#1 - David Thomas Broughton - Ever Rotating Sky
No doubt in my mind whatsoever about this being the number one.
I think one of my biggest problems with music criticism is that when you read a gushing 10/10 review, no matter how well argued and written, I struggle to understand how anyone can write sufficiently about something with such a rating. It’s not a problem with art viewed as being perfect - songs to come and songs way posted back here I would describe as perfect - but, as pretentious as it sounds/is, records like David Thomas Broughton’s The Complete Guide To Insufficiency go way beyond perfection to a place where words are, ahem, insufficient - a theme that’s come up throughout Don’t Make Lists but is fittingly no more true when describing this. I’ll try my best.
The closer to my favourite record ever made, it perhaps only works in context rather than a standalone piece. Context in this case being the entire album and seeing Broughton perform live. You might view this as a flaw but this was never supposed to be some zeitgeisty definitive or consensus-calculating top 365 but rather one pretty bad writer with nothing better to do. And the context is completely there for me; listening to this record a thousand times, following the man around every tiny nook and cranny in Leeds and later seeing him stun larger audiences in support slots for Shearwater and Twi The Humble Feather.
Having said that, this couldn’t be a better introduction and I hope that if you’re introduced to this it clicks half as much as it does for me. Ever Rotating Sky itself is a Reichian masterpiece, a blend of drone and experimentalism mixed with the traditional folk song to create something unparalleled. The calm of what can be loosely described as a looping chorus eventually descending into a chaos of a glorious mix of vocals, guitar, drum machines and natural finger-on-wood percussion. Recorded in a single take in Leeds’ Wrangthorn church.
If with this year-long project just one person discovers David Thomas Broughton, it’s been entirely worth it. Thanks so much for reading.
#15 - Animal Collective - Banshee Beat
Really wish I didn’t spend so much time on the internet and have hyperawareness of every scene and buzzband and whatever, I think it’d probably be a lot easier just to consume music and take it at face value, and things would make a lot more sense. For example, I feel like writing about Animal Collective i’ve got to go on the defensive despite them being a pretty incredible band in a lot of ways; genuinely inventing and interesting, and have they’ve got a knack for textures more or less unparelled in contemporary indie, and the fact is they’re pretty diverse in everything they’ve put out, even the production on Strawberry Jam I love, really ballsy and abrasive and uncompromising.
Take Banshee Beat as an example; how many major indie bands can you argue take a fresh approach songwriting both lyrically and composition wise with instrumentation and production that’s really intricate to create an end product that’s actually pretty profound and moving. ‘bit drunk lol’
#30 - Sufjan Stevens - The Predatory Bird Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!
probs the most affecting song i’ve ever seen live
#34 - Amerie - 1 Thing
massive pop singles with better production than this? pretty sure they dont exist
#39 - Boards of Canada - ‘84 Pontiac Dream
Feels ridiculous compiling a list from the past decade and not including something from Geogaddi. Sometimes I think I’ll die by my one-song-per-artist rule, but then I remember that top 5 would probably just be five songs from the same album (CLUE). Anyway, despite this being from a pretty underwhelming record, 2005’s The Campfire Headphase, it had some pretty beautiful moments on. Like this one. Incredible sample.
#53 - Wolf Parade - I’ll Believe In Anything
Eagle-eyed (dolphin eared?) readers will’ve got this as a spoiler a few weeks ago when I copied the wrong link. Deservedly an extra dozen or so places up the chart, one of those huge indie rock anthem type tracks that will never fail to get me excited, which is saying something as it’s been included in more or less “indie dj” setlist i’ve witnessed post-2005. and rightly so.
#55 - Okkervil River - Another Radio Song
Black Sheep Boy and the Appendix EP (from which this is taken) are massively recommended - thematically perfectly constructed and better than 99% of indie rock.
#58 - The Intelligence - Tropical Struggle
the? no the?