the honest music critic
Now that the end of the year is barreling down on us, ger ready for hundreds of pretentious music snobs, writing for pretentious magazines, giving you lists with titles like Albums from 2004 You Better Own If You Want to Be Cool and it’s stupid brother If You Own These Recent Albums You’re a Dork or an Asshole or Both.
Yea, so I write a lot of lists myself. But I don’t phrase the titles in such a way that I’m pointing my finger at you and calling you an idiot for not liking my music, nor do I word my accompanying article in a fashion that says I am superior to you in taste and intellect because my record collection can beat up your record collection.
I’m not much for year end lists, anyhow. If you narrow yourself down to one particular year, sometimes you’ll get stuck with 365 days of sucky music and, then what? Instead of a top ten, you have a top five? Or a top negative ten? Yea, there are a lot of Worst Albums of the Year lists, but they read more like the author’s middle finger salute to music he hates, rather than a critical look at albums that were supposed to be the Next Big Thing and turned into the Next Big Drink Coaster.
Besides, half of these year end lists consists of bands you and I have never heard of. They’re bands that you only know of if your indie cred is up to date, bands that no one in your circle of friends has ever heard of but every High Fidelity-type record store employee raves about, and you wonder if indie music is like a dog whistle and you can only hear it if you’re wearing an oversized sweater, black rimmed glasses and a permanent ironic smile.
My biggest rock critic/music list pet peeve is the use of the word IMPORTANT in any list title. Just because you think it’s important doesn’t make it so. Maybe you believe that Nevermind was the Most Important Record Ever because it paved the way for all the grunge bands that followed, but there are millions of us who hate if for that very reason.
You know what I want in a critic’s list? Honesty. Don’t give me some standard pretentious claptrap as to why Rolling Stone’s Exile on Main Street ranks right up there with the discovery of penicillin. Be honest. You love the album because it’s what was playing on the stereo when you finally got that goofy looking chick from the record store to make out with you. I can get behind that. That’s important. Setting industry standards and enlightening legions of 12 year olds with guitars takes a back seat to flashbacks of banging MaryAnne Brady every time you hear Tumbling Dice.
Just once I would love to see a smug critic put something totally mainstream on his list amidst all the earnest, self-aware bands. Like, right in between Songs Written on a Bleak Afternoon in Prague and This Album Title is Really an Obscure Reference to a 13th Century Philosopher, there would be the latest offering from Papa Roach, with the explanation that it makes the critic feel like a pre pubescent boy just discovering his dick, and he likes that.
Why, yes. I am going to put up or shut up.
Some of my most important albums ever and why they are important to me:
Stabbing Westward, Darkest Days
Because there is nothing like listening to the pathetic whining of someone with a stalkerish obsession with a girl that dumped him to remind you of just how pathetic and whiny and stalkerish you were when you were dumped. There’s nothing like reliving past bouts of self-hatred to make you appreciate the fact that you don’t hate yourself quite so much anymore.
Little Feat - Dixie Chicken
Because it reminds me of that summer we spent eating mescaline and sometimes, flashbacks rock.
Type O Negative - October Rust
Because it makes me horny. Hey, I said I’d give you honesty.
Tool - Undertow
This album was in constant rotation on my stereo in October of 1996, which just so happens to be around the time that I kicked my then husband out of the house. Good times, good times.
Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power
Because it stokes my hatred for you. And I live off of deep, black hatred for humanity. It’s what keeps my soul from shriveling up and dying.
Bloodhound Gang - One Fierce Beer Coaster
Because I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old and I’m not afraid to admit it or revel in it.
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
Because wallowing in angry misery is a favorite hobby of mine, right up there with opening old wounds and stabbing myself in the heart repeatedly.
Oasis - (What’s the Story) Morning Glory
Because listening to this reminds me that deep inside, I am not as hardcore as you think I am. We should all face our internal wimpiness every so often. Champagne Supernova, baby.
Faith No More - Album of the Year
Because, despite all of the wallowing and hating I do, despite all my idiosyncrasies and neurotic behavior, my husband loves me.
I'm sure I could do this all day, but lunch is waiting. And if you're going to tell me yours, be honest.
Update: You people are LAME. I said honest. I don't care if an album has good guitar riffs or sparkling vocals. I can read that shit in Spin magazine, for the love of jeebus. I don't want to hear what you think of the bass lines, I want to hear that you like an album because you masturbated to it every night during tenth grade. Balls, people! Grow some!