Greeting Rock n' Roll Fans, and welcome to my blog.
Initially, this site was born out of trying to find an easier way to communicate with a few friends of mine around the country for whom, every St. Patrick's Day since 2004, I have put together an annual mix collection of selects from the previous year's best albums in rock, pop, indie, electronica, experimental rock, folk-rolk, alt-country, hip hop and soul. Basically, everything that falls under the broadly inclusive indie/rock/soul/hip hop umbrella with the exception of most modern metal, a genre I just don't care for and rarely listen to.
As this collection has grown (as high as sixteen disks in 2008), the end-of-year write ups that accompany the mixes have become a gargantuan burden, and my wife (whose patience with this obsession of mine is beyond saintly) recommended I take to blogging instead, so as to parse out the labor over the course of the year.
It was a great suggestion, but as I began figuring my way around blogger.com (an ongoing process for sure), I started thinking this site could be a little bit more. I'm neither a musician or a professional critic, but I am a professional entertainment creative, and I've listened to a huge amount of music in my now almost forty-five years. More significantly, I have had a strong helping hand in the form of the great rock n' roll critics that have documented the genre over the last fifty years. Through their reviews and annual "best of" lists, they've collectively guided me to hundreds if not thousands of fantastic works and artists I may never have discovered on my own.
This site, then, is my personal attempt to carry on the tradition, to help older rock n' roll fans such as myself who no longer have a lot of personal time find those few great releases each year that really work for them, and to lend a guiding hand to those younger listeners, just coming of age, who are eager to discorer the best of what's come before, but have no idea where to start.
More so, the blog is called McQ's Best Of... for a reason. The internet is loaded with awesome, similarly themed sites, but none combine a focused "best of" approach while providing a small dash of synopsis and personal opinion...they offer either wonderfully compiled lists with little to no other information (acclaimedmusic.net) or are larger critical sites (Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Spin, CokeMachineGlow, All Music Guide, Pop Matters) which provide a level of information and insight I'll never compete with, but for which identifying their all-time top choices can be a difficult and time-consuming affair.
Bottom line, I'm a critical surface skimmer, and this is a site for critical surface skimmers.
I figure I only have the personal bandwidth to honestly process 100-150 albums a year, and I choose to spend it listening to the best reviewed albums and biggest buzz getters on various message boards. This is not going to be an all inclusive site, a quickly responsive site (I'll generally spend a few months with new albums before posting reviews), nor a site for hipsters who thrive on discovering little known bands before their peers (a harder and harder task in this age of the blogosphere).
But if your interested in getting one avid listener's opinion on what he feels to be the very best among the most critically celebrated albums in any given year, broken down in a number of quickly accessible ways, then this is a site for you.
It's going to take time, I've just started doing this regularly, and family/work commitments limit me to about 3-5 posts a week, but over the next decade, these are the features I hope to build.
BEST ALBUMS BY YEAR
Click on this page to get my opinion of the best albums of each year, decade, and all time This is going to be a slow build up...instead of throwing every title I'm familiar with up at once, I'm going to work through my number ones for each year one at a time, then extend the best of decade and all time lists as far as I can with the number ones, then work through the years adding the number twos, and so on and so on.
BEST OF BY ARTIST
Interested in knowing which album to start with for a specific band? As artists begin to accumulate multiple reviews on this site, clinking on them through this reference will take you to their homepage, where I'll provide a little more information about the band and rank all their albums I've reviewed. If an artist only has one album reviewed on this site, clicking their name will take you directly to the album review.
BUILDING THE PERFECT ALBUM COLLECTION
This is the feature I'm most excited about building. In foundational bricks of 25 albums each, I'll lay out which records the budding collector should latch onto first.
Here I'm playing as much to historical and critical consensus as my own personal opinion (Sgt. Peppers of Pet Sounds are no where close to being in my own top 25, but they belong in the first brick).
In an effort to maximize depth of exposure to rock n' roll's top artists but also hit as broad a range of important artists from all the decades, there are some rigid ground rules. For the first six bricks, each brick must include one representative for before 1960, one for the just developing 2010s, and then at least three and no more than seven representatives for each decade in between, and no artist can appear more than once every two bricks. The next seven bricks will each focus on rounding out a single decade, here with artists limited to one representation per brick. The remaining seven bricks of the initial five hundred albums, will focus on specific genres, one which will definitely be metal which I'll bring in some outside help on since my opinions count for nothing in this genre, and again, will be limited to one work per artist per brick.
Taking this approach, I think you'll find some fascinating and at time aggravating developments. Knowledgeable fans will obviously disagree with choices throughout, but I think they'll find most of the choices in the early bricks make a lot of historical/peak quality sense. But then the restrictions by artist and decade will really start to be felt...when we're eight bricks in and Blonde on Blonde or Abbey Road or Darkness on the Edge of Town or a second Prince or White Stripes or Led Zeppelin or Motown title have yet to be revealed, expect some fireworks in the comments section.
Again, as with the best of year lists, this is going to be a slow build. Brick One will start with the Elvis Presley compilation Sunrise, and then I'll be adding records one at a time as personal time allows.
FAVORITE SONGS AND ANNUAL MIX COLLECTIONS
Clicking on this page will lead you to two options to explore songs for each year.
"McQs Favorite Tracks will take you to a straight up laundry list of my favorite cuts of the year, broken into three categories. The Baker's Dozen, where I list my 13 favorite tracks of the year, the Remaining 10s, where I include any other tracks for that calendar year that I gave my highest individual rating, and then the 9s, where I list all the songs I gave my second highest rating.
Clicking on the song title on these lists will take you directly to Amazon.com, where you will be able to sample the track, or if you so desire, actually download. Clicking on the artist name will link you to the album review from which the track was first released.
Clicking on the Recommend Mix Collection for a given year will take you to the home page for each year's mix collection. Again, clicking on the track will take you to the Amazon.com page for that track, clicking on the artist will take you to the matching album review, but here I also include an amazon widget of the full mix for those that want to sample the tracks without having to click off the page. All mixes are designed to burn to a single 70Mb disc at 128 kbit quality.
This is just a simple chronological list of links to reviews of any concerts I have attended. I've got some back catalog stuff to get up, but should have this page current relatively soon.
Here's where I dump any other posts, again in chronological order. Usually these will be Daily Listening posts, down and dirty quickies when I feel the urge to spill the beans on how I'm feeling about recent releases before I've given them my full 6-8 listens.
LISTEN, DOWNLOAD, OR BUY A HARDCOPY
I've joined Amazon Associates. I'd be lying if I didn't admit I hope to make a few bucks off this site, but what I truly like best about this association is it allows me to post free thirty second samples of the each track for the albums I'm reviewing...making it much easier for you, the reader to hear what I'm babbling on about.
Finally, a note about reader comments.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE feel free to add your opinions on anything I post here. The more opinions on this material, the more valuable this site will become.
All I ask is that you keep your posts clean in language, and stay civil with each other (you can be as nasty as you want to me). As long as you abide by these two simple rules, I'll keep your posts up as long as blogger.com will allow.
Finally, there are email links at the bottom of each post. Please feel free to email any post to friends you think might be interested.
That's it, Rock n' Roll fans.
Thanks to all.
And I hope you enjoy.