It is a dreary Wednesday afternoon, grey skies, sick cat outside, Neil Young echoing in my brain after last night's show at the Garden. I have decided to open up a $15 bottle of Zinfandel and post my favorite albums of 08'. This is not an easy task. As a teacher it is very, very hard to pick favorites and favoritism is not something I prefer in any capacity, yet I practice it all of the time. I have a favorite baseball team, a kinda favorite movie (Just picked up Dig by the way and can't wait to see it), a favorite librarian, a favorite cat, I even have a favorite pair of jeans. Rambling I am. Yoda I speak. Anyway, for better or for worse and in no particular order, here are KumoD's faves of 08'.
Real Emotional Trash Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks (Matador)
This one was a serious surprise. I will buy anything by this guy and was a Pavement junkie back in the day, but this one doesn't really wear or tear. I think he has actually kind of found himself musically, yet some of the compositions are a bit confusing. None the less, they are often surprising direction-wise and I wasn't ever sure where the songs were going to go on the first few listenings. It is fair to say that Malkmus has become a kind of guitar god. I saw him on tour for this album at MassMOCA, which was one of the best shows I had been to this year. It was the last date of their tour and they played a nearly two hour set. Just seeing positive body language on stage after so much shit went down with Pavement was nice. Further, adding Janet Weiss on drums really kind of makes the band rhythmically breathless. Yes, she is that good.
Beating Back the Claws of the Cold The Pica Beats (Hardly Art)
This is a band that I just stumbled onto while drunk and looking for new music ideas on Insound.com. But, holy shit wow! They rock. I guess they are kind of a cross between the American Analog Set, Ravi Shankur and Neutral Milk Hotel? I don't really know how to describe them. They are definitely an indie rock band from Seattle, but they have this uncanny characteristic of making off-key vocals (both male and female) work perfectly so it is actually charming. I bought this a few weeks ago after listening to samples on iTunes and it is addictive as hell and really beautiful to boot. Shit, a line like I am the tension and you are the tightrope is pretty good, especially on an opening track.
I Am...Sasha Fierce Beyonce (Columbia)
When I was about 10 years old, I saw Madonna spray-painting her way all over pieces of random sculptures on a Saturday morning video show that was probably on USA. Since then, I have waited for a female pop artist to turn me on, interest me, or provoke me to buy a female pop album that is not by Madonna but is catchy and also has shades of brilliance. Beyonce has done that for me this year. I also really like that the album is equally divided into halves with Mrs. Z. having her say and Ms. Fierce, well getting her fierce on. I swear I can't get Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) out of my head. Some of you, my dear readers, can attest to that. Oh, also here is a bonus treat for y'all.
Offend Maggie Deerhoof (Kill Rock Stars)
I first saw Deerhoof at Galapagos (I think) in 2004. They kind of blew me away and I guess this entry is kind of in the Malkmus vein. They are a band that is maturing and getting more interesting as they go on. I also like the fact that Satomi isn't a cute Japanese chick at all, but her voice is extremely doll-like. I also like the fact that their drummer, who is kick ass, drums barefoot. This is a pretty good album and has those kinda dirty glimpses of Royal Trux, especially with their bass lines. Finally, it is good that Deerhoof has gone sort of bilingual. I really dug this album on a flight I took to FLA over Thanksgiving. Perhaps I didn't really understand all of it and now that I'm listening to it as I type it is a perfect fit for going to such a foreign yet American place such as S. FLA. If you are looking for a confusing escape then this might be the album for you.
The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly Le Loup (SubPop)
This is another random insound find and what a gem it is. Imagine a Panda Bear record with female backing/assisting vocals and not so electronic. It is a short 39-minute ride, but the ride is a beautiful. I think that actually is an asset to the album because it leaves you wanting more. Was just on their site and it sounds like they just wrapped up touring Europe and are recording now. They are from DC and I always associate that city with Minor Threat, Fugazi and GoGo. But, now I know that more is capable of coming out of that hellhole. (I have a bit of DC apprehension, obviously). So, that is a refreshing aspect of the album for me as well. Anyway, back to the band. They have a serious bass drum thing going on and it has a carnival like atmosphere, yet the songs are so, I don't know, introspective and thought provoking in weird ways. It actually makes you think about the origin of your name, where it came from, why you have it, and how we are destroying ourselves. Uplifting.
Lie Down in the Light Bonnie "Prince" Billy (Drag City)
Although this album is nowhere near as strong as The Letting Go, the originator of the trucker hat phenom has a few gems on here that make it a solid record. Most impressive is You Want That Picture with some help from Ashley webber who has that Loretta Lynn DNA in her vocal chords. Certainly not his best work, but Oldham can't seem to disappoint me, yet that is.
Wow, this has taken quite a chunk of time. More to come later, as I think I'm only halfway there.....Haven't even gotten to the hip hop/other stuff yet.....