Best of the Year

Throughout the past year, I have tried to establish myself as the Nell Carter of music criticism. By which I mean being an amorphous leviathan unconstrained by the fashions of a single milieu. Despite my best efforts to avoid the ill-fitting evening gown of conventional music writing, I find myself handed the thong of a top ten list and told to squeeze my year-end wrap-up into its painful confines. Like the derriere of my spiritual mentor, my list will spill generously beyond its boundaries. I detest ranking music. Therefore I have imagined a party with some of my favorite records of the year listed here not in order of importance or “goodness,” but simply in proper party sequence.

Andrew WK – I Get Wet (Island/Def Jam)
Play at 7 o’clock before the guests show up. Appropriate complement is a Pabst Blue Ribbon. Crush empty can against skull. Goes down well with ping pong. Will improve smack-talking. Can be followed or preceded by entire Master of Puppets album.

Feable Weiner – Dear Hot Chick (Heinous Records)
8pm. Play it when the girls show up. They’ll jump up and down. Girls jumping up and down is always a good thing.

The Donnas – Spend the Night (Atlantic)
8.30pm. An all around solid album. Built to be partied to. Big rock without stupid testosterone. If no girls showed up to your party (like all mine), imagine the Donnas jumping up and down.

Ozma –€“ The Doubble Donkey Disc (Kung Fu Records)
9.15pm. Sweet like a shooter. Pop like a nerdy Weezer (if it were possible). Perfectly constructed release of two EPs. Grab something fizzy or fruity. Possibly with vodka.

Hot Hot Heat – Make Up the Breakdown (Sub Pop)
10.00pm. Jittery, anxious pop songs which have been pulled right from your central nervous system. “Get In Or Get Out” should be turned up as loud as possible and sung-along to. Drink/spill an imported beer.

Spoon – Kill the Moonlight (Merge)
10.35pm. A solidly cool record from a band who sound unaware that MTV exists. Appropriate complement is probably herbal, but whiskey and coke will go down nicely as well.

N.E.R.D. – In Search Of… (Virgin)
11.10pm. The import is a bit thinner but gives their new wave of hip-hop/funk/soul a spookier edge. “Provider” and “Bobby James” are downers but red-blooded ones. If you have the domestic release, the live instruments will kick a little harder and a little louder. You’ll need to move the record up in the playlist to accomodate. If you have a forty to
spare, pour it out for your homies Jam Master Jay, Dee Dee Ramone and Waylon Jennings.

The Obscure – Laugh Like a Whip, Look Like a Dagger / Short Songs For Modern Living EP (A.D. Records)
Midnight. Play when you’re good and lit and want to reminisce about how great the songs were that your friends wrote. Will cause the jumping girls to go home, or at least, go into another room. Sit outside on the porch while listening and smoke a cigarette. Sip a beer. Chat reverentially about band’s sloppy live performances and remember that you don’t have the Obscure to kick around anymore. You probably won’t make it through the whole album in polite company. When it wears on, replace with the Short Songs EP and smile solidly for 10 minutes. Repeat “Modern Living” for good measure.

Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)
1am. End of the party. People will be appropriately passed out, making out or mumbling quietly. The best record to be playing when the cops show up to tell you to quiet down even though you already have since they’re just now responding to a complaint called in two hours earlier. As new and old as a skinny necktie. Smooth like cream liqueur and crazy like pills.

French Kicks – One Time Bells (StarTime International)
Play when it’s just you and your pals, drunk and tired, in the dark. Music that’s built from the pieces that other music threw away. Alternately frightening and enchanting. Sometimes sounds exactly like you’re feeling. But only in the middle of the night.

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – Source Tags and Codes (Interscope)
Absolutely not party music. Play it the next afternoon when you’re still dazed but your friends show up to play NHL or GTA3 on Playstation.

I hope this has been instructive.