Frank Zappa once said that “music criticism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.” We’re onboard with that statement, which is why this time of year always gets our goat, and then rams a splintery chopstick up our poor goat’s dickhole. It’s year-end top-50 review season.
Allow us to explain a few things about year-end top-50 review season. It’s a moment when neck-beard music critics get to throw their weight around, kick their Converse up on their desks, and wax critical about something that’s fully accepted as impossible to quantify—the best albums of the year. According to Billboard, something like 75,000 albums are released each year, and that’s not counting stuff your dirtbag cousin throws on Bandcamp. With an average running time of 45 minutes per record, the average human could listen to music 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and not make a dent.
All this mathy stuff illustrates that year-end lists are based 100% on taste. There is no canon of pop music, and anyone who says there is most likely just wants to keep his job as a music journalist. So allow us to present our taste, in order, as collected in 12 issues of VICE Magazine over the past year. Before you get all pissy in the comments and accuse us of neglecting HAIM, Chance the Rapper, Jon Hopkins, or whatever garbage you think deserves critical respect, keep in mind that A) 99% of all music is terrible, B) some of these reviews are on the top 50 because we liked the review, not the band, and C) we really, really, really don’t care.
Christian Workout Power Pack
Capital Christian Distribution
You were probably proud when you found the Desperate Bicycles’s Remorse Code LP in the dollar bin, but when I came across this gem I felt like fucking Friedrich Miescher. Get this: it’s specifically and explicitly a triple-disc collection made for Christian women aged 30 to 45 to help them break a sweat at the local YWCA. Plus, there are no digital downloads, it’s only available in Christian bookstores, and Christianity is a vicious celestial dictatorship that encourages ignorance, cruelty, and genocide.
UV RACE/EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING
Australian punks are the best punks. This is because they drink the blood of kangaroos, which makes them all “hopping mad” and really good at pogoing. Does this mean that kangaroos are the punkest of all animals? I dunno, but I am sure those fuckers will kick you in the face something fierce, with or without steel-toed Docs. They definitely get some kind of props for that.
When he’s not busy making proggy black metal with his other band, Liturgy, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (son of Helen and Jimi, for all you flower children out there) is making blackish prog rock with his new project, Survival, and—hey, Joe—let me just tell you, I’m mad about this album. Hunt-Hendrix, along with bandmates Greg Smith and Jeff Bobula, expertly revives first-wave math rock with the added punch of hardcore gravitas, and it’s got me floating, got it? I would almost even go so far as to say it’s as good as it gets! I know what women (and men, sometimes) want, and it’s more spasmodic rhythms and unpredictable melodic narratives from this Brooklyn trio. Are you experienced, yet? I’m just trying to pay it forward and bask in the rays of the new rising sun.
In The Red
Sometimes when I’m listening to Drake’s lyrics, I’m all like, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, this is totally something my mom would say.” Not so with these dudes. Sure, they could be talking about white-wine spritzers and alimony, but who the fuck can tell? They’re loud, they have unintelligible lyrics, and they named their band after a diaper. Drake can go shit his pants standing and then suck a good man’s dick.
TYLER, THE CREATOR
Kids are so fucking scary now. I’ve always thought that the most terrifying horror and thriller movies are the ones with really stoic, black-eyed kids in formal wear who have no emotions and wait around to slash your ankles or face with found objects. I would literally be afraid to be in the same room as Tyler, the Creator. He looks like he’d peel off a person’s top layer of skin with the very tips of his front teeth and fingernails so that he could later don the victim’s epidermis as a cape onstage while calling your mother a series of very bad names. Which, I think, is exactly what he’s going for, so we can do nothing but encourage it (or die).