As you may (or may not) know (or care), Associate Editor Anthony Mariani is one of, like, a thousand “music critics” across the country who votes in The Village Voice’s annual Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll.

(He also writes for the mag regularly on a freelance basis.) Every year around this time, he commandeers a portion of my column to tell you his choices. What’s different about this installation, however, is that if you see anything remotely cool on his list, you can probably download the tune without pain or fear of retribution from the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade union that represents the interests of the four major labels and that has tried to throw grandmothers and their grandchildren in jail for downloading major-label music illegally.

Via Post-It note, Mariani tells me that he would have voted for more Fort Worth/Tarrant County-based stuff but didn’t wanna seem parochial to the vast amount of music snobs who read and/or contribute to the Voice. (What a sissy la-la.) Before we list his top-10 singles of the year, note that the definition of “year” here is liquid: Songs released in late 2004 that didn’t become “singles” until 2005 are fair game. Here are all of them in no particular order: “Fill Me With Your Light,” Clem Snide; “Chicago,” Sufjan Stevens; “Gjort Bort Sig,” Dungen; “The Rest Will Follow,” … And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead; “Ordinary People,” John Legend; “Soul Meets Body,” Death Cab For Cutie; “I’ll See You in the Evening,” Mazarin; “Marvelous Things,” Eisley; “My Doorbell,” White Stripes; “What Ya Know About,” Mike Jones.

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Now before we go on to his top albums, Mariani wants you to know that listing 10 would be impossible – artists simply don’t make great albums anymore. But, he says, please realize that the five that made the cut are truly exceptional. Here they are in order of most to least kick-ass-itude: Not Them, You, Lake Trout (perhaps the best national indie-rock record Mariani says he’s heard in about 10 years); Who Is Mike Jones?, Mike Jones; Okemah and the Melody of Riot, Son Volt; Room Noises, Eisley; Ringside, Ringside. To share in the pomposity that is Pazz & Jop, cruise to on Jan. 31. There you’ll find cool looking-back-on-the-year stories, every participating critic’s list, and, of course, the winners. (My money’s on Kanye West to win everything … again.)

… Elsewhere in the universe of ballot-casting, Collin Herring’s startling sophomore full-length, The Other Side of Kindness, is one of several dozen nominees in PASTE magazine’s year-end readers’ poll. Go to, find the right-hand side of the home page, click on “What are YOUR top 10 albums of the year?,” and then use your mouse to check the box next to the name of Herring’s record. Don’t get distracted by the stars on the list: Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, Paul McCartney – artists who’ve probably never even heard of PASTE, living all the way up in their ivory towers. Those dudes definitely don’t need the help. Herring, like any other burgeoning artist, does. The results will be published in the Feb./Mar. issue. Copies are available at any Barnes & Noble or Borders.

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