It's the end of the year, almost. A time I love for family mushiness, work semi-relaxation, and bright shiny tree-filled city windows. However, as a critic I hate this time of year. Why? The dreaded year-end list.
For decades I've railed against this necessary evil. Necessary, yes, I acknowledge that. Critics are here to synthesize, sum up, build window/frames through which busy interested folk view aspects of the culture whizzing by them. Or to be more bluntly market-oriented about it, we're here to help people decide what to buy. Lists aid both shopping and reflection, in fact create the relationship between the two. And as I noted a few posts ago, they can even be poetic.
That doesn't mean I have to like making them. My main objection is pretty much personal. I have a lousy memory. Especially now -- the combo of early parenting and my current gig, which involves reviewing several unrelated musical products every couple of weeks, keeps my mind pretty much in the present/future. And my recurrent migraines add a layer of laziness/exhaustion to my mental processes. A year-end list should be made of stuff that sticks, and little seems to stick for me right now.
So it is with a weary heart that I enter into the process again. Soon I will provide that link to the Pazz and Jop site, or just post my list here, as Matos did on his blog. All I ask is, don't put too much stock in it.
Except: I really do adore The Sunset Tree. John Darnielle rules, even when list-makers take him for granted.