Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008: The Crappening (updated again on 12/28 I keep remembering things I forgot to add)

I spent a good amount of this year catching up on some of 2006 and 2007's albums that I didn't grab the first time around. 2006, in particular, was an awesome year for music. I finally listened to "The Crane Wife" by The Decemberists, "The Loon" by Tapes n Tapes and "Boys and Girls in America" by the Hold Steady. I also bought "Boxer" by the National, one of '07s best records.

Though it can't compete with the last two years, music fared better than film in 2008, and did do an OK job fulfilling its most useful purpose — distracting me from everything happening outside my front door. Some of my favorite bands released overhyped and underwhelming records (My Morning Jacket, Black Keys, Beck, Kings of Leon) but the year stayed afloat thanks to a handful of promising debuts. In fact, 2008 churned out the best crop of indie freshman in recent memory. Haunting folk by Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver hung like a thick fog, slowing down my daily chores with heavy reverb and timeless harmonies.

Vampire Weekend succeeded in reinventing the wheel, making ska and African rhythms sound fresh 25 years after art-damaged kids and popsters alike turned the same trick.

And, with the year's best singles, MGMT brought danceable Psychedelic glam-rock into dorm rooms everywhere.

Favorite albums:
1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Youtube video is the track "White Winter Hymnal"

2. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Youtube track is "Cape Cod Kwasa Kwasa"

3. Bon Iver - For Emma, forever ago
Youtube video is "Skinny Love"

4. The Walkmen - You and Me
Youtube video is "In the New Year"

5. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
Video is "Play Your part (Pt. 1)"

6. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Video is "Time to Pretend"
7. Dr. Dog - Fate
Video is "The Breeze"

8. Deerhunter - Microcastle
Video is "Agoraphobia"

9. Blitzen Trapper - Furr
Video is "Furr"

10. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
"Solute Your Solution"

11. Black Keys - Attack and Release
"I Got Mine"

12. Ponytail - Ice Cream Spiritual
"Beg Waves"

13. Hold Steady - Stay Positive
"Sequestered in Memphis"

14. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
"Dancing Choose"

15. Black Mountain - In the Future

Biggest Disappointment:
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

Moderate Disappointments:
Beck - Modern Guilt
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak
Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III
Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty

Albums yet to be fully digested that could possibly make the list:
Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
Portishead - Third
WHY? - Alopecia
Spiritualized - Songs in A and E
Magnetic Fields - Distortion
No Age - Nouns
The Knux - Remind Me in 3 Days
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

Albums I didn't even get to:
She and Him - Vol. 1
The Kills - Midnight Boom
The Bug - London Zoo
Randy Newman - Hearts and Angels
Q Tip - The Renaissance
People Under the Stairs - Fun DMC

Heralded albums that I could give two shits about:
Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair
Fucked Up - Chemistry of Common Life
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Coldplay - Viva La Vida


2007, and 2006, were probably the two strongest years of the decade for film. Last year had prestige films actually worthy of prestige in "No Country for Old Men," "There Will be Blood" and Zodiac, a comedy classic in "Superbad" and a good comedy in "Knocked Up."

2006 was worth it of not just for "Children of Men" and "Pan's Labyrinth." Admittedly, I didn't see many of this year's films, spent most of my Netflix que catching up on classic and obscure old movies. But, 2008 did have two of the strongest summer blockbusters in recent memory with "The Dark Knight" and "Wall-E." Other than that, the year was grim.

Favorite films of '08
1. Wall-E
2. The Dark Knight
3. Burn After Reading
4. Tropic Thunder

... and that's it

Best comedy that wasn't Tropic Thunder
Role Models

Biggest surprises
The Bank Job
In Bruges
The Foot Fist Way

Guilty Pleasure

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Yet to see
Slumdog Millionaire
Pineapple Express
Man on Wire


The Juice Box said...

You know what ... I didn't really like In Bruges. Liked the concept, but maybe it's just Colin Farell. I don't know. But I agree with you on movies wholeheartedly. There was nothing this year. Seriously.

As for music, you're way more indie/knowledgable of indie than me. I like to be indie, but I don't admit it because I haven't listened to enough of it and wouldn't ever want to proclaim myself an "intermediate" or "advanced" indie fan because i'd probably be castrated by depressed people everywhere ... well, you probably get what i mean.

Anyway, I love the Decemberists and liked The Crane Wife in '06. Also, Vampire Weekend is pretty awesome. I listened to their whole album while playing Tetris at my best friend's house a month ago ... it went along perfectly with the game, funny or not.

MGMT ... I don't know, I just really don't like that single. But I haven't listened to much else by them. I watched all the other YouTube videos you posted, and while I didn't know some of the bands, I really did like them.

Of the ones I haven't heard, I think Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Blitzen Trapper were my favorites. I'd definintely want to check out their whole albums.

Oh, and I don't know if you've heard of them, but Margot & The Nuclear So and So's had a pretty sweet new album. They're a fairly new band, I think. Here's a performance on Conan:

Anonymous said...

Your new heading (I guessed correctly with the dust bowl cause I like those pictures too hah) reminds me of the Cold War Kids, which, by the way, made an album I was quite happy with. and yeah, Evil Urges- massive dissapointment.

The Juice Box said...

Ohhh... I saw Hitman, too! And I will definitely agree. I tried every bit as possible not to rent it from N'Flix, but Ryan wanted to see it. So I did. And surprisingly, I kind of loved hating it. It was so bad, it was good.

Oh, and I'm glad you threw Tropic Thunder on there. I kind of forgot about it too. Great comedy.

Abby said...



As you mentioned regarding Portishead, that is one album I tried and tried and TRIED to love and just couldn't.

Also, yeah. I have a blog. It's not good, but... it's a thing.

Warped Coasters said...

Why Fleet Foxes?
First- I'm a sucker for Americana/roots music. They have it in spades, and not the just the influences you'd expect. The gospel harmonies that open the CD pretty much locked it as my favorite album of the year before I even heard any of the songs.

They pushed all of my pleasure buttons: heavy reverb on the guitars and vocals, check. Making the album I wish My Morning Jacket or Band of Horses made this year: check.

I enjoy the pastoral lyrics, especially the more abstract ones in "White Winter Hymnal" that aren't totally interpretable but provide the point anyhow.

But the main thing is totally undefendable/undescribable/intangible: I like the goddamn melodies. The melodies apeal to me, and it's nice to find something "good" that's not just Joy Division gloom, Television spiked guitars and post-punk ironisnarl. It's rare to find interesting melodies in half the music I listen to anymore, and I'll put up with a few Simon and Garfunkle overindulgences to get them.

Warped Coasters said...

none that did the album justice. whenever I wanted to to listen to something this year I almost always put on Fleet Foxes without even thinking about it, and then starting it over again once it finished.

odaniemb said...

You didn't like W because it took a somewhat objective (or so I've been told) look at GW instead of taking its turn at a jab

Warped Coasters said...

I didn't like "W" because I thought it placed too much emphasis on Daddy issues, felt at times like a made-for-TV movie and didn't really offer any new insights.

I have already read plenty of articles, opinion columns, whatever destroying Bush and his policies in an objective manor. Just as I have entertained myself with plenty of Left Wing vitriol (which I also enjoy)jabbing him with nothing but hyperbole. "W" did neither but also didn't say anything.

I walked in wanting an empathetic view of the President, because as much as I disdain his politics and ideologies, he is a human being and no man is an island.

"W" wasn't bad, and some of the conversation between Bush, Rove, Powell, etc were riveting on screen, but in the end it was all unsubstantial, rehashed and therefor a disappointment.

Warped Coasters said...

After posting long-winded rebuttals, I realize what I really meant to say:
It's fucking easy and played-out to jab Bush, so no, that's not why I was disappointed.

I wanted something interesting and relevant, and I got something half-interesting and half-relevant.