Well, the notoriously late Voice's 2011 Pazz and Jop Poll Results have finally come out, which means it's time for me to finish up my 2011 year in music.
And I'm well on my way, having already gotten four albums this year. Sooooo….
Welcome to the First Annual Jaybee-bies (Okay, that name needs work The Geezies? ) Awards.
Where I summarize, yet again, what I - as opposed to the rest of the world - listened to in 2011. Welcome to my world.
Overall, this wasn't a year of obsession, but rather one of riches, balance and satisfaction. There were no albums whose songs haunted me throughout the days and weeks, but rather album after album of very high quality and varied music. Being unofficially bipolar, it's probably better for me that way.
Anyway, let the awards begin!
Self Restraint Award:
I usually give this award to myself if I can keep my music purchases to less than 20 a year. (It's origins lie in a similar award from my teen years, if I could keep something else to less than 20 times a month. I never won.) But that takes more……..FOCUS……than I can possibly muster, and I ended up with 25.
I blame Amazon.com with their monthly 100 mp3 albums for $5 (and this January there are 1,000!) and Other Music, whose used bin exerts a gravitational pull on me. Maybe I should to move to another state. Anyway, the winner this year is Not Me. Too bad the old award isn't still around though…
MP3 Firsts Award:
This marks the first year I've gotten an mp3 instead of a CD. Actually four. Now I know what those young folks - forty year olds, I mean - are talking about! I obviously can't win this again, so I'll probably shoot for more MP3s than CDs this year.
Anyway, I'd like amazon.com…
But now, awards for actual musicians:
Best Album of the Year:
1. W H O K I L L by tUnE-yArDs - This record is unique in that it's the only one I got all year that came out in 2011. (Nutboy's got some things to say about this, but later for that.) I may not have logged as many listens for this as I did for, say Grandaddy or Nick Drake, I'm still playing it eight months later, so I know it's got legs. A perfect balance of accessibility and experimentation, tunes and weirdness. Even the lyrics are good. Here's "My Country".
It's sheer coincidence that my pick should coincide with Pazz and Jop. My picks are usually more lame.
2. The Sophtware Slump by Grandaddy - Sadness and tunes. An unbeatable combination for someone like me. Try Underneath the Weeping Willow.
3. Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter - Guitars, weirdness, etc. A favorite for the whole family. Desire Lines may be the song of the year.
Too many, really, hence those riches I was talking about. Michigan, Seven Swans, The Boy With the Arab Strap, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Modern Times, Bryter Layter,
Artist of the Year:
Sufjan Stevens, for deluging me with his back catalog - Michigan, Seven Swans, and Songs for Christmas. He didn't put anything out this year, which is probably why he didn't attend the awards ceremony that took place in my basement last Tuesday. It's a shame he didn't pick up the statuette, which looks a lot like my son's soccer trophy from grammar school.
Best Educational Experience:
This goes to the record that rewards my wandering ears with enough joy to encourage even more exploration.
And the winner is… Francophonic by Franco - This compilation has so much music, and even though I had something by him already, so little that I ever knew about. The opening of an entire world (well, continent, anyway).
Special mention to all the others - Charles Mingus, Sunny Ada, Eric Dolphy and Terry Riley - who didn't make me sorry.
I have to give myself a plan of action for the new year, which I may follow or ignore as the music dictates:
Try to win next year's Self Restraint award.
Get more MP3s, if for nothing else, just to save some space.
Buy more current year music, because I've got Nutboy breathing down my neck.
Music did what I needed it to do for me. Around this time a year ago, I was miserable. Slowly but surely music - along with the other good things in life I'm learning to appreciate more - brought me out of it.
Which is why I listen.
Good night and have a musical year.