This person’s list

So the Pitchfork “People’s List” came out last week, along with some interesting demographic data. It seems that “the people” are overwhelmingly 21-30 years old (no surprise there, given Pitchfork’s hipster readership) and male (EIGHTY-EIGHT PERCENT!! Dude skewed! Don’t girls like to geek out over music and make lists too?!) So, predictably, the list kind of blows. The past fifteen years without Sleater-Kinney? Or Elliott Smith? I cry.

That said, these lists do tend to be highly idiosyncratic and personal–more autobiographical sketches than anything critically definitive. If I had astute observations to make, they would have to do with three things: the inevitable and complete dispersal of the indie rock audience, smashed like the atom by the mp3, never again to share a unified musical Life Changing Experience; the relative decline in the importance of music to Young People, who no longer see it as a form of self-definition or self-distinction; and ultimately how wonderful all this is for lovers of music, though potentially scary for musicians, who are now basically all small-business entrepreneurs.

But I’m pretty sure those essays have been written already. Thus goes the internet.

My own list is missing some critical darlings that I respect but never really connected with (Mercury Rev, Broken Social Scene), as well as some probably indefensible choices that I just irrationally love(d). I am also probably forgetting something vital (but I killed a lot of brain cells in those fifteen years, so…) What would be on your list? And what wouldn’t?

1. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out

2. The New Pornographers, 
Electric Version

3. Throwing Muses, Throwing Muses (2003)

4. Wilco, 

5. Radiohead, 
OK Computer

6. Tori Amos, From the Choirgirl Hotel

7. Elliott Smith, 
Figure 8

8. Yo La Tengo, 
I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One

9. Spoon, 
Girls Can Tell

10. The Arcade Fire, 

11. The Strokes, 
Is This It

12. Aimee Mann, Bachelor #2

13. Neko Case, 
Middle Cyclone

14. Janelle Monáe, The ArchAndroid

15. Throwing Muses, Limbo

16. Sonic Youth, 
Murray Street

17. The Shins, 
Oh, Inverted World

18. Garbage, Version 2.0

19. Beck, 

20. Wilco, 
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Kid A

Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Pavement, Brighten the Corners

The New Pornographers, 
Twin Cinema

TV on the Radio, 
Dear Science

Franz Ferdinand
, Franz Ferdinand

Heatmiser, Mic City Sons

Beulah, When Your Heartstrings Break

Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One

Elliott Smith, XO

Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Daft Punk, Discovery

Built to Spill, 
Perfect from Now On

Belle & Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress

The Wrens, 
The Meadowlands

Missy Elliott, 
Miss E…So Addictive

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, 
Hearts of Oak

, Talkie Walkie

Fiona Apple, 
Extraordinary Machine (Jon Brion version)

Gimme Fiction

Alan Braxe & Friends, 
The Upper Cuts

, Junior

Robyn, Body Talk

Beth Orton, Trailer Park

The B-52s, Funplex

Redd Kross, Show World

Black Devil Disco Club, 28 After

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, 100 Days, 100 Nights

Blonde Redhead, 23

Buzzcocks, Flat-Pack Philosophy

Noisettes, Wild Young Hearts

Oranger, New Comes and Goes

Everything But the Girl, Walking Wounded

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Shake the Sheets

Guided by Voices, Do the Collapse

Outkast, Stankonia

Sia, We Are Born

Saint Etienne, Good Humor

Dance Hall Crashers, Honey, I’m Homely!

A.C. Newman, The Slow Wonder

Blur, 13

Luna, Rendezvous

The Dirtbombs, Ultraglide in Black

R.E.M., New Adventures in Hi-Fi

Kristin Hersh, Sunny Border Blue

Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape

Metric, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?

Red Hot Chili Peppers, By the Way

Stereolab, Margarine Eclipse

Beastie Boys, Hello Nasty

Sublime, Sublime

P.J. Harvey, Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea

The Spinanes, Arches & Aisles

Cat Power, The Greatest

Calexico, Feast of Wire

22 responses to “This person’s list”

  1. swells says:

    The only ones I can PROMISE would be on mine, off the top of my head, are Beck’s Midnite Vultures; Radiohead’s OK Computer (I know, duh)’ TV on the Radio’s Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes; and MIA’s Arular. Probably my top four in some order or other, and then I’d be rolling around in some Creeper Lagoon, Grandaddy type stuff. Can’t always remember whether something was before or after the cutoff date (and if only there were some way to easily look such things up . . . oh well). Thanks for reminding me of all these excellent albums!!

  2. FPS says:

    the relative decline in the importance of music to Young People, who no longer see it as a form of self-definition or self-distinction

    Wait, is this true?

  3. Rachel says:

    Well, maybe not in Brooklyn, but most of the teens and twentysomethings I know are more apt to care about video games, online fora, other fandoms, etc. Music is ephemeral and private–or utilitarian. It probably doesn’t help that their parents are indie rockers–the generational rebellion is to look somewhere other than music for identity. (Remember that article Farrell referenced a ways back? $300 hoodies and so forth?)

  4. T-Mo says:

    I’m sooo not a list maker when it comes to these things, but I greatly admire the effort and wherewithal it takes to make one like this. FWIW, here’s off the top of my head and one pass over the shelves (not in any order):

    Joanna Newsom, Ys and Milk-Eyed Mender
    Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane . . .
    Bonnie “Prince” Billy [Pick a couple, I don’t know]
    Stereolab, Sound-Dust
    Gillian Welch [All of them]
    Sonic Youth [Anything, including the self-released experimental stuff]
    Superchunk [All of them – What’s your beef with the ‘chunk?]
    Yo La Tengo [Any and all]
    Alasdair Roberts, No Earthly Man
    Radiohead, Kid A and OK Computer
    Mia Doi Todd [Anything except that overproduced major label one]
    Tom Waits [All of them]
    Josephine Foster,
    Angels of Light with Akron/Family
    Califone [pick it, but the last one wasn’t that great]
    Antony, Crying of the Light
    Beastie Boys
    Beirut [first one, but they’re all really good]
    Besnard Lakes
    The Books
    Black Keys
    Waco Brothers
    Alejandro Escovedo, Bourbonitis Blues
    zzzz . . .

    Wait, I just put myself to sleep.

  5. Rachel says:

    zzzz? No way! I love these lists and am SO looking forward to listening to your picks, since you have amazing taste. (Also: no beef with the ‘chunk! Just an oversight!)

  6. Dave says:

    I had been thinking OK Computer was ’95, not ’97, so would have been excluded by the dates Pitchfork chose. It definitely deserves to be near the top. Yo La Tengo and Neutral Milk Hotel would be on top of my personal list, then probably lots of the other usual suspects. Probably would also have failed to include as many women as men — Cat Power Moon Pix comes to mind.

    The memory of caring about the worth of albums this way is receding quickly. I still listen to whole albums, but not like I used to.

  7. T-Mo says:

    It’s not the music that puts me to sleep; it’s the list making.

    Magnetic Fields
    Juana Molina
    The Microphones
    Fruit Bats
    Iron & Wine
    Smog/Bill Callahan
    Magnolia Electric Co.
    Devendra Banhart
    Steve Earle
    Richard Buckner
    Boards of Canada
    Neko Case
    Nick Cave
    Cat Power
    Alela Diane
    Brightblack Morning Light
    The whole Black Mountain/Pink Mountaintops/Lightning Dust deal
    Zzzzzzz . . .

  8. T-Mo says:

    . . . Huh? Wha?
    Olivia Tremor Control
    Fleet Foxes
    Flaming Lips (yes, BW, Flaming Lips)
    The Entrance Band
    Paul Kelly

    Dag, I love music!
    Zzzzzzz . . .

  9. FPS says:

    Oh god, Moon Pix is creepy stuff. I have a possibly made-up memory of putting it on for the largely empty drive between El Paso and That Little Town One Stops in In The Middle of West Texas and quickly deciding it was a bad combination and taking it off in favor of The Boy with the Arab Strap.

    You guys are infinitely better versed in pop music than I am, so most of my choices are already in evidence (Yo La Tengo! Neutral Milk Hotel!), but I’ll add a few.

    Nina Nastasia The Blackened Air
    Vetiver To Find Me Gone
    Neko Case Furnace Room Lullaby
    Regina Spektor Begin to Hope
    Old 97’s Too Far to Care

    oh and it looks like The Boy with the Arab Strap is from 1998, so.

  10. T-Mo says:

    On the gender disparity of respondents to the call for lists, you might want to check out this blog post.

    P.S. Vetiver! and Espers, also Old 97’s, plus which the Wrens and Belle and Sebastian, also . . .

  11. Rachel says:

    Great link, Tim. I actually *didn’t* have the gumption to make a list until I saw the Pitchfork results and just how few women were represented on it. Then I wanted to try one just to see how different it would look.

    It would also be cool to ask people what they actually listened to the most in 1996-2011, as opposed to simply the albums that came out then. My #1 entry would probably be the Roxy Music debut.

  12. swells says:

    oh my gosh, that article you linked, t-mo, it’s the BEST! It practically explains me to myself!

  13. Bryan says:

    Rach — so happy to see your list. Also loved the comments here, esp Tim’s lists. And I echo FPS: I don’t think the kids have any less connection to their music today. Most of our peers had shitty taste and little to no interest in anything good, remember? For the ones who care, they still have their unifying moments. They also have Pitchfork as a kind of uberfilter that replaces what for me was more contingent, word-of-mouth, someone-passed-me-a-dubbed-cassette kind of thing. No one told us every couple weeks what the best new music was. You kind of had to listen hard, read a lot, and make good friends.

    I managed to squeak in a ballot on the last night of People’s List voting, so fwiw, here’s my list. The first 20 or so are roughly ranked (though I did this fairly quickly in a single sitting). I compiled it by looking back over a bunch of end-of-year mixtapes I made for you lot and also at end-of-year lists like this one. I did find myself overcompensating on the 90s side of their timeframe, though, prob b/c I was guessing their voters would be young and lean toward the late 00s, which they did, except for all the Radiohead votes. All that voter data was a little overwhelming. Still haven’t processed it all, though like you I found the gender skew completely shocking.

    One more link: here’s a really fun, ambitious project in response to P4k’s — Scott Tennent’s list of the top 100 albums other people voted for that he still needs to give a chance. A few titles on your list will work that way for me.

    xo — bw

  14. Lisa says:

    Bryan! Yay!!!

    This almost makes me want to post to TGW again. Maybe tomorrow.

  15. Bryan says:

    Ha ha. Thanks. It was worth it then.

    SSW points out that I neglected to call attn to the callout quote on P4k’s #14. [scroll down and roll over] That’s a story abt driving in Farrell’s mom’s car, btw, summer of 1999.

  16. Rachel says:

    Bry, in honor of you & your list I listened to the new Grizzly Bear album today (streaming at NPR). Stunning! Consider me convinced.

  17. Bryan says:

    It’s warming on me fast. I wasn’t sure I liked it that much at first, but the more I listen the better it gets.

  18. trixie says:

    ok. i am only on about my 4th listen to the new GB album.
    i am loving gunshy, and a simple answer.
    with gunshy, i am getting strong notes of steely dan.
    is anyone with me?
    and GB’s sound in general. a lot of the time anyway.

  19. trixie says:

    goddammit. just googled “grizzly bear sounds like steely dan” and learned that yes, some people are with me on this.
    is it better to be right, or to be original?
    that is my new question.

  20. T-Mo says:

    “i am getting strong notes of steely dan.”

    Oh, wow, now I have to listen to this record! After Veckatimest I had pretty much given up.

    P.S. It’s best to be like the Dan, Trixie, no matter right or original.

  21. Bryan says:

    I was thinking Gun-Shy sounded like a robotic Hall & Oates. I like the album more and more.

  22. Rachel says:

    I hear it too. One of my friends, a Brooklyn-recording-genius type, always used to put “Babylon Sisters” on when he was really wasted, rhapsodizing about how it was the most perfect record ever.

    Like Joanna Newsom echoing Joni, GB makes me feel really young and really old at the same time.