Rock Star, but it was satisfactory in that it exhibited what made Reed such a beloved figure, he was an absolutely uncompromising ally of music.
The best part of the review is when Reed compares the reception to Kanye’s supposed “difficult and ugly” record to his own Metal Machine Music, the infamous symphony of screeching guitar feedback that is widely accepted as being one of the worst records of all time. (Of course, it’s not bad at all unless you judge it as being anything but what it is: an ambient, experimental music)
One thing among many things that I’ve always admired about Reed is his unwillingness to give his critics an inch. Not even for a second did he ever give credence to lazy and sensational critics who would point to albums like Berlin or MMM or Yeezus as being willfully trolling, purposefully cacophonous ugly things designed to throw fans who had gotten to close off the trail. Which leads me to…
Quote of the year:
“I have never thought of music as a challenge — you always figure, the audience is at least as smart as you are. You do this because you like it, you think what you’re making is beautiful. And if you think it’s beautiful, maybe they’ll think it’s beautiful.” – Lou Reed
Well said. Thanks for the Inspiration Lou. And thanks to all the artists who against terrible odds managed to put beautiful things into the world this year.