So, on this 31st day of December 2009, I make it my 2010 New Year's resolution to listen to more new music. ("To do my fucking job," some might say.) I'm re-committing myself to the habit of discovering and exposing new shit on a constant basis.

What's more, in my capacity as music editor of New Times, I'm forcing this resolution on someone else, in grand fashion. Jay Bennett, our trusted copy editor, who is as open-minded as any 40-year-old dude who plays guitar in a garage-rock band can be, has committed to a yearlong project called "Nothing Not New" on our blog, PHXmusic.com.

Jay will listen to at least one brand-new record every weekday for the next year. Also, he's not listening to anything not released in 2010 during the workweek and as little as possible on weekends. That's right: Jay's MP3s are backed up to an external hard drive and his media player has been wiped clean. Tomorrow, Jay can listen only to the first record I've picked out for him, London indie-rock outfit Scanners' joyfully Moog-y sophomore effort Submarine, which is due in stores on January 26.

For the next year, he can go back and listen to whatever he wants from 2010, but nothing else. The goal is to halt the progress of Jay's aesthetic atrophy through intensive therapy, something he has his own reasons for doing, which I'll let him tell you more about at PHXmusic.com.

And, about that Decade's Best list . . . That is what started me on this whole thing, and what doomed poor Jay to the onerous duty of hiding all his Kiss records. I've compiled one — probably the best one you'll find anywhere — assembled thoughtfully and with care to avoid the nasty habit people have of putting critical reputation far above lasting appeal, wider cultural impact, and basic quality. It also includes country, as any responsible critic's list will, because I don't believe in ghettoizing any particular type of popular music. Take it from the guy who stole a piece of the Hotel Yorba: Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all is still a slightly better record than White Blood Cells.

Perhaps it's appropriate that my top album — a record I'll argue to the death is the best album of the decade — is a retirement-themed concept album, because I have one more resolution.

And that is this: This is the final decade-end list I'll publish. If I'm still writing about music professionally in 10 years — a fate that seems as possible as something can without crossing the threshold to "likely" — I'll refrain. Why? Well, this much soul-searching probably isn't healthy. Also, as herein discussed, I've already been victimized by a mild case of aesthetic atrophy at the tender age of 29. Even with my resolution, that makes me worry. As with Alzheimer's or any other truly terrible wasting disease, it's impossible for the afflicted party to fully comprehend how much ability they've lost. The last thing I'd want to do is make a mockery of myself in 2019, doing something as stupid as Rolling Stone's editors did by putting their old rentboy Bob Dylan's Modern Times at number 8 on their Best of the '00s list.

No, for better or worse, this was my decade in top form as an appreciator of popular music. I might have preferred a time period Billboard could not say Nickelback lorded over as "Band of the Decade," but those are the breaks. This list is the result of literally thousands of hours of meditation and I'm confident it's better than anything Pitchfork, Stereogum, Rolling Stone, or Spin can offer up.

Now, after much deliberation, my list is finally done. I'm relieved, honestly.

I might even have me a cappuccino. Fuck it.

1. Jay-Z, The Black Album

2. of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

3. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

4. Kanye West, The College Dropout

5. The Strokes, Is This It

6. Arcade Fire, Funeral

7. At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command

8. The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow

9. The Libertines, Up the Bracket

10. The Postal Service, Give Up

11. Beulah, The Coast Is Never Clear

12. Toby Keith, Shock'n Y'all

13. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black

14. The White Stripes, White Blood Cells

15. Girl Talk, Feed the Animals

16. T.I., Paper Trail

17. of Montreal, The Sunlandic Twins

18. Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds

19. Wilco, A Ghost Is Born

20. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell

21. Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand

22. Paris Hilton, Paris

23. Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi

24. Jimmy Eat World, Bleed American

25. Lupe Fiasco, Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor

26. The Wrens, The Meadowlands

27. Beck, Sea Change

28. Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

29. Islands, Vapours

30. Taylor Swift, Fearless

31. The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America

32. Bright Eyes, Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

34. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III

35. Radiohead, Kid A

36. Against Me, New Wave

37. Interpol, Turn On the Bright Lights

38. The Black Keys, The Big Come Up

39. Super Furry Animals, Rings Around the World

40. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz

41. Ida Maria, Fortress Round My Heart

42. Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf

43. Daft Punk, Discovery

44. 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin'

45. Green Day, American Idiot

46. The Hives, Your New Favourite Band

47. Sufjan Stevens, Illinoise

48. The Walkmen, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone

49. Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose

50. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver

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3 comments
Rich Wilhelm
Rich Wilhelm

Martin,

A friend of mine sent me a link to Jay's Nothing Not New blog, which has led me to create a new component of my own blog, which I am calling "Nothing Not Old." You can read about it and keep up with it, if you'd like at http://marimbadog.livejournal.... . Thanks for the inspiration!

Um....
Um....

I tend to be open minded, but...Paris Hilton? Really?!

Pete
Pete

martin's come to jesus moment.

beautiful.

hey martin, how about giving jay some moral support - by attending one concert per week in 2010 (feat. bands you haven't seen live) and writing about it?

ok. maybe one every other week. we don't want you overmedicating the atrophy.

 

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