Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Best Records of 2008 (Part Two)

11. Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life

A breezy mix of swing, shuffles, style and energy. See 'Hank Williams Senior' related artists.

12. Jonny Greenwood - There Will Be Blood (OST)

This unearthly, beautiful score adopts a personal language and in the process creates an entirely new dimension of the film experience.

13. Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

Other than a couple of tracks, this is my first 'real' exposure to David Berman's Silver Jews. Vocally, he reminds me a little of Johnny Cash but that's where it ends. As a lyricist, he may be one of the best going.

14. Calexico - Carried To Dust

While not quite as good as previous efforts, Calexico find themselves re-exploring and expanding older ideas.

15. Brent Cash - How Will I Know If I'm Awake

Impeccably arranged, this slice of 'Bacharach-esqe' sunshine pop sounds like it could've been cut four decades ago. Should Brent's lyrics ever catch up to his ear for sonics, he could end up seated alongside the greats in the pantheon of pop wizardry.

16. Sun Kil Moon - April

More than a few good songs here, but nothing startlingly different. Overall, a little long for my tastes.

17. Army Navy - Army Navy

Oh sweet jangle, it's Davy Jones fronting a watered down version of Teenage Fanclub. More than a few 'highly' infectious melodies.

18. The Botticelli's - Old Home Movies

The debut release from San Francisco's Botticelli's is an easy to listen to, 60's flavored, California in the summer, pop record.

19. Benoit Pioulard - Temper

While a thematic connection is lost in the process, I do connect with his unique musical language that's part finger-picking, part noise and space, part lonesome frontier folk.

20. She and Him - Volume One

Zooey Deschanel (vocalist/songwriter) teams up with M. Ward to create a smart, nostalgic record full of classic pop & country melodies. While there's nothing new or original here, the record wreaks of charm. Bring on Volume two.

Records of Note :
Chad van Gaalen - Soft Airplane
The Felice Brothers - The Felice Brothers
The Broken West - Now or Heaven
Catfish Haven – Devastator
Black Mountain - In The Future
Lenine – Labiata
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
Beck - Modern Guilt
Todd Snider - Peace Queer
Will Quinlan & The Diviners - Navasota
Prima Donna - After Hours

Props to :
Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs - The Bootleg Series Vol.8
Neil Young - Sugar Mountain (live at Canterbury House)

Biggest Disappointment of 2008 :

Marah – Angels of Destruction

Anytime Marah releases a new record, it's a cause for celebration. That's how big a fan I am. What we have here are a couple of good songs and a barely enormous, merely huge, disapppointment.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best Records of 2008

01. Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark

This sprawling two-record set is a near perfect snapshot of people living life on America's margins.

02. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes/Sun Giant

I was so taken by their 'beard' inducing performance at San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill in June of this year, I traveled up to Portland in late July to see'em at The Doug Fir. In between shows I did find time to actually listen to the record - again, again and again. While I do prefer them in a live settting (the execution of their four-part harmonies are as good as I've ever heard), I find the record to be just short of perfection. What we have is a group of guys that use cross-pollination of sound to the fullest - folk, gospel, choral, rock and what the pundits like to call,"baroque harmonic pop." Musically, they're a modern day Band. Vocally, along the lines of CSNY & The Beach Boys. As for the MMJ/Band of Horses comparisons, I don't hear it. While the utilization of a piece of outboard gear (reverb) can create vibe and atmosphere, it will not write songs for you.

A classic for the new age.

03. The Dexateens - Lost and Found

Proficient, inspired, Southern garage rock. It’s not an exaggeration to say that they just might turn into one of the next great rock 'n' roll bands.

04. Peter Bruntnell - Peter and the Murder of Crows

Terrific, sparse arrangements. Bruntnell’s voice is his second finest asset, second only to his songwriting.

05. Hayden - In Field and Town

Cutting, poignant and spiteful, Hayden's conversational, wistful voice can make anything sound authentic.

06. The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave

With his ramshackle delivery, nimble fingerpicking, and whimsical lyrics, you get a sense that the Tallest Man on Earth has spent a lot of time absorbing Harry Smith's Anthology of Folk Music and The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

07. Robert Pollard - Is Off To Business

As the first full release for his new record label, Guided by Voices, Inc., this record is the start of a new era and if it's a sign of what’s to come, then Pollard’s long-time fans should rejoice.

08. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

A focused collection of rustic, freewheeling tracks that sound like the lovechild of The Dead and The Kinks.

09. Dungen - 4

Swedish revivalists, 'DOONG-un', continue to make genuinely great psychedelic music that seems to go relatively unnoticed.

10. Chris Mills - Living in the Aftermath

For fans of songcraft, hooks and flat out rock 'n' roll. I still wonder how in the hell no one knows who Chris Mills is.

The Best Records of 2008 (Part Two to follow)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Teenage Fanclub News

I expect to hear any day now that The Fannies new record is in the can. I'm very excited about this and wanted to share.

Norman Blake - Mon Oct 20, 2008

We've nearly finished our new record. Still a couple of vocals to do, and the final mixes. We'll have it completed by the end of November.

Teenage Fanclub began work on a new record with Nick Brine producing in late August at Leeders Farm which is located in Norfolk, just outside of London. Brine was also the producer for Teenage Fanclub's last record, Man-Made, which was released on Merge Records in '05. Back in the fold will be original drummer Francis Macdonald. Francis first appeared on TFC's debut record Catholic Education and most recently came back on Man-Made. No word on whether the new record will be another Merge release, but it's early yet.