Sunday, April 01, 2007

There were several reasons I started the 0710 posts, wherein I simply list ten songs I like that have come out this year, alphabetically by iTunes's druthers: to keep track of my own listening, to pinpoint likable songs from less-likable albums, to not drive myself nuts by making mix-CDs (as I did every three weeks in the Weekly for the CD-R Go! column) instead of letting things fall where they may and sorting it out later. But what always happens with this sort of exercise--at least it does with me--is that it makes me feel inadequate about keeping up. It's also had an interesting effect in the sense that I've decided, for fairness's sake, to try only to include tracks from albums rather than random downloads. This has less to do with any sort of albums-first policy than with the sneaking feeling that I'm shortchanging myself by just grabbing whatever's around and proclaiming it "great" or even "good." I did a fuck-ton of that in 2004, and it was like an overdose of Skittles.

Still, my everythingist stance has narrowed considerably, in fact though not principle. Most of the 0710s are techno and house, for the simple reason that (a) I love techno and house, probably more than anything else right now, and (b) it's easier to feel good about including a track from a three-song EP because I've heard all of it than a sole MP3 floating around when I haven't heard an entire album. Singles are one thing; I haven't heard the Mims album but no one needs to tell me where "This Is Why I'm Hot" stands in relation to its fellow tracks for me to figure out what a great record it is. But I tend to avoid MP3 blogs these days, not out of disdain but because I'm already buried in stuff that I want to give a fair shot.

Being buried is a great feeling, by the way. In musical terms, 2005 was a year I wasn't fond of, and 2006 was worse. Already I've heard a handful of excellent-to-great 2007 albums; maybe more than I did in '06. That's partly down to my not hearing enough last year and partly because '07 feels like an early bumper crop. A lot of it is techno but plenty isn't. And although I have essentially zero interest in most of the Big Indie Records of the season, the Shins and Modest Mouse and the goddamned Arcade Fire, I'm actually glad they exist. There's genuine excitement about them (and about another album I really do like, the new LCD Soundsystem--should've given the A- it deserves in The Onion AV Club). Well, OK, not the Shins--its plaudits were tepid and most of the folks I know who care think it's weak, but still, it's part of the pop conversation, especially around these parts. Being in Seattle may very well mean my view of that conversation is skewed, but with Modest Mouse doing 129k its first week I can be forgiven for thinking not. I don't think pop needs a "center," per se, but it's always a little more fun when there are figures that people who care about it as a concept have an opinion on, good or bad. My favorite albums so far this year (John Prine & Mac Wiseman, Pantha Du Prince, the Pierces, LCD Soundsystem) may or may not be on that plane, but they're interesting to think about in relation to it, and in a sense they gain traction as a result. If I have anything more concrete to say about any of this (no guarantees, obv.) I'll post it.