Monday, December 21, 2009

018: Another Year, Another Number

Towards a blinding numbness

Ah, the List. As every year draws to a close, any number of niche-orientated nerds feel the need to reflexively puff out their chests, take in a deep breath and express their innermost feelings to the world at large, spewing out words with attached numbers to them, while borrowing one of the myriad number of soapboxes thrown out by those who've given up on the pop/pulp culture/machine. They argue endlessly, draw up lists, numerating systems, stipends and regulations meant to box in their peers and try to keep this strange playing field they're created level. These people feel a desire to share the fire burning inside of them.

The proliferation of lists popping up on almost every single website I visit now, given that it's the end of the first decade of the millennium, is disconcerting a bit. The self-reflexive need to objectively numerate, index and share preferred albums/songs/movies/television shows/actors/comics/books/trends/websites/bowel movement/favourite (insert occupation) is one that continues to grow and grow as more people take to being better digital citizens. Where these conversations once took place socially, in real-time and in 3d, they now take place in a self-constructed web of interwoven words whose loosely-corroborated nature gives birth to newly-presented personas, this creation coined the blogosphere artbitrarily by a bunch of users. This new millenium brings new facades to obsessiveness and connecting to like-minded individuals, and year-end lists are usually a re-affirmation of stated shared values amongst community members.

With this giant technological machine lumbering around, assimilating all it can while shitting out outdated bits of information makes it a venerable beast that must be constantly fed. Nixon, during his first stint as president, called the political machine the "beast", its workings unstoppable by even the most well-executed series of plans devised by the higher echelons of power. I've paused and reflected upon these words a lot, considering the unstoppable nature of the cultural zeitgeist now that information can be concretely amassed in an orderly, quick fashion. The teeth of the beast glisten in the dark as it continues to devour, to eat away. The collective tastes of a culture can be studied and speculated upon, if this beast isn't somehow slayed by the arrows of time. We are offering up potential data mines for future generations with our misguided attempts at being the most comprehensive, though how often we realize this is unknown.

Also, one has to remember that lists are neat and can be easily read, so those are always advantages to this ADHD-riddled generation.

In defense of helplessness

I will be the first to admit that I willfully feed the machine; that I serve it the information that it desires and that I have no qualms about it. I've picked my battles in the past and I feel like this one is not one I can win. The Beast will eat up my List and life will continue. The main difference, though, is that unlike a lot of people who use the soapbox to demonstrate their aptitude/oneupmanship, I'm going to use this list more as a reminder of a mindset at a certain time in my life. To pause and reflect and perhaps one day, with the zeitgeist willing, be able to look back and relive a certain part of my past. I've made my peace with knowing how hypocritical this can seem, but the acknowledgement of the defeat, I feel, is grounds enough for forgiveness.

The list below isn't drawn up based on play counts, a numbering system or any other close scientific method. It's simply based upon how the record has affected me emotionally throughout the listening experience. In a certain sense, measuring records in that manner is a lot more difficult than being able to simply say that x had more plays than y, therefore I enjoyed it more since I must've listened to it more for a reason. It is not repetition that matters to me, it's how any number of sonic choices affect how my head and my heart react. It's a list created mostly from primal instincts rather than the pandering and consessions that my brain encounters. The numbering system is relative and not absolute... The difference in-between a record taking spots 3 and 4, for example, could be oceans away mentally, but yet they stand side-to-side uneasily.

Note: The albums below have been listened to at least 3 times all the way through. Anything else wasn't considered.

Top 50 of 2009

1. Gallows - Grey Britain
2. Converge - Axe To Fall
3. P.O.S. - Never Better
4. Drake - So Far Gone mixtape
5. He Is Legend - It Hates You
6. Slayer - World-Painted Blood
7. Mastodon - Crack The Skye
8. Slaughterhouse - Slaughterhouse
9. Propagandhi - Supporting Caste
10. Megadeth - Endgame
11. Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II
12. The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die
13. Barn Burner - Bangers
14. Timber Timbre - Untitled
15. Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Agorapocalypse
16. Derelict - Unspoken Words
17. Method Man and Redman - Blackout II
18. Pac Div - Church League Champions mixtape
19. Ghosface Killah - Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City
20. Baroness - Blue Record
21. Brand New - Daisy
22. Bike For Three! - More Heart Than Brains
23. Felt - Vol 3: A Tribute To Rosie Perez
24. Royce Da 5'9 - Street Hop
25. Coalesce - Ox
26. CKY - Carver City
27. El Michels Affair - 37th Chamber
28. Poison The Well - The Tropic Rot
29. Revocation - Existence Is Futile
30. Thursday - Common Existence
31. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
32. Busdriver - Jhelli Beam
33. Brother Ali - US
34. Cannibal Corpse - Evisceration Plague
35. Wale - Back To The Feature mixtape
36. Dethklok - Dethalbum II
37. Think About Life - Family
38. Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster - III
39. Hatebreed - Hatebreed
40. Buried Inside - Spoils Of Failure
41. Augury - Fragmented Evidence
42. Kid Cudi - Man On The Moon
43. Brutal Truth - Evolution Through Revolution
44. 16 - Bridges To Burn
45. Jay-Z - Blueprint 3
46. The Mountain Goats - The Life Of The World To Come
47. Tombs - Winter Hours
48. Thrice - Beggars
49. Isis - Wavering Radiant
50. Moby - Wait For Me

5 disappointments

1. Between the Buried And Me - The Great Misdirect
Too long... Too long. Too bad, too, because Colors was great.

2. 50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct
Fitty promised Get Rich Or Die Trying 2, what we got was a sad grab bag of disconnected, boring tracks.

3. Eminem - Relapse
Drop the voice, Mathers. Seriously. No one cares for it. The saddest part about Eminem's year is that his two best verses were guest verses on other records. (Drake's "Forever" and Lil Wayne's "Drop The World").

4. Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
So much hype surrounding the meeting of three of rock's greatest musicians is bound to be anticlimatic. The record's good, but there's a lot of sameness.

5. Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen
I don't understand how this once-great band can degenerate to being so utterly boring.

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