2009 was arguably the best year for new music since 1979, and that’s saying a lot, even if I’m wrong. For whatever reason, this year was just packed with incredibly great CDs from bands we knew were great, bands we didn’t know were this good, bands we hadn’t heard from in a long time and bands we’d never heard of, period. The result – it was all I could do to keep up, and I fully expect to spend the next couple of years tripping over even more awesome releases from 2009 that I missed this year. So in advance, apologies to those artists I didn’t find my way to in 2k9.
So here’s the format. There are usually three tiers: Gold LP, Platinum LP and CD of the Year. (The LP is taken from my personal site, Lullaby Pit, which is where this annual tradition started several years ago. And the fact that albums used to be LPs. Get it?) This year the glut of outstanding CDs have necessitated the addition of a new level – SuperPlatinum – because a few of those platinum discs are a notch above the rest. Over the next few days, then, the Scholars & Rogues/Lullaby Pit Best CDs of 2009 will be rolled out in four installments.
Up first, in roughly alphabetical order… Read more
Below is my Best CDs of the 1990s list. I never kidded myself for a second that I could produce a definitive review – if I can’t even convince myself that the list is as good as I’d like it, I can hardly fault others for disagreeing here and there, can I?
In the end I wound up deciding on a Top 25 list, and I also offered comments on 25 more honorable mentions. The whole thing, top to bottom, is something like 10 pages worth of reviewing, analysis, and self-defense. I even employed multiple methodologies. First, I tried laying it out by a “connoisseurship” model – that is, I made my own estimates based on my own sense of how things qualitatively met the criteria I established for the project. Then I played a little game where I weighted each criterion and then rated each entry mathematically, thereby generating a quantitative estimate. This had the effect of making me seriously reconsider my initial rankings (for instance, it forced me to give Pearl Jam more credit than I really wanted to – see below for more on that).
Then I sent the list to some friends whose opinions I respect and invited criticism (which I got, in spades – thanks, Greg). That forced some more noodling. Then I set about writing and justifying my picks, and that ALSO led to some revision (if I have a hard time justifying its place in the Top 25, that could mean I’m over-relying on my “like” reflex). Read more