Like all my past incarnations, this one ran into the ground after about 8 months. I’m not sure if this will be revived, or whether something new is coming in the months ahead; I’m thinking with my continued hand issues, and my attention turning to other things, that I might return to doing podcasts and not writing things out. Feedback on that would be appreciated (my podcast only ever had a handful of listeners, but then my blog only had a handful of readers, Peanuts Watchmen notwithstanding). However, before I let everything go, a quick list for the year that was:
Top Twelve New Releases of 2008*
- Lambchop – OH (Ohio)
- The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me
- Made Out Of Babies – The Ruiner
- Earth – The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull
- Sons And Daughters – This Gift
- Harvey Milk – Life…The Best Game In Town
- Mugison – Mugiboogie
- Kaki King – Dreaming Of Revenge
- Conifer – Crown Fire
- Torche – Meanderthal
- Bauhaus – Go Away White
- Amanda Palmer – Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
* Mugison’s album was released overseas last year, but Ipecac released it domestically this summer.
Lambchop’s latest is head and shoulders (and chest, waist, hips and thighs) above everything else I’ve heard from this year. I think it is already my favorite of theirs, supplanting the majestic Nixon and heart-breaking intimacy of Is A Woman. Some weird amalgam of soul, country, chamber-pop and studio sheen, they’ve carved a singular niche in American music. I just can’t get enough. I’ve written about most of these before, so I’ll touch briefly on a few I haven’t.
Local faves Conifer and Ocean both put out albums this year, but Conifer gets the nod for capturing some of the special magic they both have live. Ocean’s album is solid, but much like their debut, it fails to hold a candle to their sound on stage (maybe if I could blow out 100+ db that rattle the bones I could approximate it, but I doubt it). One caveat to the Conifer – I hate, hate, hate the title track that features vocals from Eugene Robinson of the band Oxbow. Luckily, it is the last track, so I just stop it there and revel in what came before. They can ride a heavy groove like few others.
Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls stretches out only slightly on her solo debut; it could easily be a Dresden Dolls release except for the added instrumentation. I give her some credit for keeping the aesthetic of the Dresden Dolls as a distinct thing, but am glad she chose to color outside those lines. There are some great playful songs on this, though it is a bit front loaded quality wise.
Top Compilations and Re-releases of 2008
- Willie Nelson – One Hell Of A Ride
- Various Artists – Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-76
- Various Artists – African Scream Contest: Raw & Psychedelic Afro Sounds From Benin & Togo 70s
- Kid Creole – Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1974-1983
- The Replacements – Sorry Ma…, Stink, Hootenanny, Let It Be, Tim, Don’t Tell A Soul, All Shook Down
The Willie Nelson career box set is my overall second favorite thing of the year. I knew the hits, and respected Willie as a songwriter, but I didn’t understand the man as an artist. Genius gets thrown around a lot, but Willie is a genius, a truly gifted songwriter and guitarist, and he has a wonderful way with vocal phrasing. Speaking of phrasing, the emergence of quality African compilations the past decade or so has been a great boon; these two comps are outstanding, and I love the coexistence of smooth, clean deliveries with post-James Brown howls and rhythms. The Kid Creole set is essential weird late 70s NYC arthouse soul, and is cooler than I could possibly describe it. The ‘Mats are the ‘Mats.