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Village Voice Pazz and Jop Ripoff Poll 2021

Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum

Unlike professional bowling on network television and unicycle festivals, some traditions are hard to break. The Village Voice has been dead for several years (undead here), but an online group continues its legacy with the annual “Village Voice Pazz and Jop Ripoff Poll.” I believe it is administered by sadists Glenn Boothe and Glenn Mcdonald and this year approximately 350 rock critics, wannabe rock critics, or people with OCD regarding lists (hey, that’s me!) participated in the online poll.

I gave the Top Ten albums a spin, absolutely zero of which I had heard before reading the poll results, and the opinions of this middle-aged white man are listed below.

10 – The War on Drugs, “I Don’t Live Here Anymore.” The War on Drugs is a pretty snazzy band name, right? It makes me want to start a little emo combo called “The Taft Hartley Act.” If you are in the market for a well-produced, completely humorless Dylan imitation, this is your Xmas present. If you don’t need the aural equivalent of watching someone rummage through Bawb’s underwear drawer when he’s out of town, this may not be your cup of hard rain. Grade: B-

9 – Billie Eilish, “Happier Than Ever.” Eilish is young, talented, attractive, successful, and wealthy, so this sophomore outing should be a party that pops like a can of snakes, right? Well, no. Instead of a celebration, Eilish is in love with (a) her suffering and (b) tempos that move like clotted blood. This is goth dance music for a faux hipster, late night club that should and would never let me inside their doors. Grade: C+

8 – Lucy Dacus, “Home Video.” Lyric driven indie rock about bad relationships. Dacus seems like a natural overthinker, yet dishes out some immediate rewards in the propulsive guitar/drum sounds on tracks like “Hot & Heavy” and “First Time.” Unfortunately, there are too many slow songs and she needs to figure out a path towards casual dating. Grade: B-

7 – Illuminati Hotties, “Let Me Do One More.” The best numbers are pop punk meets power pop with the genre point being emphasized by “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” sounding like Pere Ubu covering the Archies. “Knead” is a actual chorus away from being a classic pop/rock effort. Very high ear candy quotient with this one. Grade: B+

6 – Japanese Breakfast, “Jubilee.” Better dance music than Deep Purple’s “Made in Japan” and Cheap Trick “At Budokan.” Not insipid like “Mr. Roboto.” More upbeat than the Bill Murray/Scarlett Johansson strange romance flick “Lost in Translation.” Less gory than “Kill Bill: Volume 1.” More specifically, this is beautifully produced modern pop music and what Madonna would be doing in 2021 if she had aged more gracefully. Grade: A-

5 – Low, “Hey What.”  Hey, nothing.  Grade: C- 

4 – Mdou Moctar, “Afrique Victime.” If you miss the Mahavishnu Orchestra, or perhaps more importantly, the idea of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, you’ll probably dig this. African rhythms, lyrical chants, and guitar work by Mdou Moctor that sounds like Carlos Santana putting some muscle in the psychedelic blues. There are times when the acoustic tinged numbers remind me of Zeppelin’s folk outings and in the moxie department, there’s even a song titled “Layla.” First-rate, genuinely good weirdness. B+

3 – Olivia Rodrigo, “Sour.” On “Brutal,” our 18-year-old heroine sounds like Courtney Love without the non-musical baggage. On “traitor,” she mimics the hurt romanticism of Billie Eilish. “Driver’s License” is teen angst jealousy with handclaps. “good 4 u” sounds like Avril Lavigne co-writing with Lana Del Rey. In fact, a lot of this sounds like Lana Del Rey. Grade: B

2 – Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders, “Promises.” A collaboration between British electronic musician Sam Shepherd, Little Rock born jazz legend Pharoah Sanders, and the London Symphony Orchestra, “Promises” sounds like a futuristic soundtrack piece (the nine “movements” that comprise the work all have the same intro). If you ever plan to float through the atmosphere, preemptively download this album into your space outfit. Grade B

1 – Dry Cleaning, “New Long Leg.” Vibes – Gang of Four, Patti Smith, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Vocals – lots of Sprechgesang, as our German friends say, and generally not as entertaining as Fred Schneider’s take on the art form. Numero Uno? De ninguna manera. Grade – B

My personal top albums of the year would include “One to Grow On,” by Mike and the Moonpies, “The Horses and the Hounds,” by James McMurtry (which finished at #16 on the list), and Cheap Trick’s “In Another World.” I also need to spend more time with Amyl and the Sniffers. And, finally, I was glad to learn that there is finally a band named Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum.

3 Comments

  1. L. Bangs on February 2, 2022 at 6:29 am

    Do you have a link to these results? I cannot find them. Thanks!

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