I have actually grown to appreciate year-end reviews.
In grade school and high school, I was on different occasions both a yearbook guy and a newspaper guy (when not focusing energies on how to be as profoundly uncool as possible). There was a tension between the people who did the work of covering the information of the moment and the stuff you were supposed to save and cherish.
If you’re addicted to content as a lot of us are, you want both today’s headlines and the bigger picture. The end of the year is an arbitrary milestone, but it’s a chance to transform the former into the latter.
So, let’s look back: what are your top albums of 2009? (And how do you stay organized and decide on picks?)
The first question will naturally be, were you keeping track? The terrific blog for the NPR [US public radio] program All Songs Considered considers techniques for doing that:
How Do You Make Your Year-End List? [All Songs Considered]
The staff use Google Docs – something I hope to try when January 1 rolls around. NPR’s readers try iTunes tracking techniques, playlists, stickie notes, and other filing techniques. I talked about the topic to Iain Catling of dancetracks last week; he uses the digital music store’s newsletters as a chronologically-organized set of reminders. I’m curious to hear your techniques as I compile my lists and try to get better organized for 2010.
The second question is, which albums are relevant to a site with “Digital Music” in its title? That’s an especially tough question, now that even people releasing vinyl-only likely mixed inside a computer.
Here on CDM, I’ve found readers cross all genres. But let’s broadly define “electronic” to mean “anybody using technology in interesting ways.” Others can determine who’s making the best music; here, at least, we can celebrate the use of electricity and bits of data in music production. In some cases, that may mean including music that’s decidedly not electronica. (This year had quite a few folk-tinged albums that also had exquisite production values.)
Lastly, which were the albums that made a big impact? I certainly know which albums got the most attention on release. Beloved duo Telefon Tel Aviv’s Immolate Yourself would have topped lists regardless, and all the more so with the tragic loss of Charles Cooper the week of its release; it has become a way of remembering his gifts to the music scene. Moderat’s combination of Apparat and Modselektor doubled its appeal (insert “double, double doublemint” tune here). And Imogen Heap’s hotly-anticipated Ellipse also marked the appearance of the monome on Letterman. But anticipation is one thing; for many of us, it’s what survives playing on repeat. Obscure and overlooked choices welcome, too.
So, readers – take it away. I’ll reveal my own choices and some other expert picks later this month.
Be sure to include some notes on why you’ve chosen the records you’ve picked.