Sunday, August 1, 2021

Blaugust Backup Plan

Blaugust is coming. No, wait, it's here! Now what am I going to do?

I signed up in a rash of enthusiasm and excitement without thinking it through. As usual. Only later, it hit me. I'm back at work now. I have enough trouble getting a post out every non-working day as it is. Now I have to do one every day? For a whole month?

Okay, no, I don't. This isn't a contract. Or a punishment. It's a pleasure and a joy and a fun thing to do. No-one has to post any more than they want to or they feel comfortable with or they enjoy. It's not a competition it's a festival.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I want my thirty-one. So, how to be sure I get them all? I need some kind of backup plan.

Well, there's always the screenshot post ploy. I have seventeen kazillion screenshots (actual count). I can put together a screenshot post in minutes. In theory. But then I always have to caption them and write interstitials and it ends up taking about as long as a regular post with words in because now it is a regular post with words in, just with a lot of pictures, too.

And then the universe stepped in and gave us

 The Pitchfork's People's List

It's a list of the best two hundred albums of the last quarter of a century as voted for by Pitchfork readers, or it will be when all the votes are tallied, which won't be for several weeks. 

Although, if I may quibble, the two hundred may be the "best" but the actual twenty-five choices you're asked to submit are your "favorite". These are not synonyms! And just as well, too. I have no freakin' clue what the "best" twenty-five albums of the last twenty-five years might be. How many of them do you think I've even heard of let alone heard? Geez! Get a grip, guys!

Favorite, though, that I can do. And quite easily, too, since I set my own criteria and decided they had to be albums I actually own, either as CDs or at least in some form of digital download. No counting things I listened to once on a stream or someone told me were good.


For much of the last quarter of a century, in common with a lot of people I guess, the album hasn't been the main way I chose to listen to music. Mostly I listen to individual songs as they stream. My platforms of choice are YouTube, Bandcamp and Soundcloud. I don't have a Spotify subscription. I do have Amazon Prime Music but I almost never use it.

Albums, I mostly get for birthdays and Christmas because you have to have something to offer when people ask what you want. That's where almost everything on the list that's coming later comes from. 

Twenty-five years does, just about, go back far enough to hit the point when I was still buying albums for myself, before streaming or even YouTube were things. That seems an awfully long time ago now. It's like the dark ages. I hardly chose anything from back then. 

Choosing the twenty-five wasn't hard. I only had to pick from a longlist of about fifty and a shortlist of three dozen. Putting the final twenty-five in order, though? That was impossible. It always is. I used to do a lot of lists like this back in the eighties and ranking anything after the first five is pretty much arbitrary. 

Here's what I ended up submitting to Pitchfork for their consideration:

    1. Norman Fucking Rockwell - Lana del Rey
    2. Chemtrails Over The Country Club - Lana del Rey
    3. I'm All Ears - Let's Eat Grandma
    4. Born To Die - Lana del Rey
    5. The Last Days Are Taking Forever - Papertiger Sound
    6. Iced To Mode - Misty Dixon
    7. Interplanetary Class Classics - The Moonlandingz
    8. Some Dusty - Birdie
    9. Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino - Arctic Monkeys
    10. Music In A Foreign Language - Lloyd Cole
    11. The Fallen By Watchbird - Jane Weaver
    12. Superorganism - Superorganism
    13. The Golden Mile - My Life Story
    14. Folklore - Taylor Swift
    15. Antidepressant - Lloyd Cole
    16. Illuminate - Papertiger Sound
    17.  Children of Telepathic Experiences - Gerling
    18.  I, Gemini - Let's Eat Grandma
    19.  Para Vista Social Club - Scott and Charlene's Wedding
    20. Apartment Life - Ivy
    21. Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant - Lana del Rey
    22. Client - Client
    23. The Loneliest Girl - Princess Chelsea
    24. Arrows - Polly Scattergood
    25. Everything Picture - Ultrasound 

    Since compiling the list I've listened to quite a few of the albums on it and now I'd put them in a different order. Princess Chelsea and Taylor Swift would both be higher, for a start. There's also the fraught question of just what qualifies as an "album". I have three more by Papertiger Sound that could easily be on there but they're too short to be what I call albums, even though that's what Bandcamp calls them.

    There also some favorite acts and artists missing, not because I don't like them as much as the ones that made the cut but because none of their individual albums stood out above any of the others, often because I have so many and I like them all about equally. That's really unfair but it's why there aren't any Peggy Sue or Luke Haines albums on the list. 

    I also decided to exclude compilations and box sets, which is why there's no Dolly Mixture, Black Box Recorder, Shangri Las or Lee Hazelwood, all of which would have made the cut otherwise. Dolly Mixture would, in fact, have been #1. Yes, even above Lana.

    Speaking of Lana (as I so often am) or Jane Weaver or Lloyd Cole or several more, it just felt wrong to put all of their albums on, even though they're all my "favorites". If I'd done that there'd be no room for anyone else. This is what always happens with lists like this.

    Norman Fucking Rockwell, however, would be top three in any list I was going to make of my favorite albums, not just of the last twenty-five years but the last fifty. I just hope I'm fortunate enough to live long enough to hear anything else new as good.

    So, how is this all going to help with my Blaugust daily posting problem? I'm so glad you asked!

    Throughout August I'm going to post individually on each of the entries in the list. I'm going to write one paragraph about each album (Okay, a minimum of one paragraph. I'm not cutting myself off from the well if it turns out I have more to say.) and embed one song from it.

    I ought to be able to manage that even if I don't have the time or the energy to write a longer post. I can also knock out several on days when I'm in the zone and stockpile them for later. In fact, I've done #25 thru #21 already.

    That's my backup plan! I never said it was a good plan but you can't say I don't have one. If anyone else wants to join in, that'd be fun. I don't mean the whole post-an-album-every-day thing. Just the big list. Tell us your twenty-five favorites from the last quarter-century. Or ten. Or five. Whatever you got.

    If you want to vote in the real poll it's open until 20th August. You don't have to register or sign up or anything. Here's where you go to vote. At least, I hope it is. I just get "You've already participated in this survey".

    My estimate on how many of my choices appear in the eventual Pitchfork's 200 Best Albums of the Last Twenty-Five Years list? Two. Norman Fucking Rockwell and Folklore. And even then, the only safe money's on Taylor.

    At least the final 25 should give me some ideas on what to ask people to buy me for Christmas this year.


    1. This is a really great idea.

      I'd have to think very hard about those 25 picks though, so writing that post would be a pretty time consuming undertaking. We'll see. :-)

      Also, I've never heard of some of your picks, so I have some additional listening to do now.

      1. Looking forward to seeing what you go for. As for my nest of obscurities, I promise you, if you keep reading you're going to know more about all of them than you ever wanted. Not so much a promise as a threat, really...


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