My music shopping is officially dead. I did not buy one CD this last year. Everything was downloaded. I did manage to buy a few full length albums, but just about everything was purchased as a single. I am not proud of that, but I did save a lot of money. Oh what heck, I don’t care. Let’s roll out the Best of 2008 Play List:
1. Life In Technicolor II from Coldplay’s Prospekt’s March. Say what you will about Coldplay’s big name, sell-out status and Chris Martins mediocre lyrics, I like them. Though, I wasn’t too into the album, I really enjoyed the arrangement on the opening track. It sounds epic and I like it that way. Why do I feel defensive for liking Coldplay?
2. Hey Ma from James’ Hey Ma. I had no idea that this was the band that wrote and recorded Laid. I hate that song. But 15 years later this group put out one of the biggest surprises, and along with it, perhaps the most eloquent of protest songs. While I remain mostly in favor what we are doing in Iraq it does not come without a cost, and this song makes for a solemn reminder without becoming preachy or ostentatious.
3. Ghost To Most from Drive-By Truckers’ Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. This band was my favorite find all year. Sadly, I had never heard of Drive-By Truckers until this year, and sadly, I had never had an appreciation for Southern Rock. Ghost To Most makes for great road-trippin’ music as you cruise through the state of Wisconsin on the way to Chicago. It’s not about cheese and liquor, but its close enough.
4. A Gentle Heart from Neil Halstead’s Oh! Mighty Engine. The Mojave 3 fan in me just can’t get enough of Neil Halstead’s sad, mopey lyrics and his distinct tenor guitar. Though the album is generally forgettable this track stood out as my favorite sleepy summer song–the kind of music you listen to on a sunny Saturday morning with the window open. Keep ‘em comin’ Neil. We Mojave 3 junkies need more.
5. Robin In the Snow from Sonya Kitchell’s This Storm. Sonya was 16 when she put out her first CD. This comes from her sophomore effort that embodies a sound that is mature beyond her years. She is 18. You will have to simply listen to it to hear her rich, graceful voice accentuate tender lyrics.
6. Trying to Put Your Heart Back Together from Slow Runner’s Mermaids. The beat of this song is captured perfectly by a well placed bass drum, and it absolutely makes the song. I love when artists do something simple to make a good song great. An upbeat tune for getting over someone.
7. Something Great from Haley Bonar’s Big Star. Haley Bonar put out Minnesota’s best new album this year. I saw Minnesota’s latest local music superhero open for Halloween, Alaska a few years ago, and thought she could write some songs that were a little faster and happier sounding. She did not disappoint.
8. Graveyard Girl from M83′s Saturdays = Youth. Hey, I was into M83 before they were big. And they deserve to big after producing this delightful and magical song from beginning to end with a dash of melodrama in the middle. I have always liked their ambient stuff while I am reading, and this song complements that as it makes me think of riding my bike to the library downtown. Big city, little bike, lots of books. Feels like you are going somewhere fun when you listen to it.
9. Kids from MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular. I wrote about why I liked this song on a previous post that simply tells you why I love it: I was playing it after I downloaded it and my dad walked in the room and started dancing. He said, “Alright Adam! You are one of the ‘in’ kids.” Enough said.
10. Fix It from Ryan Adams & The Cardinals’ Cardinalogy. As long as there are break ups there will be songs about break ups, and bad break ups sometimes make the best music. Simply tragic, but very very good.
11. Come Around (not online) by Rosi Golan’s The Drifter and the Gypsy. I don’t know anything about Rosi Golan other than she was someone suggested by the iTunes Genius feature, and that she knows William Fitzsimmons. But I like her a lot, and Come Around is nothing short of a treat.
12. Comes and Goes from Greg Laswell’s Three Flights from Alto Nido. Greg Laswell has a sound to envy among those that would fit into a cheesy romantic comedy where the boy and girl start acknowledging the seriousness of their feelings for one another. What can I say? I can’t stop myself from wanting to vicariously live through them. No, I am not a lonely single woman!
13. Your New Twin Sized Bed from Death Cab for Cutie’s Narrow Stairs. The only song from Death Cab’s 2008 release that’s worth listening too. Don’t get experimental Ben Gibbard. Save that for the Postal Service, and keep writing songs about college couples breaking up.
14. Feels Like Home from Randy Newman’s Harps and Angels. When you start listening to Randy Newman you can officially call yourself an adult. I wish I had the maturity to appreciate his music a long time ago. As some of you know, I really like someone. I met her in high school and reconnected with her on a whim. This song makes me think of that… it feels good.
1. WALL-E. The best movie of the year. A visual feast with a smart underlying commentary that can be truly enjoyed by all ages.
2. Slumdog Millionaire. I usually do not enjoy movies that do love stories. But this had an approach to it (like Titanic) that gave it some credibility by not shying away from brutality. Definitely tragic, but also uplifting.
3. Man On Wire. If you are nostalgic for the World Trade Center towers and enjoy watching eccentric French people pull off ridiculous stunts, this is the film to see. The story is intoxicating, the people involved are funny, and the images are beautiful.
Original Sin by Alan Jacobs. From whence does evil come? Read Jacobs and find out… you will be mystified, horrified, and provoked.