How’d D.C. Do in the Village Voice’s Music Poll? Not So Hot.
The Village Voice's annual Pazz + Jop list of the year's best albums and songs isn't the only way to measure a given city's musical impact on the wider culture, and it's certainly not the best method. But this year's poll, which included ballots from hundreds of critics, certainly tells you something about how much (or how little) music from the District resonated outside the city's borders in 2012.
Unless you count former District resident Bob Mould, whose Silver Age landed at No. 42 on the list, D.C. doesn't appear until The Evens' The Odds at No. 129. Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang's En Yay Sah comes next at No. 148, followed by Pig Destroyer's Book Burner at No. 150. (Seven spots later comes Centipede Hz by Animal Collective, which has one D.C.-residing member.) And the following albums were each listed by a single critic: Ilsa's Intoxicantations, Shy Glizzy's Law, Dot Dash's Winter Garden Light, and the Numero Group compilation Eccentric Soul: a Red Black Green Production, featuring soul songs recorded by producer Robert Hosea Williams in the 1970s.
And singles: oy. The following songs by D.C. artists were mentioned by one critic each (and in three cases that critic was me): E.D. Sedgwick's "Hex of Sex," Fat Trel's "Benning Road," Maxmillion Dunbar's "Woo," Bad Brains' "Yes I," Benoit and Sergio's "New Ships," Beauty Pill's "Afrikaner Barista," Lorelei's "Hole Punch," and "Power Circle," the Rick Ross-led posse cut featuring, among others, D.C.'s Wale. (Also mentioned on the singles list by one critic: Black Tambourine's OneTwoThreeFour EP, which contains four songs, not one.) Both of these lists were long, so I may have missed something.
As for critics who live in the D.C. area and/or write for local publications, here are their ballots: Brent Burton, Jason Cherkis, Leor Galil, Nick Green, Mark Jenkins, Zach Kelly, Steve Kiviat, Dan Kois, Catherine Lewis, David Malitz, Marc Masters, Andrew Noz, Allison Stewart, Stephen Thompson, Sarah Ventre, Michael J. West, Lindsay Zoladz, and Logan K. Young. And here's mine.
Going by the collective wisdom of Pazz + Jop—a mix of pedigreed critics, editors, and bloggers that's not necessarily representative of music writing as a whole—2012 looks like a worse year for D.C. music than 2011, although City Paper's own local music poll suggested there were plenty of interesting local sounds this year. Still, D.C. clearly had no Wild Flag this year, while electronic pop upstarts Benoit and Sergio had a quieter 2012 following a breakout 2011. And while Fat Trel continues to make murmurs in the rap blogosphere, he hasn't caught on yet with professional critics.
The No. 1 pick in both of City Paper's album and song polls, by the way, was rapper/producer Oddisee, a Prince George's County native and DMV mainstay who now spends much of his time in New York. Weirdly, he's nowhere on either list in this year's Pazz + Jop.