Contemplating other 2020 year-end lists (while listening to Gordon)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 11:05 am December 21, 2020
2020 critics’ picks…

It has been excessively quiet in Lazy-i land over the past week. I’ve spent this down time writing the annual Year in Review and 2021 Predictions articles for The Reader, which will be out in January. Seems like a long time to wait, considering every other publication already has posted/printed their year-end “best of” lists.

Pitchfork, the self-inflicted arbiter of hipster taste dipsticks, published its top-50 list last week. Pitchfork is more of an electronic/hip-hop review website these days based on these numbers, and no doubt that’s a reflection of indie’s ever-changing shift in direction. And yet, there’s still plenty of indie and pop to go around on this list — Taylor Swift at no. 29; Soccer Mommy at No. 26. And so on.

Who am I kidding. Pitchfork sneaks a few obscure albums on their list every year to appear to be hip, but in the end, it’s the same ol’ story. Topping the Pitchfork list was Fiona Apple, who is topping a lot of lists this year, followed by by Waxahatchee and gospel-tinged art rocker Moses Sumney on Jagjaguwar. Phoebe Bridgers, our pandemic It Girl, came in at No. 4.

Stereogum published its top-50 list three weeks ago. Fiona Apple, was again at the top, followed by Waxahatchee and Run the Jewels, with HAIM at No. 4 followed by Taylor Swift. Poor Phoebe was pushed all the way back to No. 28!

Consequence of Sound has become more rabid about its reviews these days. They try to be edgy, but they’re just as predictable. No. 1, Fiona Apple; No. 2 Run the Jewels; No. 3 Phoebe Bridgers. Waxahatchee drops to No. 6 on their list, right about the new Deftones album. Maybe they’re not that edgy after all. In fact, flipping through their list, it’s easily the most pop-centric of the bunch.

It’s here that we look at the aggregate site Album of the Year, which combines reviews from all the websites, assigns points for where an album falls on a list and then adds them up to come up with its rankings.

With that in mind, it should be no surprise that Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters was No. 1, with 444 points; Phoebe Bridges was a distant No. 2 with 364 points; followed by Run the Jewels RTJ4 at No. 3 with 304 points; Taylor Swift at No. 4 with 246 points and Duo Lipa at No. 5 with 223 points (I don’t get Duo Lipa having watched her on SNL and discarding her as a Katy Perry wannabe).

Missing from all these lists is the new Bright Eyes album, Down in the Weeks Where the World Once Was. It certainly got a lot of attention when it came out, but not nearly the push that Phoebe Bridgers got for her release on the same label.

According to Album to the Year, BE’s album did have some year-end lists appearances: No. 5 on The Sunday Times list, No. 9 on NBHAP, No. 10 on DIY; No. 12 on The Forty-Five; No. 21 on Double J; No. 40 on Slant Magazine and No. 45 on Uncut. Its year-end Album of the Year aggregate ranking was No. 267. Well.

BTW, the Gordon album I’m listening to is the three-song live set recorded at O’Leaver’s way back in 2014. I don’t know whatever happened to Gordon, but I can give you this holiday tip if you’re looking for something to listen to while wrapping gifts: Check out Live at O’Leaver’s. Within a few minutes of perusing the site you’ll be falling down the rabbit hole back to a simpler time when we all listened to live music surrounded by convicted felons and other assorted drunken miscreants. I miss O’Leaver’s. I might have to swing by at lunchtime and get a cheeseburger…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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