This is the episode I originally envisioned for the GeofCast. I’m only 18 months late in getting it out …
- “Darkmatter” – Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha
- “Aftermath” – Five O’Clock People, Temper Temper
- “Riga Girls” – The Weepies, Say I Am You
- “Change Is Hard” – She & Him, Volume One
- “The Things We Can and Cannot Keep” – Alli Rogers, You and the Evening Sky
- “Climb On (A Back That’s Strong)” – Caedmon’s Call, 2008-02-24: Philadelphia Biblical University, Langhorne, PA, USA
- “Watch Your Mouth” – Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken, Ampersand EP
- “Back Yard in Brooklyn” – Nathan Lee, Down at The Rutledge
- “Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
Let me be clear: I’m cheating and using iTunes here. Specifically …
- Date is in the range: 01 Jan 2008 – 31 Dec 2008
- Kind does not contain AIFF [to filter out unprocessed bootlegs and demos].
- Grouping does not contain Extant [to filter out where I migrated my library off of my old Mac to my new one]; I then did a manual check of the Extants with a similar list and my Musiclogging archives.
- Album Rating is greater than three stars.
- Genre does not contain Concert Bootleg. If desired, I’ll cover the best of the best concert bootlegs in a separate post, probably no earlier than Friday because I’m still adding bootlegs. [I am not adding any more studio releases at this point.]
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.
- Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha, grabbed in January. Intelligent, charming folk/pop … with whistling.
- Blind Faith, Blind Faith, grabbed in August. It’s too bad that these guys couldn’t keep it together, but I’ve come to the conclusion that one-off groupings for albums can be a killer thing.
- Tom Brosseau, Late Night at Largo, grabbed in February. Recorded after everyone left the bar that night, it’s a live record without an audience that showcases Brosseau’s brilliance as a songwriter.
- City and Colour, Bring Me Your Love, grabbed in May. Dallas Green’s writing is enough for me to forgive him for using his Canadian ou.
- Matt Costa, Songs We Sing, grabbed in December. Just when you think that you’re done with singer/songwriters, someone like Matt Costa comes along.
- Matt Costa, Unfamiliar Faces, grabbed in December. Oh Miss Magnolia … oh Mr. Pit, oh Mr. Pitiful.
- Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs, grabbed in May. I would lock Ben Gibbard up in Dick Cheney’s “undisclosed location” if he’d make another killer record like this one.
- Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism, grabbed in July. It’s a good thing that emo bands like this weren’t big when I was 15.
- Deb Talan, A Bird Flies Out, grabbed in April. I would ask Deb Talan to marry me if Steve Tannen hadn’t done so first.
- Deb Talan, Sincerely, grabbed in May. Even if her voice is a bit … unique.
- Alejandro Escovedo, Real Animal, grabbed in September. I had read No Depression rave about Escovedo for some time, and dammit, they were right.
- Five O’Clock People, Temper Temper, grabbed in March. Now if they can only go less than half-a-decade before putting out another disc.
- Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple, grabbed in August. I’m still picking up pieces of my mind blown apart by this record.
- Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere, grabbed in August. Gnarls Barkley makes me want to buy a bunch of old soul records, which I’d argue is a good thing for my musical self-education.
- Randall Goodgame, Bluebird, grabbed in November. If you ever wanted Randall Goodgame to stop playing the guitar all the time, these tracks are for you.
- Andy Gullahorn, Reinventing the Wheel, grabbed in November. Gully’s ability to have you laughing in one verse and hating yourself in the next is still with it; it feels like he’s got a Greg Maddux-like songwriting career ahead of him.
- Iron & Wine, The Shepherd’s Dog, grabbed in August. I used to sorta like Sam Beam, and this record made me love him.
- Jackopierce, Promise of Summer, grabbed in September. This is a NoiseTrade success story, and it turns out my friend David manages them, too, which is fun.
- Matthew Perryman Jones, Swallow the Sea, grabbed in August. There is a reason that MPJ started getting his songs played on TV, and it’s because the man cuts deep into his soul and bleeds all over your ears … in a good way.
- Carole King, Tapestry, grabbed in April. Thank you, Gilmore Girls, for making me feel like a natural woman … I think.
- Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin, grabbed in January. I am of the opinion that great blues/rock bands have a shelf life, but man, these guys hit it hard early, eh?
- Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, grabbed in January. And then they followed it up with a record at least as good as the first one.
- Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin III, grabbed in January. Hats Off (to Led Zeppelin) for making another killer record.
- Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV, grabbed in February. Been a long time since rock and roll sounded like this, but hey, paying homage to this would sound weaksauce.
- Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti, grabbed in February. For “Kashmir” alone, but the rest of the record is really fucking good.
- Nathan Lee, Down at the Rutledge, grabbed in February. If you stuffed the soul of The Boss and The Piano Man into a muscled, keyboard-banging dude who lights up Nashville, you’d get Nathan Lee.
- Sandra McCracken, Red Balloon, which I had in August, long before it came out, neener neener neener! I still feel like Sandra’s best record is yet to come, which is both a compliment and not, if you think about it.
- Nirvana, Nevermind, grabbed in August. I can’t believe I didn’t have a copy in the 1990s; I had the plaid shirt jackets from Eddie Bauer, dammit.
- Over the Rhine, Live From Nowhere, Volume Three, grabbed in August. I don’t care that there are great tapers for Over the Rhine: I will buy every damn one of these yearly records if only to support Karin and Linford as they continue to make beautiful music.
- Andrew Osenga, Letters to the Editor: Volume Two, which I helped distribute in September. I am admittedly quite biased, but hey, he didn’t play my guitar on this one, so back off.
- Andrew Peterson, Resurrection Letters, Volume Two, which, um, I never blogged, apparently. Looks like I got it in mid-August according to iTunes metadata. Not as good as previous AP albums, but still very good.
- Portishead, Third, grabbed in December. From everything I read, it’s like Portishead and Trent Reznor had a baby, but it’s one beautiful, industrial baby.
- Radiohead, The Bends, grabbed in December. It’s good enough that I’m overcoming my “don’t put the shiny new bauble on the year-end list” sentiment.
- Radiohead, Hail to the Thief, grabbed in December. Wacky song titles, impenetrable lyrics, and a shitload of rock and roll.
- Radiohead, In Rainbows, grabbed in July. You could have had this for free, and you don’t still have it?
- Alli Rogers, The Silent Stars EP, grabbed in December. Iowan singer/songwriter makes a homespun Christmas record.
- Alli Rogers, You and the Evening Sky, grabbed in March. I really feel like Alli gets lost in the sea of Midwestern-bred female songstresses, which is a damn shame.
- She & Him, Volume One, grabbed in March. I don’t like this as much as Paste does [really, #1, guys? REALLY!?], but it’s a fun listen.
- The Soft Drugs, Get Back – Side A, which I never blogged because I downloaded this one on the recommendation of one of the music blogs I read. And, of course, now I can’t find it. Who cares where I got it, it’s four tracks of fun pop/rock.
- Steven Delopoulos, As If Love Was a Sword, which I also appear to have never blogged, nor have any URLs for. Sad. You either love Delopoulos’s ethnic-tinged songwriting and fingerpicking, or you don’t; I do.
- Waterdeep, Heart Attack Time Machine, which is a NoiseTrade download, and
as such, is something I can’t link to here something I have now linked to since Derek was the bus driver and drove me to school. John Wilson, you were right to pimp these guys to me all these years.
- Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken, Ampersand EP, grabbed in February. I think I’m contractually bound to put them on there for making a record I’d wanted them to make for at least 18 months.
- The Weepies, iTunes EP, which I never blogged but love. And before you fuss, that’s an iTunes Plus link. These exclusive EPs are fun ways to get into a band’s history, as this does in bringing songs from both Deb and Steve’s solo careers into The Weepies’ sphere of influence.
- The Weepies, Happiness, grabbed in February. This is not the record to start with, but it’s good.
- The Weepies, Hideaway, grabbed in April. I would call this a bit of a major-label sophomore slump, but it’s still good; shame they didn’t tour it.
- The Weepies, Say I Am You, grabbed in January. This record makes me want to be in love, which is the best compliment I can think of to give it.
- Wilco, Kicking Television, grabbed in April. I’ve got bootlegs that are better than this, but it’s pretty damn solid, and I’m a completionist.
That’s 47 albums. Yowza! About one a week … that’s a very, very good year.
Now, I’m gonna take it to 11 … and be a bit more verbose.
- Radiohead, In Rainbows. There is nothing that I can add to all that has been said about this album, from the distribution to the music itself. I didn’t buy this until it came out on a physical disc [I’m a curmudgeon and have this problem, which I’m hoping to lick in 2009], but this is the album that made me a Radiohead fan, much as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot made me a Wilco fan. Favorite Tracks: “Nude”, “Reckoner”, “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”.
- The Weepies, Say I Am You. 2008 was a weird year for me; I spent a lot of it pursuing a relationship that didn’t ultimately work out, and a lot of this album was my soundtrack. This is right in my wheelhouse, to be sure—singer/songwriter-y, acoustic guitar-driven, solid melody and harmony. In a world where In Rainbows doesn’t exist, it’s my best album of the year. Favorite Tracks: “Painting By Chagall”, “Riga Girls”.
- Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha. I bought this album on a lark, because it was well-regarded. Some of my best musical purchases are done that way, and this is definitely one of them. I think what gets me about Andrew Bird is that he’s a self-comfortable artist who is willing to experiment and do big things with his sound. The analog to an artist I’m friends with is the amazingness of Jeremy Casella’s Recovery [and if Jerry ever sees this, he’s gonna hit me for putting him and Bird in the same sentence]. This is one of those albums I find myself singing often, and there is no greater tribute to me than that. Favorite Tracks: “Darkmatter”, “Plasticities”, and “Scythian Empires”. I never will forget whistling the last as I was walking through the Nashville airport on my way back from Philly after a whirlwind, 20-hour trip to see Caedmon’s Call play.
- Five O’Clock People, Temper Temper. I was a big fan of 5OCP when they were making music in the 1990s, and so I grabbed this as soon as I heard it came out. It was … nothing like their old sound, in a lot of ways, but man, it frickin’ rocks. Favorite Tracks: “Gold Rush”, “Aftermath”, and “February”.
- Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple. I had heard all this buzz about Gnarls Barkley, but just … dismissed it for whatever reason. I do that; I’m dumb. But then one day “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” was highlighted on NPR, and I almost had to pull over to the side of the road, I was so blown away. Favorite Tracks: “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul”, “Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)”.
- Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs. Like with Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, a lot has been made about this record coming out of Ben Gibbard taking residence where Jack Kerouac did at Big Sur. I’m of the mind that creative pursuits are often terribly lonely affairs, so I think this was a good idea. This record brought the lyrical brilliance and nose for melody that Death Cab’s always had, but they also exhibited their musical chops on it, too. For whatever weird reason, I want to draw parallels to this and Elliott Smith’s Figure 8. Favorite Tracks: “I Will Possess Your Heart”, “Cath…”, and “Long Division”.
- Iron & Wine, The Shepherd’s Dog. I simply did not think that Sam Beam had this much awesome within him. I am very glad to be wrong. Very, very glad. Favorite Tracks: “House of the Sea”, “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog”, “Peace Beneath the City”.
- Tom Brosseau, Late Night at Largo. At this point, you have to mail a check to Tom Brosseau’s management to get a copy. It is worth your time in doing so. I’ve written about Brosseau before, but here he is in a nutshell: North Dakota boy moved to LA that writes about home because he both misses it and hates it, in a way. If you grew up in a cold climate and have moved to warmer latitudes, you know where he’s coming from. His music has a sense of ironic detachment, but it’s also just plain good. Also, he sings so high that he makes Thom Yorke in falsetto sound like Barry White. Favorite Tracks: “Rose”, “Broken Ukulele”, and “Young and Free”.
- Matt Costa, Unfamiliar Faces. Okay, I’ve got a thing for young guys who write songs about not getting the girl, or getting the girl and losing the girl, but … dude, this guy can rock it up. Favorite Tracks: “Emergency Call”, “Heart of Stone”, and “Miss Magnolia”.
- Matthew Perryman Jones, Swallow the Sea. Unlike most years, this is the only time when an artist I personally know appears on the list. I think that most of that is because I’m becoming harder on my friends’ more recent albums, honestly. 😉 But MPJ made a killer, killer record here, a worthy followup to Throwing Punches in the Dark, which I was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to top. He topped it, though. Favorite Tracks: “Save You”, “Motherless Child”, and “Feels Like Letting Go”.
- Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV. There is nothing I can add to this that hasn’t been said, eh? This is my favorite Zep album, even if it doesn’t have all of my favorite songs. Favorite Tracks: “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”, “Stairway to Heaven”. I mean, duh.
What about you? Do you have some of these records and violently disagree? Did I overlook something to the point that you’re ready to shake me for not listening to it? I wanna know.