Archive for the ‘Year-End List’ Category

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013


Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2013

2013Image by Christine KwanChristine Kwan

If it’s the year’s end and this is a list, then this must be a year-end list. You should all know the drill by now: ten albums released this year, listed alphabetically and not in order of preference, that largely reflects my listening habits for the year. No promises that all of these records will remain in favour as the years pass – goodness knows that past lists don’t bat 1.000 for shelf life – but I’ll take honesty over prognostication.

There’s only one debut in the batch, but a few sophomore efforts that reinforce the fact that the artists are no flash in the pans, and that’s arguably more exciting than some rookie who tears up the league the first time out and then fades away. Two – or three, depending on definition – reunion/comeback albums as well, which is also surprising considering most records of this ilk are half-hearted excuses to stage cash-grab tours. Which I’m not inherently against, but to have artists back as genuine creative forces and not just nostalgia machines is obviously better, no?

Either way, pretty good year for music. And many thanks to Christine Kwan for taking the chore of making graphics for this list off my hamfisted hands from concept to execution and dressing them in seasonal finery.


Monday, December 10th, 2012


Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2012


I’ve always said when compiling my year-end list that I don’t choose my favourite albums of the year so much as they declare themselves to me. If it requires too much thought, it’s probably more a case of trying to justify adding something that I know probably doesn’t belong. But those albums that do pass muster are not, as you might think, necessarily the albums that I can’t stop listening to. Rather, they’re often the ones that I try to listen to the least, or at least sparingly, lest that intangible magic that I feel within its notes should evaporate with growing familiarity and what I thought was special turns out to be more ordinary. This happens more often than I’d like, but then there are those that don’t only sparkle on the surface, that offer up more the further you delve into them, the records that contain multitudes.

These are not ten of those records. Some of them are, but to expect more than a handful of those a year to cross my path and get the attention they demand/deserve would be asking too much. The rest are simply albums that, be they challenging or comforting, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this year. Which ones are which is for me to know and you to guess – as always, they’re ordered alphabetically rather than by rank – but were the world to indeed end in a couple of weeks like the gullible and lunatic among us believe, they’d comprise ten records that I’d be content clutching as the skies rained down fire upon us.

And I tried to do something more ambitious with the graphic treatment of this year’s list, but as it turns out my Photoshop skills – which have always kind of sucked – are actually getting worse. So alas, this is all we get.


Wednesday, December 14th, 2011


Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2011

2011Image by Frank YangFrank Yang

Okay, let’s get this over with. More than any year in recent memory, 2011 was tough to distill down to a top ten – not because there was a dearth of notable releases, but because there was a glut of them. Plenty of records this year were good to great – from those you’d expect as much from, those who surprised by upping their game and/or those who you’d simply never heard of before – but head-and-shoulders standouts? More of a chore than I expected.

But here are ten records which, as of this midway point of the final month of 2011, do a pretty good job of representing what I listened to and enjoyed the most in the past twelve. I like the mix of geography, genres, and genders and also of veterans and up-and-comers – I think most who’d know would agree this is a pretty, “me” list and consistent with past years. And if you can be bothered to read the past prefaces, you’ll see that those, too, are pretty consistent. Which is to say repetitive. So no more talking, yeah?

Yeah. And you like the philatelic angle for this year’s art? I do.


Monday, December 6th, 2010

Ten for '10

Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2010

2010Image via WikipediaFrank Yang

Well this was certainly a better year than last year, on pretty much every level. Of course, it would have required something on the scale of low-yield nuclear detonation in my bathtub – while I was in it – for it to have been worse, but I’ll take it. Musically, it was actually something of a banner year with what seemed like every active artist that I liked not only putting out new records, but good to great records. More hiatuses ended than started and despite intending to slow down the show-going, I ended up going to even more life-affirming, if not -changing, concerts than in any calendar year I can recall. In short, 2010 brought it.

So you’d think that with such a wealth of great records to choose from, assembling a short list of ten faves should have been easier than a year without as many worthy candidates but if anything, it’s tougher. Acts that release records that meet expectations, however high, are held to extra scrutiny; it’s like, “yeah this record was good but so was the last one – where’s that next level?” which of course is completely unreasonable. And conversely, acts heretofore unknown to me had the element of surprise on their side when it came to triggering the ineffable “wow” reflex. All of which is to say that, like past years, there’s nothing scientific nor quantitative about these selections – they’re alphabetical by artist and represent what I could get behind as of the first weekend of December, 2010, and strongly motivated by a desire to get this list over and done with.

So here they are, after the jump, or if you want to peer closely at my little photoshop project above (click for a bigger version) you can try and guess who made the cut before seeing the answers. Because I know the suspense is delicious.


Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Annus Horribilis

Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2009

Image via WikipediaWikipedia

No two ways about it, 2009 sucked. Hard. It started badly with the demise of a relationship and despite my determination to pull myself up by the proverbial bootstraps, only went downhill from there. The past twelve months have been marked by people moving on, moving away and passing away – not just my loved ones but those of people close to me. If there’s any silver lining to the huge, black cumulonimbus thunderhead that was this year, it’s that it’s over and I can only hope it’s not tempting fate to believe that things can only get better from here.

Ironically, though, it was a pretty good year for music. A lot of records I expected great things from met those expectations, some exceeded them by a wide margin and only a few disappointed. Picking ten to stand up and represent is always tough since what sounds like the best thing ever at any given time is wholly contingent on one’s mood. That said, as I’ve chewed on this list mentally over the past few months, a few records continue to bubble up to the surface as either played ad nauseum or hardly at all, for fear that the feeling of wonder around it might begin to dissipate.

Long-time readers may note an absence of some of the usual suspects who, despite putting out great records that if there existed some sort of absolute scale of measurement, might well be better than ones that made the cut, but never underestimate how much sway the element of surprise and discovery can have on one’s opinion. I can’t say that I’ll still endorse all of these records so strongly in a few years, or maybe even a few months from now but as of this moment, this is what it is. Alphabetized and unranked, as always.

And unlike past years where I spent an inordinate amount of time creating or commissioning artwork to accompany the year-end list, I’ve not gone to any particular trouble this year. Partly because though I’ve had some good/great ideas for visual treatments, I haven’t had the time to organize or execute them and partly because, well, 2009 doesn’t fucking deserve it. Maybe 2010 will get some sweet year-end loving but 2009? Begone.