Saturday, December 20, 2008

end of year list #1

“It was such a great year for music! And not just Swedish tunes!” I said.
My fellow Would-Be Hipsters agreed with satisfied smiles. “Indeed," they replied
“So…” I continued. “Can’t we make it a top twelve list? Sixteen? Heck, don’t you think forty-two has a nice ring to it?” My request was met with silence and stony stares.
“But it just seems wrong not to—" I desperately tried to continue.
“Tradition!” they sang loudly, throwing their already poised jazz hands skyward. “Tradition!”
“But I started the blog!” I yelped,
“Tradition!” they sang again before morphing their wild hand gestures into a surprisingly sophisticated snapping pattern.
The moral of the story? My fellow Would-Be Hipsters are a bunch of meanie heads, with surprisingly good rhythm.

ten favorite albums

10 · The Last Tycoon by Peter Morén
Not a hint of of whistling. Just amazing guitar work and straight forward (young)folk-tastic narratives delivered nasally. If you think that's a critique, you haven't known me long enough
9 · A Thousand Shark's Teeth by My Brightest Diamond
Shara Worden simply doesn't get the credit she deserves. Big voice, mysterious French-influenced orchestration - this is no sophomore slump. Beautiful in a way that has me reaching for my thesaurus (admirable, alluring, angelic, appealing, beauteous(?), bewitching...) even a casual listen creates an environment far removed from ordinary. Of course, for My Brightest Diamond, what's new?
8 · The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow
The day after I was handed this album, Elbow won the Mercury Prize. Clearly the UK is way ahead of the learning curve. A tightly written album full of air and light, with lyrics which often border on the very, very devious, this is the soundtrack for just about any kind of dream scheme.
7 · The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties by Emily Wells
Don't you love when an artist you like puts out an album you just can't get enough of? Who knew rapping and the Suzuki method made for such a happy marriage? Even after it lived in my car stereo for the better part of three months, I was ready to slap the hand of anyone who suggested changing the CD. My apologies if I left any permanent bruises.
6 · In Ghost Colours by Cut Copy
I was the only kid in my third grade class who could sing the entire Cure and Depeche Mode catalogues. I was either ridiculously advanced or a freakish outcast far before my time. Joke's on them; synth lovers are clearly getting the last laugh in 2008.
5 · The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit
I am in no way shape or form a badass. But if the highlight reel of my life were played over any of these movie trailer ready songs, I'm sure I'd come across as slightly cooler. Everything sounds better with an accent and dramatically swelling chorus.
4 · Saturdays=Youth by M83
The first four tracks qualify Saturdays=Youth for a place on my list. The fact that this isn't just a 80s retro-dream EP but an 80s retro-dream full-length I've listened to more than 20 times? Brilliant.
3 · Volume One by She & Him
Some may argue it's insubstantial. But who can argue with such perfectly spun cotton candy pop? Incidentally, it's also my mother's pick for album of the year. (Don't hate me because my parents are cooler than yours. -3 hipster points for mentioning the existence of parents.)
2 · Who Killed Amanda Palmer? by Amanda Palmer
I have to admit being somewhat skeptical when I first heard Amanda Palmer was putting out a non-Dresden Doll album. But in one fell swoop she's earned her stripes as a solo act. Both weirdly uneven and emotionally cohesive, Who Killed Amanda Palmer simply slays.
1 · Does You Inspire You by Chairlift
I didn't see this one coming. And judging by its absence on every other list, neither did anyone else. Yes, Does You Inspire You plays like a mix tape, but what an inspired mix tape! Even the last few tracks which veer into indie-rock abstraction ring with sentimentality that already has me salivating for their sophomore effort.

ten favorite songs

10 · "Mugiboogie" by Mugison from Mugiboogie
An old fashioned down and dirty dance hall quivering with sexual tension and the world's most whacked out bandleader. Catchy!
9 · "You Cheated Me" by Martha Wainwright from I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too
Hands down the poppiest song she's ever written. When she warns, You run your skinny little ass down the block, I never fail to chortle like a ten-year-old boy.
8 · "2 Atoms in a Molecule" by Noah and the Whale from Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
Sometimes a single only scratches the surface of what an album has to offer. And while Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down is a "fun fun fun" album, it's really the understated opener that perfectly catches the joy and pathos of true love. If love is just a game how come it's no fun? If love is just a game how come I've never won?
7 · "I'm Good, I'm Gone" by Lykke Li from Youth Novels
I know you know this song. It's the "Young Folks" of 2008. It, quite simply, rocks. I'll totally go against what I said about Noah and the Whale...sometimes the single really is the best track on the album.
6 · "Evident Utensil" by Chairlift from Does You Inspire You
I almost put "Bruises" in this slot. A cute song yes, but nothing quite beats Caroline Polachek's wail when she asks How hard must I try for you? And to answer the question: the most evident utensil is, a pencil! The more you know...
5 · "Figured Me Out" by Jamie Lidell from Jim
The funkiest soul song of the year was made by a pasty, beat-boxing Brit based out of Berlin.
4 · "Bixby Canyon Bridge" by Death Cab For Cutie from Narrow Stairs
I'll admit that upon multiple listenings, Narrow Stairs didn't hold up enough to land on my top ten. But you've gotta admit, when it comes to opening tracks, Mr. Gibbard knows how to write 'em. (See:"Marching Bands Of Manhattan", "The New Year", "Title Track," etc....)
3 · "The Modern Leper" by Frightened Rabbit from The Midnight Organ Fight
In the trailer of my life, the romantic/action montage occurs somewhere around the two minute mark. Take note.
2 · "Ampersand" by Amanda Palmer from Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
Honesty can hurt. Sometimes music goes for the gut. "Ampersand" does both beautifully.
1 · "Kim & Jessie" by M83 from Saturdays=Youth
In five years we'll be shocked at how well this song has held up. In twenty years we'll develop time travel, go back to the eighties and awe at how relevant it sounds. In the next year we'll learn Antony Gonzales is a nostalgic song writing robot who can do no wrong.

five favorite shows

5 · Peter Morén @ the Troubador
Last day of the tour mental breakdown featuring: covers ranging from expected (Buddy Holly) to "quoi?" (Vampire Weekend, Ah Ha), stage climbing, and the dancing Coreys.
4 · Broken Social Scene @ Sunset Junction

Seventeen people on stage preforming Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl. Even technical problems can't kill that kind of magic.
3 · Jens Lekman @ Henry Fonda
Rest assured any year I see Jens he's ending up in the top five shows.
2 · Radiohead @ The Hollywood Bowl
Seeing a quarter inch tall Thom York in concert is a rite of passage.
1 · Beck and Jenny Lewis @ Club Nokia

Celebrity treatment aside (it's clearly gone to my head) you can't beat getting two talented performers together on the same stage.

the five people I'd invite to a dinner party:
Admittedly, I'm terrible at throwing dinner parties. The wine is always too cheep, food too garlicky, attendees picked with little regard for how they'll function as a group. Is it any wonder I rarely have repeat guests?

1. Ira Glass
2. Eddie Izzard
3. Sarah Vowell
4. Jens Lekman
5. Amelie Poulain

my residual regrets of 2007:

For the sake of space, I'll limit this to a music regret.
Why didn't anyone tell me Bat For Lashes was far better than her single? You're all fired.

in 2009 I might:

Get it together. Stop making fun of myself and start making fun of other people. Put the final parts of my plan for world domination into effect. Take questions like this seriously when sincerely posed in social situations. Like most things, it's a crap shoot, really.

mp3: "Grounds For Divorce" by Elbow
mp3: "Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & The Requiem Mix (live at KCRW)" by Emily Wells
mp3: "Old Old Fashioned (live at Wall)" by Frightened Rabbit
mp3: "You Figured Me Out (live on Jimmy Kimmel)" by Jamie Lidell
mp3: "Kim and Jesse (Montag mix)" by M83


David Snusgrop said...

"Too garlicky"?

No such thing!

LMS said...

Well you're clearly invited to my next party!