Why 15? Because I couldn’t cut five from this list. I’m told that my blog entries are too long, and this is another long one. (I just can’t shut up.) In the old days, when I’d compose year-end mix tapes for whomever I was dating at the time, it was easy to selectively forget tracks that I’d tired of by year’s end and sub them out for edgier, less immediately accessible things that portrayed my musical taste in a more flattering light. Today, however, the iPod is a strictly literal indicator of what its user is REALLY listening to. In compiling this list, (presented here in no particular order), I’ve relied heavily on that last column in the iTunes playlist program under the subhead “Plays.” In other words, it’s all ice cream and french fries this time around. No broccoli.
I was a long time coming around to Arcade Fire (in fact, I may be walking in the front door just as everyone else is slipping out the back door), but the first single and title track off their 3rd album grabbed me by the ears and wouldn’t let go. A roadhouse piano stomper about some kind of disaster witnessed from afar by emotionally numb lovers on the run, “The Suburbs” kicks off a cycle of insightful, nuanced takes on contemporary suburban living. No small feat.
Critical darling Ariel Pink spends most of his time on Before Today coming on like a roughed-up, lo-fi Roxy Music or (dare I say it) 10cc. So it comes as quite a surprise when the chunky guitar blare of “Little Wig,” an extended pop-rock nugget that sounds like the Kinks, circa 1966, suddenly booms out of the speakers. I get the rest of the record, with its violins, synths, saxes, and faux-lux sheen, but I’m pretty partial to chunky guitar blare, too. Especially British Explosion chunky guitar blare that gives GBV’s Robert Pollard a run for his money.