Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some Albums I Liked In 2008

Okay, so my rant goes like this: I've read so many year-end lists, now, and have been utterly *appalled* at how much awful, ball-less music is contained therein. Indie Rock reigns supreme these days -- playing music that lacks actual, honest-to-christ rock is cool, and being completely intellectual and up in your own head (vs. enjoying rocking your balls off) is, like, totally in. As much as I try, I can't get it up for, like, Vampire Weekend. Or Death Cab For Cutie. Or Likke Li, or British Sea Power or or or or - GAHH. GAHH! Ball-less! And drab, and so totally NOT SEXY, if that makes any sense.

That said: there's lots that DOES turn me on, and you'll notice a preponderance of actual, sexy ROCK. I'll leave the R&B list to friends of mine who know more and listen more -- there was a lotta great THAT this year, too, but this is my expertise:

Glasvegas, S/T -- sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain fronted by the bloke from the Proclaimers. And if that frightens you, and it probably should, you'll be pleasantly surprised, methinks. The songs are magnificent, epic, big, sweeping, great, fun.

Black Angels, Directions To See A Ghost -- one chord and the truth, or something like that. Dark, evil psychedelia, from the Spacemen 3 region, filtered through a bit of freak-folk sensibility, but not the icky bits, if that makes any sense.

Black Mountain, In The Future -- dark, ominous, HEAVY rock and roll. Stoner rock to be sure, but damn smart, mysterious stoner rock.

Glen Campbell, Meet Glen Campbell -- in which the man proves that he's STILL FUCKING GOT IT, as witness his ability to turn my very least favorite Foo Fighters song (do I have a favorite? I do not!) into something transcendent. I could listen to him sing the phone book. Swear to god.

Darker My Love, 2 -- would be on the list if it contained only "Two Ways Out," my favorite single of the year, hands down. As it happens, it contains ten other magnificent songs, and a healthy smatterin' of pure fuzztone bliss.

Duffy, Rockferry -- THAT VOICE! THOSE SONGS! THAT PRODUCTION! I mean, you'd have to be, like, *dead* to not appreciate how cool this is, and how righteous. If yr. sad that Amy Winehouse will never make another album, Duffy should at least ease your pain a little.

Flight of the Conchords, S/T -- comedy rock that actually, y'know, rocks. Most comedy records have very little replay value -- once the joke is done, YOU'RE done. Meanwhile, I played "Motha'uckas" about two hundred times this year and still love it.

Foxoboro Hottubs, Stop Drop and Roll!!! -- pure, unmitigated, hook-laden garage-rock glory from a disguised Green Day. Who knew they had it in 'em? Best song: "Red Tide," which appears to be a Kinksian ode to a woman's "special time."

Magnetic Fields, Distortion -- hated it at first. STILL hate the sound. Like, HATE. Meanwhile, the songs have grown on me, BIG TIME.

Oasis, Dig Out Your Soul -- in which our esteemed Mancunian heroes turn in an album with only two dud songs. Its a fairly magnificent work, and if this list was in any order, would reside near the top, if only to piss off Jim DeRogatis, who continues to (as always!) miss the point.

Primal Scream, Beautiful Future -- the fuck? Did nobody buy this record? Did nobody notice its strange and unholy combination of fuzzrock and 80s new wave pop?? It's magnificent. Go back, relisten. It should be in EVERY critics' top ten.

Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It -- Motown revivalism at its purest -- but oddly, it doesn't just wallow in soppy balladism, it actually ROCKS. A magnificent album that gets better with every listen.

The Raveonettes, Lust Lust Lust -- my SECOND favorite single of the year was the fuzz-laden "Aly, Walk With Me," a mysterious spy-music slab. Elsewhere, there's enough three-chord pop to make the ghost of the Primitives happy.

Ryan Adams, Cardinology -- discussed in these very pages. I shan't reiterate other than to say its my favorite breakup record.

The Verve, Forth -- one shitty hit single and an entire rest-of-the-album of cool psych-rock stoner jamz. It was far better than it was given credit for, and deserves a relisten.

Polara, Beekeeping -- their best since the 2nd, or even the 1st -- a magnificent slab of angry, fuzzy, uplifting, rip-snorting songwriting, one of THREE (!) albums auteur Ed Ackerson put out this year, ALL of which are totally worthy listening. Maybe my second most-played album this year.

AC/DC, Black Ice -- if it wasn't so perverse, and if it wasn't five songs too long, I'd let this one top my list of the year just for being, y'know, so damn PURE. It's AC/DC, it's heavy, it rocks, game over.

Brian Wilson, That Lucky Old Sun -- in which our man finally delivers an entirely solid album of pop glory in the form of an odd conceptual ode to California, the less boosh-wa version of his Van Dyke Parks collabo "Orange Crate Art."

Kings of Leon, Only By The Night -- Amazon.com let this album top their list, and power to 'em for it. I think I would too, if this list had numbers. "Stadium rock?" Sure, if you define the term as meaning "songs with tremendous hooks and power." A killer album, and CRIMINALLY underrated.

Paul McCartney / The Fireman, Electric Arguments -- in which our other man delivers a fully experimental, loose, fully awesome psych-rock album for the first time in years. If you'd wondered where "Pepper"-era McCartney went -- here he is, like *really, fully is*.

MGMT, Oracular Spectacular -- yeah, okay, this one IS indie, but its magnificent. Here's a group that writes great disco-pop-dancey-whatever songs, perfect for indie radio play, but with INSIGHTFUL, INTERESTING lyrics and great arrangements and hooks.

REM, Accelerate -- who knew they had it in 'em? I certainly didn't think they had a jot of actual rock left, and they managed to turn in a non-sucky album that's about, oh, 2/3 great. This one is tending to hover at the bottom of official polls, like they feel they should nod to it so REM doesn't think its okay to go back to writing bad Beach Boys pastiche -- but I think it stands on its own.

PS: Oh, I forgot Gary Louris' "Vagabonds!" A phenomenal, gorgeous little record -- modest, homespun charms, to be sure. Better even than the last batch of Jayhawks records -- and that's saying something, the group never managed anything close to a bad record. Oddly, the best track is the bonus track "Three Too Many" which is the very best song Gene Clark never wrote.


Superbadfriend said...

What. No Duran Duran?

I am shocked.

MissTrixi said...

That was 2007, luv!!!

MissTrixi said...

(sorry -- me commenting as Trixi -- Jonny)

Luke Witten said...

No Fleet Foxes?

Superbadfriend said...

OK. OK! YES, of course! I am still in 07. :)


Great list, BTW. Hubby was stealing my music off the laptop on Sunday and I *think* he sorta scolded me for not having a broader selection of music. (he hasn't seen my Ipod. I do have many of your recommendations on there, like Splinterqueen, Ryan Adams and more. xo

Superbadfriend said...

Hiya Trixi xoxo

Jon Hunt said...

>>No Fleet Foxes?

I am of two minds about Fleet Foxes, honest. I know how y'all feel about 'em, but the album just didn't hit me on, y'know, the level it seems to be hitting everyone else. To me, they SOUND lovely, but the weakest link is the songwriting. Maybe over time, or maybe on their NEXT elpee. They sound like a groop that's gonna develop over time. They're young.

belsum said...

Chris did tell you, didn't he, that Kirk is into the Glen Campbell currently? That and Judas Priest.

Anonymous said...

No Sparks "Exotic Creatures of the Deep"?

Jon Hunt said...

I've not heard that one, and more fool me, apparently! Is it any good?

Anonymous said...

Is it any good?... IT'S THE CAT'S CUNT!

Check out the album's single: "Good Morning" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i_S9IFRPsQ&feature=related

Also album track: "Lighten Up Morrisey": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yijyaEIFLaI&feature=related

Mike Anonymous said...

I disagree with quite a few picks (as is the case with most "best" or "favorite" lists), but we're on the same page in regards to The Raveonettes and Gary Louris. With that said, I strongly disagree with your comment that The Jayhawks "never managed anything close to a bad record." Rainy Day Music was a snooze, and Smile was (and still is) the most disappointing album EVER for me. The production was terrible, the lyrics were dumb, and the artwork was just as crappy. I get diarrhea just thinking about that horrid "Somewhere in Ohio" song. I guess we'll agree to disagree.

Mike Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm waiting patiently for that Louris/Olson album to be released in the US!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Jayhawks alumni, drummer Tim O'Reagan put out a solo album in 2006 that's worth a listen http://www.myspace.com/timoreagan

Anonymous said...

Good list. Accelerate doesn't possess the same hold or staying power of "Up" or "Reveal" for me but it's a damn solid album.

ashley said...

The more I listen to DOYS, the more I think, man these fuckers can still write an amazing song--it has the potential to be my favorite of the year.

To be honest about the verve's Forth though, I think it blew my mind for like 2 weeks, and then I moved on, but it does have to be said that "Noise Epic" was Eargasmic. I'd dub that jam out of the year.

As you already know im partial to Ryan Adamms, so Cardinology is a given, but I do have to point out that this albums shows a tremendous amount of growth on his part, and the cardinals are an amazing backing band. Like I said before, it's his Crazy Horse.

Oh, and I am so glad you gave Only by the Night a nod, I thought I was the only one rocking out to that.

ashley said...

okay, i was just kidding about Forth, I went and listened again, and it blew my mind just as much as it did the first time.

Brash Lion said...

I am so happy you included Darker My Love on your list. I have lost touch with new music for the most part, but saw those guys live a few months ago, picked up "2" and listened to it non-stop for weeks.

Brash Lion said...

And Death Cab for Cutie? I have NEVER understood that. That guy's voice? Ugh. I would wipe my shitkickers on that doormat wusswipe every chance he'd give me.