I recently listened to an argument about how people that are still discovering new music are just dedicated and people that used to, but now aren't, are just old. The other friend argued back something about having time and making time. I posed a third option: perhaps people are no less dedicated or have no less time. Perhaps people have different kinds of time-- some which allows them to peruse every album that drops, and others that don't.
Ironically, my argument was an effort to defend myself for not bringing much to the table that was new for either one of them. I was surprised later when I realized that I had actually acquired a good bit of music that I really enjoyed this year...
You know where all the other "Best Of..." lists are, so I'm not going to link them. But, the best one to read, I think, is MOKB: Senior Superlatives.
I didn't buy everything I wanted, and I didn't like everything I bought (or heard). But here is what I bought and liked...
MY FAVORITE TWENTY ALBUMS OF 2008
An EP of acoustic tracks from Planet of Ice, Highly Refined Pirates, and Menos el Oso-- definitely a change of pace if you've ever listened to these guys before-- but I enjoy it. If you want to get a feel for what this record sounds like, check out their Daytrotter session.
If you want to get a feel for what they really sound like, check out Highly Refined Pirates. (I always say "Lets Play Clowns" to Quinn, and Katie looks at me like I'm an idiot). Pachuca Sunrise is FANTASTIC.
It wasn't that I I didn't like Tiny Cities (I'm actually a fan of Modest Mouse), but it's nice to have some new Kozelek originals.
I have a great friend in Chicago that has never told me to buy an album that I haven't LOVED. He recommended visiter to me and I bought it without even reading a review. After I listened a few times, I hunted down pitchfork's review. Watch this youtube video of red and purple (I grew up with a toy piano exactly like that!). Check their website.
I picked up their 2006 self-titled album early this spring and absolutely loved it. And though this September release isn't as strong as their first, its still whimsical and fun. I know that critics slapped this album pretty hard, but I'm in no way sad I bought it.
I think this is a positive move back in the direction of Faithful Anchor-- which rules! The review at Tiny Mix Tapes captures my sentiments both of this album, as well as the trajectory of this genre.
Unfortunately, most people know Calexico only through their collaboration with Sam Beam, In the Reins. It's not that In the Reins isn't a great album, it's just that Joey Burns and John Convertino have created many incredible albums, and it's a bummer to know them only as those guys that made a record with Iron & Wine. I love the way the songs build, and think this is a step in the right direction following Garden Ruin.
14. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Lie Down in the Light
Bottom line: I love Will Oldham. Watch this fantastic youtube version of Easy Does It. I linked this video for two reasons: 1) It showcases how delightfully eccentric and odd Oldham is; 2) Oldham may be the only person over age 6 that can wear crocs and not make me want to end his life...I like to think that he wears them to taunt all of you...
13. Tommy Guerrero, Return of the B-st-rd
My guess is the title is an allusion to Tommy's first album, though I'm not sure of the significance. This album showcases Tommy's signature style which combines jazz, funk, mexicali, and acoustic folk grooves. Soul Food Taqueria and Blktop Project still get as much play as it did the years I bought them. When I retire from professional skateboarding, I think I'll start making music too.
A late addition, but FANTASTIC! I've seen this album characterized as ROCK, FOLK, INDIE, and ELECTRONIC. I don't care how it's categorized, this has been a joy to listen to. It's the kind of album that's perfect for drives (If we still lived in Vancouver, this would be the perfect album to listen to on the drive to Squamish), but it has also made a great soundtrack for my walks in KC. Yes, it's Grizzly Bear-ish, but is that a bad thing?
11. Interstates, Run Run
I first heard the Interstates perform at The Luminary when I was in St. Louis for the LEAD conference. Well, a third of them at least. I enjoyed his set very much and noticed they had signed with a local KC label, The Record Machine. I'm pretty sure that I listened to this record every saturday night this fall. I LOVE IT. Check out Alex O’Nan's short films as well. You can download A Comprehensive History of Interstates at Soundtracks For Road Trips.
Interstates - Departure (Live July 12th, 2008) from Interstates Music on Vimeo
10. Andrew Bird, Soldier On EP
Why isn't this on more people's lists? I don't get it. I realize it's not entirely new material, and it's an extended EP, blah blah blah... This is a remarkable album. It got an inordinate amount of play for our late night Redeemer demolition crews. Good memories and great tunes.
Andrew Bird - From the Basement from QandnotU on Vimeo.
Thomas Meluch is how old? Wow. This album has received the classic criticism that many sophomore albums receive. I have yet to hear Meluch's first record Précis, and maybe this one can't touch it-- but I love that he creates a sonic soundscape that, in my estimation, is quite similar to the photographs he takes. Check out his website for a sampling of all the amazing things he creates.
I fell in love with Shara Worden when I saw her tour with Sufjan several years ago. She is an amazing vocalist, and her albums demonstrate, in my opinion, that she also possesses the ability to create brilliant arrangements. I love the themes of these songs as well as the instrumentation and Shara's voice! I haven't owned this album very long, but long enough to earn a place here. Do yourself a favor and buy this together with Bring Me the Workhorse. (Oh yeah, and she twitters, but not quite with the frequency of Imogen Heap.)
I knew this album had been in the works since something like 2005, but it wasn't until I saw the Smoking Popes at the Record Bar this summer that I realized they had finally landed a label and released it. If you've been waiting since Destination Failure to hear a new Smoking Popes album, you've been more than antsy. I love the stuff that Caterer has done under the moniker Duvall, but this is altogether different. From the playful sweetness of Little Jane Marie to the darkness of The Corner, this album showcases what I most love about Caterer and the Popes-- honest songwriting.
04. Dr. Dog, Fate
I'm surprised more people aren't going nuts about this record. It is amazing! I heard about this band after I realized that they had played a show literally behind my house and I knew nothing about them. Bummed I missed the show, but glad I got the tip to check them out. Impossible not to be in a good mood after listening to this album.
03. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
I think enough has been said about this album.
02. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
This was a fight for #1. I haven't been enthusiastic about all their records, but a friend bought At Dawn for me the day it was released and it still is high in rotation for me lo these many years later. It had such an impact on me that I've picked up everything they've done since, though I'm not sure if anything has made an end of year list for me since I've been doing them.
Let me just say that I love every track on this album-- even Highly Suspicious grew on me after freaking me out the first time or two. This is also an album that, if Quinn were able to make requests, I'm sure would be high on his list. We spent a lot of time playing as a family with this as the soundtrack.
Finally, if you haven't seen these guys live-- make a note of when they're coming to your town. I love them live.
01. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
Lots of things could be said about this album, and lots has been said-- by admirers, critics, and critical admirers. I'll just say that it got played more in my house and in my car than any other album this year. Part of that could be that Katie loves it as well. But most of it is because it hasn't gotten old for me. If you haven't watched the Bon Iver Laundro Matinee videos, I suggest you do that now.
Bon Iver~Flume (Live in-studio at MOKB/WEEM) from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.
Sandra McCracken, Red Balloon - I would hardly feel right about putting this in my actual list given that I have yet to buy the record. A friend loaned me a copy of his and I have fallen in love with it. I was a pretty big fan of The Builder And The Architect.
Jason Collett, Here's To Being Here - Playful. Melodic. Understated. I love BSS, and I like that Collett creates his own sound here.
Little Joy, Little Joy - I'm pretty sure I'm going to LOVE this album, but I've only had it for two weeks. If there was a category of "quickly growing on me," this wold be it. I remember when I read the Pitchfork review: "Little Joy is not going to stop the world or change your life, but it's one of the sweetest, most listenable, consistently enjoyable records of the season." I couldn't agree any more.
Wolf Parade, At Mount Zoomer - This would go in the "stuff I wish I bought this year" pile, except that I bought this last night from amazon. FOR. FIVE. DOLLARS! The first pass was all that I expected it would be. Apologies to the Queen Mary received near constant play when we lived in Canada, and still gets a fair amount of play on my ipod. I expect this record would have been on my list had I just picked it up earlier.
Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line - I love the album, and the honesty of the lyrics especially.
Ray LaMontagne, Gossip In The Grain.
ALBUMS I WISH I BOUGHT IN 2008
Blitzen Trapper, Furr - All I've heard is the title track, and I love it. I got some iTunes gift certificates for Christmas, and unless you tell me not to, one of them is getting spent on this record.
BSS PRESENTS Brendan Canning: Something For All Of Us.
Cloud Cult, Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes).