23 January 2013
I always enjoy Xgau's (if I may be so bold) end-of-the-year music write-ups, and this is no exception. Here he compares Pitchfork's and Rolling Stone's, finding unusual consensus in Fiona Apple, Frank Ocean, and Kendrcik Lamar, but not much when it comes to his own list. For many years Christgau was the main man behind the Village Voice's Pazz and Jop Music Poll (man, I used to read the VV every week...) and the democrat in him seems to really believe in these polls. I like what he has to say about artists who, rather than being ground-breaking, simply continue to refine what they already do very well. Pitchfork, especially, is often in danger of ignoring that trait.
These days critics praise hip-hop popcraft more readily than rock popcraft -- that's why many will downgrade Wrecking Ball, not to mention Pink's felt and feisty The Truth About Love, records I applaud because I believe artists can just as well replenish or reinhabit formal strategies as well as demolish or redesign them.
And on old-timers like Loudon Wainwright getting ignored:
If twentysomethings want to like Kendrick Lamar's album more than Loudon Wainwright's, I say more power to them. The Cloud Nothings', even -- there's an imagined future there that neither Loudon Wainwright or I will ever know firsthand again, and why shouldn't someone whose life stretches ahead cherish that? But it bums me that it doesn't go the other way -- that the residual formal mastery of someone like Wainwright seems incapable of touching musical aesthetes of a certain age, who as children of 9/11 know better than they'd prefer that death is in the cards for everyone.
Finally, as a bonus, here's a link Sasha Frere-Jones' end-of-year-writeup. There's lots of other worthy links there as well.