Everyone’s a Critic, I
This is, of course, the time that we — and by we, I mean the fraternity (am I right, fellas?) of culture critics, publicly self-disgraced and privately self-abased, look back on the year that was and present, once and for all, our picks for the objectively greatest music and films of the year. These selections are never wrong, always definitive, and in no way colored by the limitations of our own experience, and as such, should be regarded as canonical for all people everywhere. And, for those of you who might be enraged at the lack of representation on these lists of your own preferred flavors of cultural expression, we cannot stress highly enough that in no way should you consider just ignoring us and making your own lists. Instead, we urge you to harangue us endlessly until we cave and throw in a token percentage of your self-identification of choice, thus enforcing forever the idea of a permanent and rationally selected canon as natural and right.
Thus, my picks for the best albums of 2013.
5. We’ve Got a Mother Box and We’re Gonna Use It, Brain Salad Sandwichery
For those seeking the new, the exciting, the different in pop music, there was no more compelling microgenre in 2013 than gasbeat. So fresh was this fascinating combination of trampadelica and neo-bum’s-rush that Spin Magazine-Related Web Site declared it “over” after only sixteen days; so pervasive was its influence that its practitioners denied its existence before any of them had even recorded a demo. WGAMBAWGUI was perhaps the greatest example of gasbeat’s triumph over the forces of old and anti-, and it was only bad luck that caused Brain Salad Sandwichery to be released the very week an alt-weekly critic had the bad taste to actually attempt to describe what the music sounded like, thus instantly dooming the style to irrelevancy.
4. …And You Will Know Us By the Traces of Feces, F-U-C-K in the U-S-A
The war between poptimists and rockists raged even more fiercely this year, with lines being drawn in the sand over whether a given performer’s musical worth should be settled by a large number of mostly white people of both genders, or a slightly smaller number of mostly white men only. Quarter was neither asked nor given, with Runceford Blovitz declaring in the Toonerville Bastion-Phoenix that any band that did not openly declare for Led Zeppelin was complicit in the anal soul-rape of the American maleocracy, and Klydia Stoutpunch countering at Falutin.com that records featuring guitars played by anyone other than a girl of less than 18 years of age was the audial equivalent of an unwanted pregnancy. Traces of Feces bravely bridged both sides of the argument before its tragic breakup over t-shirt design issues.
3. I’m Waiting for McMahon, Histoire de Melody Corpsevomit
There were no more vital and diverse genres of music this year than metal and jazz, which was proved by the April release of this astonishingly personal record, containing absolutely none of either. IWfMcM instantly established itself as the class of all-dropout ukulele cover bands from Cobble Hill featuring at least one woman with an asymmetrical bob hairdo dyed some variety of pinkish-purple and one man wearing an archaic style of hat tilted at an unusual angle. Their lyrics, focused with laser-like intensity on the expressionistic communication of feelings of diffidence about the decline of a relationship which both involved parties were reluctant to label, seized the imagination of dozens of Brooklyn’s most prematurely disenchanted.
2. The Scene is Mao, Their Germanic Majesties Demand
Anybody who is anybody has known since early 2012 that Remscheid is the new dance music capital of North Rhine/Westphalia and, therefore, the world. Indeed, people with a decent amount of interest in this, the most expensive, obscure, and difficult to distinguish form of electro-disco in existence, has already moved to Remscheid, gotten a job teaching English or dog-walking, and then bitterly returned to the U.S. because it used to be about the music and now it’s all just who you know, man. And for the second year running, The Scene is Mao has stood head and shoulders over its competition, going so far on its latest record as to forego beats entirely and merely stand in the DJ booth holding up nautical signal flags indicating what time signature each track is meant to be in. Post-musical music at its most music-free.
1. Ronnie James Deus Ex Machina, Weird Scenes Inside the Goldfeins
While far too many cultural commentators lined up to sound its funeral bell, hip-hop staggered on, determined to stay above ground as its own practitioners tried their best to bury it alongside other musical relics like the Great American Songbook, clean vocals, and country music by poor people. Ronnie James Deus Ex Machina, the rap supergroup made of up MC/provocateur Mary Von Erich and producer DJ Probblemmatic, embraced every controversy while using them to elevate themselves to a new artistic plane: dancing in the vicinity of women of color, enjoying music not made by their own social cohort, behaving in a manner displeasing to older conservatives, and appearing to enjoy certain aspects of wealth and fame. Plus, they’re white!