Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Today marks the end of 2008.  A year filled with excitement in sports and politics, frustration in our economy and our investment institutions, shock and awe at our international stage, and curiosity in how the end of our first decade of the new millennium will be.

Sheesh that's a long sentence.  What did I spend my time doing in 2008?  Among a lot of things, I collected a lot of music.  To me, 2008 ushers in a new chapter in popular music.  The very idea of what popular music is to Americans has changed dramatically in the last five years.  The major record labels are challenged every day as new bands emerge from small independent labels and people all over the globe consume music for free on pirate radio and digital downloading sites.

In addition to this loss of financial control, mainstream media struggles to stay on top of what is "cool" and "hip" since musical hits are as viral and short lived as youtube videos and political soundbytes (listen to Helio Sequence's song "Can't Say No".  As our world shrinks and technology continues to open doors to other cultures, many of us hear a new kind of popular music that has been fused with as many cultural outlets as artists have had time to explore.  

For proof just listen to these 2007 releases:
Tinariwen -  "Aman Iman: Life is Water" 
or the multi-cultural ensemble, L'Orchestra Di Piazza Vittorio

And so, it is my belief that today's popular music is slowly melting away and becoming fragmented into a wonderful myriad collection of sounds and experiences that will change on a daily basis. 

In tribute to all you listeners of music out there.  I have decided to make a list of what I think is the top 25 records of this year (of what I had time to listen to!!!).  I surely hope it reflects the direction America is heading as we dive head first into a new direction come 2009.

These will be in no particular order because that's just impossible.

  • The Helio Sequence - "Keep Your Eyes Ahead"
  • Raphael Saadiq - "The Way I See It" (GREAT throwback to Motown's roots, AND it's fresh)
  • Santogold - "Santogold" (Philly raised, Brooklyn resident with talent)
  • Rodriguez - "Cold Fact" (re-released from 1970 to much acclaim... own a copy please)
  • MGMT - "Oracular Spectacular" (A hipster mecca for '08.  It's pretty darn good)
  • Fleet Foxes - "Fleet Foxes" (think shape note singing meets indie-folk rock)
  • Department of Eagles - "In Ear Pink"
  • Born Ruffians - "Red, Yellow & Blue" (Knee jerking music like Tokyo Police Club)
  • Bon Iver - "For Emma, Forever Ago" (Talk about a heart-ripping break up, am I right?)
  • Little Joy - "Little Joy" (Brazilian/American rock band formed by Los Hermanos singer/guitarist Rodrigo Amarante and The Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti.  Good stuff)
  • TV on the Radio - "Dear Science" (Wonderful followup to their acclaimed breakthrough album "Return to Cookie Mountain")
  • El Guincho - "Alegranza" (Simliar to L'Orchestra Di Piazza Vittorio, but with a heavy Latin influence)
  • No Age - "Nouns" (Experimental post punk group that owns your ears)
  • Pop Levi - "Never Never Love" (It's extra poppy)
  • Delta Spirit - "Ode to Sunshine" (San Diego's "hybrid of rock and northern soul."  Unsigned and waiting for some love, people!)
  • King Khan & the Shrines - "The Supreme Genius Of" (Indie group that, for some reason, makes me thing of Madness and Joe Cocker)
  • Buika - "Niña de Fuego" (With a wispy, yet silky voice.  Concha Buika sings wonderful Copla music)
  • Deerhunter - "Microcastles" (As per request, I listened to them and they are now on my list)
  • The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely (White rocks my world.  Uncompromisingly)
  • The Ruby Suns - "Sea Lion" (Three Kiwis make indie pop sound Hawaiian)
  • Brazilian Girls - New York City (Brazilian? nope.  Great blend of different musics)
  • Sigur Ros - "Með suð I eyrum við spilum endalaust" (Icelandic band does it again!)
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno - "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today" (Talking Heads mastermind and the father of ambient music come together and make an aural spectacle)
  • Grupo Fantasma - Sonidos Gold (Latino especial! Para un sabor)
  • Vampire Weekend - "Vampire Weekend" (If you like Paul Simon's Graceland...)
2008 best electronica/dance records
  1. The Black Ghosts - "The Black Ghosts"
  2. Hot Chip - "We Were Made In the Dark"
  3. Ratatat - "LP3"
  4. Hercules & Love Affair - "Hercules & Love Affair"
  5. Friendly Fires - "Friendly Fires"(UK group that draws in a lot of dance roots.  We're talking Michael Jackson, Prince, Saturday Night Fever)
  6. M83 - "Saturdays = Youth"
Honorable lists to check:

Kitsune Noir (SoCal artist/designer.  Bobby
 Solomon is a formidable force in new things to experience)
Darrick Thomas (image below) (Friend, Confidant, Fellow Music Comrade)

Allmusic (they are so friggin' trustworthy and therefore so friggin' frustrating)
All Songs Considered (Public radio is especially applicable to this list)

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