The best albums of the year since Pitchfork’s start

Here’s my contribution to the Pitchfork thing asking for the best albums released since the site’s inception. I haven’t tried retroactively aligning with history; these are the albums I submitted to Pazz & Jop since my first ballot in 2003, before which I contributed top tens to the Miami Herald and my college newpaper. PulpContinue reading “The best albums of the year since Pitchfork’s start”

Stinkin’ thinking: A Rolling Stone albums ballot

When asked to contribute at the dawn of quarantine to Rolling Stone’s first update of 500 Albums Guaranteed to Piss You Off, I leapt at the chance to fuck with the proceedings. The editors didn’t need another voter with three Beatles, two Stones, and one Kind of Blue, no?

The best singles 2010-2013

How fresh Vampire Weekend look! Such round faces! To scan the top fifteen is to wonder what happened to the radio smashes (“Till the World Ends,” “You and I”), adult R&B hits (“Climax”), and would-be’s (“Love on Top”). “Full of Fire” imagines a desolate landscape pockmarked by volcanic eruptions; it still sounds like nothing else.Continue reading “The best singles 2010-2013”

The best songs 1966-1970

A risible attempt at nostalgia porn that doesn’t even deign to show skin, “The Motown Song” was Rod Stewart throwing something together for the VH-1 crowd. A lot of Motown below, and I hope unexpected juxtapositions squeeze the schmaltz accrued over five (!) decades. The five years covered in this post span peak Aretha, peakContinue reading “The best songs 1966-1970”

The best singles 1995-1999

Few songs make me as happy — as gay — as “Juicy,” and fee songs nail the frustration of class divides as “Common People,” so play them side by side. 1. The Notorious B.I.G – Juicy2. Pulp – Common People3. Garbage – Happy When It Rains4. Ginuwine – Pony5. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott ft 702 andContinue reading “The best singles 1995-1999”

The best singles 1990-1994

Thirty years (!) later, “Vogue” sounds like an Imperial Phase single because it has the courage to begin not with hysteria but with quietude: the orchestral synth pad drones for a full twenty seconds before a sampled click and programmed bongos join, followed by bass and, at 0:50, a rhythm track announcing Madonna’s entrance. TheContinue reading “The best singles 1990-1994”

The best albums 2005-2009

Infatuated with “Next Lifetime,” “Bag Lady,” and “Danger,” I still didn’t give Erykah Badu props until the release of her 2008 masterwork. “The tendency to exoticize her — “look at the turbans!” encapsulated much of the popular magazine coverage then — vanished as her collaborations with The Roots, Karriem Riggins, and Roy Ayres created someContinue reading “The best albums 2005-2009”

The best albums 2000-2004

A number of vets released some of their sturdiest material in years: behold Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, De La Soul, The Go-Betweens, Mekons, Merle Haggard, Robert Zimmerman, and Kylie Minogue. Hip-hop became the lingua franca. Caught between dueling instincts to gauzily eulogize an America perpetually on the verge of evaporating and to grind putative enemiesContinue reading “The best albums 2000-2004”