This year's Pazz & Jop was published just as I was putting the finishing touches on my own 2005-list. Though there may still be some additions, this is as close to the finished article as I have come, especially the top 15-20. Whereas before, the P&J has inspired me to check out dozens of albums I had missed in the previous year, it seems like this year I've been better prepared, so to speak. Largely, this is due to file sharing and iPod'ing and blogging, which has given me more music to listen to, and better opportunities to do it. But I do not feel I've been more inclined to follow hype, as Mr. Christgau suggests has become a bi-product of blogging/file sharing. (I know he didn't have me in mind).
Le Matos and Simon Reynolds are at it again, with M.I.A. at the centre of it all. Reynolds is arguing rockism, and although I agree on some of his points, e.g. that "having something to say" is not necessarily a token of quality, at least not until one explains what is actually said. It's the same with politics in music; saying someone or other has "politically charged lyrics" is just a description and not an evaluation. Deciding whether those political lyrics are any good, on the other hand... Anyway, I don't think he explains his points well enough: it's almost as if the opposite of having (the akward term) "substance" is what we should look for. And the fact that Kanye is now approved by the rock-crit crowd does not hide the fact that his album(s) is(are) damn good.
Right, off to the Canaries for a week or so. Hardly the most cultural of places, you'd say, but a good mix of a chuck-full iPod, Margaret Atwood , and Don DeLillo will do the trick.