My 1997 Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll Ballot

Written for the Village Voice on January 8, 1998
Hi, Jim Connelly here.

I'm white, male and, having just turned 35, I'm now entering the demographic where I'm officially my own worst political enemy.

So here we go:

Albums:
Pavement Brighten the Corners 18
Whiskeytown Strangers Almanac 17
The Replacements Nothing For All (the b-sides and rareties disc) 16
Yo La Tengo I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One 14
that dog Retreat From The Sun 10
Chemical Brothers Dig Your Own Hole 05
Geraldine Fibbers Butch 05
Guided by Voices Mag Earwhig! 05
Dinosaur Jr Hand It Over 05
Bob Dylan Time Out of Mind 05

Singles:

Reissues:

By way of explanation:

Pavement -- Brighten the Corners
Long after their moment as indie heroes has faded into the inevitable fickleness, they not only rebound from the underrated Wowee Zowee *and* make what might be their best, most consistent record yet. I don't care how literate Steve Malkamus' words are -- I just need my ration of guitar parts I can sing along with. And as an extra added bonus, more honest-to-god hooks than ever before. However, from here on out, those who never got Pavement will never get them.

Whiskeytown -- Strangers Almanac

Replacements -- Nothing For All (the b-sides and rareties disc)
Sigh. Of course the Sire best-of shines. How could it not? It may not be 16 reasons to live, but it's at least 11. Any record that opens with "Left of the Dial," and careens through "Here Comes A Regular," "Alex Chilton," "Talent Show" before salvaging the secret gem "Nobody" by definiton cannot suck. Yup, it's incomplete, it ain't my choices, and yup, the split between four songs from two of the greatest albums of all time and two of the, um, not, is arbitrary, and misrepresentative, to say the least. And so what? If it's designed to spur sales of all of their Sire back catalog, that's a bad thing?

Meanwhile, for those of us who were there, who've been swapping stories for years on the Skyway mailing list and on AOL and Prodigy and alt.music.replacements, comes Nothing for All -- the usual b-side and outtake mishmash. And, naturally it's full of throwaways, dumb covers, band members' songs, and noisy shit. As were, you might remember, all of their great mid-80's records.

Bookended by perfectly imperfect versions of "Can't Hardly Wait" and "I Don't Know" they surround the shit with great songs like "Birthday Gal" "Portland" and the two-minute blast of everything that ever made them great, "Wake Up." And because the shit isn't really all that shitty; and the covers mostly educate, and the band members' songs prefigure their solo careers, it ends up working. Improbably, it all coheres into what I consider a great new Replacements album. Not all-time world-beating like Let It Be, et. al., but considering the times, one of the best records of the year.

Yo La Tengo -- I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

that dog -- Retreat From The Sun
One thing we can all agree on is that 1997 will be remembered as the year of that dog. Remember how, after "Never Say Never" hit no. 7, the radio was overloaded with one pop gem after another? Remember? Next there was "Long Island," where the opening "You're pretty dreamy for a boy from Long Island" meant instant radio volume boost. Remember? Then there was Summer Single '97, "Hawthorne." How many cars full of teens were blasting its ode to SoCal life in the 90's as it scaled the charts and clogged our radios? Remember how that was No. 1 for the entire month of August? It was as if Gwen Stefani and Meredith Brooks never existed. And remember, when they played their surprise Lilith Fair gig, there was almost a riot? Remember? Finally, remember how just as El Nino and global warming were conspiring to delay autumn, they dropped the cool breeze of "Minneapolis," and it started to rain? Remember? Remember?

Chemical Brothers -- Dig Your Own Hole

Geraldine Fibbers -- Butch
More ambitious, coherent (and rocking) than OK Computer, these LA artfucks sound like noone else -- a little country here, a little dissonance there, and on "Seven or in Ten," not one, but two punk-rock bumperstickers: "Not so fast, fucker!" and "You shoulda killed me while you had the chance."

Guided by Voices -- Mag Earwhig!
Long after their moment as indie heroes has faded into the inevitable fickleness, they finally concentrate and make their most consistent, rocking record yet. I don't care how obscure Robert Pollard's words are, I just need my hooks to sing along with. Not only did I get them -- in abundance -- as an extra added bonus we get cool guitar parts. And there's still a possibility that those who never got Guided By Voices will someday get them.

Dinosaur Jr. -- Hand It Over

Bob Dylan -- Time Out of Mind
Mind out of time is more like it. I don't understand all of the mid-60's comparisons this record is getting. The overall tone of those records was a pure and utter joy -- he knew what he had, and he figured he'd have it forever. What he's finally finally replaced it with is something totally different: the overall tone of this record is world-weary resignation. He knew what he had, and he knows that it's gone forever. Weird: common wisdom says that it took a near-death experience for Dylan to lose his mid-60's muse; could it be that another near-death experience kicked off his late 90's muse?

That's all of the comments I have time for. Maybe I'll forward some more later.


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