Friday, January 02, 2009

Music, 2008

And tonight - music! The best of 2008! the best I bought in 2008, anyway - which this year seems to have dropped a bit. 22 records was it? oy. I listed 20 favorite records last year - that's all I got this year...

The odd thing is - it didn't seem all that impressive a year for music. Same as movies, I guess! I don't know which direction it moves in - I bought less music so heard less I liked? or bought less music because fewer records looked essential? I don't know. It's odd anyway - a lot of what I got were bands I have long liked - that's no different than last year, but this year they didn't seem as rewarding - or not as many of them were. Or maybe fewer of my favorites released records - which would explain some of the thin going. I don't know. I will stop complaining and make a list:

1. Earth - The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull: actually, that's Earth with Bill Frisell - which is to say, 2 of my favorite guitar stranglers. Slow echoing strangulation, but gorgeous - tone and sound and deceptive melodies...

2. TV on the Radio - Dear Science: maybe not as wonderful as Cookie Mountain, though no slouch - more songs running through my head this year than anyone else... "the lazy way they turn your head into a rest stop for the dead..." -

3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig Lazarus Dig: a good record a year more or less, bless him. More in the raucous vein established by the Grinderman record. "What an enormous and encyclopedic brain!"

4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes: gorgeous folk songs run through Van Dyke Parks - beautiful record.

5. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely: Jack White, too, can be counted on for a good record a year, in one of his 12 different bands.

6. Sigur Rus - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust: they continue the folkish turn they took with Hvarf/Heim and their movie... I rather prefer their previous post-rock style, but this is still quite extraordinary.

7. The Melvins - Nude with Boots: more (mostly) slow motion pummeling, from the masters. I have only this year really pursued the Melvins - I've had a couple of their CDs but didn't pay much attention until now - thank Boris...

8. Boris - Smile: speaking of whom... not as immediately and completely enthralling as last year's Rainbow, or even some of the earlier records (Pink, say), but still first rate guitar wanking and drony noise.

9. Keiji Haino & Tatsuya Yoshida - Urfasudhasdd: it can't all be happy pop! though truth is, this is remarkably happy music - Yoshida, especially, is always witty as well as virtuosic - Haino gets in the spirit, and offers up everything from almost normal rock guitar to avant garde noise, with both of them yelping away...

10. Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh - S/T: more beautiful avant-garde folk. I managed to see them this year, playing with Damon and Naomi - one of the 2 concerts I made it to. Which these days, is a pretty good year!

After that - still some good stuff - one good thing about only buying 22 records is you're less likely to get anything bad. There were a couple disappointments - I don't know why I bothered with the latest REM record.. nothing bad, just boring... more surprising - the new Mercury Rev record was quite underwhelming, and I never really got into the new Bloc Party or Of Montreal records... Others - Beck, Stephen Malkmus, Deerhoof, the Kills, were pretty good, if not overwhelming.

And so? Video for my favorite songs of the year:

TV on the Radio, Halfway Home:

Nick Cave and company - Dig Lazarus Dig!

And Fleet Foxes, doing Sun it Rises:


Joseph B. said...

Nice list, Sam. I especially like your choice of Sigur Ros, which will certainly make my list.

Like you, I don't know if I'd call this an exceptional year for music either. I only purchased 17 albums, but of those seventeen, half of them turned out to be pretty marvelous. I suppose that's a fair enough exchange. If only my film watching could yield those same results!

weepingsam said...

I suppose it wasn't all that bad - I think part of the problem is that most of my favorite records this year were by favorite groups, and not as good as previous work: the Earth record might be the best they've ever made, but every other record on the list (except Fleet Foxes) is a good record, but the artists have done better. Which goes for bands I didn't list, like Mars Volta, Dungen... Combine that with not buying as much music, and not discovering a lot of bands (Fleet Foxes and The Duke Spirit being the only bands I discovered with new records this year), and it seems a bit weak.... there's still plenty of good music there - a disappointing Mars Volta or Mercury Rev cd is still a pretty good bit of music...