Lists. I know, I know, many music fans find this lazy, unfair, and no substitute for criticism. That point of view is generally true, although lists can be useful and informative. And speaking inside the world of criticism, where it is essentially impossible to listen to every recording that comes my way (the digital music I received this year alone makes for fifteen days of continuous music, and the CDs easily double that). I also must plead humble blogger-dom: all my writing (including writing for and editing at the Brooklyn Rail), is as an individual, I have no office except for a corner of my daughter’s room, and share the stereo with her, my wife, Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, My Little Pony …
So lists are a way for me to highlight and implicitly advocate for and recommend what to my taste and intellect are the most notable recordings of the year—not the best, which is like quicksilver, but the ones that had the strongest effect on me and the most substantial lasting power.
I want my list-making to be as expansive as possible, so that means I’m going to have many lists posting over the next 10 – 14 days. Expect these:
- Jazz (this will be my list submitted to the Jazz Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association—the El Intruso and Downbeat polls to follow in the new year will be different due to context and changing information)
- Classical, new recordings of the standard repertoire
- Classical, music in the classical tradition that made its way to CD/digital in 2014
- Classical reissues
- Popular styles, broad list of music in all styles that are meant to be popular in some way, singing not required
- Popular styles reissued
- Downtown International, a personal category that looks at experimental and avant-garde music as a single category that gathers together musicians across all genres under a unique set of values
- … and anything else that gives me a reasonable excuse to include worthwhile recordings that don’t fit in the other lists
This will be entirely subjective, of course, but hopefully thoughtful. And subject to change! No recommendations today, though, other than to refrain from shopping.