A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Only Top Ten List I Read

Yay, verily it will come to pass that the year will end and everyone and their brother (and their cousin, friend, and friend of a friend) will spawn a Top 10 Something of the Year list.  Like the rising and setting of the sun, the pull of the year end list is inevitable, and impossible to avoid.  This is further compounded by the end of the decade and the same people who produced the other lists also feel compelled to create a Top 10 or Top 100 of the Decade list.  I read very few of these lists, especially when it comes to music, where everyone seems to have a top ten list. 

I usually quickly skim the 10 Best Album/Song/Artist of the year articles every year, but once I see Taylor Swift, Coldplay, or Lady Gaga on the list, I realize that the list, like the artists mentioned in the list is complete and unmitigated crap and quickly leave.  Does this make me a pretentious music snob?  Yeah, probably.  But I'm perfectly OK with that. 

There's one list though that I actually pay very close attention to, and that is Paul Shirleys'.  Paul is a former pro basketball player turned author, who writes for espn.com about music.  I appreciate not only his musical recommendations, but also his writing, which pulls no punches without being unnecessarily caustic, and is never dumbed down for the masses.

I usually forget about his columns for 6 to 8 months, then at the end of the year, when aforementioned crappy Top 10 Lists come out I think "Holy crap I forgot about Paul Shirley".  I then guiltily track down his article and spend the next 2-3 weeks in a non stop orgy of reading the previous 6 months of his columns and listening to hundreds of tracks by several dozen new bands.  Out of the 50 or 60 bands I listen to, I usually find a handful that are worthy to purchase the album, and lo, things are right in the universe again.  Thanks Paul, you're now my cool imaginary friend who recommends great bands.  I'm missing the "actual" friends who recommend great bands, since I moved to North Dakota away from all my actual cool friends, I'm very appreciative of my imaginary friend Paul. 

You can read the full Top 10 Albums of the Year here, and if you're into music, I would also highly recommend going back and reading some of his archives, they're chock full of great music writing and give me numerous suggestions of new bands to check out.  His articles also have links to just about every band so you're just a click away from sampling Frightened Rabbit (try the song "Poke") or Manchester Orchestra (I dig "Pride"), very cool indeed.

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