Sunday, December 26, 2004


Leftover turkey. Brand new top ten entry.

Must say that two weeks of butter, turkey and booze was good for the soul, if not for the waistline. I must also say that the folks at Celine Dion Airways sure know how to kill a buzz (the flight from the left coast - normally a 5 hour ordeal - took nearly 12 yesterday. I pulled in at 4:30 am without the benefit of my baggage. Stay tuned to this space for a theme mix of plane songs.) No aerial rock tonight, friends. No tonight we head back into the breach. Into my take on this year's ten best. Sam Beam v. Bonnie Prince Billy: Who will be crowned "PWI: Beard of the Year?" Number 4 Iron & Wine Our Endless Numbered Days Listen to Such Great Heights (not on the record) Sam Beam makes the warmest records you'll ever hear. They're sonic blankets, hot chocolate for the ears. Our Endless Numbered Days includes some of the haziest, most gentle paeans to love, death and family to ever be reviewed by Pitchfork. As great as "Endless" is, it doesn't include my track of the year. That honour goes to Beam's cover of The Postal Service's Such Great Heights which appeared on the Garden State Soundtrack. I might have to consult with Liza, this may well be the best cover ever. Buy Our Endless Numbered Days Buy The Soundtrack to Garden State In addition to writing excellent songs, John Darnielle does a mean Tony Robbins impression. Number 3 The Mountain Goats We Shall All Be Healed Listen to Against pollution (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) I must still be soft in the head from all the gravy and champagne. I keep wanting to type the word "goats" with an "h" (ghoats? Goahts? . . . sigh!). Maybe it just goes to prove that none of what some people say matters. Lou Reed once wrote a song raging against his limitations as a human being. The song, called Magic and Loss - The Summation included these lines: But you can't be Shakespeare and you can't be Joyce so what is left instead You're stuck with yourself and a rage that can hurt you You have to start at the beginning again John Darnielle isn't Shakespeare or Joyce, but he's the kind of writer who leaves other writers shaking their heads and wondering "why can't I do that?" We Shall All be Healed takes the listener on a whirlwind tour of a world full of meth-heads, petty criminals, shady businessmen and gun-toting liquor store clerks. It's grimy and it's intimidating; the sound of a post-apocalyptic Woody Guthrie reminding us that we've sinned and giving us a peek behind the curtain of the consequences. Buy We Shall All Be Healed The Arcade Fire: Une Année Sans Bad Reviews Number 2 The Arcade Fire Funeral Listen to No Cars Go (Not on the Record) Part of the difficulty of writing your top ten list late in the year (or, in this case, early in the new one) is trying to say something new about a band like the Arcade Fire after other people have already used up all the superlatives. So, how about this: I really, truly, sincerely and with a large portion of my heart hope that Win Butler and Régine Chassagne and the rest of the Arcade Fire are able to keep making the kind of art they want to make. I hope they can rise above the critical handwringing over a sophomore slump, the false praise from A&R reps with dollar signs in their eyes and the inevitable backlash from being the symbol of the power of the internet in music marketing. I hope they can ignore the whole shot and just continue to make the kind of records they want to make, because they are obviously talented and they have made my year more pleasurable than it would have been had I not discovered this brilliant gem of a record. Buy Funeral (I mean, really! Buy it!)
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