People’s List #96. Ain’t no tuition for having no ambition.

96. Kanye West – The College Dropout

Released: 2004

When I got it: 2004, but not near the release date. Probably 8 months after. Got a lend of the CD.

What I originally thought: I didn’t really know how to listen to rap, first. On a basic level, you have to go from a verse being build-up to a chorus to seeing it as the main point. Once I got past that, I was drawn by the general friendly nature of Kanye as opposed to, say, Dr Dre or Eminem. It’s the kind of thing you smile along to rather than scowling. My friends, who were into varying shades of Canadian/American indie rock and post-Strokes English stuff, liked it too. Rap writers I read tend to refer to what we were in a derogatory way when they’re writing about Wiz Khalifa or whatever, but there’s no point lying about it. I liked the singles.

The interim: In order, I listened to more Kanye albums as it came out, got really into Jay-Z, listened to more Kanye, got really really into Jay-Z, there was some confusion, and then I started to listen to rap music four hours a day. This blog has three separate reviews of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on it.

What I think now: When I thought about it, before listening, it seemed cartoonish and soft to me, which is a symptom of what original drew me to it (the major key soul loops and non-threatening raps). It’s definitely a certain lane of rap music, pitched unabashedly to a mass audience, but then Kanye’s never going to win anyone over with pure rapping. And it’s not like there wasn’t a message packaged up in everything, the same message that still makes Kanye both annoying and a serious problem. It’s amazingly coherent and complete for a debut album, especially as you can still trace a lot of his style to stuff that’s already present. He’s mad at sublimated racism. He just ignores the fact that he’s not particularly credible and gets away with it by consistently turning in good songs. He’s painfully sincere whether he’s actually being sincere or just bragging. He’s Kanye. The whole thing has a sheen of classic about it in retrospect, though I wouldn’t give it that much because of cringey songs like Family Business. Still though, listening through was enjoyable. I’ll probably do it again in a month or so.

Bonus rap album mondegreen: Through The Wire – “I drink a Boost for breakfast, Ensure for dessert, somebody order pancakes, I just sip the sizzurp” as “I drink a Goose for breakfast, indo for dessert, somebody order pancakes, I just sip the sizzurp”.

People’s List #97. They don’t love you like I love you.

97. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell

Released: 2003

When I got it: 2006, maybe. I got it on CD in a sale when I had a summer job and didn’t know how else to spend money.

What I originally thought: I overcame my original scepticism – grounded in dislike of Karen O worship and a general resentment of people enjoying themselves more than me at indie discos – to enjoy it a lot. It’s simple and strong and the songs are largely short, which makes it an easy album to get into in the first place. I seem to remember listening to it quite a lot while studying for my Leaving Cert. I’m not sure if that’s relevant. Probably not. I liked the fact that it sounded heavy despite not having that much going on. The kind of thing magazines called ‘edgy’.

The interim: I’ve never had this downloaded. I probably listen to it once or twice a year on CD, and otherwise hear the songs sometimes when I’m out. Maps was on Guitar Hero.

What I think now: It’s certainly dated, or the core sound of the album has dated anyway. NME’s New Rock Revolution was stupid and sounds stupid now and if Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn’t been cool enough image-wise to jump onto the British indie thing that came after that, they’d be lost in that forever. Stuff like Tick and Date With The Night is annoying to hear now. Also, the (‘edgy’) teen rebellion lyrics (“Boy you just a stupid bitch and girl you’re just a no good dick”) would be enough to just stop listening if I was made to review this blind or something. But then there are the good songs. Maps deserves its place on the decade compilation that will now never have to exist and Y Control, which I always preferred, as if holding that preference was meaningful in some way, feels perfectly build and potent still. Diagnosis-wise, I’ll put those two on the playlist I’m making as I go along and leave the rest to sleep.

People’s List #98. 365 750

98. Giant Drag – Hearts and Unicorns

Released: 2005

When I got it: 2012

What I originally thought: This was only about 7 months ago, so this entry will be a bit pointless. Someone posted Kevin Is Gay on Facebook, I listened to it and thought it was fun. In the comments, people were getting nostalgic. I realised that I’d been confusing Giant Drag with Love Is All for more than half a decade. I listened to it a lot while playing Football Manager 2008 and Civilisation IV. I thought it was good.

The interim: I still haven’t got any new budget PC games to play while I listen to music, but I will be getting paid for the job I got in about a week and a half, so I’ll probably get a couple then.

What I think now: Is it a reasonable claim to say that Giant Drag dated less than other mid-2000s indie rock because it already had the emotional detachment (i.e. callous hipster irony) that came more into fashion as the generations cycled, and also that when it was pretty, cold or serious it executed it in a dreamy way rather than through rectal clenching? I also appreciate that it’s simple, upbeat indie rock without the baggage of pure lo-fi, which I got a little tired of as an aesthetic. Thirdly, this is probably the worst cover of the whole hundred, and I have OK Computer on this list.

People’s List #99. I’ll always be nicer to the cat than I am to you

99. Xiu Xiu – Dear God I Hate Myself

Released: 2010

When I got it: Leak, promo or leak-as-promo. Never paid for it.

What I originally thought: I thought it was the 9th best album of 2010. Convenient having these comprehensive records. My original interaction with Dear God I Hate Myself was a little strange for me because at that point I had lost the original zeal I had for Xiu Xiu (which was strong) and was listening partly out of obligation-to-past-self, but I really did like it. It was a packaging of the Jamie Stewart angsty stuff into actual pop song-sized boxes, and it had variety, and it wasn’t actually difficult to listen to.

The interim: I interviewed Jamie Stewart for Totally Dublin, fulfilling a late teenage dream. I didn’t listen to or think about Xiu Xiu that much after that, really.

What I think now: Pretty much the same as I thought before but with more focus and distance. I am less guilty about the fact that I was forgetting the songs that made me cry and the songs that saved my life and all that stuff. Having spent a lot of my time listening to things like Tune-yards and The Blow and Solex in the interim, I appreciate it for its scatty pop sensibility more than its emotional earnestness, but that could just be because I’m not depressed. The title track is still anthemic and hipstery genre tourism is a low-key favourite mode of mine. I will probably listen to this more, now.

People’s List #100: I’ve got water and I’ve got holes, oh.

100. Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary

Released: 2005

When I got it: Leaked, back when getting a leak was genuinely exciting, after emailing the band email address about when it would be coming out, back when that was something I wasn’t too embarrassed to do. I did buy it on CD though, right after it came out.

What I originally thought: Official Favourite Album status. Though I did (genuinely but obviously pretentiously) think a lot of the EP versions were better, I knew the words to every song and considered whether or not the relative placings of Spencer Krug songs and Dan Boeckner songs was optimal. I liked the Krug stuff most, which would hold true for solo material. I ordered a fake ID off the internet to see them play in Whelans when I was 17, got into arguments about how they were better than Arcade Fire, considered buying an organ from Music Maker and generally acted like a fan. I would categorise the intensity of my affection for this album as 10/10.

The interim: Here is the Wolf Parade tag dealing with everything Wolf Parade-related since 2007. Second album was briefly listenable, third was mostly bad. I got very into Sunset Rubdown.

What I think now: This is one of the albums on the list that probably only made it for legacy reasons, but I was really, really, really into it, so I couldn’t leave it off. I think it has aged fairly badly – not as badly as Arcade Fire, whose cloying levels of sincerity now seem pretty abominable, or Broken Social Scene, who were primarily (a form of) style over substance – because of its centrality to that mid-2000s Canadian indie rock sound, either in reality or in my mind. The result is that some of the moments that seemed to have genuine power now seem almost like cheap emotion. That is not to say that there aren’t still great bits. I just mean that the hollering on I Was A Runner doesn’t seem as fresh and feral as I once thought it did, even though Dear Sons and Daughters and I’ll Believe In Anything still work for all their abstract aspirationalism. And the Boeckner parts, as I suspected in 2005, are dullard Springsteen Revival music, especially given the development of indie rock in the interim. I enjoyed listening to it in full, but there were no new revelations and I’d probably need to be either drunk or very unhappy to do it again soon.

Taking the bait again as always

Pitchfork are doing a thing where they get people to make lists of their favourite music since Pitchfork started to exist.

Now, there are plenty of openings for cynicism with this project, but 1996-2011 just about comprehensively covers the period of time in which my identifiable taste was developed, in the sense that I was backing 1997 albums in 2003 as representative albums of ‘now’ that I liked. I mean, I like 13th Floor Elevators as much as the next guy, but my expertise is mostly in this period of time.

Also, as you might notice every November to February, I was a list kid and I am really into lists. So, even though the actual interface of the P4K site is really annoying, I did my best to list 100 albums I could stand behind. I then ordered them very roughly until I couldn’t stand doing any more giant drags of Giant Drag album covers.

The reason this post exists is because I’m going to listen to everything on the list in reverse order and note how my perceptions have changed. Some of the albums on the list are very clearly legacy picks, and some are stuff I would have not even known what to do with in 2007 or whenever, but the stated function of WordPress blogs is to act as if you are the centre of the universe, so I thought I’d get back to checking what I think about stuff.

This could literally take forever because there are 100 albums. If you, like everyone else, just want to click stuff now and be done with it, here are a few lists of interest (i.e. lists by people I follow on Twitter):

donehttp://peopleslist.pitchfork.com/list/b9e80ae5/
Darragh McCauslandhttp://peopleslist.pitchfork.com/list/a93f9523/
Sean Mc Tiernanhttp://peopleslist.pitchfork.com/list/356b10bc/
Hardcore For Nerdshttp://peopleslist.pitchfork.com/list/3fdbb4a4/
B Michael Painehttp://peopleslist.pitchfork.com/list/87643b79/
Anahttp://peopleslist.pitchfork.com/list/bf00c146/
Aidan Hanrattyhttp://peopleslist.pitchfork.com/list/64400a7b/
David Drakehttp://peopleslist.pitchfork.com/list/ea94becd/

Top 10 titles of posts in the drafts folder of this blog.

1. Listening to Lil B’s I’m Gay for the first time and live-reviewing it while also playing Smackdown vs. Raw 2007

2. Hip Hop Monday #13: Three examples of Kendrick Lamar with rappers over 30

3. This blog is now a content farm.

4. A beginner’s guide to bass (by the beginner)

5. Radio radio radio radio radio radio radiooo!

6. List Week! 5. Listenable Bands My Dad Doesn’t Hate

7. Part Time Job

8. June 6, Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment

9. Synecdoche, New York

10. Taking the bait 2.0