Albums I Have Loved in 2008

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.

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.

  1. 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”.
  2. 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”.
  3. 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.
  4. Five O'Clock People - Temper Temper 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”.
  5. 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)”.
  6. 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”.
  7. 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”.
  8. Tom Brosseau - Live at Largo 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”.
  9. 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”.
  10. 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”.
  11. 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.

Geof’s New Music: 2-8 Nov 2008

Let’s get back on track …

Here’s what I did the last time around, a month ago

Geof’s New Music: 7-13 Sep 2008

The studio recordings are a smorgasboard, but the bootlegs are a salute to the Bay State. [Bleu is from Boston.]

Last week was uneven, but the good stuff was very good:

  • Sandra McCracken’s Red Balloon. Predictably, I love it. There are a couple moments on the record that I don’t get, but all in all, I think this lives up to the hype that Derek has been giving it. Four stars.
  • Nirvana’s In Utero. Sadly, it doesn’t have the punch that Nevermind did, probably understandable as a sophomore major-label release. That, plus a dalliance into noise rock that I didn’t enjoy, got it two-and-a-half stars from me. The goods are great! The bads are … meh.
  • Jackopierce’s Promise of Summer. Quite, quite enjoyable. A four-star record for me, and I’ll be getting more JP records from the back catalog. [See? Giving stuff away for free works.]
  • 3 Feb 2006 [Las Vegas, NV, USA] concert bootleg of Coldplay. So meh. A distant recording from the audience, and … eh. Two-and-a-half stars.
  • 26 Oct 2007 [New York, NY, USA] concert bootleg of Over the Rhine. Fan-fucking-tastic. Four-and-a-half stars. If you love OtR, get it. Go. Now. You. NOW.
  • 17 Jul 2008 [London, England] concert bootleg of Death Cab for Cutie. Also kinda distant, but with a better base to start with. Three stars.
  • 26 Jul 2008 [Anchorage, AK, USA] concert bootleg of Wilco. No, I didn’t pick this in honor of Sarah Palin. 😉 This is the band whose debut release was titled A.M.; sadly, it sounds like it was recorded from an AM broadcast: over-compressed, tinny, and muddled. An example: when the band does their Wall of Noise trick in the opening cut, “Via Chicago”, everything is … the same sound level. Jeff is clearly heard. This … just isn’t the way it ought to be at all. Having looked at the mic used in the recording, I’m guessing that this is the sound guy’s fault, or perhaps just crappy mains. But, you know, if I lived in Anchorage, I really wouldn’t give a shit, because Wilco rocks. The good thing is that we get two new songs out of it, and new songs? Always good. The rating is two stars.

Geof’s New Music: 31 Aug – 6 Sep 2008

Just one shopping month left until my birthday! 😉 Y’all know I love music, to the point that I have a separate Amazon wishlist for music only. Ahem.

Last week:

And again … here’s that JP EP:

Geof’s New Music: 6-12 Jul 2008

Last week was abbreviated in an effort to catch up:

  • Sloan’s Parallel Play. Three stars: almost three-and-a-half, but not quite. Fun power-pop, though.
  • Eric Peters - Bookmark Eric Peters’s Bookmark. Two-and-a-half stars: it works as a tide-me-over album, which is what it was intended to be, best as I can tell. A worthy grab for EP fans and completionists.

Geof’s New Music: 18-24 May 2008

Yeah, so uh … no new music last week. I’m in Delivery Mode, which means excess mental energy doesn’t get expended unless necessary. The only new studio release is something I actually don’t have my hands on yet, but will probably get this afternoon as I head to the office to work [told you it was busy]:

Two weeks ago turned out pretty well:

Geof’s New Music: 16-22 Mar 2008

No real intro this week. I’m spending time and energy this week getting a new hard drive on my new mini and getting all the music off of my old mini. Such are the joys of having a 200GB+ music collection…

Last week was very, very good to me:

  • Five O’Clock People - Temper Temper Five O’Clock People’s Temper Temper. Simply fantastic. I hadn’t been listening to the stuff on their MySpace, so I wasn’t prepared for the shift to a bit more of a modern rock sound [in spots], but … very nice. Four stars.
  • Led Zeppelin - Coda Led Zeppelin’s Coda. Okay, so we all know what this album is: an album put together by the remnants of Zep after David Bonham’s sad death. I … just kinda wish this hadn’t been made. :shrug: Two-and-a-half stars. I need to get Houses of the Holy so I can finish my tour through the LZ catalog on an up note.
  • 2 Mar 1992 [New Haven, CT, USA] concert bootleg of Uncle Tupelo. Two-and-a-half stars. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m burned out on Uncle Tupelo or if I’ve just been babied by superior bootlegging technology.
  • 11 Feb 2005 [Richmond, VA, USA] concert bootleg of Caedmon’s Call. It’s a soundboard, Danielle’s not there, and it sounds flat to me. It’s good, but this is one of those recordings that reminds me why I generally prefer AUDs to SBDs. [No, really, I do.] Three stars.
  • 14 Dec 2006 [Nashville, TN, USA] concert bootleg of Over the Rhine. It’s pretty meh. That was definitely not the best recording environment, nor the best recording setup. Two-and-a-half stars.
  • Sandra McCracken - 20070316 - cover 16 Mar 2007 [Nashville, TN, USA] concert bootleg of Sandra McCracken. As I listened to this one, I thought about two things: one, thanks to Stephen Lamb for babysitting my recorder that night so I could walk around and take photos all night, and two, man, do I wish that I’d had a bass roll-off for this show. If I had, it would be as good as I could get out of single-point stereo omnidirectional microphone. Three stars.
  • Wilco - 20080218 - cover 18 Feb 2008 [Chicago, IL, USA] concert bootleg of Wilco. Fan-fucking-tastic. That’s it. The second disc … my oh my. Four-and-a-half stars. This is why I prefer AUDs.