Music writers all know that once they get their Village Voice Pazz & Jop ballot in their e-mail inbox, that it's time to tally their loves from the last year. It's sort of like the leaves changing or the first freeze of winter coming. You get a message from Voice music ed Rob Harvilla and it's time to get to work on your lists of best albums and singles of the year.
This year the big album winners were Kanye West, LCD Soundsystem, and Arcade Fire, following the lead of most other 2010 lists. On the singles end, we loved Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" almost unanimously.
West would end up taking three slots himself in the singles chart. The only West albums not to top the P&J poll have been Graduation and 808s & Heartbreak. He seems to be a critical darling, if not for his communication skills.
Rocks Off has been voting in the P&J for forever now, it seems, or at least since we first put out our shingle here at the Houston Press and Village Voice Media. Each year it's fun to see what all the other taste arbiters in your world were listening to all year, and judge whether or not they are just putting them on their list to look cool.
Since we know how much you love looking at year-end lists almost a month into a new year, here's ours. As you can see, in 2010 we were very high on the Rolling Stones, LCD Soundsystem, Beach House, Justin Townes Earle, Bruce Springsteen, Murder By Death, Jamey Johnson, Kings of Leon, Burzum, and yes, even Kanye West. "Runaway" is still a jam.
The fun thing about the P&J is that you can see how many others critics voted for your faves. Only three of us were into Burzum's first album in 11 years, Belus. Hopefully Varg Vikernes will be sending us flowers and beautiful note. Or a bloody ram's head.
Nobody else liked Murder By Death's Good Morning Magpie, which is a shame. The 11-track disc was a pleasure, and the whiskey-laced album was a great traveling buddy. Just check out the cut "Foxglove" to see for yourself.
Texas artists were scattered on the list, with former Woodlands cats Win and Will Butler coming in at No. 3 with Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. Of the 1,844 albums on the list, Texas made a great showing.
Three standard-bearers of Houston's ongoing indie onslaught - Balaclavas, Fat Tony and the Wild Moccasins - all garnered mentions as well.
TEXANS (HOUSTONIANS IN BOLD)
3. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
23. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Part 2
28. Spoon, Transference
81. Roky Erickson & Okkervil River, True Love Cast Out All Evil
88. Jason Moran & Bandwagon, Ten
112. Patty Griffin, Downtown Church
152. Midlake, The Courage of Others
179. The Sword, Warp Riders
269. Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses, Junky Star
274. Terri Hendrix, Cry Till You Laugh
295. Old 97's, The Grand Theatre Vol. 1
299. Black Angels, Phosphene Dream
345. Jon Dee Graham & the Fighting Cocks, It's Not as Bad as It Looks
407. Bun B, Trill OG
420. Ray Wylie Hubbard, A) Enlightenment; B) Endarkenment; Hint: There Is No C
470. Shinyribs, Well After Awhile
537. Strange Boys, Be Brave
649. Willie Nelson, Country Music
681. Dax Riggs, Say Goodnight To the World
689. Meat Loaf, Hang Cool Teddy Bear
761. Guy Clark, Some Days the Song Writes You
816. Ghostland Observatory, Codename: Rondo
860. Indian Jewelry, Totaled
886. Sarah Jaffe, Suburban Nature
894. Octopus Project, Hexadecagon
906. Jimmie Vaughan, Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites
909. Shearwater, The Golden Archipelago
963. Mother Truckers, Van Tour
979. Sahara Smith, Myth of the Heart
1067. Fat Tony, RABDARGAB
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1145. Wild Moccasins, Skin Collision Past
1175. Mel Waiters, I Ain't Gone Do It
1400. Balaclavas, Roman Holiday