Thoughts on ranking music

8 Jan

During October and November, a trickle of publications began releasing their Best Of 2009 and Best Of The 2000s album lists. Every indie hipster and every person who likes to bash indie hipsters closely followed Pitchfork’s chart, to know (in the case of the former) what to revere to great exaggerated heights or to know (in the case of the latter) what to deride without even listening. Every other chart was dug up pretty much simply to mock. By December, the trickle had turned into a flood. By late December, every man, his dog, and even a couple of contributors to An Ocean Of Noise had jumped the gun and were proclaiming the best albums as if 2009 were being terribly impolite by not bringing itself to a close already.

Apparently no music is released in the last week of December, or for that matter, the final quarter of the decade. If you want to jump the gun and do a list before the current year is even over, go for your life. I’m not going to seriously tear you down. But personally, I’m unwilling to make such a list before all 365 (or 366) days of a year have been seen through. Even in the few months after a year is finished, I find rankings can be rather unstable. Music needs time to settle in; plus there are always those albums you simply didn’t get around to hearing during the calendar year. One of the revelations of 2007 (The Wind, The Trees, And The Shadows Of The Past by The Morningside) did not come to my attention until well into 2008, and yet any Best Of 2007 list would be woefully incomplete without it.

I have every intention of doing a Best Of 2009 list. I doubt it will be posted until the end of January 2010 at the earliest. I’ll post it whenever I’m comfortable with it, really. It will, of course, bring the atmospheric metal and the post-rock, and a few other things besides.

I will, however, give my provisional top five for now. If I hear any albums that break into this group, I will be pleasantly surprised.

1. Isis: Wavering Radiant (undeniably the album of 2009 for me, and their best work to date)
2. Pure Reason Revolution: Amor Vincit Omnia
3. Porcupine Tree: The Incident
4. Russian Circles: Geneva
5. Amesoeurs: Amesoeurs

As for the entire decade? I will be pleasantly surprised if I am sufficiently comfortable with a personal Best Of The 2000s list to post it before the end of 2010, honestly. Taking in a whole decade of music is not easy, and often requires apples to be compared to oranges. Though again, bave a top five – and one that is much more tentative and likely to change than my 2009 top five. I think #1 and #2 are secure, but that’s it.

1. Russian Circles: Station (2008)
2. Agalloch: The Mantle (2002)
3. Pure Reason Revolution: The Dark Third (2006)
4. Alcest: Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde (2007)
5. Orphaned Land: Mabool (2004)

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on ranking music”

  1. bono212 08/01/2010 at 03:49 #

    My thought process was very simple, I feel the same way about ranking albums that came out at the end of the year as I do about films that come out at the end of December being nominated for Academy Awards for the 2009 year: They didn’t really have that great an impact for 2009. So, instead they’re in a strange limbo and I don’t know WHERE to rank them. Plus, by that point, I didn’t see anything else coming out I had an interest in hearing, so, I waited until the last week of December and made my list.

    As far as a best of the decade list goes, while I haven’t uploaded my list here, I do have one, but it’s one I’ve been working on longer than just 2009 alone.

  2. Axver 08/01/2010 at 03:56 #

    See, I’m utterly disinterested in how much of an “impact” an album has had on a given year. I’m interested in what were the best albums released between 1 January and 31 December. Perhaps this comes from the fact most of the music I enjoy has a very limited audience and reach, I don’t know.

    And if you’re going by “impact”, well … I think it’s safe to say any given Beatles album had a greater impact on music in 2009 than almost any album from the actual calendar year that I’d be likely to put in my top ten.

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