30. “Turn It Up,” Baby Shakes

29. “When We Fall,” All Our Exes Live In Texas

28. “Walk Into A Storm,” The Lone Bellow

27. ‘Stellular,” Rose Elinor Dougall

26. “Peach,” Larkin Poe

What: Power pop/punk/surf/rock

Where: New York City

Listen: “Turn It Up,” Crazy,” Fade Away”

What: Synth-pop

Where: London

Listen: “Stellular, Take Yourself With You, Space To Be”

What: Power pop/punk/surf/rock

Where: New York City

Listen: “Turn It Up,” Crazy,” Fade Away”

What: Power pop/punk/surf/rock

Where: New York City

Listen: “Turn It Up,” Crazy,” Fade Away”

What: Roots/Rock-and-Roll Blues
Where: Atlanta

Listen: “Black Betty,” Preachin’ Blues,”

Wanted Woman/ AC/DC”

23. “New Kind of Normal,” Cayetana

24. “Drug Tax,” Fruit & Flowers

25. “Big Bad Luv,” John Moreland

22. “Sincerely,” Dude York

21. “Out in the Storm,” Waxahatchee

What: Roots/Country/Rock
Where: Tulsa

Listen: “Every Kind of Wrong,” Lies I Choose to Believe,”
No Glory in Regret”

What: Dark surf  rock/Indie rock

Where: New York City

Listen: “Out of Town,” Dark Surf,” Drug Tax”

What: Rock

Where: Philadelphia

Listen: “Am I Dead Yet?,” Too Old for This,” Bus Ticket”

What: Singer/songwriter/rock

Where: Philadelphia via Alabama

Listen: “Never Been Wrong,” Silver,” Hear You”

What: Power rock

Where: Seattle

Listen: “The Way I Feel,” Life Worth Living, PT 2,” Tonight”

“Everything in the world, from solar systems to man, from man to atom, either rises or descends, either evolves or degenerates, either develops or decays. But nothing evolves mechanically. Only degeneration and destruction proceed mechanically. That which cannot evolve consciously—degenerates.”
— Ouspensky, "In Search of the Miraculous”

Even in the best of times, we struggle to define what is art, little alone trying to define what is good and bad art. As we see the taillights of 2017 fade in the rearview mirror of 2018, we pause a moment to take stock, especially noticing a large amount of roadkill alongside this road we all traveled.

Logic, thought, and reason seem to be some of the carcasses left roadside.

“I’m entitled to my opinion” seems to mean “I’m right to think whatever I want and you have to respect that it as fact.”

“I’m entitled to my opinion” is, in fact, a logical fallacy. One is entitled to an opinion. The entitlement does not mean validity or make the opinion truth or a fact. It does not entitle one to be right. One has to support their opinion with evidence and knowledge.

“I’m entitled to my opinion” does not mean stop questioning and respect what one said. It is used that way. It is a defense mechanism to shut down a debate when one can not back up their argument with fact.

Entitlement is the fact of having the right to something. You have the right to an opinion. You do not have an entitlement to have that opinion believed as fact quid pro quo. You are entitled to be able to back up your opinion.

It seems to many in this age of Trump that being entitled to an opinion means no one has the ability or right to stop them from thinking and then saying whatever they want. The problem might just be that thinking is not even part of the equation. It is the saying whatever they want without thought and expecting it to be taken seriously that is the issue.

It is degeneration instead of conscious evolution. One doesn’t have to subscribe to the subjective/objective art theory of mystic/philosopher George Gurdjieff, or simply conscious evolution elevates an artist from subjective to the level objective art, where there is no debate about the purpose of the creation.

Art, today in the form of pop culture, is subjective. Music, movies, books, comics, poems, theater are all seen through different filters. Each audience member will bring their experiences to the work. The creators bring their own baggage with the work. Professional critics try not to bring their subjectivity to the work. They aspire to be impartial or objective. But that is a crock of shit as they also bring their bias and history to the work. They should just be better at keeping their subjective influences from unjustly informing their opinion on the work.

In this new age, bluster and bullshit seem key components of being entitled to an opinion. If one’s opinion is shouted loud enough and over and over again, it must be thought of as right. Thought, logic, and reason are seen as enemies. Facts are worse. It is an age of degeneration.

So here we are. We spent the holiday break looking back at the past year, pulling highlights and compiling lists of things we thought stood out from the pack. There were no darts thrown at boards to see what would stick. Thought, reasoning and time went into pulling this year-in-review together. Our opinions are not the final stamp on some assembly line. Part of the reason to do these lists—beside some companies, websites and magazines that see them as easy and clickbait—is to generate discussions.