Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - The year in rear view (my top-20 and more)

First off, congratulations for making it to 2009 everyone! For many if not most of you who peruse Wilfully Obscure, you're probably aware that this is blog is shall we say "retroactive" or even "retrofitted." That's right, the 21st century may as well have fallen victim to the Y2K "bug" in this corner of cyberspace, BUT that hardly means I'm ignoring the here and now. However it's getting pretty tough these days to find quality new bands, or the continuing progress of established acts of merit, which is perhaps subconsciously why I've dedicated Wilfully Obscure to (mostly) pre-2000 recordings.

I know, I'm so September 10th, but dammit, I'm going to go out on a limb and pronounce that 2008 was the single most disappointing year for music, at least in my lifetime...and I can only hope that it will stay that way. Assembling a top-20 list for '08 was agonizing. Excruciating even. There were many good to very good albums on my list, but the only one that I can honestly deem as exceptional was a three song ep, that comes courtesy of an unsigned Portland, OR band, The Lives of Famous Men (who amazingly have a mere eight songs in their entire recorded repertoire) . Technically, it may not even qualify given it's late December 2007 release, but chances are the tangible version of Modern Love, The Wooden Vehicle didn't make it into the hands of many people before '08.

Maybe if I still had a shift at my old college radio station, whereby I could potentially be exposed to dozens of new bands that I wouldn't hear of otherwise, I'd be more enthusiastic. If only that was the case. As a measuring stick of sorts, the latter half of my Top-20 album list would have only qualified for "honorable mention" status in any other given year. Even my old standbys like Damien Jurado, For Against, Death Cab, and The Telepathic Butterflies barely grazed the rim of the 2008 dartboard. And for those of you drooling over the likes of Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, Fucked Up, and Gaslight Anthem, sorry folks, these combos simply didn't cut the mustard, not on my hot dog anyway.

In recent years, it's often been joked that reissues have been more rewarding than new releases. For 2008, this might as well have been an empirical fact - so much so that I've created a separate top-20 for reissues, deluxe editions, and thoughtfully assembled anthologies and best-ofs. Regarding the unlikely titles on my top-20 new releases list - Metallica? A Big Drill Car tribute album? Yeah, it was that kind of year. Enjoy (or not). And make sure to check out The Lives of Famous Men.

01/02/09 - Made a few necessary revisions (just in case you're keeping track).

Top-20 releases of 2008

01. The Lives of Famous Men - Modern Love, The Wooden Vehicle ep
02. Nada Surf - Lucky
03. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Pershing
04. The Bon Mots - Forty Days and Forty Nights With the Bon Mots
05. Daysleepers - Drowned In a Sea of Sound
06. Various - And You'll Spin - a tribute to Big Drill Car
07. Lagwagon - I Think My Older Brother... ep/Joey Cape - Bridge (one and the same - sort of)
08. Ben Folds - The Way to Normal
09. Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger
10. Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
11. Stuyvesant - Linden Calling
12. The National - A Skin, A Night/Virginia ep
13. No Age - Nouns
14. Socratic - Spread the Rumors
15. Boston Spaceships - Brown Submarine
16. Cruiserweight - Big Bold Letters
17. The Spinto Band - Moonwink
18. Metallica - Death Magentic
19. The Stills - Oceans Will Rise
20. Phantom Planet - Raise the Dead

Honorable mentions:

Young Sportsmen - If You Want It
Centro-matic/South San Gabriel - Dual Hawks
Robert Pollard - Robert Pollard is off to Business
Lemuria - Get Better
Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy
The Night Marchers - See You in Magic
Bob Mould - District Line
Albert Hammond Jr. - Como Te Llama?

20 kickass reissues

01. The Replacements - back catalog ( you really expect me to type all eight of them?)
02. The Anniversary - Devil on Our Side : B-sides & Rarities
03. Various - Titan: It's All Pop (Titan Records anthology)
04. U2 - Boy/October/War/Under a Blood Red Sky
05. Portastatic - Some Small History
06. Pavement - Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition
07. Mission of Burma - Signals, Calls, and Marchers/Vs.
08. Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray (deluxe edition)
09. Hellogoodbye - s/t & Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! and More!
10. Whiskeytown - Strangers Almanac (deluxe edition)
11. Mudhoney - Superfuzz Bigmuff (deluxe edition)
12. Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool
13. Summer Suns - Greatest
14. The Nerves - One Way Ticket
14. Big Dipper - Supercluster, the Big Dipper Anthology
15. The Lines - Memory Span
16. Translator - Different Time
17. The Bats - How Pop Can You Get? (available online only at Amazon and Emusic)
18. Adam Marsland - Daylight Kissing Night: Greatest Hits
19. Apples in Stereo - Electronic Projects for Musicians
20. Classic Ruins - Lassie Eats Chickens


panzan said...

Honorable mentions:
Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy


spavid said...

Crazy, I know. I can do without some of the "techno" aspects of it, but melodically, some of the songs are pretty sophisticated. As Axl himself once quoted, "a great song can be found anywhere."

Monkey Flinging Poo said...

God, that GnR album sucks beyond belief. I found plenty of music the past year that I enjoyed (mostly caught up with it at the end of the year), but what struck me was how little innovation is out there. Maybe little strides were made that I'll notice down the line. Dunno.

heyadamo said...

Under reissues, you should check out the Cold Fact album from Rodriguez. Very of its time, and yet doesn't seem too dated. Also, the guy sounds a LOT like Bob Pollard every now and then...

Unknown said...

Lucky by Nada Surf was a great album. Think you can post the Young Sportsmen's If You Want It on your blog? thanks.