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Pitchfork Media is on CRACK.


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Well, Pitchfork Media unveiled their countdown of the Top 100 Albums of the 90s last week. It's to be expected that we all have some quibbles with their selections, but this particular list has one deeply disturbing omission:

THERE'S NO U2.

Haven't these guys ever heard of Achtung Baby? I'd put that one at the top of my list... it at least deserves to be on there somewhere. In fact, I'd put Zooropa and Pop on my list, as well, though those exclusions are forgiveable compared to the lack of Achtung.

Of course, these guys never give any criteria for how they judge the "best" albums, which robs the article of any credibility.

And the range of genres represented is very narrow.

And there's no Lauryn Hill.

Or Emmylou Harris. In fact, there's no country music at all, I don't think.

And REM is only on the list once, with the gorgeous but overhyped Automatic for the People.

Bob Dylan at #93? Oh, c'mon, that album is hands-down Top 15 material.

The Bends, on the other hand, is NOT Top 15 material...

...and I'm not a big fan of The Flaming Lips.

So, in summary, it's a crummy list. smile.gif

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Bad Things:

1. This is a really really dumb thing to say:

"...and looking back at that list a lot has changed: our perceptions of the decade are different now, our personal tastes have expanded, our knowledge of the music has deepened, and excepting myself, Mark Richardson and Brent DiCrescenzo, the staff has turned over twice."

In other words, they have absolutely no critically informed criteria for their list. The more music they hear from the 90's the more they change their mind...there is something missing in this logic. I really cannot comprehend some of the choices made here. It makes no sense to me. There are scores of anthemic albums from the 90's that barely make a showing on this list. How can anyone make a list from the 90's without Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation on it? That is truly inconceivable. There is not one Manchester band on the list. That is reason enough to scoff these listmakers

And none of the 90's epic indie touring acts really make much of an appearance here. No Luscious Jackson? Huh?! As they say, on this list: there is no Coil, no Autechre, no Cat Power, no Sebadoh, and I might add no Neubauten, no Pigface, no Thrill Kill Kult, no Jane's Addiction, no Nick Cave, and none of the massive amounts of good hardcore from the decade (no nomeansno, no Helmet, no Ministry, etc...) In other words, this list has nothing to do with music in the 90's. It is just a list of things that the Pitchfork editors like to listen to. And quite frankly, many of the choices seem to exist just to make us know how deep in the underground they are. Blah blah blah, if you want to impress us, at least make the right choices.

2. Here are really bad choices in the list:

094 Frank Black - Not only is this his worst solo album, but he belongs on no "best of" list. Any mediocre Pixies fan will admit this. He had two good tracks on his first solo album, and the rest is less than mediocre. He is a pretentious slob and ruined his career, he cannot be celebrated for this.

082-81 Sonic Youth gets a lower billing than The Breeders? This is just ridiculous. The Breeders are fine and all but they are little more than a side project with two singles on the college charts that just didn't go any farther than the mothership. Dying in the vacuum of side-projects like Pailhead and Pigface.

068 Elliott Smith is too far down on this list. This is a scandalous feature of this list. The influence of Figure 8 should land it in the top twenty as Smith's sway over the late 90's far outweighs most of those in the top twenty as it is. This is one point at which this list reveals itself as really uninformed and irresponsible.

064 Breeders again? This is flat out silly.

062 Aphex Twin - This album is too far down. There is another Aphex Twin album later on this list, but this particular album still is a dominant collection of tracks. It will prove to be one of the classics of the 90's, an estimation that a majority of beat junkies share. And if there is any electronic album that should be in the 60's on any list it would be from either Two Lone Swordsman or Juno Reactor. Having neither of them is a horrid oversight.

060 Palace Brothers - This is not the Palace Brothers best. Not by a longshot. Not even a contest. Just a flat out bad choice. The Lexington scene offers much better.

045 Godspeed...! F#A# is good, but Slow Riot... is the obvious better of their early work. They just had a chance in that album to work out their methodology more clearly and arrange their stuff better. Slow Riot would have been the better choice.

042 Fugazi - Red Machine. What!?! What? This is it? Not 13 Songs, not even Repeater. These people are NUTS. There is not one person that was in the scene at the beginning of the 90's that did not listen to 13 Songs at least once a day. There is not one. This is just ignorance on their behalf. For a vast majority of hardcore kids in the early 90's, Fugazi was the rallying point, and 13 Songs was the album. I have the sneaking suspicion that whoever made this list must have been listening to Led Zeppelin and Great White back then.

035 Boards of Canada - This is one of my favorite discs, but it shouldn't be on the list. It has had absolutely no influence over any scene or any artists, it is just part of that instrumental hegemony that came south across the border and is still alive and well in a myriad of local acts.

020 Homogenic and Post - Bjork. Okay, now I am wondering who put this list together. Of all of Bjork's output in the 90's these two albums get slated as her premiere work? No way.

018 Smashing Pumpkins - Influential? Only if you mean that commercializing the untapped demographic of a thousand underground labels is influential, then yes Smashing Pumpkins belongs on the list. Otherwise, this band was thought of as snot-nosed garage rockers ever since Gish. This same could be said for any album by Nirvana on this list. If Kurt Cobain had made this list, yeah a few of his albums would have rightfully been around the middle, and maybe one of them in the top twenty. But he would have put Sebadoh, Sonic Youth, and Pavement (rightfully so at least here) in the top ten. Billy Corgan probably would have put himself in the top ten and laughed all the way to the bank.

001 Radiohead - This makes me want to curse. They are mediocre musicians. They are derivative. Just as with the Flaming Lips we could go on and on about how they are fine. But just that: fine. Nothing spectacular here folks, let's please keep the line moving and go spend your money on worthy artisans.

Good Things:

1. They have a lot of hip-hop on the list. I am not a big fan of hip-hop but that doesn't make the genre any less influential. In that case though, I can't quite understand why there is no EZ-E on the list. And I don't recall any Beastie Boys, I thought it was just assumed that Paul's Boutique was one of the coolest things to happen in the 80's. Surely Check Your Head was one of the most listened to "alternative" albums of the decade. Nope, I am sure it was. I heard that every day in ten different places for four years.

2. Here are some good choices on the list:

016 The Dismemberment Plan - I am actually suprised to see this on the list, and this high. They are good, but not that good.

009 Bonnie Prince Billy - Okay. This does deserve the place it occupies on the list. Truly an unfortunate classic. The Palace Brothers music scene still exerts a mighty chokehold on the lo-fi success of any number of bands in this decade. Seeing Will Oldham play has the same disturbing majesty of seeing someone like Nick Cave, and I am sure it is the same as seeing Johnny Cash. Great pick, one of the best live acts I have ever seen.

004 Neutral Milk Hotel - This as well deserves its showing on the list. If you don't have this, then too bad, you missed everything cool about the 90's. The Elephant Six collective was cool while it lasted, and this is the best thing they ever produced together. If you only buy one thing from this list, buy this and listen to it multiple times until you start to pick up on it.

002 My Bloody Valentine - Wow, what can I say. My first show. At least I tried to get in but I was way too young. If you had to pick from that crop of bands they circled around with (Jesus and Mary Chain, Jesus Lizard, Concrete Blond, etc...) this is hands down the one to pick. Great choice. It is a shame they have to sit next to Radiohead though.

(It is a good thing there is no U2 on the list, this is an entirely different subculture being drawn from here.)

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

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(M):

: 020 Homogenic and Post - Bjork. Okay, now I am wondering who put

: this list together. Of all of Bjork's output in the 90's these two albums

: get slated as her premiere work? No way.

What other output are you talking about? There's Debut -- widely considered the weakest of her first three albums, and I'd agree -- and then there's Selmasongs, and then?

: 001 Radiohead - This makes me want to curse. They are mediocre

: musicians. They are derivative. Just as with the Flaming Lips we could

: go on and on about how they are fine. But just that: fine.

Huh. And I was going to say that their number one choice was almost the only thing they did get right. Musicians shmusicians; I heart the melodies on OK Computer more than any other album I

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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I've always thought the men of Radiohead were superb musicians. They've got the precision of jazz players, and they come up with some pretty complex arrangements sometimes. My appreciation for their skills as musicians increased even more after I saw them live; each one of them plays like a bazillion different instruments, and they play them all very well.

I'm not sure that it deserves the #1 spot, but Ok Computer would definitely be in my Top 3.

The Bends, on the other hand, is MUCH too high on this list...

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I don't know, I really like The Bends. I listen to it twice as much as OK Computer. But then, what do I know?

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This may have been mentioned before, but for those musically list-obsessed, there's a good workday-and-a-half of putzing over here.

Dale

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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Hm. Only two albums on the whole list I would even THINK of owning. I suspect I do own one of them, although I'd have to check...

"Now I know why we've got pop culture / We all need to feel one up on the other" -- Bill Mallonee

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(M)Leary wrote:

: Billy Corgan probably would have put himself in the top ten and laughed

: all the way to the bank.

This reminds me, one of those things that used to annoy me greatly in the mid-'90s was the fact that Billy Corgan looked so gosh-darn happy in the concert photos I saw, even as the radios were clogged with that brainless "Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage" mantra. Corgan just REEKED to me of commercialized poseur-ish insincerity.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
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Billy Corgan looked so gosh-darn happy in the concert photos I saw, even as the radios were clogged with that brainless "Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage" mantra. Corgan just REEKED to me of commercialized poseur-ish insincerity.

I'm a little ashamed to admit I saw the Smashing Pumpkins in concert in the early 90s (one of the worst experiences of my life, but it's a long story). Corgan was as happy as could be at the show

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(M):

What other output are you talking about? There's Debut -- widely considered the weakest of her first three albums, and I'd agree -- and then there's Selmasongs, and then?

The only other album left is Telegram which is the tip of an iceberg of remixes she did in the 90's. But Debut is special for three reasons:

1. Debut was the first thing she did in the studio after she left the trash rock chic of her Sugarcubes compatriots behind. We all knew she was the auteur, and in Debut she proved it. It was so exciting to go buy that album when it came out, a landmark moment.

2. Human Behavior, Venus is a Boy, and Big Time Sensuality were all tracks that got more airtime then the rest of Bjork's hits all combined. These tracks were played and remixed into the ground when they came out. They still, especially Human Behavior, are considered among her best stuff.

3. Bjork+Michael Gondry=History

Debut has these special features that the other albums don't. Debut was a watershed moment. I remember dusting off those old Sugarcubes albums in anticipation and then being totally blown away by what she had done in Debut. On Vespertine we will just have to agree to disagree.

Huh. And I was going to say that their number one choice was almost the only thing they did get right. Musicians shmusicians; I heart the melodies on OK Computer more than any other album I

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Why no go to the bands that Radiohead went to to get their ambience in the first place? Boards Of Canada, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Mogwai, Tortoise, Squarepusher...

Because Radiohead sounds and flows better than all the bands you just mentioned, not to mention they make brilliant concept albums, of which OK Computer is as worthy for the 90s as The Wall or Dark Side of the Moon was for the 70s, maybe even more so. I can't think of too many structures that were broken down in Pink Floyd's work. But Leary, you of all people should see the deconstruction at work in OK Computer. That project, like Noe, is looking for a device to actually appear from the sound waves and take a bite out of your soul. The other artists you mention are heartless. OK Computer is built on soullessness and based in emotion. The two, juxtaposed and unified are perfect for the post-modern mindset that became more prevalent in the 90s.

It would be like making a "best of" Brit-pop list and having Coldplay at the top.

Oh, man. You are sounding like a bitter fan of all those other bands now, who feels he needs to take a shot at the #1 position. You are by nature anti-anything-mainstream, so this is somewhat expected i guess, however, just to clarify: The only -- ONLY -- comparison that can be made between those two bands are in the vocals, which are very similar. The music of Coldplay is nothing like Radiohead, especially in recent years. Coldplay writes good pop songs, and from what i hear they have a great live show. The nerve of any of Radiohead's albums or ideology -- including that of The Bends (which i also consider to be a fantastic project) is nowhere present in Coldplay's music, nor is it intended to be.

I don't know much about music, nor do i know some of the bands in that Top 100, but in my opinion Radiohead is a great natural choice for the 90s, and OK Computer deserves #1.

I would also put The Bends in my Top 15, FWIW.

-s.

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Because Radiohead sounds and flows better than all the bands you just mentioned,

Uhh...no they don't. They pretty much all flow and sound the same way.

not to mention they make brilliant concept albums, of which

OK Computer is as worthy for the 90s as The Wall or Dark Side of the Moon was for the 70s, maybe even more so.

What was different about Floyd (well...Waters) is that they (he) broke through into a new way of doing music. Radiohead is fine, like I said. But they are not original by any means (which is also fine, like I said). So I don't think that comparison stands up. And concept albums? I will just refer you to the concept album thread. Sure they have some cool concepts, but who doesn't? That shouldn't be enough for a #1 slot.

But Leary, you of all people should see the deconstruction at work in OK Computer. That project, like Noe, is looking for a device to actually appear from the sound waves and take a bite out of your soul. The other artists you mention are heartless. OK Computer is built on soullessness and based in emotion.

Yeah. It is good stuff. But if it is a glitchy sawtoothed soundwave you are looking for to nibble on your soul, then go to the people that discovered sawteeth. Orbital's first few albums are where that all started, and Steve Rosenthal's first pre-midi techno masterpiece is liberally sprinkled with such devices. (And that was pre-midi!). And as far as "deconstruction" goes, all Radiohead did was make that a pop phenomena. Everyone from Neubauten to Thrill Kill Kult has been montaging and deconstructing since we were all wee laddies. Radiohead sounds like a band that listens to really good music all the time and it just leaks out of them. I agree about the "teeth" thing, you should check out Do Make Say Think. Actually, I will burn you a copy of one of their cds, you are really really going to like them.

Oh, man. You are sounding like a bitter fan of all those other bands now, who feels he needs to take a shot at the #1 position. You are by nature anti-anything-mainstream, so this is somewhat expected i guess

I don't know. I take umbrage to that assessment and am going to have to disagree with you. "Anti-mainstream" is much different than "extremely curious." A lot of the bands we talk about are obscure. If that makes us "elitists," then there is nothing we could do to alter that perception. Life is too short to listen to lousy music. Top 40 stuff just doesn't cut the mustard when you compare it to a lot of the bands we listen to. And, if I am so anti-mainstream, then why is Outkast's new record and Dido's new record two of my favorite records of the year? I encounter people in Chicago at every show I go to that are bitter anti-mainstreamists because everyone else is "ignorant." I wouldn't class myself in that category. I don't think someone is stupid because they have never heard the Dirty Three or Do Make Say Think, but I will try to introduce them to you just because they are so good. Make sense?

The only -- ONLY -- comparison that can be made between those two bands are in the vocals, which are very similar. The music of Coldplay is nothing like Radiohead, especially in recent years.

You read me wrong there, or I wasn't being clear enough. I never made a comparison between Coldpla and Radiohead. The only comparison that can be made is that they all have bad teeth. I was saying that Pitchfork's choice for putting Radiohead in their #1 slot is just like if someone else were to making a list of the best Brit-pop of the 90's and they put Coldplay in the #1 slot. Just making a hypothetical analogy. All Coldplay does is take the best from the Manchester scene and a decade of solid Brit-Rock and throw it all together under some serious production. Nothing wrong with that, they are really good and bring together all the best from a cool scene. So I would be chagrin to see Coldplay in the top of such a list for the same reason I am chagrin to see Radiohead atop Pitchfork's list. They are a good band, but honor their very obvious influences first.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

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The only comparison that can be made is that they all have bad teeth.

LOL!! laugh.gif

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I agree about the "teeth" thing, you should check out Do Make Say Think. Actually, I will burn you a copy of one of their cds, you are really really going to like them.

This isn't really on-topic, but I'm glad others here are into DMST. They're a band that just keeps getting better and better. "& Yet & Yet" was a marvel, and so is "Winter Hymn...". They make everything else on Constellation sound trivial (now, that is)...

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What was different about Floyd (well...Waters) is that they (he) broke through into a new way of doing music.

How? I categorically disagree with this statement until you back it up.

When recording went from two to four tracks and albums like Strange Days were made, with songs like "Horse Latitudes," which according to John Densmore freaked out Jefferson Starship to the point of quickly exiting The Doors' studio, that was what we call a "breakthru" in the way music is done. When Radiohead begins with a fully complete song and then strips away layer after layer until only selected samples, beats and vocals remain, that is what we call a "breakthru," a new way of approaching audio recording. There was nothing like this present in Floyd's music (do not hear me wrong, i am not dissing on Pink Floyd, i happen to own 8 or 9 of their recordings. i am merely saying that they are not the equivalent of any kind of a breakthru in music. They were just a great concept album band, perhaps the best until OK Computer came along.)

And if these methods were characterized in other bands' efforts before Radiohead, i would still argue that Radiohead brought it to the mainstream, which at least proves that their methods and actual musical content lined up. Surely they didn't sell millions of copies of OK Computer based on marketing alone? Hundreds of bands have millions of dollars pumped into them daily. Most of the time, for a record to sell and win awards at the end of the year, it has to be because there is meat to chew on somewhere in the content of the recording itself.

You should check out Do Make Say Think. Actually, I will burn you a copy of one of their cds, you are really really going to like them.

I will look forward to this! Totally!! And you know me, if it's something i will listen to, i will go out and buy it immediately.

I will try to introduce them to you just because they are so good. Make sense?

Yes, it does.

I still don't like your Coldplay/Radiohead comparison. I think they are in completely separate leagues, but i think i've already explained my position.

-s.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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How? I categorically disagree with this statement until you back it up.

Goodness. I didn't even think that was an issue. I guess most just take that for granted then. I guess the problem with making categorical statements about any band from that era is that it is too easy to make categorical statements about any band from that era. We could say Jefferson Airplane, BB King, Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, or...your favorite...The Doors were the breakthrough band or whatever.

And if these methods were characterized in other bands' efforts before Radiohead, i would still argue that Radiohead brought it to the mainstream, which at least proves that their methods and actual musical content lined up.

I don't know, I find this argument to be specious. It is like saying that if we took Funny Games and Irreversible and made a pop version of the both of them that would run to acclaim in commercial theaters that we should be the ones who are honored and Haneke and Noe should just suck eggs.

I still don't like your Coldplay/Radiohead comparison. I think they are in completely separate leagues, but i think i've already explained my position.

Okay, now I can't tell if you are being serious or not. Nobody has made a comparison between the two bands anywhere on this thread. I did make a comparison between Pitchfork's list and a hypothetical list that doesn't even exist and would be a list of music totally different than the scene that Pitchfork is drawing on.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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  • 5 months later...

Wow, all the arguing about a whole wack of stuff, yet nobody points out that one of the best/biggest albums of the 90's is missing:

(What's The Story?) Morning Glory - Oasis

Like 'em or not, leaving them off a list of 100 90's albums is just plain negligent.

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