Grades

From March 2016 onwards I adjusted my grading system to a simple out-of-10 system. This was to simplify things and to reduce second-guessing myself.

  • A record may attract (or repel) me initially but with further listening the affection may dwindle (or enhance), thus altering the original grade, but you already knew that.
  • If I give, say, a heavy metal album a 9 and a few weeks later give a folk album a 7, I may actually prefer the folk album if I had to decide between the two. The grades are also based on a particular sound or artist ideology which may appeal to me more than others.
  • In an artist’s discography, whichever record gets the highest grade may not necessarily be their “best” work but may be my “favourite” at the time of listening. The same goes for the “worst” and “least favourite”, naturally.
  • Dorney’s Top Records of the Year list will be newly-released records only.

(10/10) A 10 is reserved for a record that I see as a classic in the modern realm, the past realm, or just a damn great listen that possesses a sound, ideology, or perspective which I find unique in its own regard. Records which have had a “profound effect on me” may not get a 10 because I want to take emotion out of it as much as possible, though that might be difficult. It’s a safe bet that a 10 will top my records-of-the-year list.

(9/10) If still in fervent favour at the end of the year, a 9 will be among my favourites of the year. Rarely, if ever, will I exceed ten 9s in a year for newly-released records. Keep in mind that a 9 may not be a life-changer nor something that I will look back on with mass fondness in the future but may be a record that added something in a given year as a new release. Older releases which get a 9 are more likely to be life-changers/great records.

(8/10) An 8 is nearly always as simple as just a thoroughly enjoyable record in which half of it may be so strong as to garner acclaim. Less often it may just have a message that sticks. A decent chunk of 8s will make my top-records-of-the-year list but a lot of these will be marked as “The Almosts” and “The Not Quites” which are just off the mark and slightly more off the mark, respectively. Some “weak” 8s may drop out for some “strong” 7s to swoop in. Older releases which get an 8 are more likely to be life-changers/great records.

(7/10) A 7 will have a good portion of the record keeping me intrigued—maybe even half—and sometimes is unlucky not to be higher but most of the time that’s not the case. With a bit of luck, a 7 may creep into my top-records-of-the-year list. Older releases which get a 7 can be great records, occasionally.

(6/10) This can be the default grade—either I’m not sure about it or I think I’d be too harsh giving it any lower. On the extremely odd—and unlikely—occasion I may stew over it being a 7 but most of the time that’s not the case. More often than not it’ll appeal to the diehards. For the rest of us, it ain’t worth a penny.

(5/10) Similar to a 6 but I’m surer I dislike it—it’ll more often than not have a palatable track or two.

(4/10) The beginning of the dreg phase—a 4 is mostly short of ignominy, sometimes not. A track or two may save it, sometimes not.

(3/10) A 3, with some luck, may avoid the dregs of the year (probably not).

(2/10) A 2, with some luck, may avoid the top-five dregs of the year (probably not).

(1/10) A 1, with a lot of luck, may avoid the dreg of the year (probably not).

(0/10) A 0 is reserved for a record that I see as a classic in the modern realm, the past realm, or just a damn horrendous listen that possesses a sound, ideology, or perspective which I find unique in its own regard. Records which have had this “profound effect on me” will always receive a 0. If I’m in the festive spirit, I may not review it, though that might be difficult. It’s a safe bet that a 0 will top my dregs of the year.