The Year of Too Much Consensus

Indie rock is the new Springsteen, but not in the way you think

Kevin might really dig those Avett Brothers, I bet. But what would he think about Bruce's less-dull-than-usual (and well-regarded, I thought) Working on a Dream flopping around way down at #59? And all those other albums that easily would've gone Top 40 in an earlier era: Bob Dylan (#41—did his Christmas record cut into votes?), Allen Toussaint (#43), Rosanne Cash (#46), Levon Helm (#47), Amadou & Mariam (#49), and Leonard Cohen (#55).

For the record, no Springsteen voters also voted for the xx or Girls, and only one voted for Animal Collective. Theoretically mainstream old-guard pros like Bill Holdship of Detroit's Metro Times and Geoffrey Himes of the Nashville Scene both saw only two of their Top 10 albums place in the P&J Top 40; St. Louis stalwart Steve Pick, choosing esoterica like Dave Alvin and the Bottle Rockets and Ian Hunter, got shut out entirely. Back in 1980 in these pages, Robert Christgau divided the Pazz & Jop electorate into "the avant-gardists versus the traditionalists, the radicals versus the conservatives"—you know, Beefheart guys vs. Bruce guys. Me, I like strangeness and skronk, but I also like boogie and beer; still, my basic instincts have always been with the vanguard. But when it's mainly the old farts who seem to have minds of their own, I start to wonder.

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