It’s customary to start year-end lists by chewing some fat about how making them is strange and difficult work, and in general, I find that these intros can be exceedingly skippable. Everyone knows that album rankings are subjective (even when they’re created on behalf of a publication or website), and no one needs to be reminded that the list maker didn’t listen — and couldn’t have listened, of course! — to every single thing that came out in the preceding 12 months. You don’t share Santa Claus’ knack for bending the space-time continuum. Understood. But before I get to my Top 10 albums, I would like to share a quick story about how I came up with my list, and how Beyoncé helped me find meaning in this whole strange and difficult exercise.
A quick observation from last night’s show at Balliceaux:
Matuto does lots of things well. They’ve mastered their instruments. They get the crowd going. They know more about the history of the styles they invoke than most bands ever will. They write songs that are challenging and catchy at the same time. These were the factors I knew to look for after having seen them in June.
But something struck me last night that I didn’t pick up on the first time, and it’s not even necessarily something they do. It’s more of an effect they have that’s just as exceptional as the abilities listed above. Call it affective flexibility.
In June of this year, I was up in Harrisburg, PA — Mrs. YHT’s hometown — and I caught my first glimpse of Matuto at the music venue that occupies the second floor of the Appalachian Brewing Company. I was stunned. Taken aback. Gobsmacked.