Former Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore’s new album The Best Day begins with eight downward arpeggios, which is pretty funny given his reputation as an obsessive guitar technician.
Every year, the Village Voice holds an annual poll, inviting nearly every critic in the biz to vote on the best albums and singles of the given year. Because of its size, it’s generally the best way to measure yearly progress in pop music: the numbers actually mean something. The thing is huge; 493 critics voted in 2012. Although there’s less change than I would have liked, there’s been definite progress since last year. The 2011 Pazz & Jop albums chart contained only one major album, a collaboration between two artists who have both done better work elsewhere. The singles chart alternated between arty album tracks and crass pop-rap rampages beloved by opportunists always on the lookout for new ways to one-up their colleagues. What made it onto Pazz & Jop last year was not what people really loved, but what they didn’t hate, the result of a standoff between the ideologically opposed magazines Rolling Stone and Pitchfork – the winners were the albums mediocre enough to survive. Rather than a consensus, I thought, we had a lack of consensus.
When I entered the doors of Scope New York, taking place in the Skylight at Moynihan Station, part of the former James A. Farley Post Office, I almost walked right into a can of spray paint. Jutting with a horse head and a skateboard from the walls in French street artist Shaka’s large-scale, three-dimensional triptych at Gallery Nine 5’s booth, the spray can abruptly announced the abundance of graffiti and street-art-inspired work at this year’s Scope.
This month, reviews of Far East Movement, Loudon Wainwright III, Kimbra, Lee Ranaldo, Norah Jones, Royal Thunder, Rhett Miller, and Nicki Minaj.