Thursday, January 1, 2009

Albums I wish I'd listened to more in 2008:

1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Hailing from Wisconsin (just like me!), Bon Iver topped many lists this year with the album "For Emma, Forever Ago." Sadly, I was not able to honestly include it in my Best of '08 list because I did not listen to it. I'm not sure how I managed to overlook this sleepy gem for so long, actually. Its title practically screams "pick me up and love me, Ashley!" and I will usually listen to Jagjaguwar releases because they have a track record of being awesome. I suppose I let all the critical acclaim psych me out which happens a lot and is why I have never seen Napoleon Dynamite. Sometimes I'm just stubborn to be stubborn (see British TV entry).

So anyway, Bon Iver is super awesome. Justin Vernon has an amazing voice that blends in flawlessly with the delicate, sweet, quasi-nostalgic, kinda sleepy sounding music.

Random trivia: according to wikipedia (so you KNOW it's true), "the name, Bon Iver, is an Anglicization of the French "bon hiver" (good winter)."

2. Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

I listened to a LOT of the Mountain Goats this year. According to LastFM, they were #8 on my overall 2008 charts, even above the Black Kids, which should tell you something. But I did not hear "Heretic Pride" until today simply because I didn't know it existed. This is VERY sad. I feel like I have a pretty good sense of what's going on in the indie rock world (despite what this list suggests) and I still managed to completely miss this album, which has been out since mid-February. Alas.

In my defense, John Darnielle has such an amazing and extensive back catalog (15 other albums) that it would be neigh impossible to listen to them all and appreciate an entire new CD in just 365 days. Additionally, while it's a very solid album and definitely worth owning, "Heretic Tree" didn't seem to break any new ground, sonically. Even so, "Heretic Tree" will almost assuredly keep the Mountain Goats in my charts for another year.

Random Trivia: According to Pitchfork Media, "the album takes its title from from Aura Noir's song "Black Deluge Night" (found on their 2004 album The Merciless) which contains the couplet 'Soaring demons now swarm the skies/ In awe and heretic pride.'"

3. Antony and the Johnsons - Another World EP

Listening to Antony and the Johnsons makes me feel like a more rounded person because it's not the traditional indie rock that I usually listen to. Actually, it reminds me a lot of Cocorosie which, come to think of it, is actually pretty par for the course with me, but I digress.

Whereas I had heard positive things about Antony and the Johnsons, it wasn't until WLUW received the EP "Another World" that I actually sat down and listened to the band. The songs on the EP are quirky, beautiful and artistic. It's pretty awesome. Fortunately, Antony and the Johnsons have a new full-length album coming out in January entitled "The Crying Light" so I don't have long to wait. According to wikipedia "Antony has described the theme of the album as being 'about landscape and the future.'"

Random Trivia: Their early live shows were often opened by Dr. Julia Yasuda, an intersex person, who performed the welcome in Morse code.

4. The Foals - Antidotes

There were so many Sub Pop bands on my Best of 2008 list that it's not surprising I may have overlooked one or two releases. I also listened to a lot of dancey-dance music this year so I may have just been overloaded on that. However, I really don't have an excuse for not picking up "Antidotes" after being thoroughly impressed by them at Lollapalooza this summer. Additionally, I'm 90% sure I saw the singer on Never Mind the Buzzcocks (s21e10 - see British TV entry) and he was vaguely funny (I think). So I really, really should have listened to more of their music which is something I shall strive to remedy in the coming year.

Random Trivia: Childhood friends Jack and Yannis were previously in a cult math rock band named The Edmund Fitzgerald but this was disbanded after they claimed that things had become "too serious" and they wanted to have more "fun making their music."

5. Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer

My roommate Sarah brought my attention to Amanda Palmer when the whole controversy over her belly erupted. It is best explained by her on her blog. After reading it, my opinion of Amanda Palmer increased tenfold. At least. And so even though I'd previously written off her work with the Dresden Dolls because of their association with bands like Panic at the Disco I thought I'd give her a try. And wow. Amanda Palmer is one sassy broad with the most dramatic delivery I've heard in awhile. And she has wit, too. It's pretty awesome.

"Who needs love when there's Southern Comfort?" Indeed.

Random Trivia: The title is a play on an expression used by fans during Twin Peaks' original run, "Who killed Laura Palmer?"

7. CSS - Donkey

I bought this album when it came out and then just didn't listen to it. Having seen them live recently, I really wish I could find my copy. Alas. But anyway, CSS had an awesome debut album and I had heard "Donkey" was no match for it. This was enough to make me hesitant to listen to it. This happens to me a lot. I really need to stop reading reviews before a record drops. Also "Donkey" came out in July when I was busy with shows and hated my job (and its anxiety) so even though it may well have cured my ills through dance, I just wasn't ready to see the light at the time. Mea culpa.

Random Trivia: Their name was taken from a reported quote by Beyoncé, who allegedly declared that she was "tired of being sexy."

8. Noah and the Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down

Yeah, OK, so they had that big song in that one commercial this year. Noah and the Whale are very catchy, very poppy and just very much fun. Thanks to Sarah and bands like Los Campesinos! and the Lucksmiths 2008 was my year of "hooray twee!" And this band reminds me of the Boy Least Likely To, which is a twee band, I think. So I should have listened to "Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down." But I did not.

Random Trivia: Their name is a marriage of the title of one of the band's favourite films, The Squid and the Whale, and the director of said film's name (Noah Baumbach).

9. Rise Against - Appeal to Reason/Rancid - B Sides and C Sides


I've been discussing punk with a kid at work recently and it kind of makes me wish I was still a freshman in college doing a radio program with Menguin. I went to a lot of fun shows back then, moshed a little (I know...right?!) and generally had a really good time. Sure, towards the end there were very few good new releases and had I continued I may have developed a liking for Fueled by Ramen/Decaydance bands (*SHUDDER*)...but in the heyday of my youth I got to interview Tim from Rise Against and he was pretty cool. I also remember memorizing Rancid lyrics months before ever actually hearing any of their songs. I was (and remain) a huge dork. So, I will still probably get around to listening to these albums eventually. And I may even enjoy them.

Random Trivia: The acoustic version of "Swing Life Away" by Rise Against is the prettiest song on earth. For real. and

10. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash

I've known people who were very enamored of Stephen Malkmus. And they have inspired me to WANT to be likewise taken in. But then I get distracted by other shiny things like Los Campesinos! or the Black Kids. Anyway, the band was awesome when I saw them with John Vanderslice (side story: I really wanted to see John Vanderslice and so got tickets for that show and later learned Stephen Malkmus was playing the same day in town and was sad because I thought seeing John Vanderslice meant missing Stephen et al. And then I learned they were playing together and I felt soooo happy. And kind of dumb.) and someday soon I really am going to listen to this album which will hopefully inspire me to listen to his others and then revisit Pavement's discography.

Random Trivia: The album is the Jicks' first to feature Quasi and former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss.

1 comment:


srsly gurl you MISSED OUT by not listening to Donkey. One of the very best albums of the year no doubt.