Scene intern Lance Conzett contributed this post.
There's a certain point in December where "best of" lists hit critical mass and our brains start turning to mush at the sight of yet another indie rock slapfight over which Radiohead album released this decade is the king of popular music until 2019. But then a major news organization will throw out a list so bizarre that it demands our attention.
The Associated Press released their picks for the best records of the year today and, inexplicably, put Sam & Ruby's debut The Here and the Now at the top slot. That's right--AP thinks that Sam & Ruby released the best album of 2009. Here's what AP writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody had to say about them:
"The Here and the Now," Sam and Ruby: This Nashville duo has been deemed exotic because of their ethnicity -- she's a black woman from Ghana, he's a white dude from Wisconsin. But their blend of acoustic folk, country and soul sounds homespun, as though they've been making music together for a lifetime. And they've reached near-perfection with this CD.
Really? Sam & Ruby? Near-perfection? Why?
I'm all for local artists getting national props, but I can't fathom a world where Nashville's snooze-pop equivalent to the Swell Season takes home the gold for album of the year. I can tell that they've got the librarian demographic locked down from their repeated coverage on NPR, but is that enough to even make it above the Top 25 mark on an honest look at the year in music?
I'm just going to throw out a few albums released this year, you can make your judgments from there: Veckatimest (Grizzly Bear), Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Phoenix), Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II (Raekwon), Actor (St. Vincent), Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (Elvis Costello), Middle Cyclone (Neko Case), Infinite Light (Lightning Dust), Troubadour (K'Naan), Embryonic (The Flaming Lips), It's Blitz! (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Noble Beast (Andrew Bird). Even in Nashville, The Here and the Now gets trounced by the sheer volume of great local releases.
I'm thrilled that for once Merriweather Post Pavilion isn't at the head of a year-end list, but what rock has AP's music department been living under this year? Then again, the AP isn't exactly known for its taste in music. The fact that this year's Black Eyed Peas travesty is at No. 3 probably says more about their take on the year in music than I could.