Re-thinking 2005 (well, sort of) ...
Sitting in the coffee shop this morning, I was motivated to turn off my iPod and listen to what they had playing on their stereo. It was Matt Pond PA - Several Arrows Later, one that barely made my top 50 last year. As I stuck around to listen to almost the entire album, I realized that there wasn't even a single moment that I didn't enjoy.
This got me to thinking...last year I may have been a little too wrapped up in what the critics liked. From what I remember (Metacritic's archives are down right now), that album was pretty much universally panned by critics of the indie-snob variety. I have to admit that I may have let this affect my evaluation of it. Although, in my defense (from my own self-induced criticism), I realize, looking back on the entire list, that there are quite a few that didn't receive good press. Also, the aforementioned Matt Pond PA album still made the list, despite the fact that it was "boring emo crap" or whatever, so I wasn't a complete slave to the critics' opinions.
I feel like this year, things have been different. My attitude has been "screw the critics and the music snobs, I like what I like, and that's that". I still read the reviews and sometimes the fact that an album is critically acclaimed might cause me to listen to it three times rather than dismiss it after one (if I feel it's worth it), but if something I like is not well received, so be it.
I have occasionally had to be veered back on course, though. A couple weeks ago, in describing the new Midlake album to my friend Jud, I called it a cross between America and the Alan Parsons Project, but better than any album those two bands had ever produced. He called me on my snobbery, and I want to thank him for this. I'm still not a big fan of "Muskrat Love", but a lot of those America songs were truly 70's folk-pop gems. An indie band that could reproduce that magic would really be accomplishing something. Well, this album is actually better (to me) than anything by America, but not because America wasn't good, but because "The Trials of Van Occupanther" is absolutely a tremendous album.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to go pick up the latest Killers album, but I'm not going to waste my time listening to Grizzly Bear several times wondering why I just don't get it.