With “List Season” in full swing, and Pop Headwound in the season’s spirit, I thought it would be fun to take a day off from the usual music posting and make some predictions as to what you might soon find on the biggest year end list of them all - Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of the Year. It’s like the music obsessive’s version of March Madness - picking winners, waiting for upsets, and inevitably being shocked when schools you’ve never heard of have suddenly released an album that goes to the Sweet 16. Now, it’s been quite a while since I’ve agreed with many of Pitchfork’s top choices, but there is no denying the impact their list can have on a band’s career, as well as on the indie-rock buying/stealing public in general, and this year should be no different.
Let’s look at some possible candidates for Pitchfork’s Top 10, genre by genre:
Indie Rock Contenders:
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
The National - Boxer
Deerhunter - Cryptograms
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Battles - Mirrored
Feist - The Reminder
Liars - s/t
Okkervil River - The Stage Names
Iron & Wine - The Shepherd’s Dog
* Radiohead and Panda Bear are pretty safe bets to end up in the top 10, as is Boxer, both on its own merits and to make up for Alligator getting shafted in ‘05.
* Cryptograms was overrated stuff in my opinion (although the Flourescent Grey EP was superb), but P’fork loved it, and they often stick to their guns when albums aren‘t as praised by others as much as by them. But then the lead singer got involved in some pretty weird stuff, so who knows about Deerhunter.
* Spoon and Arcade Fire figure to do well, riding lots of good press, strong live reviews, and mainstream attention. I heard "The Underdog" in the supermarket the other day. No joke man, frozen food aisle. The old ladies were clapping along.
* Feist is riding a tidal wave of attention, both indie and mainstream, plus it was a slow year for female artists (I think). She could find The Reminder in there, though I feel it works better as a few killer singles than an album.
* God I hope Liars doesn’t get in, I’ve never gotten into their sound and find them one of the most overrated bands working today. Oh snap.
* Okkervil River and Iron & Wine released great albums this year as well (coming in #1 & 3, respectively, from Harp Mag), and both were praised by P’fork, but I don’t see both making their top 10. Maybe 1 of them, and if so I think Iron & Wine.
* Of Montreal may be the sleeper - online praise hasn’t died even though it's been over 10 months since the release. It hasn’t placed well so far in the Stylus, Paste, or Harp lists. I bet it does well.
M.I.A. - Kala
Kanye West - Graduation
Jay-Z - American Gangster
Gui Boratto - Chromophobia
Burial - Untrue
Justice - t (sorry, I don’t know how to make the cross)
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
Lil’ Wayne - Da Drought 3
Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (was this 2006?)
* I can’t pretend to be an expert on any of these releases, but I have enjoyed a bunch of them a great deal. Kala is probably a sure thing for the Top 10, but like Feist, I find some killer singles on it but don’t enjoy listening straight through.
* Gui Boratto could slip in there, his Chromophobia is fantastic, but with The Field already a seeming lock there may not be room for 2 electronica records.
* Burial could sneak in there based on recent hype, and would certainly be deserving. That’s a great, great record.
* I’m pretty clueless as far as hip-hop goes, but heavy-hitters Kanye and Jay-Z both got glowing reviews and usually at least one rap album finds its way into the top 10.
* LCD is a ‘fork fave, but Stylus already hit them up for #1. I smell a snub, although it still stands to place well. I tried listening to Justice and didn’t enjoy, so it’s hard for me to say, but I could see it in their Top 10 based on the positive press it‘s recieved.
The Swedish Invasion:
The Field - From Here We Go Sublime
Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
Sally Shapiro - Disco Romance
Studio - Yearbook 1
No doubt about it, Sweden is the place to be these days if you’re not from Brooklyn or Austin, and maybe even if you are. The Field is all but a shoe-in, and deservedly so, From Here We Go Sublime is fantastic. Jens Lekman’s record was somewhat divisive around the blogs, but Pitchfork loved it and it could do very well on the list. I’d be surprised if Studio or Sally Shapiro found themselves in the top 10 though.
Pitchfork has a fairly reliable habit of throwing you for a loop with some of their left-field choices, so who knows what could get in there. I wasn’t ready for Silent Shout to be #1 last year being as how I’d never even heard of it. But that was before I was a blogger, now I’m ready for (almost) anything they throw our way. I think.
My predictions for the Pitchfork Top 10 (in no order):
From Here We Go Sublime
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
What do you think will make it? What have I overlooked? Too much indie-rock? Leave a comment….