Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
REM - Accelerate
The Stills - Oceans Will Rise
Headlights - Some Racing, Some Stopping
Kathleen Edwards - Asking for Flowers
The Rosebuds - Life Like
Skydiggers - City of Sirens
Todd Snider - Peace Queer
Over the Rhine - Snow Angels
I wasn't going to include "Snow Angels" because it is a Christmas album, but after I got into this, I realized that I didn't actually have 10 favorite new albums of 2008, so I decided to include it to help fill up the list (and I really do like the album a lot).
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The Dodos - Fools
Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper
Justin Townes Earle - Ain't Glad I'm Leaving
Department of Eagles - Teenagers
Jose James - Park Bench People
The New Year - The Company I Can Get
Odd Nosdam - Fat Hooks
Sigur Ros - Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur (track #2)
Walkmen - The New Year
Deerhunter - Never Stops
Vampire Weekend - Campus
Benga - Zero M2
Two Hours Traffic - Backseat Sweetheart
Last Shadow Puppets - Calm Like You
City and Colour - The Girl
Cut Copy - Out There on the Ice
Wolf Parade - The Soldier's Grin
TV on the Radio - Family Tree
Jay Reatard - Painted Shut
Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love for Planet Earth
Favourite Albums: Walkmen, Deerhunter, Frightened Rabbit, TV on the Radio, Department of Eagles, Sigur Ros, City and Colour, Cut Copy, David Torn - "Prezens", Marcin Wasilewski - "Trio"
Albums that got all sorts of hype that came no where close to their billing: Lindstrom, Santogold, Portishead (are they paying music critics under the table?), Vampire Weekend, and Fucked Up.
And in case anyone is wondering what happened to Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Plants and Animals on my list something about the overlap, at least in my mind, on these 3 records prevented any one of them from really standing out as one of my favourites of last year as much as I enjoyed each of them.
Hope you all have a great xmas and all the best for 2009.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Okay, albums. I estimate with the number of downloads I get from emusic (90/month), buy from itunes (another half dozen), get from the odd torrent (another handful), and buy in cd form (again another handful), I've probably listened to 80-90 albums this year. Some of these are jazz and classical issues and the odd pop album from previous years but I would guess that around 3/4 or 60-70 of these were 2008 releases. Why do I mention this at the outset?
Well, mostly to put this whole list-making exercise in perspective. I haven't come anywhere close experiencing even a fraction of all the music released this year, certainly when compared to what the average music critic experiences each week. But I still think it’s a good enough sample size to allow me to truly separate ‘Best’ from the ‘Rest’.
1) I keep going back to the album and playing it over and over
2) When I’m listening to the album in the background, I frequently stop what I’m doing in the foreground just to listen and admire
3) I start creating playlists in itunes that includes these songs for year-end compilation cds because I feel I have to share them with my friends
4) I will, or at least attempt to, sing this song in the shower
Here then are the discs of 2008 that satisfied 3 or more of the above conditions:
- Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
- Hauschka – Ferndorf
- Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
- Ben Benjamin – The Many Moods of Ben Benjamin
- The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
- Deerhunter – Microcastles
- Headlights - Some Racing, Some Stopping
- Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue
- Pete and the Pirates – Little Death
- The Walkmen – You & Me
The next five:·
- TV on the Radio – Dear Science
- The French Kicks – Swimming
- Au – Verbs (perhaps a good accompaniment to No Age’s Nouns)
- Ida – Lovers Prayers
- Adele – 19
Worst of 2008
- Steve Malkmus – Real Emotional Trash (subtract the first two words and the title sums it up)·
- Portishead – Third (and yet it appears on most of the best of lists I’ve seen….why???)
- Mercury Rev - maybe one or two salvagable tracks off of 2 discs (one instrumental)?
- Coldplay -Vida La ...even the title goes on forever and annoys me
- Catpower – Jukebox – really really really bad covers of songs that don't need to be covered again by anyone ever (New York?)
Released in previous years but only discovered in 2008:
- The Microphones – The Glow Part 2 (hat tip to Brian for the suggestion)
- Odd Nosdam – Level Live Wires (hat tip to Derek for the suggestion)
- The Acorn – The Pink Ghosts
- Jason Palmer – Songbook
- Etudes - Geri Allen w/ Charlie Haden, Paul Motian
Artist of the Year:
Bradford Cox, of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound. Deerhunter released 2 albums this year, Microcastles and a second album of more electronic stuff
Hope Santa brings you some nice music this week and Happy New Year!
Friday, December 19, 2008
All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue
Darlin' (Christmas is Coming)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It goes without saying that many of these will be making an appearance on your christmas discs. Mike, since I won't see you in time for the holidays, I'll make you a special groundhog's day disc.
10. Fat Hooks - Odd Nosdam
9. Her Morning Elegance - Oren Lavie
8. Creeper - Islands
7. Dead Sound - The Raveonettes
6. In the New Year - The Walkmen
5. Creature Fear - Bon Iver
4. Never Stops - Deerhunter
3. Fairie Dance - Plants & Animals
2. White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
1. Cape Canaveral - Conor Oberst
Honourable Mentions: Everybody Here is a Cloud - The Cloud Cult, Gila - Beach House, Sex Tourists - The French Kicks, Travel in Time - Marching Band, River Card - Atlas Sound
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I am working on my year end list. Am trying not to read other year end lists, other than Exclaim's, which I recently mentioned here, so that my own list isn't just a rehash of what everybody else is picking. I don't expect I'll be able to avoid inclusion of a lot of the usual suspects but will try to craft my list accordingly. Time to hold your breath.... now!
I saw the Luna documentary Tell Me Do You Miss Me this week (it's a couple of years old now) and really loved it. Has anyone seen it? Reminded me what how hard it is to be a musician, perhaps especially in a rock band, for a living, and was a really good portrait of the people in the band, particularly Dean and Sean, who couldn't be more different people. Really hard to believe they survived 10 years (maybe because Sean is a fantastic guitar player). Also, what great simple songs.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
With regards to criticism, I've just found that so much of what has been highly recommended or rated this past year has been, for the most part, pretty damn mediocre. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that 2008 has been, imo, mostly a pretty mediocre year for pop music in general. The reason I linked to this article and posed the question is because I felt that too many mediocre or just not very good albums were being given a pass or graded on a curve.
Two relatively popular cases in point:
Example 1: Coldplay's Vida La Vida, a collection of shallow, overproduced songs trying to out-epic each other, received mostly glowing reviews upon its release this spring, most of which were based on the fact that the album wasn't as bad as its predecessor.
Example 2: Kanye West's latest 808s & Heartbreak, listless vocoder-enhanced whining that NOW magazine just gave a glowing 4 stars, similar to accolades received elsewhere.
Are either albums terrible? No. But the reviews either suggest brilliance or gloss over the shortcomings. I think I'd like to read more balanced assessments.
UPDATE: Lest you think I'm picking on some bigger names, easier targets, here are some examples of over-hyped new bands/releases see, "Ra Ra Riot", "Ladyhawke" and "Santogold".
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
So....from my perspective, criticism is meant to highlight the extra layers in the art, the artist's influences and intentions, put it in the context in which it was created, and consider the context in which it might be reviewed in the future. And good critics find words to illuminate the beauty and power of art, and potentially the truth or falseness.
All of this is obvious, I know. But I truly don't veer far from that perspective when I read criticism, even something as puny as local-rag critiques of pop music. So I tend to think, not about whether the critics are using a negative or positive lens, which I'm sure happens, but whether their critiques ring true, inspire me to listen, look at, watch, make the art mean more to me.
Good/great critics can be generally scathing (think of Jay Scott) but have to convince you of their love for the medium to be compelling - if you like movies, you won't want to read a guy (not every day anyway) who always says they're crap. They can also be cheerleaders, like say Roger Ebert, as long as their knowledge of the art form works for me.
All of which is to say that, no I hadn't noticed a trend towards pollyanna-ism in reviews. And Malkmus for me is dead dead dead (incl, the latest). Too bad re Malkmus, possibly as much a function of me not wanting him to change that beautiful thing that was Pavement as him getting "worse" at writing and performing songs (but more likely just that). So any paper that touts his latest as one of the best of the year is describing a rough year in pop, and/or isn't listening to the good stuff.