Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
Maybe part of why 69 Love Songs works so well, despite what one could easily take to be insincerity, or gaps in its seemingly exhaustive catalog of love and love songs, is that when the songs you like hit you, and when you recognize its relative albeit limited voluminousness, the illusion of its capturing (mirroring, complementing, glossing, idealizing, pick your favorite) love is effectively maintained.
I can't tell if the opening notes to "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" just sound like the song's going to go on forever, or if it's my knowledge of the song being transferred onto what I hear.
It seems I can never escape this question, "is it intrinsic or due to my past experiences?" And I think that's the way it ought to be.
Hmph... Ally should at least have a shot with the Dismemberment Plan, that 80sest of 90s indie darlings, not just because of their spiritual kinship with pop and post-punk but because I sent her a copy of Emergency & I! Oh well.
Even at the noisiest, most freaked-out parts of Interstellar Space Revisited, it sounds like they have a plan: things are directed, somehow. That sets it audibly apart from say a Sonic Youth noise freakout, or something (which I suspect many might be tempted to compare it to).
I'd like to say, uh, A Love Supreme? Hymns and spirituals? But I don't think they're quite what Sterling has in mind.
Megamix of the moment (i.e. the five CDs shuffling in Josh's CD player):
Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs, Vol. 3. Mobb Deep, Infamy. Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde. Beta Band, Hot Shots II. Nels Cline and Gregg Bendian, Interstellar Space Revisited.
So far all the discs have a strange way of taking over the changer, or at least taking over what I want it to do. The Cline/Bendian is most successful at this just because its songs are so much longer, but even the short songs on the Magnetic Fields disc do something similar because of their concentrated potency (and tendency to come up more frequently in the rotation because of the large number of short songs on the disc).
Most out-of-place: Dylan. Far more than the Magnetic Fields, interestingly enough, which seem to fit well with the others despite the obvious contrasts.
Ooh, also the first show started playing the Avalanches, the first two tracks from Since I Left You. I didn't get a chance to hear how long they continued on.
I gave this sort of round-robin record tournament a try last night with just the 2001 releases that stood out most for me. I thought the smaller tournament size might make things easier on me. It turned out not to. After the first four, which I already had a conviction would be the first four, in that order, I could only make a handful of the required 36 or so comparisons (36 instead of 72, because of symmetry). So I decided to award ties, heh heh, just to make the point that there was some ranking.
1. Dismemberment Plan - Change - de Soto
2. Beta Band - Hot Shots II - Astralwerks
3. Jay-Z - The Blueprint - Roc-a-Fella
4. Mogwai - Rock Action - Matador
5. Avalanches - Since I Left You - Sire
5. Basement Jaxx - Rooty - Astralwerks
5. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Ease Down the Road - Palace
5. Fugazi - The Argument - Dischord
5. Labradford - fixed:content - Kranky
5. Radiohead - Amnesiac - Capitol
5. Stereolab - Sound-Dust - Elektra
5. V/A - Kompakt Total 3 - Kompakt
6. American Analog Set - Know By Heart - Tigerstyle
I left more than 10 in because it seemed right. It also shows how I at least thought some of these things beat the AAS record.
All of this is hopelessly provisional anyway. If I listen to one of these records a lot in the next six months (especially one that's lower down on the list), then I would probably end up ranking it a lot higher. I don't think that necessarily says anything about the records which are ranked lower, or higher, except maybe that how much I listen to them has a lot to do with it.
Also, it's an interesting December. Depending on whatever, maybe I would rank Mobb Deep, Mystikal, and the Wu-Tang Clan. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Some things that I bought this year like the new Dave Holland record seemed really good to me, but I haven't gotten caught up in them enough to put them here. That one especially is a grower, heh heh.
This is the first year Low have released a record that I didn't particularly feel like listing. "Laser Beam" is one of my favorite songs ever, but I just didn't connect with Things We Lost in the Fire. Maybe I will someday.
And then there are the reissues and things released before 2001...