Timeliness has always been a watchword here at Holy Bee World HQ, so it may seem odd to post my Top 20 Albums of 2012 in March of 2013. Ordinarily an eagerly-anticipated feature of January, there has been a bit of a drift around here, and I have to ‘fess up to what’s causing it.
Looking back on 2012, I see that the most acclaimed albums are from the likes of the xx, Swans, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, Shonen Knife, Flying Lotus, Cloud Nothings, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Bat For Lashes, Chromatics, Beach House, Purity Ring…
…and I’ve decided they can all go die in a fire. To my ears, they all kinda sound like shit, and wash by in a clatter of forced artiness, or smug haziness, or often, downright tunelessness. Sometimes all three. I blame Radiohead. Fuck those guys and what they’ve wrought. Someone needs to tell that emperor he’s buck naked.
Yes, I’ve always been a proud classicist and defender of old-school dinosaur rock, but I felt I balanced that with an eagerness to explore other areas and a respect for those breaking new ground. But now, I can no longer pretend to be interested the newest and different-est. In fact, I may have been faking it for quite some time, because time spent trying to like the Mountain Goats was less time I got to spend listening to Led Zeppelin.
I realize that this is on me. I own this, it’s my failing. If you like the kind of music listed up there, I’m not judging your taste, I’m judging mine. You don’t have to write me to say “you couldn’t be more wrong about the xx.” I know I’m wrong. But my ears are now dead to the sound of what is still frequently called “indie” music. Which is sad, because ever since I (and a lot of people my age) lost touch with the “mainstream” well over a decade ago, “indie” (which has, admittedly, lost any true meaning as a descriptor, but it’s handy) was the discerning music-lover’s haven. And now that has passed me by, too. It all leaves me cold. I guess there’s something to be said for the mainstream trending back toward roots music, but I can’t stomach Mumford & Sons either, so where does that leave me?
It leaves me as someone who no longer considers music a central facet of his existence, which is a difficult truth for me to face. I used to go hungry to be able to buy a CD. I’d have some sleepless Monday nights waiting to get Tuesday’s new releases. I have written more on music than any other subject, and had more conversations about it with more people than any other subject. But the flame has gone out. And it’s not an age thing. Several of my friends my age and a little older still have the passion. Great rock writers like Anthony Decurtis, Jim DeRogatis, Greg Kot, and many, many others are a decade or two older than me, and are still forward-thinking, ever on the prowl for the cutting edge. I think that’s fantastic…but they’ll have to carry on the mission without me.
The only time I seem to listen to music is quietly at work, when I have a little downtime or I’m grading papers. At home? A good book or a rousing round of televised sport is preferred. In the car? Wall-to-wall podcasts these days. Some people miss the physical prowess of their twenties. I miss my ability to watch TV (muted & close-captioned), read, and blast music all at the same time.
So, with all that said, I’ve come to the difficult decision that the yearly Top 20 will no longer be a feature of the Holy Bee of Ephesus blog. But I didn’t want to leave without a final statement. So here then, in April, is My Top 20 Albums of 2012.
So there you go. My Top 20 Album list has been retired, after a six-year run. This does not mean the end of the Holy Bee website itself, although as I’ve noted, production is slow and shows no sign of speeding up. I suppose I will continue to occasionally touch on musical topics in these pages, but I’ve quit kidding myself as to the level of my engagement with new stuff.
(The #1 album on most media outlets’ “Best of” lists was Frank Ocean’s Orange. I own it, but you guessed it, I haven’t bothered to listen to it yet.)