Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 MUSIC

I got home after midnight on New Year's Eve and decided that I was much too square and needed to buy some new music. Now that Billy Joel and Danny Elfman don't make records anymore, there are not many current bands that I keep up with. I do try to keep up with the new releases from The White Stripes, Coldplay, The Finn Brothers, and Beck. Other than that, 95% of my music is older than my kids and much of it is even older than me.

So, I spent the first few hours of the New Year researching some top 10 lists to point me towards some good contemporary music. I went to All Music and found 13 lists, which I cross-referenced, winnowing the titles down to only those that appeared on multiple lists. Next, I went to Metacritic, which has 47 lists and also a handy summary of which titles appear on mulitiple lists. They also have a list of the top reviewed albums of the year, which has little overlap with the favorite albums. I was mainly looking for music that people like and listen to, rather than just recommend and put on the shelf.

My final visit was to Rolling Stone, who have posted a list of the top 50 albums of the year. They seem to weight more towards the popular stuff rather than the avant garde or experimental. Ranking high are the new releases from Coldplay and Beck, which I will own soon enough, but not yet. I've had good luck finding those artists' previous releases at the public library so I'm willing to wait it out. I was aiming to discover new artists, and those still on the upswing rather than the established vanguard, so I discounted any bands with more than a few albums already. Of the remaining titles, I gave a listen to everybody at iTunes and then put my $100 budget to work. Here are the 2008 albums which I now own:

Dear Science by TV on the Radio - seemingly the top album of the year. Number one with a bullet at RS and one of only two albums to appear on all four sources I scoured.
Rolling Stone: 1
Metacritic: 4
Meta top: 26 of 47
AMG top: 3 of 13

Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes - the only other album to appear on all four lists. I haven't listened to it yet.
Rolling Stone: 10
Metacritic: 7
Meta top: 17 of 47
AMG top: 3 of 13

Santogold by Santogold - popular amongst some of the AMG editors. I have listened to it and like it. I can't understand the words, but I like the voice. I also like the melodies and grooves.
Rolling Stone: NR
Metacritic: NR
Meta top: 0
AMG top: 2 of 13

Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend - I recognized the name as a band that played on SNL last year. I always skip the music on that show, so it's new to me.
Rolling Stone: 6
Metacritic: NR
Meta top: 0
AMG top: 2 of 13

Third by Portishead - this sounds like good slow groove music for old guys like me. They have a fantastic reputation amongst critics. I also bought their first album, Dummy.
Rolling Stone: NR
Metacritic: 18
Meta top: 20 of 47
AMG top: 3 of 13

Midnight Boom by The Kills - wildy popular at AMG but non-existant everywhere else. I liked what I heard in the samples, so I bought it.
Rolling Stone: NR
Metacritic: NR
Meta top: 0
AMG top: 5 of 13

Robyn by Robyn - one of the top reviewed albums of the year, but nobody's favorite, maybe because it is the US release of a 2005 Swedish album. I liked the sound of it and bought the clean version.
Rolling Stone: NR
Metacritic: 11
Meta top: 0
AMG top: 0

A Little Bit Longer by Jonas Brothers - I didn't buy this, but I include it here since it made the RS list and I've been listening to it lately with Mason after finding it at the library last month. It's aimed at kids, but it's good enough that the parents won't toss it out the window.
Rolling Stone: 40
Metacritic: NR
Meta top: 0
AMG top: 0

I also purchased At Budokan by Cheap Trick (1979), which is now Mason's wake-up music entering the new year. We played Rock Band at his cousins' house over the holiday and he loves the song Hello There, which was made famous by this live album.

Now that I've got some new music, I am not only a little less of a dexter, but I've got some good grooves to enjoy during the commute to my new job (more on that soon).

5 comments:

Sir Saunders said...

This is great. You've always been the guy to introduce me to new music of different genre's that I don't normally look to. I still have Squirrel Nut Zippers and Danny Elfman CD's you made me many years ago. Thanks for this, I look forward to listening to each one. You've got an ear my friend!

Anonymous said...

Dude-

Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam...once you get by the political BS that is the band, they are absolutley one of the best bands ever. I have been to three shows and now subscribe to the website so I can get "choice" tix when they go on tour. Since Indiana voted democrat this year, they will be playing in Indy. Years past we have had to go to Ohio or Michigan to see them. AC/DC is now Cal's fav band. Jake is a huge AC/DC fan too but Cal is all about them now. I like some of the White Strips, but Jack (lead singer) is starting to do more with the Racantours (his other band). Weezer is always great (Hash Pipe, Beverly Hills, Buddy Holly, etc..). Kid Rock might be stretching it, but musically talented, the guy has only a few others that meet his level. Try out the Pearl Jam and you won't be disappointed.

Steve W.

E said...

I have to agree with Sir, everything you have ever recommended to me has been tops, from Oingo Boingo to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy to Ella Fitzgerald. The mix you made for your wedding reception should have gone platinum.

Dude said...

Wow, I hadn't realized I have exportable musical taste. I've got some Pearl Jam which I'll give a more studied listen to. I know they are important but their stuff didn't grab me right away. I do have a disc called 7 WORLDS COLLIDE on which Eddie Vedder sings with Neil Finn and I love his voice in small dosages. I'll plan a future post with more recommendations of music I listen to from all eras. It's easy to recommend Ella Fitzgerald or The Beatles, but it's The Beautiful South and Aimee Mann that you guys need to hear about. I look forward to hearing about hidden gems from you guys.

Tom said...

I have been asked how I have so much time to watch movies and read books and it must be that I don't listen to much music. Between audio books and talk radio my time in the car is spoken for. At home, I'm usually on the Internet or movies or books or sports. But I will gladly listen to any CD any of you all make for me.

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