what i'm listening to: top 7 of 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

For the inauguration of this very exciting, newest feature of Say Parcheezie (okay, okay, it's not that exciting. Or very new. Although some planned features for the coming year include: Haiku for You, What I'm Cooking, and What I'm Watching. Just kidding about the first one. Or am I?!)
Anyway, I know that Kat agrees (by the way, I thought you might enjoy this interesting, unconventional review of Hot Chip concert), but I'm completely puzzled by this year's "Top Albums" lists. A sampling:
Jon Pareles of the New York Times liked: TV on the Radio and Porishead
Jon Caramanica of NY Times liked: Jamey Johnson (so did Jon P.) and Bon Iver, but seeing as Taylor Swift and The Academy Is... made his top ten list, I'm a little skeptical of his reviews.
Pitchfork liked: the standard (meaning, Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, Lil Wayne, Portishead
Stereogum (or rather, their readers) liked: the standard, but did anyone else find it ironic that Fleet Foxes made the top of Best Album and Most Overrated Album of '08?
Rolling Stone put Taylor Swift and Jonas Brothers above Of Montreal, Hot Chip, and No Age (I can't say I'm a fan of No Age, though) and right below Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Hold Steady, which gave me a good chuckle.
NPR listeners liked: the standard
The Village Voice liked: Vampire Weekend and some other pretentious bands
Spin liked.. the standard, in addition to Oasis and My Morning Jacket (yikes!)
and dear Paste, you win for oddest list of the year, putting She and Him's debut at number one.

And now that I am finished pondering (or letting you ponder, perhaps) the oddity of the critics' top choices of 2008, here's a list of my 7 favorites (why 7? why not?), not any more normal or predictable as what you see above:

7. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Pitchfork, Village Voice, Paste - if you're going to be pretentious, please be consistent. It's terribly difficult to keep track what is cool and what is not when half of you love these guys and when the other half thinks they're completely overrated poo. At the rate you're going, Coldplay's going to be cool again next year. Perhaps the Britney Spears analogy is inevitable, but I totally won't go there. Instead, I'll make the blasphemous comparison of lead-singer Robin Pecknold to Jeff Mangum (I'm sorry, I know.) Some other [more legit] comparisons I've seen include ones to the Beach Boys, My Morning Jacket (pre-Evil Urges, please), Simon and Garfunkel. I'm indulging in some pretentiousness of my own, and I apologize. I'll leave it at this: a nice, folky, neo-baroque (what?!) album and a strong debut effort. Favorite tracks: "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" and "Quiet Houses"

6. John Legend - Evolver
Piece of evidence #84876 that I'm turning into my mother - I like neo-jazz. A little too much for someone my age. I admit that the majority of these songs are about love interests and getting in someone's pants, but like Emile from Ratatouille says, "You know, if you can sorta' muscle your way past the gagging reflex, all kinds of food possibilities open up." Favorite tracks: "Green Light" and "Take Me Away"

5. Adele - 19
Hey, speaking of neo-jazz... this girl has quite the set of pipes. To be nominated for a "Best New Artist" Grammy alongside the Jonas Brothers is an extreme embarrassment, but I'm sure she'll come out on top. Favorite tracks: "Right as Rain" and the cover of Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love"

4. Ray Lamontagne - Gossip in the Grain
Underrated, yes? I'm not entirely sure what happened with this album, with 2008 pretty much being a year for folk, but this is nevertheless one of my favorites from this year. A happier, more upbeat (70's flashback, anyone?) Lamontagne? Or maybe not. Favorite tracks: "Let it Be Me" and "You are the Best Thing"

3. Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust (With a Buzz in our Ears we play Endlessly)
My only complaint about this one is the title. I can never remember it. With their documentary, Heima, now released, it is a good year for these Icelanders! Though they still haven't topped my favorite track of theirs ("Andvari" off of Takk...), I like the new direction that they took. Favorite track: "Gobbledigook"

2. Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile - Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile
So...I suppose it's cool to like folk now, but bluegrass is still a no? Okay, all immaturity aside, I think the only way Meyer and Thile could have topped this album was if they had Bela Fleck on some of the songs. Then, it really would have been THE bluegrass super-group (to address some biases, I do believe that Edgar Meyer is the greatest living double bassist and Chris Thile is an absolute baller mandolin player/vocalist/songwriter) But then again...perhaps no. Favorite track: "Ham and Cheese"

1. Punch Brothers - Punch
Chris Thile is certainly no obscure musician in the bluegrass world, so I really don't understand why this album hasn't gotten much more recognition. Thile is a smart composer; not only do I respect his work, but I enjoy listening to it as well. The majority of this album is a four-part work titled "The Blind Leaving the Blind," which debuted in Carnegie Hall (if I'm not mistaken) and is about Thile's recent divorce. Interesting tidbit: "The use of the figure (and the figure itself) introduced by the fiddle at 7:40 in the second movement is a timid tip of the hat to the second time through the main theme of the first movement of Brahms' Fourth Symphony." I also got a kick out of the album art. Favorite track: "It'll Happen"

Honorable mention:
Kings of Leon - Only By the Night (I really shouldn't like this album, but oh, I do.)
Yo-Yo Ma (and friends) - Songs of Joy and Peace (Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile all together on one song!)
Joshua Bell - Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (The Four Seasons is perhaps my least favorite classical piece, but for some strange reason I liked this CD. Probably because J. Bell is still a complete fox. I hope you don't think any less of me because I just wrote that.)

3 comments:

Abby 4:13 PM  

I like "Your Protector" the best from Fleet Foxes. It's a pretty cool album. I also like Noah and the Whale's debut. You can't reject everything pretentious, after all. J. Bell! (And this comment has disintegrated into uselessness.)

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

You too- seriously. The rating of a year is quite important and reflects upon your overall contentedness periodically per each month. And I sure hope so- I'm already starting to flip shit. But, then again, it's January:(

How IS the rest of Kings of Leon? I really liked Sex on Fire, but it might be just a one-hit wonder thing? Or whatever it's called?

Alsooooo, totally agree about the Sigure Ros album!
Gobbledigook might be one of the happiest songs I've heard ever. (Following Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra, Yeah Yeah Yeah by The Flaming Lips, and Semi-Charmed Life (sentimental value) by Third Eye Blind, if you're interested in some cheery songs:) )

-Best of wishesss,
Matt

Kat 7:57 PM  

why are we the same person?? I seriously loved the KOL album! I think it was underrated, definitely. & you know how I feel about Fleet Foxes...

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