Pazz & Jop 2006.
February 7, 2007 5:22 PM   Subscribe

The 2006 Village Voice Pazz and Jop critics poll is now online: 494 music critics picked their favorite albums and singles from the past year. It's the first poll since Robert Christgau was unceremoniously let go from the paper. How did they do? Is this thing even relevant anymore? See for yourself: here's the lists and "xgau's" essays since it started.
posted by nevercalm (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
TV on the Radio are a joke, although VV are far from the only ones to drink the indie-rock Kool-Aid. (It was refreshing that they were roundly derided when someone posted their music here.)

The first good album comes in at #7, and the real best album of the year shows up at #15.

And the question Is this thing even relevant anymore? makes the very big assumption that it once was.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:58 PM on February 7, 2007

Looks like the same twenty indie/scenester bands people like the VV and Pitchfork have been whackin' it to for the last five years.

posted by stenseng at 6:02 PM on February 7, 2007

Also amusing:

Idolator, an excellent and amusing music site, has an ongoing feud with VV over this whole poll thing...
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:07 PM on February 7, 2007

Look at the older lists, it seems that they'll put anything that Dylan puts out at number 1, no matter what it sounds like.
posted by thecjm at 6:09 PM on February 7, 2007

Well love him or hate him, this is definitely the end of an ear-a.
posted by Skygazer at 6:15 PM on February 7, 2007

From the "is this thing even relevant" link:

Today, we've lost independent points of view, thanks to the oppressive consensus effect of the Internet. A lazy reliance on just a few websites assures critics they're covering the "right" records and are still on top of things. That's why all of our year-end lists look exactly the same: We're constantly looking over our shoulders lest we miss out on a scoop that might generate traffic.

This is exactly what's missing from the internet today that used to be there just a couple of years ago. I owe much of my high school musical education to a guy from Portland named Rich, who happened to run a small Shoutcast station called indiepopradio. Back then Pitchfork was just getting around to promising they would review four albums a day, Addicted To Noise was now Sonicnet and was soon to be absorbed into MTV, and... well, everyone else was tiny and arguably quite provincial in their tastes, including indiepopradio (heavily influenced by the Pacific Northwest scene, so a lot of K/Up/Kill Rock Stars stuff). There was no consensus because everyone was too busy figuring out how this whole internet thing was supposed to work.

Slowly but surely, each small group found one another and discovered they liked a lot of the same things. It was like tiny blobs of mercury coalescing into a menacing indie rock T1000. And in fact this is exactly the sort of phenomenon marketers and creatives are looking forward to: it's the long tail in action, creating large communities where previously there couldn't be one. This is the internet's indie movement in a nutshell. And now we're dealing with the age-old effects of what happens when a group of people who are used to having their tastes rejected suddenly become popular: either you embrace it (hail Pitchfork/Stylus/whatever!) or you reject it (fucking hipster bandwagon fucks, I was indie when Braid was cool).

It's especially sad because the internet was supposed to bring us this utopia of people finally finding like people and being able to survive in like-minded communities where before they would've been alone—like support groups for gays and lesbians living in small towns, or teen knitters, or any of a thousand other possible interest groups. Who knew they'd all turn into echo chambers?
posted by chrominance at 6:20 PM on February 7, 2007 [4 favorites]

Fishscale is the best album of the year, glad to see it made #3.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:21 PM on February 7, 2007

I have listened to about eight of the top fifty many times over. I am sure that they are better than the albums that I have not heard, and I am prepared to argue about it.
posted by flarbuse at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

To compare, Idolator's Jackin' Pop poll.
posted by liam at 6:35 PM on February 7, 2007

Your favorite music of the year sucks filter.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:40 PM on February 7, 2007

#1 Bob Dylan - Modern Times

That is a great album.
posted by caddis at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2007

I don't feel that most of these singles and albums are very good. But that might reflect the fact that I thought 2006 was the worst year of music since I got into music (1978).

Q: Is this list of "critics" all of those people who write for papers like the Ames Groupthink-Herald and Traverse City Multisyllabic Didact?
posted by foodeater at 7:01 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Idolator poll doesn't seem that much better, as all of the interesting choices appear after #38.
posted by foodeater at 7:06 PM on February 7, 2007

Pandering to groups with cross-market potential.
posted by destro at 7:41 PM on February 7, 2007

The first jazz albums seem to come in at 155 and 156 -- Andrew Hill's Time Lines and Sonny Rollins' Sonny, Please -- which is the jazz equivalent of making Dylan #1. Mind you, I bet they're both great albums, because both Hill and Rollins are geniuses. But talk about safe bets! And what a bargeload of crapola-that-will-be-forgotten-about-next-year precedes them.

This poll is not about jazz. They should just call it "Pop," or "Jyp," or something. This poll is not about jazz.

The only entry in the high end of the list that gives me a frisson of delight is Tim Hecker's "Harmony in Ultraviolet," which is indeed a great album, if you don't mind gorgeous symphonies made of static and purring industrial pink noise ("like a network of arctic antennas waking themselves up," in the words of the mighty author of BLDGBLOG, Geoff Manaugh.)

Hecker rules, but this list is no longer of any interest to me.
posted by digaman at 7:42 PM on February 7, 2007

I think I will buy that based on your description alone digaman.
posted by vronsky at 8:36 PM on February 7, 2007

Yeah, thanks digaman -- I just found an MP3 and it sounds goood.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:46 PM on February 7, 2007

No doubt in my mind that the best, punkest, rockingest, most glorious album of 2006 was Scott Walker's The Drift. That album is one of the boldest recordings of any year--stunning stuff. Nice it made the list but said it's not in the top 10.
posted by dobbs at 8:57 PM on February 7, 2007

I'll second digaman's recommendation of the Hecker album and those interested in checking it out--it's cheap on emusic (or free if you're not a member there yet). Walker's album is there as well.
posted by dobbs at 9:02 PM on February 7, 2007

Hecker's best albums are "Haunt me" and "Radio Amor." But "Harmony..." is great too. He's doing something that no one else is doing -- except for Taylor Deupree, and I think Hecker's god-clouds of static are much more interesting.
posted by digaman at 9:06 PM on February 7, 2007

The first jazz albums seem to come in at 155 and 156

Errrm... Ornette Coleman is at 21...
posted by pascal at 10:31 PM on February 7, 2007

I hated the Scott Walker album, but that's me. Hecker sounds interesting though, I just gotta wait for the refresh on my eMusic credits (really, my father's, but he'll buy it).

Couple three things— Aside from the fact that I've never been asked (I'm so small market, baby, that they wouldn't know what to do with me... *sniff*), one of the problems I have (subjectively) is that I don't really have a good sense of what is going to hold up for a couple years to come. If I was in charge, we'd just now be doing the best of 2002 or so. I think the lack of distance leads to serious over-rating (Gnarls, I'm looking at you. Also, the Roots album SUCKED).

As for the lack of jazz, rap has replaced jazz as the music of black America that white people listen to. Plus, jazz is really hard. I'm not saying that it's easy to make great rap, but it is easier to listen to and grasp. Ornette Coleman? Damn, motherfucker, I'm still working out The Shape of Jazz to Come! Whereas Fishscale, which is a pretty dece rap album, is immanent and immediate. Whether that's because of my cultural millieu or because of actual compositional differences (I think that narrative works are a lot easier to explain than abstract works, and try finding an interesting jazz album that's not also pretty abstract these days.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:18 AM on February 8, 2007

TV on the Radio are a joke . . . It was refreshing that they were roundly derided when someone posted their music here.

I don't like TVotR at all. I'm tired of hearing they might be The Next Big Thing. Having said that, why the hell would it be refreshing to see a group you belong to crap on them? It's music. You like it, you don't, either way's cool, but why does it have to be yet another Us versus Them? The last thing music needs is a rash of Single Issue Voters.

/swaps iPod© to "total unknown non-sellout darlings" playlist.
posted by yerfatma at 7:48 AM on February 8, 2007

I think the lack of distance leads to serious over-rating

I agree completely, but isn't that a problem throughout our culture (or at least, amongst the internet-connected in the First World)? Every athlete, big game or season ending event is a "BEST OF ALL TIME" on ESPN. Seriously, you can't go more than a couple of days without hearing a discussion about where Player X ranks on the List of All-Time Greats. The mainstream news isn't much different. And the Internet itself is even worse (witness today's treatment of Yahoo! Pipes— I think O'Reilly might drown in a collective orgasm).

Feel free to hit the favorites + a few thousand times to make this The Most Favorited Mefi Comment of All Time. Because we need to know what is.
posted by yerfatma at 7:56 AM on February 8, 2007

DL-ing the Tim Hecker thing right now, I love that kind of stuff. As for Scott Walker, I think I'll wait until he cuts a record with Joanna Newsom.
posted by Scoo at 10:16 AM on February 8, 2007

Jazz and pop aren't a relevant pairing, and haven't been for many, many, years. Jazz and classical would even be closer, at least in terms of demographics.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:30 AM on February 8, 2007

I don't really have a good sense of what is going to hold up for a couple years to come.

This is a really valid point, and it's only getting truer every day. I was a full-time professional music writer up until about a year and a half ago, and I have almost no idea what is going on right now. (and I'm pretty happy about that).

It's a real relief to sit back and let other people figure out what's cool right now. If it's really good, people will still be listening to it in five years, and I can get to it then, if I want.

(I'm glad that this thread hasn't really turned into a VV-bash-fest).
posted by Bookhouse at 11:40 AM on February 8, 2007

Jazz and classical would even be closer, at least in terms of demographics.

I guess. All the 20-somethings I know seem to be delving deeply into Miles Davis these days -- particularly Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way, as well they should. I doubt they show up on album-buying surveys -- they just download the stuff for free or get ripped copies from their friends.

Back in the '80s, I never heard my peers talking about jazz, with rare exceptions. Now I know a lot of young players who are even resurrecting the underrated music of people like Herbie Nichols and Elmo Hope. Jazz has made a comeback among young listeners, but I don't know if that shows up anywhere official.
posted by digaman at 9:46 AM on February 9, 2007

Errrm... Ornette Coleman is at 21...

Whoops, I missed that one, and am glad you pointed it out. But it's the same pattern as choosing Sonny Rollins and Andrew Hill -- known masters whose innovations exploded on the scene 40 years ago. Who are the younger players who incorporated the masters' breakthroughs and advance them now? You don't learn that from this list.
posted by digaman at 9:49 AM on February 9, 2007

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