pitchfork rankings, mountain goats

In a surprising admission of critical fallibility, Pitchfork has reconsidered its Top 100 Albums of the 1990s listing from a couple years back. They’ve produced a new, revised ranking, and I can imagine the question you’re all asking yourselves:
But Josh, how do the various Pitchfork rankings correlate with your own voluminous record collection?
Here’s your answer: The new list matches my own tastes quite a bit more than the old one. The stats back me up on this one. Here are the number of top ranked albums from each list you’d find in my CD collection:
On the old list, I own:
– 9 of the top 10 (exception: Tori Amos)
– 15 of the top 20 (Walt Mink, Beastie Boys, Sunny Day Real Estate, Built to Spill)
– 19 of the top 30 (Shudder to Think, Wrens, Brainiac, They Might Be Giants, Fugazi, Elliott Smith)
From the new list:
– 9 of the top 10 (Bonnie Prince Billy)
– 17 of the top 20 (Smashing Pumpkins, Talk Talk)
– 24 of the top 30 (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Beta Band)
There’s only one possible conclusion to be drawn from this evidence: Over the last several years, my record-buying habits have had a significant influence on the tastes of Pitchfork writers. Of the 11 “top 30” albums I didn’t own from the 1999 list, 10 dropped out of the new top 30 — clearly marking them as inferior pretenders to the indie rock throne. (The one disc I’m missing from both lists: Built to Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong with Love. And even it dropped from No. 11 to No. 24.)
In related music news, I feel I should apologize to the Mountain Goats, the one-man lo-fi folk band of John Darnielle. Back when I was running the CD Mix of the Month Club, I criticized the Mountain Goats in my February 2003 liner notes. (My exact quote, it now pains me to say: “Dude, the Mountain Goats blow.”)
Well, the Goats’ most recent album Tallahassee was one of the few I was able to cram on my (tiny) hard drive for my trip to Africa. I’ve listened to it countless times over the last six weeks. It’s really, really good. Ranks up there with the Afghan Whigs’ Gentlemen as a classic portrait of dysfunctional love, a relationship built more on spite than affection. And the lyrics are great, even when they’re absurd (e.g., “Our love is like the border between Greece and Albania”). Darnielle’s voice is a strange but affecting mix of TMBG, Eef Barzelay, and Ethel Merman.
I think the Guardian gets it right: “As with Guided by Voices, these songs exhibit the gentle eccentricity of a self-contained world; as with the Go-Betweens, there is an intoxicatingly literate portrayal of noble failure and a heartstopping sense of melody. Infinitely understated but eminently sophisticated, Tallahassee is a treat made for incurable romantics to love unreservedly.”
Anyway, my belated apologies to John for the slight.

2 thoughts on “pitchfork rankings, mountain goats”

  1. I made sure that I got Tallahassee from emusic before I quit my subscription. Great album. Will be spending tomorrow in Edinburgh looking for “A Beautiful EP” – cross your fingers!

  2. kinda related, but not really….
    After many mentions of Beulah on this site, I finally listened and now they might could be my new favorite band.
    Just wanted to say thanks!

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