Well, if you're keeping track at home, the so-called “west coast sound” got clobbered this year in the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics' poll of the year's best music. And when we say “clobbered,” we actually mean “beaten to a bloody pulp.” Consider this: In the list of the top 100 albums of 2009, as voted on by 697 critics, the highest ranking full-length by a Los Angeles artist is a lowly #42 — Malibu folk singer Bob Dylan — followed in quick succession by Sunn O))), whose Greg Anderson runs the band's label, Southern Lord, from a second-floor compound in East Hollywood. (And Anderson doesn't really even consider Sunn O))) to be an LA band, he told West Coast Sound once. He's from Seattle, and his bandmate Stephen O'Malley lives in Paris. And, actually, Dylan's from Hibbing, MN, via NYC. He's not really considered an LA artist, even though he's lived in these parts for decades.)
So the highest ranking native Angeleno, really, is Dam-Funk, whose Toeachizown came in at #47, outpacing Leonard Cohen, of the Hollywood Hills (but, really, a Canadian), at #53. DJ Quik & Kurupt hit the charts at #62 with their remarkable Blaqkout, which garnered sixteen mentions. From there it's nothing until a lowly #91, Mayer Hawthorne's A Strange Arrangement, followed at #92 by muscular downtown LA pound kings HEALTH, who beat out Black Eyed Peas. That somewhat successful LA rap group barely snuck into the top 100 at #98.
Grand total: Being generous, eight paltry entries out of 100. Being honest, maybe six. Considering that NYC placed five acts in the top ten, and seventeen total … well … you see where this is going:
Analysis and another very revealing chart after the jump …
Our rudimentary chart-making skillz aside, you can see from the above graphic that America's critics continue their decades-long infatuation with music of the eastern portion of the United States. New York, it seems, makes music that eggheads, wannabes and chubby Chuck Taylorites like above the less easily-graspable music of Los Angeles, whose more refined and nuanced sounds are of a frequency too complicated for non-Californians to understand.
Going city by city, New York City also kicked ass, with Brooklyn and Williamsburg bands hitting aesthetic peaks that have nothing to do with the fact that the Pazz/Jop is a NYC construct heavily weighted toward that segment of America. Half the artists in the top ten are from New York City. And that's about quality and innovation, of course. Los Angeles bands possess half as much of both, apparently, but twice as much as heavy metal hotbed Atlanta and the country sounds of Nashville. Memphis and Boston are mediocre, at best.
We're going to keep studying these numbers and make more fascinating graphics. But we figured you should see this.