Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of the 2012 Best Track Lists

The end of year lists are out.  There are so many of them and they come out so early.  There must be a strong demand for lists, or maybe just a very great supply of list makers.

The high points of Rolling Stone's top 50 song list were Alabama Shakes at #1, First Aid Kit at #10, Grizzly Bear at #29, and Craig Finn at #40.  My 8YO will be excited that the Wanted made the list (at #44), but why are they on Rolling Stone's list?

Paste's list of the top 50 songs of 2012 also had First Aid Kit and Alabama Shakes in the top 10.  They also had a song I hadn't heard called "When I Write My Master's Thesis" at #2.  That's the kind of thing that makes the Paste list a lot better than the Rolling Stones list, even if there's a lot of overlap.  Grizzly Bear and Dr. Dog sat right outside the top 10 at #11 and #12.

The NME top 50 best tracks of 2012 list strings together a number of songs that I really like, but don't quite love, from #6 to #9 with Grimes, Jake Bugg, Bat For Lashes, and Tame Impala.  Tame Impala shows up on a lot of lists this year.  I liked their 2010 record better, and I didn't see that one on too many lists, so I'm suspicious that the new record is just benefiting from the belated buzz due to them in 2010.

The Spin 40 best songs of 2012 is too heavy on the generic pop music for my taste.  There's some overlap with other lists on the alternative end of the Spin spectrum (e.g. Grimes, Bat for Lashes, Japandroids, and Cat Power), but the list is dominated by pretty mainstream stuff.  On the other hand, maybe the other lists that left off Psy and Carly Rae and Kanye will look silly in 10 years.  Call me skeptical (maybe).

Popmatters gives us the 75 best songs of 2012.  Grimes and Japandroids come in at #1 and #2 here as well as showing up on countless other lists.  They've got Frank Ocean's "Pyramids" at #3 helping him run the table showing up near the top of more lists than anyone else with more than one song in contention.  I think I could like "Pyramids" if it was shorter.  I tried to listen to some of his other hyped tracks when the record first came out with so much buzz, and I've concluded that he must be a writer's artist.  I'm a listener and a list maker, not so much a writer.  I'd like to see Cloud Nothings higher up than #52, but at least they made this list.  Adventureous genre blending music also didn't do very well on any of the lists this year, so I was glad to see Django Django at #15 and Pepe Deluxe at #22.

Stereogum gives a positive review to Pitchfork's top 100 track list.  Speaking of Cloud Nothings, they come in at #34 at Pitchfork.  By being a top 100, there's more room for both some adventurous choices and mainstream hip-hop and dance choices.  Pitchfork is probably the winner in terms of the most music that I haven't heard that I'm now interested in hearing after reading what they had to say about it.  They might also be the winner in terms of the most music that I haven't heard that I'm still not interested in hearing after reading what they had to say about it.  If Rolling Stone and Paste overvalue rootsy music, Pitchfork and NME definitely undervalue it.  A perfect list would fall between for me with a few more obscure choices.

Prettty Much Amazing gives us a top 25 with a lot of overlap with Pitchfork in the top 10.  They give their #1 to Fiona Apple, whose comeback is apparently stronger than I understood.

Esquire's list is moderately interesting just because it has so little overlap with the other critics lists and they need to be commended for including Lee Fields, who appears to have been ignored by everyone else.  Nonetheless, the presentation of the list on the web site is probably too annoying for anyone other than the most committed list reader.  MSN, with only a top 12, competes for annoying presentation.

I tried to dig up a few more obscure lists in the hopes of finding more unexpected gems.  Two lists with potential are Jonk's top 100 songs and the Wounded Jukebox.  Jonk gets extra points for waiting until the end of the year to post and for including a lot of stuff I haven't heard that I think I might like.  The Wounded Jukebox gets points for being one of the only lists to include Edward Sharpe's "Man on Fire".  Both lists get points for including Tallest Man on Earth and for introducing me to Lord Huron.

Now it's time to start making a list for New Year's record shopping so that I can be ready to make my own best of 2012 list a year from now.  As I explained in 2011 and again more recently, I need a year to catch up.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Best Tracks of 2011 (with the benefit of a year's reflection)

A year ago, I decided to start a new tradition here.  It's a bit hard to claim something as a tradition when it's only been done once.  Now it will be twice.  So that you don't have to click over to it, here's what I said a year ago:

"I've decided to start a new year-end tradition. I'm going to count down the top tracks from the previous year. Let me be clear. I'm reviewing the year that ended a full year ago. I'm not counting down the just-completed year. It's too soon, and everybody's doing the current year. They have editors and deadlines. I don't. I'm going with the previous year. I will have had time to catch up and reflect."

This list of the 75 best tracks of 2011 is both longer and better than it would have been if I had made it a year ago.

75) Bon Iver - Calgary
74) Cass McCombs - County Line
73) My Brightest Diamond - There's a Rat
72) Wilco - Art Of Almost
71) EMA - California
70) Adele - Rolling In The Deep
69) Peter Bjorn And John - Breaker Breaker
68) Destroyer - Savage Night At The Opera
67) Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
66) Wild Flag - Romance
65) The Dodos - Don't Stop
64) The Strokes - Machu Picchu
63) Peter Bjorn And John - Second Chance
62) Erik Friedlander - Low Country Cupola
61) Sloan - Shadow Of Love
60) R.E.M. - ÜBerlin
59) Phantogram - Don't Move
58) Veronica Falls - Right Side Of My Brain
57) The Ettes - Teeth
56) Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed
55) Alexander - Truth
54) Secret Cities - Always Friends
53) The Bevis Frond - The Divide
52) The Vaccines - Norgaard
51) TV On The Radio - Caffeinated Consciousness
50) The Baseball Project - Panda and The Freak
49) My Morning Jacket - You Wanna Freak Out
48) Cults - Go Outside
47) The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
46) Lana Del Rey - Video Games
45) Bell - Meaninglessness
44) Smith Westerns - Weekend
43) John Maus - Quantum Leap
42) Girls - Honey Bunny
41) tUnE-yArDs - Bizness
40) Chain And The Gang - Why Not?
39) Austra - Beat And The Pulse
38) Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks
37) Atari Logic - Around The Bay
36) Factory Floor - Two Different Ways
35) Akron/Family - Silly Bears
34) The War On Drugs - Baby Missiles
33) Yellow Ostrich - WHALE
32) Okkervil River - Rider
31) The Fresh & Onlys - Keep Telling Everybody Lies
30) Girls Names - I Could Die
29) Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know
28) The Bandana Splits - Sometimes
27) Dengue Fever - Family Business
26) M83 - Midnight City
25) Amy LaVere - You Can't Keep Me
24) The Mountain Goats - The Autopsy Garland
23) Jerusalem and The Starbaskets - Chocolate Covered Everyberry
22) Fleet Foxes - Sim Sala Bim
21) Title Tracks - Turn Your Face
20) The Head and the Heart - Sounds Like Hallelujah
19) Crystal Stilts - Radiant Door
18) Battles - Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo)
17) Ward White - 1964
16) Rob Crow - Purpose
15) Little Dragon - Ritual Union
14) Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - Simple Girl
13) The Wooden Birds - Be No Lie
12) The Feelies - Later On
11) Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers - Heaven In Stereo
10) Let's Wrestle - I Am Useful
9) Generationals - I Promise
8) Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise If You Can See
7) Sandro Perri - Changes
6) Those Darlins - Screws Get Loose
5) P.J. Harvey - The Words That Maketh Murder
4) Fujiya & Miyagi - Pills
3) Pistol Annies - Hell On Heels
2) Bill Callahan - Free's
1) Blitzen Trapper - Fletcher

And now I have a full year to troll through all the best of 2012 lists that were rushed out over the last couple of weeks.  Some are better than others.  Some have songs that will grow on me.  Some have songs that will age rapidly and poorly.  Look for my 2012 list here at the end of 2013.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Top 30 Rainiest Songs

As Hurricane Sandy approaches, people in the Mid Atlantic region of the US will be focused on preparations, or possibly distracted by questions as to whether or not one should or should not make preparations.  On the West Coast of the US, we are neither focused nor distracted by such preparations.  Therefore, there is time to make a list of the 30 rainiest songs, ranked roughly in order of raininess (as opposed to greatness or chart success or some other not meteorological criteria).

30) The Doors - Riders On The Storm (1971)
29) Prince And The Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)
28) The Weather Girls - It's Raining Men (1983)
27) Beta Band - Dry The Rain (1997)
26) Neil Young - Like A Hurricane (1977)
25) James Taylor - Fire and Rain (1976)
24) Gnarls Barkley - Storm Coming (2006)
23) Can - She Brings the Rain (1970)
22) Led Zeppelin - Fool In The Rain (1978)
21) Grateful Dead - Box Of Rain (1970)
20) Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (1963)
19) Smokey Hogg - It's Rainin' Here (1951)
18) Eurythmics - Here Comes The Rain Again (1983)
17) Push Kings - Raincoat Renegade (1997)
16) Graham Parker + The Rumour - Thunder And Rain (1977)
15) Beatles - Rain (1966)
14) Etta James - Stormy Weather (1961)
13) Robbie Fulks - It's Always Raining Somewhere (2005)
12) Faust - It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl (1972)
11) Eruption - I Can't Stand the Rain (1978)
10) Orange Peels - I Don't Mind The Rain (1997)
9) Gene Kelly - Singin' in the Rain (1952)
8) Charles Mingus - The I Of Hurricane Sue (1972)
7) The Dils - Sound of the Rain (1980)
6) Interpreters - The Rains Are Coming (1997)
5) Marah - Rain Delay (1998)
4) Evelyn Freeman - Didn't It Rain (1958)
3) Creedence Clearwater Revival - Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (1970)
2) Violent Femmes - I Hear The Rain (1984)
1) Dorothy Morrison - Rain (1970)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Make Your Own Chart at Rate Your Music

I've posted previously about Rate Your Music's nice feature that allows you to customize charts.  It's cool enough that it's worth revisiting.  A commenter inquired a while ago about my top 500 songs of the 1980s list.  It didn't have the pop music the commenter was looking for.  I had, myself, commented on the way that a lot of hardcore unexpectedly rose to the top of that list.  I know it's a minority opinion that hardcore punk was among the best and most lasting contributions to music in the 80s, but what if we take that as a given?  Did my list at least match the opinions of others who rate hardcore highly?

Here's a chart I made, with the make your own chart feature.  Instead of just having albums or singles or eps on the chart, I chose the "everything" options.  I decided to limit it to the 1980s for comparison with my own 80s list.  I selected the genre "hardcore punk".  We just called it hardcore in the 80s, but I guess other people have called other subgenres hardcore this or hardcore that, so I'm forced to use the term "hardcore punk" even though that term was never ever in use in my recollection.  It sounds dorky.  I also selected on ratings by users from the United States.

Here's the top 10 as of October 21st, 2012

1. Misfits - Misfits
2. Minor Threat - Complete Discography
3. Minor Threat - Minor Threat (1984 compilation with 12 songs)
4. Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
5. Black Flag - The First Four Years
6. Minor Threat - Minor Threat (1981 ep with 8 songs)
7. Dead Kennedys - Holiday in Cambodia/Police Truck
8. Husker Du - Zen Arcade
9. Descendants - Two Things at Once
10. Misfits - Legacy of Brutality

It was really interesting to see that 4 of the top 5 releases and 6 of the top 10 are compilations.  I think that reflects the uneven nature of hardcore releases and also the difficulty in obtaining some of the rarer singles, such that "best of" collections are necessary if you want all the best songs.

Apparently I left the Misfits off of my 1980s list.  It's possible I got confused about what was really released in the late 70s versus the early 80s and inadvertently left them off of both lists, or its possible that I just forgot about them because I wasn't really into them during the 1980s.  It was an oversight.  It happens.

Minor Threat's Salad Days comes in at #3 on my 80s list and Minor Threat's Minor Threat comes in at #43, coming in outside of the top 40 only because of my one-song-per-band-inside-the-top-40 rule.  The DK's Holiday in Cambodia is at #25 on my list, and Husker Du's Zen Arcade include my #1 song of the 1980s, Turn on the News.

Black Flag's "TV Party" made my top 100, but not my top 40.  The Descendants, like the Misfits, got left off of my list.  I can see now that the problem is that I've never gotten around to copying Two Things at Once into my iTunes library, which is the starting point of all my lists.  I'll fix that today.

My list had the Bad Brains "I Against I" at #5.  Although the Bad Brains, in general, do well on the Rate Your Music list, coming in at #11 with their 1982 release and #28 with their 1983 release, their 1985 release on which "I Against I" is the title track is all the way down at #92.

The Minutemen are lower than I think they ought to be at Rate Your Music, and I'm disappointed the Rat Music for Rat People compilation (including my #19 song "Cheap Tragedies" by the Avengers) doesn't show up.  I was pleased, on the other hand, to see the Repo Man soundtrack at #25 at Rate Your Music.

Government Issue had 3 songs on my top 500, but none in the top 100, so maybe it's fitting that they don't show up until #255 on the Rate Your Music list.  I'm guessing the rankings down that low are more volatile than the rankings at the top, so don't be surprised if it's no longer at #255 if you look for it yourself.

What's that?  You aren't going to look yourself?  OK - fine, but you should still make your own chart.  It's fun, and it's easy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Will the People's Choice Get Punk Right?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland is a pretty cool place.  The Hall of Fame has gotten a lot wrong, particularly as it moved into the years of potential punk-era inductees, but you don't have to care about the actual inductees to enjoy the Museum.  So, I want to be clear that I'm about to start complaining about the Hall and not the Museum.

The Hall of Fame has decided to start giving regular people some votes.  I think that will probably help bands like Rush that have big followings and not a lot of critical love, but I don't think it will help punk bands.  There's a web site called The People's Choice that has been gathering votes from regular people for a bit longer.  They've been advancing one year each month rather than one year each year, and as of this writing they're up to 1975.

In 1975, at the people's choice, we are rapidly approaching the first wave of important and widely known punk bands, and we have already reached the bands that are borderline punk/proto-punk.  Let's consider 5 such bands and their chances for the Hall.

1) The New York Dolls - Listen to Trash from 1973 and tell me it's not punk rock.  Unlike the other bands here, the New York Dolls have been nominated and snubbed.

2) Rocket from the Tombs - Before the Dead Boys performed Sonic Reducer, Rocket From the Tombs, featuring some of what would become Pere Ubu, was playing it in 1975.

3) Pere Ubu - The fact that the Hall is in Cleveland makes it especially galling that Ubu has never even been nominated.  It was 1976's Final Solution that became a seminal early punk classic, but their first single was 1975's 30 Seconds Over Tokyo.  They haven't been nominated at the People's Choice in the class of 1975.  Get over there, and put them in as a write-in like I did.

4) Death - I didn't know about this band until a few years ago.  I know I'm not alone in that.  They may not be quite Hall worthy, given that they had so little output, but you have to respect that they were doing this in the mid 70s.

5) Jonathan Richman - This is definitely not proto-punk in the same way as the other 4 bands listed here.  The beauty of punk is the way it stripped everything down to basics and still packed a punch.  Jonathan was more about the stripping-it-down angle than the packing-a-punch angle, and may have more in common with indie rock than punk as a result.  Along with Ubu and The New York Dolls, he's long overdue to enter the Hall.

I'll be honest.  I don't have a lot of hope for these bands at either the Hall or the People's Choice.  I assume the Ramones and Sex Pistols have a chance at getting in on the first ballot, but I'm interested how The Jam, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, The Cure, and later, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Minutemen, and Husker Du do in the voting versus their commercially successful contemporaries.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Epic Songs Revisited

In my last post, I commented on how much I liked the idea of an epic songs list, such as the one at DigitalDreamDoor.  Not three days later, the blog came out with their own epic song list.  Hmmmm.

The allmusic list is much shorter with just one or two picks from several of their writers.  They're a lot more interesting picks than the DigitalDreamDoor list, but the DigitialDreamDoor list is a lot more interesting from the point of view of actually ranking the very best epic songs.  I started trying to make my own list, and I found I needed to break it out into categories.

Category #1:  Classics.  These are songs from the 60s and 70s that I would have picked for the top of a list like the DigitalDreamDoor list.

30) Working Man - Rush (1974, 7:11)
29) Eagle - ABBA (1978, 5:53)
28) Sparkle City - Shuggie Otis (1974, 5:58)
27) Fire On High - Electric Light Orchestra (1975, 5:32)
26) Radar Love - Golden Earring (1973, 6:27)
25) Beginnings - Chicago (1969, 7:51)
24) It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl - Faust (1972, 7:25)
23) Children Of The Sun - Billy Thorpe (1979, 6:45)
22) Celluloid Heroes - Kinks (1972, 6:23)
21) Paradise By The Dashboard Light - Meat Loaf (1977, 8:29)
20) No Agreement - Fela Kuti (1977, 7:52)
19) Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty (1978, 6:01)
18) War Pigs/Luke's Wall - Black Sabbath (1970, 7:58)
17) Interstellar Overdrive - Pink Floyd (1968, 9:41)
16) Come Sail Away - Styx (1977, 6:07)
15) American Pie - Don McLean (1971, 8:37)
14) Hold Your Head Up - Argent (1972, 6:15)
13) Beautiful As The Moon - Terrible As An Army With Banners - Henry Cow (1975, 7:02)
12) Aqualung - Jethro Tull (1971, 6:37)
11) Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973, 9:10)
10) Kashmir - Led Zeppelin (1975, 8:29)
9) A Day In The Life - The Beatles (1967, 5:34)
8) You Can't Always Get What You Want - Rolling Stones (1969, 7:33)
7) Band On The Run - Wings (1973, 5:10)
6) Roundabout - Yes (1972, 8:32)
5) Jungleland - Bruce Springsteen (1975, 9:33)
4) Nights In White Satin - The Moody Blues (1967, 7:30)
3) The End - The Doors (1967, 11:44)
2) Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) - Pink Floyd (1975, 13:40)
1) Alice's Restaurant Massacre - Arlo Guthrie (1967, 18:37)
Category #2:  Punk era through the 1980s. 

25) Chichen-Itza Elvis - Copernicus (1987, 7:53)
24) I'm Considering a Move to Memphis - Colorblind James Experience (1987, 6:42)
23) All White People Look Alike - Brian Woodbury (1987, 20:38)
22) How I Learned to Love the Bomb - Television Personalities (1985, 5:07)
21) Tokyo Storm Warning - Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1986, 6:25)
20) Dreams of Sexual Perfection - Fugs (1986, 11:52)
19) Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through - Jim Steinman (1981, 6:27)
18) Sister Europe - Psychedelic Furs (1980, 5:39)
17) How Soon Is Now? - Smiths (1984, 6:46)
16) Two Tribes - Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984, 7:59)
15) Sweat Loaf - Butthole Surfers (1987, 6:09)
14) Teen Age Riot - Sonic Youth (1988, 6:58)
13) Rock Lobster - The B-52's (1979, 6:51)
12) People Who Died - Jim Carroll Band (1980, 5:00)
11) Porn Wars - Frank Zappa (1985, 12:05)
10) High In a Flat - The Bevis Frond (1988, 7:49)
9) O Superman - Laurie Anderson (1982, 8:25)
8) Marquee Moon - Television (1977, 10:40)
7) Sex Bomb - Flipper (1982, 7:49)
6) Teen Love - No Trend (1984, 7:41)
5) I Believe - Buzzcocks (1979, 7:08)
4) 30 Seconds Over Tokyo - Pere Ubu (1975, 6:25)
3) The Days Of Wine And Roses - The Dream Syndicate (1982, 7:33)
2) Gloria - Patti Smith (1975, 5:55)
1) Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus (1982, 9:36)
Category #3:  The 1990s through the present.  I don't know how well this list holds up against the other two.  It's the one that needs the most revision.
25) The Frequency - Jets To Brazil (2002, 6:15)
24) Die Arden En Die Mens - Blomkrag (2003, 6:40)
23) Glover - The Aliens (2007, 8:23)
22) L. Frank Baum - Bags (1991, 5:53)
21) We Want War - These New Puritans (2010, 7:23)
20) Two Beautiful Beaches - B-Sides (2001, 5:43)
19) The Good, The Bad And The Queen - The Good, the Bad & the Quee n(2007, 7:00)
18) No Place - Eskimo (1990, 6:10)
17) Emma Blowgun's Last Stand - Beulah (1999, 5:22)
16) Age Of Adz - Sufjan Stevens (2010, 8:00)
15) Home - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (2009, 5:03)
14) I Would Hurt A Fly - Built To Spill (1997, 6:15)
13) Don't Know When But A Day Is Gonna Come - Bright Eyes (2002, 6:32)
12) I Made a Date (With An Open Vein) - Trembling Bells & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2012, 6:34)
11) Ballad Of The Sin Eater - Ted Leo/Pharmacists (2003, 5:20)
10) Inner Meet Me - Beta Band (1997, 6:20)
9) Whiskey & Speed - Josh Fix (2007, 6:21)
8) Pride approaching - Elope (2003, 6:44)
7) One Nail Draws Another - Utotem (1991, 14:58)
6) Wake Up - Arcade Fire (2004, 5:35)
5) Accused of Stealing - The Delgados (2000, 5:42)
4) Lesson 6: The Lecture - Jurassic 5 (1997, 6:35)
3) The Next Messiah - Jenny Lewis (2008, 8:45)
2) Moby Octopad - Yo La Tengo (1997, 5:49)
1) Folk Song - Bongwater (1990, 9:24)

I didn't have any strict definition of "epic", but I did require that all songs on these lists be at least 5 minutes long.  Songs with multiple movements and twists and turns definitely got bonus "epic" points, and some very long very good songs didn't make the list just because.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Five Most Interesting Lists at DigitalDreamdoor

If you're looking for lists and impressed by sheer quantity, you can't do much better than DigitalDreamDoor.  I'm pretty impressed by the quality of their lists as well, but as somebody who obsesses about both the final list and the process (e.g. see list-making interview one to four), I wish I knew a bit more about how they compiled their lists.  Here's a list of the five that I found most interesting.

#1.  Greatest Epic Rock Songs  - This is a great idea for a list, and I'm sure this isn't the only one out there.  I'm kind of amazed that Bohemian Rhapsody has aged so well in so many people's eyes that it can top this list as opposed to the novelty song list, which is where I probably would have guessed it would have landed 30 years ago.  I can't quite figure out Deep Purple coming in at #3, but that was the only major oddity in the top 10.

#2.  Greatest Power Pop Songs - This is an interesting list, largely because the genre isn't really that well defined and means different things to different people.  I can't see putting the Beatles in there at #4 because I can't see putting them on the list at all, but I guess since they were such an obvious influence on so many great power pop bands, it's not crazy to include them.... or is it?

#3. Greatest New Wave Songs - I've commented on new wave song lists previously.  This is a really good list.  The first major quibble I have didn't come until Level 42 showed up at #24.

#4. Greatest Indie Rock Albums - There's a good bit of overlap between their list and mine.  Mine, of course, has more obscure choices, and theirs has some artists like the Smiths, that I think ought to belong on some other list instead.

#5. Greatest Alt-Country Songs - Here's the list with which I have the most disagreements, but I'll confess that I don't know well many of the songs that they ranked ahead of the alt-country songs I like most.  The other issue, though, is that I don't think they made great choices for the best song or songs from the artists that I do know well.  Maybe I need to get down to business making my own alt-country list.

I was thinking of making another list of the most important lists I thought were missing from DigitalDreamDoor, but I couldn't think of much of anything.  I'd like to see a gospel list and they don't have one.  I'd like to see a hardcore list (distinct from the punk list).  It's really a pretty impressive site for list connoisseurs.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pitchfork's People's List - Are They Embarrassed About All That Radiohead?

Pitchfork, one of my favorite music review sites, recently endeavored to create a "people's list" based on a limited-time-only ballot that I somehow missed.  It's a list of the best albums over the life of the Pitchfork site through last year (1996-2011).  I like track lists better than album lists, but I'm still a suck for a reader poll of any variety.  The list is now a little hard to find on the Pitchfork website, so I'm wondering if they weren't happy about how the People reflected on their hipster image.

Hidden though they may be now, the people's votes are in, and the people luuuuuuuuuuuuuv Radiohead.  Radiohead shows up 4 times in the top 20, including both the #1 and #2 slots.  I really don't know quite what to make of that.  I think some of it is that the past 15 years really hasn't been a very good period for the album as an art form and Radiohead really is an album rock band.  I'd be curious if there were a Peoples List of tracks if Radiohead would come even close to dominating the top 100 tracks the way they dominate the top 20 albums.

The people do not, as it turns out, love alt-country.  In the top 200, there is no Neko Case, no Old 97s, no Son Volt, and no Waco Brothers.  Ryan Adams sneaks in, and I have to say the People really did pick the right Ryan Adams record.  The people also like Wilco, but they like Yankee Foxtrot Hotel a lot better than Summerteeth, and I can't agree with the People about that.  Maybe I'm just hatin' on the People who caught on late, even though Husker Du preaches against that kind of behavior, but I never understood what was so great about Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, apart from Warner Bros effectively having to pay for the record twice.  No Neko Case though - really???  Is it just Paste folks who like Neko and not Pitchfork folks?

There's also no Sloan and no Luna.  I think both made their best records in the late 90s, but I know some others think they made their best records before the Pitchfork 1996 cutoff.  Maybe neither band is quite right for the Pitchfork crowd.  I really would think that the Beta Band would be a Pitchfork band though, and they're nowhere to be found on this list.  I wonder if The Three EPs was deemed ineligible on account of being three EPs on one CD.  I still would have included a later Beta Band record, but The Three EPs is the obvious missing choice.  Also, no Mountain Goats?  I hadn't realized how much on the outskirts of the Pitchfork readership I was.  Neko Case, Beta Band, and Mountain Goats are probably the 3 most surprising omissions to me, in that order.

There's still lots of good stuff on this list.  I remain a bit surprised by the enduring popularity of Arcade Fire's "Funeral", and I remain pleasantly surprised by the enduring popularity of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea".  I thought TV On the Radio would come in higher than #81, but I can't complain about them having 3 records in the top 200.  Similarly, Yo La Tengo's a little further down than I expected, but they do at least show up twice.

Calexico isn't on the top 200, but if you scroll down to the bottom and stratify by age, you can find them on the distinction index for the 51+ year olds and the 40-somethings.  Uh oh.  It's almost 10 O'clock.  Must be time for us old folk Calexico-likers to hit the sack.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hidden Treasures of 2011

At the end of 2011, I started what I intended to be a new tradition, coming up with a best-of list for the previous year, the one that's already a year old.  That is, in December of 2011, I counted down the top tracks of 2010 while every one else was busy pretending that they'd actually fully absorbed 2011 already. This December, with a year of perspective, I'll tackle 2011.  You may say "Oh my god, that is so one year ago" or you may say "2011 still sounds pretty new to me.  Heck, anything from this century sounds new to me".

I'm still quite a few months away from renewing the tradition at the end of 2012, but it feels appropriate to start thinking more about what I might have missed in 2011.  Magnet Magazine's list of Hidden Treasures of 2011 provides just such an opportunity.  Never mind that I could have read the post at the end of 2011 when it was published.  I didn't.  I read it today.

I approached the list suspiciously with it's "the ten best albums you didn't hear" advertising.  I figured I'm just the sort of person who listens to the best albums other people don't hear, but in this case I'm 0 for 10.  I hadn't heard a single one of these 10 records.  I will now.  I've downloaded at least one song from eMusic from Campfire OK, Creepoid, Eleven Twenty-Nine, Jerusalem the Starbaskets, Sean McCann, Oscar + Martin, Raw Milk, and Ward White.  The two artists who weren't on eMusic were on iTunes, so I downloaded songs by Filthy Bird and Gold-Bears from iTunes and also double-checked that iTunes has all 8 of the other artists' albums available as well.

I feel a little funny buying the Gold-Bears song "Record Store" on line.  Buying a song with that name just doesn't show the same loyalty to one of my favorite pastimes as actually going to a record store.  Maybe one of my lists will inspire somebody else to go to one.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Different Dave

Perhaps you found this site because you like lists, but perhaps you have been turned off by the idiosyncratic nature of some of them.  Let me therefore recommend an even larger collection of lists from an altogether different Dave.  I will call him Other-Dave to avoid confusion and entertain myself.  Other-Dave's Music Database's collection of best-of-lists is quite impressive.  Most of them appear to be aggregate lists, so there aren't a lot of surprises.  I like surprises myself, but I also see the advantage of a list that is generally free of them.

I like the aggregate lists best when all the sources are provided, such as Other-Dave's list of the top 50 progressive rock albums.  At the bottom of the post, there are links to all the other lists/sites that fed into the aggregate list.  Thus, you get the advantage of the aggregate list plus the serendipity of some of the more adventurous individual lists.  Actually, in this case, I didn't think the individual lists were terribly adventurous either, but this timeline list was more interesting than some of the others because it brings prog into the present.  You can find more thoughts on prog (from me-myself-and-I-Dave and not Other-Dave) on this previous post.

Other-Dave does have a few posts that are truly his own favorites, such as his top 100 albums.  Here, we learn that Other-Dave is a big fan of Marillion and Styx.  It's pretty much all commercial (or borderline commercial, e.g. Marillion) fare, but it's also reasonably diverse given that limitation.  You don't see a lot of lists, for instance, including both Lynyrd Skynyrd and Crowded House.  Kevin GIibert is one artists on the list that shows up multiple times, and I confess I have no familiarity with him. seems to like Kevin GIlbert's records also.

Maybe one of us (me or Other-Dave) could appear in some future version of These Are the Dave's I Know.  Then again, maybe you're looking for neither of us and just planned to have bacon and eggs at Dave's.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Top 500 Songs of the 1960s

I wrote the preamble yesterday.  Read it here for a more detailed explanation of how this list came to be.  This is the 5th, and most difficult so far of the five best-of-the-decades lists I've made.  It's also the first one that I'm posting first on the blog without having previously appeared elsewhere.  The blog generally has led to less quibbling than I anticipated when I first introduced the blog.  Perhaps that will change now.

500) George Jones - I've Got Five Dollars And It's Satuday Night (1967)
499) Hollywood Argyles - Alley Oop (1960)
498) Herman's Hermits - Leaning On A Lamp Post (1964)
497) Shel Naylor - One Fine Day (1964)
496) Joe Hinton - Funny (1964)
495) Sonny James - Running Bear (1969)
494) The New Colony Six - At the River's Edge (1966)
493) Marianne Faithfull - Summer Nights (1965)
492) Patterson Singers - King Jesus Is My All in All (1962)
491) Clovers - Lovey (1960)
490) Chuck Berry - Jaguar & Thunderbird (1960)
489) Joe Tex - I Believe I'm Gonna Make It (1966)
488) The Knickerbockers - Lies (1965)
487) Earl-Jean - I'm Into Somethin' Good (1964)
486) Dee Mullins - Texas Tea (1969)
485) The Move - Wild Tiger Woman (1969)
484) Pink Floyd - Remember A Day (1969)
483) The Supremes - Where Did Our Love Go (1964)
482) Claude King - Wolverton Mountain (1962)
481) Little Jerry Williams - Hum-Baby (1963)
480) Toots & The Maytals - Broadway Jungle (1964)
479) The Kinks - Where Have All The Good Times Gone (1966)
478) Tammy Wynette - Kids Say The Darndest Things (1968)
477) Marmalade - I See The Rain (1968)
476) Chet Atkins - A Taste Of Honey (1967)
475) The Impressions - Choice of Colors (1969)
474) The Zombies - I Want You Back Again (1965)
473) Recalls - Nobody's Guy (1965)
472) Little Anthony & The Imperials - Hurt So Bad (1965)
471) Bob Dylan - The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest (1967)
470) Chubby Checker - The Twist (1960)
469) Symarip - Skinhead Moonstomp (1969)
468) Brenda Holloway - Every Little Bit Hurts (1964)
467) Joker's Wild - All I See Is You (1968)
466) Booker T. & The MG's - Chinese Checkers (1963)
465) First Gear - Leave My Kitten Alone (1964)
464) Kaleidoscope - If The Night (1967)
463) Dee Dee Sharp - Mashed Potato Time (1962)
462) Thunderclap Newman - Something In the Air (1969)
461) Chicago - Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is (1969)
460) John Barry - Vendetta (1966)
459) Dave Cortez With The Moon People - Happy Soul With A Hook (1968)
458) Solomon Burke - Got to Get You Off My Mind (1965)
457) The Grass Roots - Let's Live For Today (1967)
456) The Paragons - The Tide Is High (1967)
455) Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968)
454) Jefferson Airplane - Martha (1967)
453) Chantay's - Pipeline (1963)
452) Faron Young - Hello Walls (1961)
451) The Marvelows - Do (1965)
450) Roy Harper - Big Fat Silver Aeroplane (1966)
449) Lee Morgan - Take Twelve (1962)
448) Open Mind - Thor The Thunder God (1969)
447) Turtles - You Know What I Mean (1967)
446) Strawberry Alarm Clock - Incense and Peppermint (1967)
445) Phoenix Singers - Ole Gator (1963)
444) The Gestures - Run, Run, Run (1964)
443) The Choir - It's Cold Outside (1967)
442) Frank Sinatra - Nice 'n' Easy (1960)
441) Jackson, Wanda - Let's Have A Party (1960)
440) Joe Tex - Wooden Spoon (1968)
439) The Ikettes - I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song) (1961)
438) Billy Jo Spears - Get Behind Me Satan And Push (1968)
437) Johnny Cash - A Boy Named Sue (1969)
436) The Youngbloods - Merry-Go-Round (1966)
435) Sly & The Family Stone - Hot Fun In The Summertime (1969)
434) Van Morrison - Who Drove the Red Sports Car (1967)
433) Dion and The Belmonts - The Wanderer (1961)
432) Karen Verros - You Just Gotta Know My Mind (1965)
431) Jimmy Dean - Big Bad John (1961)
430) Joe Henderson - Caribbean Fire Dance (1966)
429) Carl Perkins - Just Coastin' (1969)
428) Louis Gittens - Spider Walk (1962)
427) Major Lance - The Monkey Time (1963)
426) The Granville Williams Orchestra - Hi-Life (1966)
425) Scott McKenzie - San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) - Scott (1967)
424) Judy Clay - It Ain't Long Enough (1969)
423) Lesley Gore - It's My Party (1963)
422) Cliff Nobles & Co. - The Horse (1968)
421) Bob Dylan - Lay, Lady, Lay (1969)
420) Van Morrison - Sweet Thing (1968)
419) The Electric Prunes - I Had To Much To Dream (Last Night) (1967)
418) The Band - King Harvest (1969)
417) Beach Boys - Surfin Safari (1962)
416) Robert Wyatt - Slow Walkin' Talk (1968)
415) Hugo Montenegro And His Orchestra - Our Man Flint (1966)
414) Booker T. & The MG's - Groovin' (1967)
413) Les McCann - Compared To What? (1966)
412) Charlie Rich - Midnite Blues (1962)
411) Oliver Nelson - Soul Street (1960)
410) Ray Ellington - The Madison (1962)
409) Dolly Parton - You're Gonna Be Sorry (1968)
408) King Curtis - Memphis Soul Stew (1967)
407) Sly & The Family Stone - Stand! (1969)
406) Lowell Fulson - Tramp (1967)
405) Dexter Gordon - Cheese Cake (1962)
404) Ike & Tina Turner - It's Gonna Work Out Fine (1960)
403) Fred Neil - Sweet Cocaine (1967)
402) Eddy Arnold - Cowpoke (1963)
401) Petula Clark - Downtown (1964)

400) Gladys Knight & The Pips - Friendship Train (1969)
399) The Animals - It's My Life (1965)
398) The Youngbloods - Euphoria (1967)
397) The Barbarians - Moulty (1966)
396) John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers - I'm Your Witchdoctor (1965)
395) Blood, Sweat & Tears - Spinning Wheel (1969)
394) Jeannie C. Riley - Harper Valley P.T.A. (1968)
393) Desmond Dekker & The Aces - 007 (Shanty Town) (1967)
392) Jackie Brenston - Trouble Up The Road--Jackie Brenston (1961)
391) Eddie Floyd - Big Bird (1968)
390) Barret Strong - Money (That's What I Want) (1960)
389) Them - Here Comes the Night (1965)
388) Roger Miller - Dang Me (1964)
387) Blue Cheer - Summertime Blues (1967)
386) Bobby Vinton - Blue Velvet (1963)
385) The 5th Dimension - Aquarius (1969)
384) The Critters - The Teddy Bear Affair (1969)
383) Jimmy McCracklin - Just Got To Know (1961)
382) Gerry & the Pacemakers - How Do You Do It? (1963)
381) Monkees - Theme (1966)
380) Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs - Stay (1960)
379) Keith Anderson - I Need a Hit (1966)
378) Joe Tex - I'm A Man (1966)
377) The Creation - Making Time (1966)
376) Neil Young - Mr. Soul (1967)
375) Merle Travis & Joe Maphis - Blast Off (1964)
374) Richard Kiley - The Impossible Dream (The Quest) (1965)
373) Mitty Collier - I Had A Talk With My Man (1964)
372) Procol Harum - In The Wee Small Hours Of Sixpence (1968)
371) Shorty Long - Function At The Junction (1966)
370) Procol Harum - Boredom (1969)
369) O.V. Wright - Drowning On Dry Land (1968)
368) The Four Tops - You Keep Running Away (1967)
367) William Bell - You Don't Miss Your Water (1962)
366) Amoebas - Look at the Moon (1965)
365) The Impressions - This Is My Country (1968)
364) Temptations - The Way You Do The Things You Do (1964)
363) Waylon Jennings - Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line (1968)
362) Los Zafiros - Bossa Cubana (1965)
361) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Point It Out (1969)
360) Thee Midniters - Jump, Jive & Harmonize (1967)
359) Manfred Mann - Semi-Detatched. Suburban Mr. James (1966)
358) Mike Page - Long Black Shiny Car (1960)
357) The Staple Singers - The Ghetto (1968)
356) Johnny Horton - The Battle Of New Orleans (1961)
355) Bert Kaempfert - Afrikaan Beat (1963)
354) The Kinks - All Day And All Of The Night (1965)
353) Booker T. & The MG's - Hang 'Em High (1968)
352) The Guess Who - These Eyes (1969)
351) Billy Stewart - I Do Love You (1965)
350) ? & The Mysterians - Can't Get Enough of You, Baby (1967)
349) Frank Sinatra - Strangers in the Night (1966)
348) Stark Reality - Say Brother (1968)
347) The Honeybus - How Long (1968)
346) Toots & The Maytals - 54-46 Was My Number (1968)
345) Hal Linden - It's De-lovely (1962)
344) The Ventures - Journey To The Stars (1964)
343) Dionne Warwick - Promises, Promises (1968)
342) Jose Feliciano - High Heeled Sneakers (1969)
341) Otis Redding - I've Been Loving You Too Long (1965)
340) The Delfonics - Ready Or Not, Here I Come (1969)
339) Tommy James & The Shondells - Crimson And Clover (1969)
338) Jim Tyler & Orchestra - Whatever Lola Wants (1962)
337) Ella Fitzgerald - Duke's Place (C Jam Blues) (1965)
336) Beach Boys - Fun, Fun ,Fun (1964)
335) Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought the Law (1966)
334) The Doors - The End (1967)
333) The Beatles - In My Life (1965)
332) Sly & The Family Stone - Everybody Is A Star (1969)
331) Elvis Presley - A Little Less Conversation (1968)
330) The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon (1967)
329) Paul Revere & The Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay - Kicks (1966)
328) Fats Domino - Walking To New Orleans (1960)
327) Neil Young - Burned (1966)
326) Jefferson Airplane - Crown Of Creation (1968)
325) Iveys - Yesterday Ain't Coming Back (1969)
324) Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger (1964)
323) Temptations - (I Know) I'm Losing You (1967)
322) The Ventures - Fugitive (1964)
321) Dusty Springfield - Little By Little (1966)
320) Jerry Reed - Wayfaring Stranger (1969)
319) Jack Bruce - The Ministry Of Bag (1969)
318) The Sir Douglas Quintet - She's About a Mover (1965)
317) J.B. Lenoir - Mojo Boogie (1966)
316) Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man (1966)
315) Zager And Evans - In the Year 2525 (1969)
314) Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra - Some Velvet Morning (1967)
313) Diana Ross & The Supremes - I'm Livin' In Shame (1969)
312) Margaret Lewis - Conscience I'm Guilty (1962)
311) Shirley Ellis - The Real Nitty Gritty (1963)
310) The Beau Brummels - Just A Little (1965)
309) Ben E. King - Stand By Me (1961)
308) Fleetwood Mac - Albatross (1969)
307) Jorge Ben Jor - Bebete Vaobora (1969)
306) Johnny Cash & June Carter - Oh, What a Good Thing We Had (1967)
305) Link Wray - Ace of Spades (1966)
304) William Bell - Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday (1967)
303) Link Wray - The Black Widow (1963)
302) Quicksilver Messenger Service - Dino's Song (1968)
301) Prince Buster - Cincinatti Kid (1969)
300) Manfred Mann - With God On Our Side (1965)
299) Clara Ward Singers - If I Had My Way (1961)
298) Manfred Mann - Do Wah Diddy Diddy (1964)
297) Bobby Womack - Fly Me To The Moon (1968)
296) The Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet - Rocket 88 (1967)
295) Peter, Paul And Mary - Going to the Zoo (1963)
294) Esquivel - Music Makers (1960)
293) The Crystals - Then He Kissed Me (1963)
292) Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade Of Pale (1967)
291) Hollywood Persuaders - Drums A Go-Go (1965)
290) Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine (1968)
289) Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - Walk Like A Man (1963)
288) The Marketts - Batman Theme - The Marketts (1966)
287) Chuck Berry - I'm Talking About You (1961)
286) Simon & Garfunkel - I Am A Rock (1965)
285) Turtles - Happy Together (1967)
284) The Doors - Touch Me (1969)
283) William Bell - Born Under A Bad Sign (1969)
282) Jr. Walker & The All Stars - Shake And Fingerpop (1965)
281) Bob Dylan - Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (1966)
280) Frank Sinatra - My Way (1969)
279) Pink Floyd - Bike (1968)
278) The Isley Brothers - Tell Me Who (1960)
277) Peter, Paul And Mary - If I Had a Hammer (1962)
276) Three Dog Night - One (1969)
275) Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass - A Taste of Honey (1965)
274) The Exciters - Tell Him (1962)
273) The Friends Of Distinction - Grazing In The Grass (1969)
272) The Sonics - Strychnine (1965)
271) Al Caiola & His Orchestra - The Magnificent Seven (1961)
270) Vince Guaraldi - Skating (1965)
269) The Four Tops - What Is A Man (1969)
268) Dolly Parton - Down from Dover (1969)
267) Gene Pitney - (The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance (1962)
266) ? & The Mysterians - 96 Tears (1966)
265) Country Gentlemen - Roving Gambler (1960)
264) Etta & Harvey - If I Can't Have You (1960)
263) Terry Callier - Spin Spin Spin (1968)
262) Gilberto Gil - Bat Macumba (1968)
261) The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody (1965)
260) The Zombies - Just Out Of Reach (1966)
259) Lou Blackburn - Manha De Carnaval (1963)
258) Johnnie Taylor - Can't Trust Your Neighbor (1968)
257) The Impressions - People Get Ready (1965)
256) Jorge Ben Jor - Mas, Que Nada (1963)
255) Sam & Dave - I Thank You (1968)
254) Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder (1964)
253) Roy Orbison - Crying (1962)
252) Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice (1966)
251) Jefferson Airplane - Volunteers (1969)
250) Gal Costa - Pais Tropical (1969)
249) Donovan - Sunshine Superman (1969)
248) Del Reeves - Girl on a Billboard (1965)
247) Caetano Veloso - Irene (1969)
246) Joe Tex - Sit Yourself Down (1964)
245) Chambers Brothers - Time Has Come Today (1967)
244) Gene Chandler - Duke of Earl (1961)
243) The Shangri-Las - Remember (Walkin' In the Sand) (1964)
242) Rolling Stones - Time Is On My Side (1964)
241) Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
240) Blind Faith - Can't Find My Way Home (1969)
239) Bert Jansch - Strolling Down The Highway (1965)
238) Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride (1968)
237) The Velvet Underground - Beginning To See The Light (1968)
236) Prince Buster - Too Hot (1967)
235) Ella Fitzgerald - Smooth Sailing (1965)
234) Mama Cass Elliot - Make Your Own Kind Of Music (1968)
233) Frank Zappa - Trouble Every Day (1966)
232) Henry Mancini & His Orchestra And Chorus - The Pink Panther Theme (1964)
231) Jan and Dean - Dead Man's Curve (1964)
230) The Shangri-Las - Leader of the Pack (1964)
229) The Move - Kilroy Was Here (1967)
228) The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset (1967)
227) Little Milton - Grits Ain't Groceries (1969)
226) Bobby "Blue" Bland - I've Just Got To Forget You (1960)
225) Roger Miller - King of the Road (1965)
224) MC5 - Kick Out the Jams (1969)
223) Cream - Strange Brew (1967)
222) The Zombies - Time Of The Season (1968)
221) Steppenwolf - Born To Be Wild (1968)
220) Gloria Jones - Tainted Love (1964)
219) The Isley Brothers - It's Your Thing (1969)
218) The Moody Blues - Lovely To See You (1969)
217) The Impressions - Gypsy Woman (1961)
216) The Box Tops - The Letter (1967)
215) James Carr - These Ain't Raindrops (1969)
214) Thelonious Monk - In Walked Bud (1967)
213) Tornadoes - Telstar (1962)
212) Jefferson Airplane - Embryonic Journey (1967)
211) Pink Floyd - See Emily Play (1967)
210) The Troggs - Wild Thing (1966)
209) The Supremes - You Keep Me Hanging On (1967)
208) Dion - He Looks A Lot Like Me (1968)
207) Creedence Clearwater Revival - I Put A Spell On You (1968)
206) The Ethiopians - Train To Skaville (1968)
205) The Surfaris - Wipe Out - The Surfaris (1963)
204) Linda Ronstadt - Different Drum (1967)
203) Jefferson Airplane - It's No Secret (1966)
202) Ella Fitzgerald - Desafinada (1962)
201) Ron Grainer - Doctor Who (1963)

200) Argo Singers - Divies (1964)
199) The Beatles - Lady Madonna (1968)
198) The Kinks - Shangri - La (1969)
197) The Animals - House of the Rising Sun (1964)
196) Bo Diddley - You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover (1962)
195) Oliver Nelson - The Meetin' (1960)
194) The Doors - Light My Fire (1967)
193) Stevie Wonder - I Was Made To Love Her (1967)
192) The Beatles - We Can Work It Out (1965)
191) Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - Love Land (1969)
190) The Kingsmen - Louie Louie (1963)
189) Chuck Berry - Promised Land (1964)
188) Merle Haggard - Okie from Muskogie (1969)
187) Patsy Cline - I Fall To Pieces (1961)
186) The Beatles - Eight Days A Week (1964)
185) Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Hip Chops (1964)
184) Skeeter Davis - Where I Ought To Be (1962)
183) The Staple Singers - When Will We Be Paid (1969)
182) S.E. Rogie - Twist With The Morningstars (1960)
181) Big Brother & The Holding Company - Piece Of My Heart (1968)
180) Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot - Bonnie And Clyde (1968)
179) Ray Charles - Hit the road Jack (1964)
178) Lesley Gore - You Don't Own Me (1963)
177) Stan Getz & João Gilberto - The Girl from Ipanema (1963)
176) Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965)
175) Ennio Morricone - Il Buono, Il Cattivo, Il Brutto (The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) (1966)
174) Rolling Stones - Jumpin' Jack Flash (1968)
173) Werner Muller - Hawaiian War Chant (1967)
172) The Band - The Weight (1968)
171) The Supremes - Love Child (1968)
170) Eric Dolphy - Gazzelloni (1964)
169) Marty Robbins - Big Iron (1960)
168) Billy Mize - Planet Named Desire (1960)
167) Bo Diddley - Prisoner Of Love (1960)
166) Soft Machine - Hulloder (1968)
165) John Lennon - Give Peace A Chance (1969)
164) The Ventures - Hawaii Five-O (1969)
163) Marty Robbins - Ribbon Of Darkness (1965)
162) The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat (1969)
161) Jackie Wilson - Baby Workout (1963)
160) John Barry - The James Bond Theme (1962)
159) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - The Tracks Of My Tears (1965)
158) Byrds - Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season) (1965)
157) Amboy Dukes Featuring Ted Nugent - Journey To The Center of the Mind (1968)
156) Bob Dylan - Blowin' In The Wind (1963)
155) Nina Simone - Mississippi Goddam (1964)
154) Herbie Hancock - Blind Man, Blind Man (1963)
153) Jackson 5 - I Want You Back (1969)
152) The Beatles - Blackbird (1968)
151) Harry Nilsson - Everybody's Talkin' (1967)
150) The Who - Pictures Of Lily (1967)
149) Sly & The Family Stone - Everyday People (1969)
148) The Beatles - Paperback Writer (1966)
147) Badfinger - Come And Get It (1969)
146) Aretha Franklin - The House That Jack Built (1968)
145) Neil Diamond - Kentucky Woman (1968)
144) The Beatles - Day Tripper (1965)
143) Charles Mingus - Ecclusiastics (1962)
142) The Stooges - I Wanna Be Your Dog (1969)
141) Sonny Clark - Melody For C (1961)
140) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Abraham, Martin And John (1969)
139) The Guess Who - Undun (1969)
138) Jimmy McCracklin - The Bitter And The Sweet (1963)
137) Temptations - I Can't Get Next To You (1969)
136) Skatalites - Ringo Rides (Aka Ringo) (1966)
135) The Beatles - Roll Over Beethoven (1963)
134) The Ronettes - Be My Baby (1963)
133) Moby Grape - Ain’t No Use (1967)
132) Phil Ochs - Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends (1968)
131) Monkees - Pleasant Valley Sunday (1967)
130) The Beatles - She Loves You (1963)
129) The Association - Along Comes Mary (1968)
128) The Kinks - You Really Got Me (1964)
127) Moody Blues - Ride My See-Saw (1968)
126) Lord Kitchener - Steel Band Music (1964)
125) Stevie Wonder - Fingertips, Part 2 (1962)
124) Dionne Warwick - Don't Make Me Over (1962)
123) The 13th Floor Elevators - You're Gonna Miss Me (1966)
122) The Marcels - Blue Moon (1961)
121) Sam & Dave - Soul Man (1967)
120) Cannonball Adderley - Well, You Needn't (1961)
119) Crosby, Stills & Nash - Wooden Ships (1969)
118) The Kinks - Tired Of Waiting For You (1965)
117) James Brown - Think (1960)
116) Peter, Paul And Mary - Puff (The Magic Dragon) (1963)
115) The Beatles - Got To Get You Into My Life (1966)
114) Rolling Stones - Get Off Of My Cloud (1966)
113) Sly & The Family Stone - Dance To The Music (1968)
112) The Kinks - Stop Your Sobbing (1964)
111) Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman (1968)
110) The Who - I Can't Explain (1964)
109) Hugo Montenegro - In The Hall of the Mountain King (1960)
108) Scott Walker - The Old Man's Back Again (1969)
107) Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love (1969)
106) The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night (1964)
105) Sam & Dave - Hold On, I'm Coming (1966)
104) Jimi Hendrix - Castles Of Made Of Sand (1967)
103) Cream - Sunshine Of Your Love (1967)
102) Love - Alone Again Or (1967)
101) Rolling Stones - Ruby Tuesday (1967)

100) Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Three For The Festival (1961)
99) Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower (1968)
98) The Who - I Can See For Miles (1967)
97) James Brown - Say It Loud, I'm Black And I'm Proud (1968)
96) Lee Morgan - The Hearing (1960)
95) The Youngbloods - Get Together (1967)
94) Aretha Franklin - Think (1968)
93) Charles Mingus - Solo Dancer (Stop! Look! And Listen, Sinner Jim Whitney!) (1963)
92) The Four Tops - 7-Rooms Of Gloom (1967)
91) Peggy Lee - Is That All There Is? (1969)
90) Simon & Garfunkel - The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (1966)
89) The Ventures - Walk Don't Run (1960)
88) The Beatles - I Feel Fine (1964)
87) Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth (1967)
86) The Rolling Stones - Dandelion (1967)
85) Bob Dylan - Maggie's Farm (1965)
84) The Drifters - On Broadway (1963)
83) O.V. Wright - Eight Men, Four Women (1967)
82) Rolling Stones - Paint It, Black (1966)
81) Soft Machine - Why Are We Sleeping? (1968)
80) Os Mutantes - A Minha Menina (1968)
79) Beach Boys - Good Vibrations (1966)
78) Rolling Stones - Sittin' On A Fence (1967)
77) Miles Davis & Gil Evans - Solea (1960)
76) Love - 7 & 7 Is (1967)
75) Beach Boys - California Girls (1965)
74) Lush Strings - Hawaiian War Chant ( ?)
73) Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood - Jackson (1968)
72) Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (1968)
71) Neil Diamond - I'm A Believer (1968)
70) The Supremes - Stop! In The Name Of Love (1965)
69) The Mamas & the Papas - California Dreamin' (1966)
68) Led Zeppelin - Dazed and Confused (1969)
67) Nick Drake - River Man (1969)
66) The Four Tops - Reach Out I'll Be There (1966)
65) Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want (1969)
64) Gene Pitney - Town Without Pity (1962)
63) The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends (1967)
62) Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made for Walkin' (1966)
61) The Kinks - I'm Not Like Everybody Else (1966)
60) Herbie Hancock - Dolphin Dance (1965)
59) The Zombies - She's Not There (1964)
58) Beach Boys - Surfin USA (1963)
57) Emundo Ros - Brazil (1962)
56) Rolling Stones - Play With Fire (1965)
55) The Beatles - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1968)
54) The Who - My Generation (1965)
53) The Doors - People Are Stange (1967)
52) Jimi Hendrix - Manic Depression (1967)
51) The Moody Blues - Nights In White Satin (1967)
50) Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five (1960)
49) Dave Dudley - Six Days on the Road (1963)
48) The Stooges - 1969 (1969)
47) Sun Ra - Urnack (1960)
46) James Brown - It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World (1966)
45) Simon & Garfunkel - The Sounds Of Silence (1964)
44) Meters - Cissy Strut (1969)
43) David Bowie - Space Oddity (1969)
42) Bob Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone (1965)
41) Otis Redding - (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay (1968)
40) The Beatles - Ticket to Ride (1965)
39) Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant Massacre (1967)
38) James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good) (1965)
37) Velvet Underground - All Tomorrow's Parties (1967)
36) Dick Dale - Miserlou (1962)
35) The Beatles - Revolution (1968)
34) Duke Ellington With Charles Mingus & Max Roach - Wig Wise (1962)
33) Caetano Veloso - Tropicália (67) (1967)
32) The Beatles - Come Together (1969)
31) Desmond Dekker & The Aces - Israelites (1969)
30) The Beatles - Eleanor Ribgy (1966)
29) Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1969)
28) Sun Ra - We Travel the Spaceways (1960)
27) Booker T. & The MG's - Green Onions (1962)
26) Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit (1967)
25) Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire (1963)
24) Jimi Hendrix - Crosstown Traffic (1967)
23) John Coltrane - Syeeda's Song Flute (1960)
22) Etta James - A Sunday Kind Of Love (1961)
21) Velvet Underground - There She Goes Again (1967)
20) Temptations - Cloud Nine (1968)
19) Led Zeppelin - Good Times Bad Times (1969)
18) The Who - The Kids Are Alright (1965)
17) Patsy Cline - Crazy (1961)
16) Sun Ra - Interplanetary Music (1960)
15) Simon & Garfunkel - Mrs. Robinson (1968)
14) Jimi Hendrix - Purple Haze (1967)
13) Byrds - Eight Miles High (1966)
12) James Brown - Papa's Got A Brand New Bag (1964)
11) The Who - Pinball Wizard (1969)
10) Aretha Franklin - Respect (1967)
9) John Coltrane - Resolution (1964)
8) The Kinks - Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
7) Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come (1964)
6) Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil (1968)
5) Oliver Nelson - Stolen Moments (1961)
4) Temptations - Ball Of Confusion (1969)
3) The Beatles - A Day In The Life (1967)
2) Rolling Stones - Satisfaction (1965)
1) The Beatles - I Want to Hold Your Hand (1963)

That's it.  I'm sure I left out some good stuff.  I'm not prepared to revise the list anytime soon, but do let me know what's missing.  Remember that I mostly tried to follow a rule of no more than one song per record.  I granted myself approximately 20 so-called Stop Your Sobbin' exceptions to that rule, but I mostly honestly tried to follow it.

Also, I've included the dates, but I'm sure some of them are disputable.  The dates might be recording dates, UK release dates, US release dates, the date the single charted, or any number of other things.  I was so happy to find any date at all for many of these, I decided not to be concerned about having a consistent rule for the source.

Time to hear from the peanut gallery, aka the commentariat.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Top 500 Songs of the 1960s - Coming Soon

I think I'm very close to posting my top 500 songs of the 1960s.  Like my other best-of-the-decade lists for the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, it is a totally subjective list made by me and only me.  I do look at lots of other best of lists as I make these, mostly to be sure I haven't forgotten a song I already really like.  I also look at them as a guide to listen with fresh ears to some songs or to identify previously unheard music that I want to listen and consider for the first time.

I've had two rules with my lists for the other four decades, and those rules lasted for the posting of 1600 songs covering a 40 year span, and then.... the 60s did me in.  I just couldn't stick with my rules.  One rule is no more than one song by any artists in the top 40.  Spoiler alert - one artist shows up twice in my top 3 for the 1960s.  Having slots 41-50 filled with songs that should have been in the top 40 but got shut out by a silly rule just didn't seem right.  I don't know why it didn't bother me with other decades, but it didn't.

My other rule that I'm breaking is no more than one song per record.  The 60s actually have a whole lot more tracks that were only singles and never on a proper album, and that reduced the impact of the rule, but I still couldn't stick with it.  I granted myself about 20 exceptions.  I started out with a loose plan to grant myself 5, but I kept talking myself into more.  Even with the 20 exceptions some really great songs still got left off.

I have called my decision to break my rule the Stop Your Sobbin' decision.  As I discussed in a previous post about the Kinks best songs, my conflict about the one song per record rule really started getting to me when I contemplated the Kinks self-titled debut.  My favorite song on the record is Stop Your Sobbin', but You Really Got Me is also on the same record.  I didn't feel like I could make a sixties list without You Really Got Me, but I wasn't willing to jettison Stop Your Sobbin' given that I like it better.

Some other possible names for the decisions would be the Play with Fire decision (same record as Satisfaction) or the Embryonic Journey decision (same record as White Rabbit) or the I Fall to Pieces decision (same record as Crazy) or maybe the Dazed and Confused decision (same record as Good Times Bad Times).

A lot of the British Invasion bands did not release the same songs on the same albums in the US and the UK.  The Stop Your Sobbin' decision (aka the Strange Brew decision, aka the Kids Are Alright decision) also allowed me to be a bit more careless about whether or not I considered something to be on the same album or not, but I also tried to be careful when I could.  A lot of people think Revolution was on The Beatles (aka The White Album), but the single is different than Revolution 1 and not at all like Revolution 9, the two Revolution songs on the album.  The single though is the flipside of Hey Jude.  Therefore, I had to either leave out Hey Jude or Revolution or use one of my exceptions on a single.  I left out Hey Jude.  Na na na na-na na na, na-na na na, hey sue me.

The list is made now in my iTunes library.  I restrict these lists to music I own, but I also buy a lot of music in the process of making the lists.  For the serious list-making geek, a four-part interview about the making of the decades lists begins with this post and ends with this other post.  As soon as I post the 1960s list, I'll provide a link to it right here.  I just need to format it and post it in blogger now... and maybe fret a bit more about what I left off or which choices were a tad too idiosyncratic or which choices I ranked too high out of some sort of obligation to conform to the taste of music critics.  Music critics own the 60s like no other decade.  It was the decade when critically applauded music was actually popular, so they can really beat you over the head with how great you ought to think some things are.  Hopefully, I tuned out those other voices (except when they were right).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top 10 Kinks Songs

The subject header lies.  This is going to be a top 30 list.  What does it say that I just made a top 10 for the Rolling Stones and for the Beatles and now I'm making a top 30 for the Kinks?  It's not that I think the 30th best Kinks song is better than the 30th best Beatles song or the 30th best Stones song.  I'm sure it isn't.  I just found the Kinks songs easier to rank, so I kept going.

If you want shorter Kinks lists, look here (including a very short career overview) or here (6 different lists) or perhaps here (with links to youtube videos). Paste also couldn't stick to 10.  Here's their top 15.  And here's another blogger who went to 20.  Ten, 15, 20, where will it stop?  I will do 30, I will not drop.

30. State of Confusion (83)
29. Till the End of the Day (66)
28. Victoria (69)
27. Johnny Thunder (68)
26. Destroyer (81)
25. Apeman (70)
24. People Take Pictures of Each Other (68)
23. Wicked Annabella (68)
22. Yo-Yo (81)
21. Dedicated Follower of Fashion (66)
20. Supersonic Rocketship (72)
19. (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman (79)
18. Celluloid Heroes (72)
17. A Rock'n'Roll Fantasy (78)
16. David Watts (67)
15. Where Have All The Good Times Gone (66)
14. Around the Dial (81)
13. Sunny Afternoon (67)
12. Waterloo Sunset (67)
11. You Really Got Me (64)
10. A Well Respected Man (66)
9. Father Christmas (77)
8. Shangri-La (69)
7. All Day and All of the Night (65)
6. Big Sky (68)
5. I'm Not Like Everybody Else (66)
4. Stop Your Sobbing (64)
3. Lola (70)
2. Tired of Waiting for You (65)
1. Village Green Preservation Society (68)

Astute observers will note that there are 5 songs here from the Village Green album, which is a violation of my general philosophy of list making, but I couldn't help it.  I'm a hypocrite.  Other issues... it's hard to justify leaving "You Really Got Me" out of the top 10, but it loses out to a lot of other songs based on my lack of eagerness to keep hearing it more than I've already heard it.  I do like hearing it, but I hear it a good bit without searching it out.

What about "Come Dancing"?  I left it off.  I did listen to it a couple of times in the past few days before leaving it off.  My top 10 is 60s dominated, so you'd think "Come Dancing" would have a place here as the last thing they did that hearkened to their 60s sound.  It's similar to the 60s stuff, but absolutely not nearly as good.  If it's not their actual 60s stuff, I prefer the early 80s arena rock Kinks sound, which was just an altogether different thing.  Their 1979 flirtation with disco on "Superman", which I included at #19, also stands apart.

Only 2 Kinks songs made the Rolling Stones Top 500 Greatest Songs list, but they both made the top 100.  They put Waterloo Sunset in at #42 and You Really Got Me at #82.  I was surprised that the other lists were less 60s-heavy, but probably not as surprised as I was about the same phenomenon with the various Stones lists I found and commented upon.

I'm seriously considering doing away with my one-song-per-record rule when I make my 1960s decade list.  I'm considering calling the rule violation the Stop Your Sobbing Rule because I don't see how I can leave out You Really Got Me, but I like Stop Your Sobbing better from the first Kinks record.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top 50 Indie Rock Albums

Having reviewed a couple of other indie rock lists, I decided it was time to make my own.  There are a few bands that could have more than one album on this list, but I decided to limit the top 50 to one record per artist.  Actually, due to difficulties with either counting or decision-making or both, I decided to go up to 55 and limit the top 55 to one record per artist.

I almost never listen to albums all the way through any more, so this list is partially based on memories that are mostly more than 10 years old of when I would listen to a CD start to finish. I've always prefered singles, mix tapes, and radio to listening to whole album sides or CDs, so most of my lists are song lists and not album lists. Nonetheless, there are occasional standout records that are deep enough that they warrant recommendation as albums more than just individual song recommendations.  This is not to say that there aren't a few clunker tracks on many of these albums.  In a day and age where it's so simple not to load the whole CD into your iTunes library, I just wasn't willing to require perfect consistency.  And, let's face it, perfect consistency is not indie rock's strong suit.  Big label producers make things bland, but they also serve a positive role as editors for some bands.

Before I start counting down, I would like to say a bit about a few excluded artists.  I did not include Komeda.  Their record "What Makes it Go?" was among the best records of the 90s and a song from that record topped my 90s song list, but it's just not quite rockin' enough to qualify as indie rock.  The same goes for Sufjan Stevens and Belle and Sebastian, but I found those choices easier to make than the Komeda choice.  I also left out the Beta Band while feeling somewhat unsettled about why they shouldn't be considered an indie rock band.  And don't look for the Arcade Fire or the Decemberists.  I think they're good, but I also think they're overrated.

#55  Delgados - Hate (2003)  An excellent album that would have been a lot higher on this list if I felt a little more comfortable calling it indie rock.

#54 Dr. Dog - Easy Beat (2004)  Not totally solid all the way through, but a great debut with several outstanding tracks.

#53 Tortoise - TNT (1998)  Including post-rock was debatable, but maybe I skirted the debate by including them just outside the real top 50.

#52 Rilo Kiley - Take Offs and Landings (2002)  Song for song, I think I prefer their Warner Bros debut "More Adventurous", which was, ironically, less adventerous.  This one is the right pick for the indie rock list though.

#51 Marah - Let's Cut the Crap and Hook Up Later on Tonight (1998)  Inconsistent, but seemingly bursting with potential, some of which was realized and some of which was wasted on later records (e.g. a disappointing collaboration with Springsteen).

#50 Starlight Mints - Built on Squares (2003)  A whimsically entertaining record that's more indie pop than indie rock, but it has enough of an edge that I felt it qualified.

#49 Sex Clark Five - Antedium (1992)  Too much of a garage band to really qualify as indie pop, and too much of a power pop band to be aligned with the fashionable trends at the time it was released.  This is non-self-concious indie rock from the genre's formative years.

#48 Revelers - On Top (1995)  A great indie rock band that never managed to break out of Cleveland.  They might not have been as loud as rock bands needed to be in the mid 90s to gain recognition.

#47 The Mommyheads - Flying Suit (1994)  I mostly excluded EPs from this list, but this has 8 songs, which I figure is as many songs as a lot of classic rock albums.  They show good range here for a band that's so quirky.

#46 Adam Elk - Labello (1999)  A totally overlooked solo effort by The Mommyhead's leader with help from some friends from Cake and others.  Less quirky and more Beatle-y than his work with the Mommyheads.

#45 The Evens - Get Evens (2006)  I might be the only person who thinks The Evens are Ian McKaye's second best band after Minor Threat (i.e. better than Fugazi).  I like how comfortable he sounds with the way his sound has matured.

#44 Von Bondies - Lack of Communication (2002)  Way over on the garage rock end of the spectrum that might not be called proper indie rock, but there's strength in the songwritring that you don't usually see in garage rock.

#43 Cake - Motorcade of Generocity (1994) Their self-released debut showed they were ready for the leap to major label alternative radio, but it's still indie rock to me.

#42 Push Kings - Far Places (1998)  Relentelessly peppy and maybe more indie pop than indie rock.  It was a tough choice between Far Places and their self-titled debut.  Their third record includes my favorite Push Kings song, but it's not a very good record overall.

#41 Tullycraft - Disenchanted Hearts Unite (2005)  One of the most rockin' bands that nonetheless falls comfortably under the indie pop umbrella.  They've gotten more conistent over time.

#40 Archer Prewitt - Tear Me All Away (2002)  Amazingly well crafted pop rock songs from a guy who sits at the intersection of many Chicago independent music scenes.

#39 Vehicle Flips - In Action (1995)  Some of the songs may be a bit too quiet to be properly called indie rock (versus indie pop), but the song structures favor more indie rock (versus indie pop) complexity.

#38 Man or Astro-man - Is it...  Man or Astro-man? (1993)  Indie rock was a bigger tent in the early 90s than it was in the 2000s with the proliferation of subgenres.  This sci-fi-friendly surf revival was just right for the indie rock crowd at the time.

#37 Apples in Stereo - Fun Trick Noisemaker (1995)  One of several albums from the Elephant 6 crowd that I've included here.  The elephant 6 sounds hadn't yet become a distinct indie subgenre, and the fact that they weren't really that far out there at this point makes it more of a classic indie rock record.

#36 Cat Power - Moon Pix (1998)  Is this too quiet to be a rock record?  It's definitely too dark to be a pop record, nor is the tempor right for a pop record.  This is brooding indie rock, and proves that volume isn't a qualifying characteristic for indie rock.

#35 Olivia Tremor Control - Black Foliage: Animation Music Vol. 1 (1999)  Testing the experimental and psychedlic borders of indie rock, but staying in bounds with just enough song structure.

#34 Bevis Frond - New River Head (1991)  This may be more of an independent rock record than an indie rock record.  As a high point of Bevis Frond's prolific output from the late 80s to the present, it felt like it belonged here.  No other record here owes as much to Neil Young's influence, but I don't see anything wrong with that.

#33 Bats - Fear of God (1991)  There are other good choices if one is just going to pick a single Bats record, but this one is a slice in time as indie rock began to define itself as a genre.

#32 The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike (2004)  So much of indie rock's definition comes from bursts of energetic tunefulness rising above a low budget production aesthetic.  This was a different sound from all the indie rock that came before it, with a danceable hip-hop influence that ultimately made it friendly for NFL commercials, but it totally has the indie aesthetic.

#31 Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah  (2005)  This one owes a lot to the New York club sounds of the late 70s while being strongly representative of the new New York indie rock sound of the 2000s.

#30 Bright Eyes - Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002)  Did Omaha eventually win the much coveted next-Athens title that proved elusive for so many towns for two decades?  If they did, this folk and emo influenced record may be what put them over the top.

#29 Old 97s - Wreck Your Life (1997)  Arugably, alt-country, which is a genre that stands well enough on its own, shouldn't have any representation here.  I made an exception for this one.

#28 Bongwater - The Power of Pussy (1990)   Did Shimmy-Disc preceed indie-rock or help create the form?  I would argue for the latter and this is the most complete record they put out.

#27 Stephen Malkmus - Stephen Malkmus (2001)  This sounds enough like a Pavement record that I could be accused about breaking my rule about repeating artists.  I do think it was a step forward though, and it flirted less with major label stardom than the final Pavement record.

#26 Heavenly - Operation Heavenly (1996)  Heavenly certainly wasn't riot grrrl tough, but they had more of a punk edge than the name would suggest.  Indie pop could claim them, but indie pop doesn't own them exclusively.

#25 The White Stripes - De Stijl (2000)  It seems rather quaint now to think that they just started as an indie rock band on a label that didn't even have a terribly good repuation for consistent quality.

#24 Beulah - The Coast is Never Clear (2001)  More polished than a typical indie rock record.  There's probably a story behind why they never signed to a major label, but I don't know what it is.

#23 Calexico - The Black Light (1998)  The bands and records that stretch the genre are some of the most difficult to rank.  Should Calexico get a higher rank because they have such a distinctive southwestern sound, or should they fall lower on the list because it's as much Americana as indie rock?

#22 Peter, Bjorn, and John - Writer's Block (2006)  I'm not entirely sure what counts as commercial alternative these days, but the rise of bands like Peter, Bjorn, and John may have coincided with indie rock gaining a level of commercial acceptance on part with their overtly commercial pseudo-alternative counterparts.

#21 Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006)  Not my very favorite Neko record, but my favorite Neko indie rock record.  The debts to her alt-country past are evident; however, she was definitely writing and performing for a broader audience here.

#20 Built to Spill - Keep It Like a Secret (1999)  Can an indie rock band sign to a major and remain an indie rock band?  Yes, and this is the proof.  I just don't see how anyone could categorize this Warner Bros release as something other than indie rock.

#19 Arctic Monkeys - Whatever I Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)  Are the Arctic Monkeys the 2000s equivalent of The Jam, a band that was totally huge in the UK that stayed on the fringe in the US?  Their later records were a tad overrated by the NME crowd, in my opinion, but the debut was one of the best of the decade.

#18 SF Seals - Truth Walks In Sleepy Shadows (1995)  If you file this under Barbara Manning, then I'm breaking my rule of allowing the same artist on the list twice.  I see this as a real band with Barbara it's strongest voice, and the band name is consistent with the indie rock affinity for baseball over all other sports.

#17 Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (2003)  A very accessible indie rock record that helped expand the audience for the whole genre.

#16 Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Heart of Oak (2003)  A lot of 80s punks became metal heads.  A lot of 90s punks became indie rockers.  In fact, some of them didn't really change all that much, but what got called what changed around them.

#15 Guv'ner - The Hunt (1996)  An archetypical indie rock album.  Definitely a rock record, but tuneful in a sing-a-long way, and with too many rough edges in both the production and the vocals to have any major label potential.

#14 The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (2006)  Some indie rock is more about the lyrics and the attitude than the instrumentation.  The digital release exclusive single "Teenage Liberaton" isn't on the actual CD, but I count is as part of the album for ranking purposes.

#13 Luna - The Days of Our Nights (1999)  Their first record after getting kicked off their major label.  The fact that they got kicked off probably proves they were an indie rock band all along.

#12 Nothing Painted Blue - Power Trips Down Lovers Lane (1993)  Nothing Painted Blue had some hit-worthy songs, at least in the minor indie-rock sense of the word "hit".  None of them are on this record.  This is a hit-less record with one really strong song after another.  Franklin Bruno's wordplay is likely to either grow on you or get tiresome.  If it's the former, this is a record worthy of extensive repeated listening.

#11Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)  A sprawling journey that spans songs that are quite sparse with others that are extremely dense with especially inventive instrumentation.

#10 Barbara Manning - 1212 (1997)  I understand from interviews concurrent with this records' release that she thought this would be the breakthrough record.  I have no idea why it wasn't.  That Liz Phair became a star while Barbara Manning wallowed in obscurity is one of the great indie rock injustices of the 1990s.  One has the sense that maybe there are games one has to play to make it and that Barbara isn't one to play those games.

#9 Mountain Goats - Tallahassee (2002)  There are a lot of candidate Mountain Goats records for this list.  Their first record on 4AD was one of the biggest surprises.  Adding the 4AD gloss to the usually unadorned Mountain Goats repitoire was like adding just th right sauce to a simple organic recipe.

#8 Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock'n'Roll (2005)  The emergence of prominent indie bands in the 80s was more of a UK than US phenomenon, but making this list made me realize that I think of indie rock as primarily an American form.  This is the highest ranking UK release on my list.  The humorous self-referential lyrics help endear it to the genre.

#7 Sloan - Navy Blues (1998)  Canadian major label outcasts who started their own label, murderecords, where they matured from fringe alt-rock acceptance to indie rock mainstays.

#6 TV On the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)  After a fantastic debut EP, they suffered a sophomore slump of sorts with their first full-length record.  This, their second full-length CD, was where it all came together with a sound that was both warm and adventerous.

#5 Sebadoh - Harmacy (1996)  Their 1991 record "III" was a lot more important to the evolution of indie rock, but Harmacy is more consistent and listenable as a CD start to finish.  I feel a little bit wrong judging indie rock on listenability, but, c'mon, what else are we supposed to do with it besides listen.

#4 Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted (1992)  More than any other record, I think this one defined and launched the genre.  It would be #1 here if they could have kept up the focus of the first 4 tracks.  They did keep it up, for almost a decade, but not on this record.

#3 Spoon - Girls Can Tell (2000)  The first of two records that pulled Spoon out of a crowded pack of 90s indie rock bands.  They came into the 2000s with a more stocatto style and more open dynamics that gave their songs room to surprise and please.

#2 New Pornographers - Twin Cinema (2005)  Here again we see the difference between a song list and an album list.  The New Pornographers have no shortage of great songs or great albums, but this album's strength is its depth of very, very good songs as opposed to being the record that has their very best song.

#1 Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997)  Yo La Tengo are not just a great indie rock band.  They are great sonic innovators, layering low-key harmonies over dense guitars and thoroughly modern beats, pulling together past and present in a cohesive sound that has sometime changed dramatically from one record to the next.  Song for song, this album is both their best work and the one most readily identified as an indie rock classic.  It just feels right that a Matador band from New Jersey from the late 90s should top this list.

That's it.  Where's Sleater-Kinney?  I just never really got into them.  Where's Guided by Voices?  I didn't feel like they ever made a complete album.  Where's Thinking Fellers Union Local 282?  I'll save a spot for them on best indie rock band names.  Ask and answer your own questions in the comments.