As 2011 draws to a close, everyone starts making their Best Of The Year lists. I read an article in the Guardian recently moaning about these lists, claiming they're not how people actually listen to music and that itemising an art form into endless qualitative lists is a bit soulless and wrong. Which is sort-of a fair point, but what's more important to me is that these lists help me find so much great music. Last year in making my Best Of 2010 list I checked out everyone else's list first, and probably 50% of my own list was discovered from reading other people's recommendations. I prefer to think of the End Of Year List as some communal festival of music sharing, where everyone gets together and swaps their favourite stuff and everyone learns something new and interesting.
Perhaps more importantly, I got really burned out on trying to stay bang up to date with music. I've heard something like 600 new artists in 2011 according to Last.fm, which equates to hundreds of albums and thousands of hours of music. All of this music was totally new to me, so whether it came from 2011 or not seems pretty secondary. I like just being able to go through a year not having to read every damn blog and feel like I'm missing out on good stuff, because I know when the end of year comes around, the good stuff will be collated. And yeah, sure - some stuff will go missing, but that will happen anyway. I always try and check out a huge variety of lists when compiling my own, because I want my list to be genuinely helpful. I want to show people music that exists outside the circles they usually operate within. The End Of Year List gets stupid when all the blogosphere sites are just re-ordering the same 100 records.
My list probably won't be complete for some time yet. After all, 2011 ain't over yet. Last year's list wasn't finished until February, and it might be the same this time around. I was really pleased with it last time around, even though I've since heard quite a few 2010 albums that could have gone on there. If I remade my 2010 list now, it'd probably look a fair bit different. But at the same time, my rigorous approach to listening to as much as possible for the list meant I really did hear more new music from 2010 than any previous year.
What this means for the blog is that for the next couple of months, almost everything I'm going to review is going to be from 2011. A lot of it is going to be really terse too, because there's so much to get through and a lot of it will unfortunately be shit. If I listen to five tracks of an album and it sucks, I'm not going to soldier through. So expect some decidedly miniature reviews at times.