Sunday, January 1, 2012

What I Talk About When I Talk About 2011

Everyone else has long since published their Best of the Year lists, some as early as November.  Why do I wait until the new year?  Because, as any one of my uncles might say, the old year ain't fekking over yet, is it? 

But not everyone is related to my uncle, so I see these lists begin to sprout up, and all I can think is that there's still plenty of time for new music - especially in the holiday season - that might define the year. 

And it’s not until December 31 at about 11:45pm that I can relax, feeling reasonably sure that no one's going to surprise me with the greatest CD of the year.  But now it's 2012.  2011 is now officially fekking over. So while I await my uncle's list, I'll offer mine.

If you've seen any of my prior Best of Year lists, you already know that "My 2011" has little – and this year, very little - to do with what was actually released that year.  It's all about what I got around to buying/getting/hearing.  So if you’re looking for a genuine "Best of 2011", move on. 

But wait a minute, what was all that crap about maintaining the integrity of the year, you ask?  (Hey, that's a good phrase!  I wished I used it.)  Well I say, what's the difference?  I either heard it this year or I didn't. 

But I probably will, if I may pick a New Year's resolution that isn't too inconvenient, let you know more about what's going on in the year as said year proceeds, than I have in the past.  Are you happy?  Plus it lets me enjoy my New Year's Day hangover without having to tell you everything from scratch.

One moment, while I powder my nose…

Okay.  Back now, feeling…refreshed.

I’d like to think of myself as someone who keeps up to date with music (and books and movies and occasionally, real life), but what really ends up happening is that in any given year, I hear about new records, but don’t actually hear them (and then just the ones I buy) until the following year.  Oh, I could go out and buy them right away, but which ones?  There are thousands of new CDs released every year.  So we’re all literally drowning in new music.  (No, we're not, stupid.  Not literally!  Just testing you.)

And with all the hype floating around out there, it’s hard to distinguish temporary enthusiasms (and outright bs (as opposed to my own, kinder, gentler bs)) from thoughtful opinions on music that might have some lasting value.  Will what I buy today be something I’ll want to hear a year from now?  Better to just wait that year to let it all sort itself out.  Oh, I won't be bored.  I'm still wading through the previous year's stuff.     But if you've got the cash to splurge now, knock yourself out.  (Of course you could put some of that aside for poor, you selfish bastard, but I digress.  The Irish Catholic equation of Pleasure and Selfishness isn't even another post.  It's a whole other blog.)

But all this waiting does put me back about a year, so it’s kind of like showing up for a New Year’s party in February, and then killing everyone's little remaining buzz by talking about how a quieter, smaller party would have been more appropriate.  

So here I am at your door, without even bringing a bottle.

In 2011, I returned to artists who've previously made CDs that I loved. I’m always a little hesitant to do this, since it’s hard to imagine how another record could be anything but a disappointment. And while the new ones I got were not quite obsession-inducing, most were excellent.  Not great, but very, very good.  So it turned out to be kind of an A minus year.  I’ll take it. I've had worse.

And on that note, with apologies to Robert Christgau, I'm going to make another New Year"s Resolution to steal his grading system.  Why not?  Everybody else has.

Next: 2011 - Winter Discontent

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