Albums I Have Loved in 2009

This wouldn’t be a proper “here’s what I’ve been listening to” without a GeofCast episode, right? 🙂 Listen while you read.

[display_podcast]

Let’s follow last year’s mojo:

  • Date is in the range: 01 Jan 2009 – 25 Dec 2009. Any cutoff point is arbitrary, but this makes sense to me. I’ve been willfully listening to Christmas music lately, so this helps hold the list growth down.
  • Kind does not contain AIFF [to filter out unprocessed bootlegs and demos].
  • Album Rating is greater than three stars.
  • Genre does not contain Concert Bootleg.

This list is unoptimized; it’s actually done in alphabetical order by artist. At the end, I’ll give a best-of list, countdown style. Because I like embracing constraints, I’ll give a one-sentence statement about each album as to why it’s just so darn good. If you’ve ever talked to me for longer than 90 seconds, you know that one sentence is an unreal constraint.

  1. Wilco (The Album), Wilco. There are so many good songs on this album, but I thought I’d start with the opening track—it’s a treatise for the record and, frankly, for Wilco as a band at this point.

    Are you under the impression
    This isn’t your life?
    Do you dabble in depression?
    Is someone twisting a knife in your back?
    Are you being attacked?
    Oh, this is a fact that you need to know

    Oh

    Wilco
    Wilco
    Wilco will love you baby

    As someone who “dabbles in depression”, yeah, I love this track … and this album … and this band.

  2. Andrew Osenga - Letters to the Editor, Vol. I and II Letters to the Editor, Vol. I and II, Andrew Osenga. Yes, this is a compilation of tracks that he gave away for free; if you’re cheap, you can get Volume I and Volume II online still. But if you like it, buy the disc and support independent music. I chose “Staring Out a Window (My Confession)” because it just hits home for me.
  3. Stockholm Syndrome, Derek Webb. Okay, you can argue that, as a friend of Derek’s and one of the three guys behind derekwebb.net, I’m predisposed to loving his music. You’re right. But this is a worthy buy for the following reasons: a) it tackles prickly issues of sexuality that most Christians are uncomfortable dealing with b) Fred Phelps gets made fun of c) it’s Derek and Josh Moore doing their best Gnarls Barkley impersonation, without sounding like a cheap knockoff and d) he says “shit” on the record and gets away with it. Sorta. I picked “The Spirit Vs. The Kick Drum” because it’s just a kickin’ little track.
  4. The Hazards of Love, The Decemberists. Many long-time Decemberists fans [of which I cannot claim to be; I’m late to the game] would argue that they feared what being on a major record label would do to their music. But give Capitol all the credit in the world for letting Portland’s finest put out what lesser reviewers would call a concept album, and what I think of as “literature set to music”. The arc of this album is one unbroken story, and it’s just so well-done, with themes repeated and twisted as the album builds on itself. That makes it difficult to pick out one song, but I chose “The Rake’s Song” because that will tell you whether or not you’ll want to listen to the whole thing.
  5. Noble Beast, Andrew Bird. I really thought that Armchair Apocrypha was going to be the apex of AB’s music for me. I didn’t think that he’d make a better record, but to my ears, he did with Noble Beast. Musically, it’s just so strong: songs with movement are just such a rarity in popular music these days that hearing tracks like “Masterswarm” is simply astonishing. It’s impossible for me to pick out a track I love the most, because I love them all, but I picked “Tenuousness” for this GeofCast episode.

If you made it this far, thanks!

GeofCast #005: Christmas Mix 2009

Here’s the tracklisting for this time around, including Amazon MP3 options to buy where valid:

  1. Here It Is“, Over the Rhine, Snow Angels
  2. Put the Lights on the Tree“, Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas
  3. O Little Town of Bethlehem“, Alli Rogers, The Silent Stars
  4. Deliver Us (feat. Derek Webb)“, Andrew Peterson, Behold the Lamb of God
  5. That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!“, Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas
  6. O Come, O Come Emmanuel“, Sixpence None the Richer, The Dawn of Grace
  7. Labor of Love (feat. Jill Phillips)“, Andrew Peterson, Behold the Lamb of God
  8. “Amelia’s Last”, Over the Rhine, The Darkest Night of the Year
  9. Behold the Lamb of God“, Andrew Peterson, Behold the Lamb of God
  10. “Coal Train”, Over the Rhine, The Darkest Night of the Year

[display_podcast]

GeofCast: Episode #004 – October 2009

You’ll have to undertake some Kremlinology to guess why I put these seven songs together, and even if you think you’re right, you’re probably wrong. 🙂

  1. “Lookin’ Forward” – Over the Rhine, Drunkard’s Prayer
  2. “Incomplete and Insecure” – The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You
  3. “Subterranean Homesick Alien” – Radiohead, OK Computer
  4. “Dirt Off Your Android” – Minty Fresh Beats, Jaydiohead
  5. “Say Please” – Monsters of Folk, Monsters of Folk
  6. “Can’t Be Without You” – Derek Webb, The Ringing Bell
  7. “Say Yes” – Elliott Smith, 1998-06-02: Studion, Stockholm, Sweden

[display_podcast]

GeofCast Episode 003: 1Q2008

This is the episode I originally envisioned for the GeofCast. I’m only 18 months late in getting it out …

  1. “Darkmatter” – Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha
  2. “Aftermath” – Five O’Clock People, Temper Temper
  3. “Riga Girls” – The Weepies, Say I Am You
  4. “Change Is Hard” – She & Him, Volume One
  5. “The Things We Can and Cannot Keep” – Alli Rogers, You and the Evening Sky
  6. “Climb On (A Back That’s Strong)” – Caedmon’s Call, 2008-02-24: Philadelphia Biblical University, Langhorne, PA, USA
  7. “Watch Your Mouth” – Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken, Ampersand EP
  8. “Back Yard in Brooklyn” – Nathan Lee, Down at The Rutledge
  9. “Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti

[display_podcast]

GeofCast Episode #002 – “A Great, Big, Giant F**k You”

A couple friends of mine have had relationships go south of late. I had one go south last year. This playlist is how I dealt with it, and now that she’s officially out of my life for good, I feel free to post it.

No, not getting into a discussion of that failure at all. I learned from it. I’ve moved on.

[display_podcast]

Songlist (I submitted an iMix, but Apple hasn’t gotten back to me yet]:

  1. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” – The Yardbirds, Crossroads (disc 1) [the Eric Clapton box set, that is].
  2. “She’s Got a Way” – Billy Joel, Greatest Hits, Volume II
  3. “You Surround Me” – Bebo Norman, Big Blue Sky. Here ends the “I can’t get this girl out of my head no matter how hard I try” part of the arc.
  4. “Say Yes” – Elliott Smith, Either/Or
  5. “Painting by Chagall” – The Weepies, Say I Am You. The problem is that I really love this song, but now am ruined on it because I associate it with her.
  6. “In the Lost and Found (Honky Bach)” – Elliott Smith, Figure 8. That’s right, two upbeat Elliott Smith songs in one mix. That’s gotta be a record.
  7. “Marilyn” – Andrew Osenga, The Morning. Here’s where we go south.
  8. “My Love” – Bebo Norman, Myself When I Am Real. For when she cut me loose and then wanted me back in her life.
  9. “Old Love” – Eric Clapton, Unplugged. I loved this song as a teenager, and now I’ve lived it. Heh.
  10. “Everything Reminds Me of Her” – Elliott Smith, Figure 8. So much for happy-go-lucky ES songs in this list. “I ain’t never really had a problem ’cause of leaving / but everything reminds me of her this evening”. For all those nights I sat confused on the Granades’ couch, with Misty all but screaming at me to move on.
  11. “A Crack in Time” – Ferraby Lionheart, Ferraby Lionheart EP. This sums up my feelings on the whole situation.
  12. “Oh Well, OK” – Elliott Smith, XO. A friend who listened to this complained that there was too much Elliott. Come on … I also went through this relationship when I was profoundly, clinically depressed. Like I wasn’t going to have Elliott Smith songs on it.
  13. “So Long” – Guster, Lost and Gone Forever.
  14. “Somebody That I Used to Know” – Elliott Smith, Figure 8. When I say that this is a “f**k you” playlist, I’m really thinking about this song. 129 seconds of bitterness that says, “It’s not me, it’s you.”

Summertime Driving Playlist

Brandon and I are going to Florida this weekend to go see STS-127 lift off from the Cape. [I’m bummed that Nathan can’t go, since I crashed on his couch last time and everything.] I’m putting together the second episode of the GeofCast to be a summertime driving playlist, with the eye that the whole podcast will be under 80 minutes and the playlist itself under 74, so it could be burned to a CD. I’ve done a first cut at a list, and I’m sorta happy with it, but I’ll take suggestions: what would you put on a summertime driving playlist? Leave a suggestion in the comments.

GeofCast: Episode #001

Here goes nothin’. The GeofCast is designed to be the music I would play you if you came over to my house. Since my townhouse is small and the Internet is ginormous, I’ve created the GeofCast.

[display_podcast]

My model for this podcast is Steven Garrity’s Acts of Volition Radio, which has introduced me to some cool music. I hope to do the same.

Songlisting [and a bit of why I chose it]:

  1. The first song is “Epistemology” from M. Ward’s latest album, Hold Time. Hold Time isn’t as highly-rated in my world as Matt’s last two albums, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great.
  2. The most infectious song off the new eponymous Wilco album: “I’ll Fight”.
  3. I next chose “The Snow Leopard” from Shearwater’s album Rook. I came across Rook from my friend and fellow Whiskerino J.R. Caines, who is my closest musical neighbor on Last.FM. Rook was one of his top-ten albums of 2008, so I gave it a shot, and I’m glad I did.
  4. My favorite track from Iron & Wine’s recent demo and B-side vehicle, Around the Well, is “Love Vigilantes”. Often, these type of releases end up being so much filler between studio releases, but coming on the heels of The Shepherd’s Dog, this has some great tracks, and “Love Vigilantes” is in the top five songs I’ve heard in 2009.
  5. I next chose “The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid” off of the epic new album from The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love. As it’s just one big sonic work of art, it’s hard to strip one song out from the entire thematic arc of the story, but I have. If you know me, you know I love Shara Worden’s vocals, and she makes an appearnce in this track.
  6. There’s really no good way to follow that up, so I just took a massive left turn. One of the things I’ve come to in the last year are mashups, sonic creative destruction when multiple songs are put together. One of my favorite mashups to cross my ears in 2009 has been Jaydiohead from Minty Fresh Beats. Here’s the mashup titled “Dirt Off Your Android”.
  7. Let’s go from hip-hop to trip-hop. Somehow I missed Portishead in the 1990s, when I was listening to really bad contemporary Christian music and far too much 311 for my own good. A friend was playing this as house music before a concert I was recording, and I whipped out my iPhone to fire up Shazam to find out what I was hearing. It was “Numb” from Portishead’s Dummy, and in case you missed it back then, too, here it is:
  8. Hang on, folks, as I take another musical detour. This one takes us to the fields of Illinois, where songwriter Andrew Bird toils in solitude. His last effort, Armchair Apocrypha, was one of my favorites last year, so I jumped on his latest, Noble Beast, the moment it came out. Noble Beast focuses even more on musicality, providing depth and movement to his songs in an age when most music sounds the same at the end of the song as the beginning. To highlight this, I chose “Masterswarm”.
  9. For this last track, I figured I’d throw my friends a bone and send out a [then-]unreleased track. Yes, I’m going to bend the good will of my friend Derek Webb and play one of the tracks off of his upcoming album, Stockholm Syndrome, that he hasn’t yet leaked to the world. If you like it, please buy the album so the wee bald man doesn’t kick my ass. Most of us will remember the case of the Jena Six, and the female in this song shares that spelling. Keep that in mind as you listen to
    “Jena & Jimmy”

iMix of GeofCast Episode 001

Please leave me comments, including whether you want show notes, links, etc. I have them to provide and will go back and update this post. Mainly now, I want to go to bed.

Update, 1149 Monday: The download option will now work. Myyyyyyy bad.
Update, 2053 Monday: Show notes added.