At the end of each year, music geeks (like myself) rank their favorite albums, singles, reissues and so on, and post them in public places for fellow geeks to deride. And each year, a small chorus of dissenters question the value of such an exercise, asserting that a true music fan can’t fully absorb the year’s sounds by the end of December. Great music takes time to sink in, they say, and the best time for ranking, say, 2008′s releases would be at least the end of 2009, if not later. Only with the passage of time can you truly know which records have stuck with you, and which are collecting dust on the shelf.
I’m here to tell you, reader, they’re absolutely right.
I’m living proof. Last year, I wrote up a big, splashy year-end review and we put it in GO! Magazine. (Here, here, here and here.) Included in that review was a list of 25 albums I believed were the best of 2008. I wrote thousands of words about those albums, going on and on about their good qualities, and why I think you should listen to them. For some, I wrote a lot, and for others, just a sentence, because there’s only so much space in the paper.
And a year later, after another year of listening to those albums and discovering new ones, I must say that what are now my two favorite albums of 2008 took up only a small fraction of that space.
Back then, I thought no one had made a better album in 2008 than Fleet Foxes and Throw Me The Statue and Sigur Ros and Raphael Saadiq. But today, if I revised my list, I’d have Kathleen Edwards’ “Asking For Flowers” at the top, followed closely by Frightened Rabbit’s “The Midnight Organ Fight.”
A year ago, I dedicated 28 words to Edwards’ album because its brilliance hadn’t yet washed over me. And the Frightened Rabbit was nowhere to be found, because I hadn’t even heard it yet. And yet those two albums have dominated my ears in 2009, to the point where I have to force myself to listen to other things.
And so, those end-of-year list-making naysayers are right. This whole exercise is poppycock. You can’t get a permanent, accurate ranking of your favorite albums of a given year in December. You probably can’t even get one a year later. These kinds of things are works in progress, of course, subject to changing moods, evolving tastes, new discoveries, the passage of time, and so on.
All. That. Said.
Welcome to Frequency’s coverage of the best music of the past decade and 2009! Forget everything I just said and join me as I take a look back at the best songs and albums of the 2000s, both through my eyes and the eyes of others.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting list after list and song after song from the past 10 years, and we’ll wrap things up on Dec. 18 with my overview of Bend’s music scene in 2009, including the third installment of our downloadable MP3 compilation, “Near/Far.” (Get the first two volumes by clicking here.)
It’s going to be fun for me, because I love stuff like this. And I hope it’s fun for you, too. I hope you’ll jump in at any time to agree, disagree, debate or just chat about music.
Just remember: Anything you read here could change tomorrow, next month, next year, or next decade. And that, at least in part, is the beauty of a living, breathing love of music.