Search results for ‘ graceland - 5 hit

Greats of 2008, part 4

Here we are at last – my favorite music of 2008. Like one of my comrades in music inspection, this was a hard one. I think it was a great year for music, in the sense that I liked and purchased a lot of albums. More than any other year, probably. But there were no real stand out obvious choices, except for my top one. But even then, it wasn’t like Sufjan Stevens or Midlake where I listened to the album every day and memorized the whole thing. Or maybe I’m just too old for that now.

10. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer: Although I’ve hardly listened to the second half of this album, the songs that are good are really innovative, and deserve recognition here. [For whatever that's worth.] I never paid attention to this band until I heard “Call It a Ritual” with its off-kilter piano this year and immediately loved it. These guys make great hooks with a mean guitar. I listened to Apologies to the Queen Mary to make up for lost time, but it felt empty to me. Still, I predict that Wolf Parade have a long and varied career.

9. Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs, The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: The last decade or so of Dylan’s career has seen a resurgence of his talent finally. Was it really gone or was he just putting his energy into something none of us understood (his Christianity and desire for shitty production)? Anyway, this set makes his voice sound great and showcases his amazing band. They are so tight, which from what I understand, is diffcult to do with Dylan. Greatest songwriter ever, so shutup you hipster haters.

8.  Sam Phillips – Don’t Do Anything: I’d never heard of this chick until Bob Boilen was gabbing about her Tiny Desk Concert at NPR. From what I read, I thought I wouldn’t be interested, but my gut told me to give it a try. Boy am I glad I have a smart gut. The sound of this album is really surprising — it’s just as full of distortion as the Magnetic Fields were in January, and the songwriting is almost of equal caliber. This was my biggest, and happiest, surprise of 2008 for sure. She’s certainly not for the hardcore hipsters though.

7. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend: To be fair, I’d probably put this one higher if not for all the hype and subsequent backlash. Yeah, I can ride a bandwagon with the best of ‘em. But really, this is a clever album with sounds pop music hasn’t heard since Paul Simon’s Graceland. I’m hoping they’ll grow up with their next album, stop talking about the east coast and college, and even ditch the Afropop. They’ve got real potential. But they’ll probably just break up. Or pretend not to like The Strokes.

6.  Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue: She does it again, though in an only slightly less country way. She’s sly with her songs — you really need to pay attention. Ditch Rilo Kiley, Jenny, you’re better without them.

5. Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid: This was my favorite album for a really long time, and I’m glad it won the Mercury Prize. But then suddenly all the sentimentality lost its luster, and I think a lot of it had to do with the totally lame video for “The Bones of You“, an otherwise brilliant song. Now I’m turned off by it, but I predict that it will become meaningful again in the future.

4. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago: I already included this in my Lists of 2007, but it deserves another highlight here. I’m so happy that Justin Vernon has made such a splash around the world with this gorgeous album. MOJO even interviewed him at home in Eau Claire (where I lived during college for 4.5 years)! And he’s following it up with an EP next month, so keep your ears peeled.

3.  Department of Eagles – In Ear Park: I can’t understand why this album is missing from so many lists this year. I’ve liked Grizzly Bear (both featuring Daniel Rossen), but never got as obsessed with Yellow House or Friend as I did this one. The soundscape on this album is miraculous. It’s what Brian Wilson wished That Lucky Old Sun could sound like. Heavenly…

2. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges: Screw you, haters of this album. I love that the sounds are all over the place. I love that it’s overproduced in spots (that’s the only time you’ll ever hear me say that). I love the proggy sound (again, that’s the only time you’ll hear me say that). This album had nothing going for it in terms of my musical taste. But every song is amazing because Jim James knows how to sing, play guitar, and write fine songs. It’s as simple as that. It’s the Revolver of 2008. I hope MMJ make their Sgt Pepper next year.

1. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes & Sun Giant [EP]: Best newish band of the year. Best live act for me. Best songs. Part Shins, part Midlake, all Northwest, pastoral, bearded goodness. While I was in Oregon earlier this year, driving through deep woods, my mind’s soundtrack kept repeating “White Winter Hymnal“. Absolutely perfect.

Best of 2007

Here they are, all in one tidy place, sans commentary: all those lists I kept posting for like two weeks.

Musical Disappointments

Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
White Stripes – Icky Thump
The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
Interpol – Our Love to Admire

Favorite Shows

St. Vincent @ Fine Line
Bruce Springsteen @ Xcel
The National @ Fine Line
Heartless Bastards @ 400 Bar
Retribution Gospel Choir @ Turf Club
Arcade Fire @ Roy Wilkens
Loud +2 @ 400 Bar
The Redwalls @ Triple Rock
Liars @ State Theatre
Andrew Bird @ First Ave & Guthrie

Music Videos

Best: Ayo Technology – 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake
Worst: Wait for You – Elliott Yamin

Duh, Stacia

Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Lou Reed – Transformer
Olivia Tremor Control
Jens Lekman
The National
M. Ward
Heartless Bastards – All this Time
Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt
Paul Simon – Graceland

Most Underrated

The 1900s

Still Discovering

John Vanderslice – Emerald City
Augie March – Moo, You Bloody Choir
Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation
Thurston Moore – Trees Outside The Academy
Devendra Banhart – Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters

Noble Attempts

Albums that weren’t quite my favorites.

Okkervil River – The Stage Names
Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris
Rufus Wainwright – Release the Stars
Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
St. Vincent – Marry Me
Neil Young – Chrome Dreams II
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Paul McCartney – Memory Almost Full
Albert Hammond Jr. – Yours to Keep
Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Joan as Policewoman – Real Life
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Favorite Releases

Two albums were tied for first place.

1. I’m Not There Original Soundtrack
1. The National – Boxer

Radiohead – In Rainbows
PJ Harvey – White Chalk
Neil Young – Live at Massey Hall
Yoko Ono – Yes I’m a Witch
Tori Amos – American Girl Posse
Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – Once soundtrack
Alison Krauss & Robert Plant – Raising Sand
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
Rufus Wainwright – Rufus Does Judy Live at Carnegie Hall
Bruce Springsteen – MagicBest

Lists of 2007 – Part 3

Isn’t drawing this whole list thing out over days, and now another week, bringing the antici…pation level to HOTT? No, you say? Forgive me, as I am not the blogger who shoots my load in one measly post. Think of this as tantric listing. Mmmm…

As promised, here is my list of musicians who went under my radar until 2007. This is where you get to see how uncool I really am (just don’t tell anyone).

Duh, Stacia

Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator): I suppose I’ve always liked Gillian Welch. Since the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack, she’s been in the back of my mind as someone to check out further. It wasn’t until I saw a Harry Smith documentary and saw Beth Orton that I really checked out Welch. Orton only made me want to hear Welch…it was weird.

Lou Reed – Transformer: This is a major duh. Again, I love the Velvet Underground, dig Bowie from around that time, and I know that I heard heard the album before I got really into it. I’m not sure what changed. Lou Reed is a very peculiar songwriter. He verges on being really bad, I think (he uses “nose” as a cheap rhyme three times on the album). Maybe that’s what makes him so awesome. P.S. Why doesn’t Bowie produce anymore?

Olivia Tremor Control: I was too busy either liking other things (Madonna, most likely) in the 1990s to pay much attention to Olivia Tremor Control. Luckily, someone pretty much forced me to listen to “Black Foliage: Volume one” and I fell in love. Or maybe I had to hear and love “Pet Sounds” and “SMiLE” first to really appreciate OTC. Yummy pop goodness all around.

Jens Lekman: A hunky, straight Stephen Merritt. I knew the Swedes wouldn’t let me down. El Perro Del Mar, a Swedish lady I first heard about this year as well, totally separately, also sings on his latest album. Go Swedes! Am I seriously the only one who doesn’t like “Night Falls On Kordela”?

The National: They haven’t been around for that long, but they have a few albums and I completely missed the buzz about “Alligator” the year before. I feel like such a poseur.

M. Ward: Like Lou Reed, Ward’s got a very simple approach to songwriting in terms of lyrics, but the guitar mastery is unlike other guitarists out there in indie or alt-country today. I have no idea why I avoided the buzz around “Post-War” when it came out last year, but I totally regret it.

Heartless Bastards – All this Time: See this post about me seeing this awesome band live.

Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt: Thanks to a new DVD set and his entire catalog re-released this year, I became acquainted with this album, which I always assumed was filled with synthy yuckiness. Turns out I was only half right (there is some yuckiness, but generally not synth-related). The song “This One” (Rhapsody player needed) was extraordinary to me. It sounded like something off “Chaos and Creation” in its honesty. It stuck in my head for weeks, and began to effect some decisions. Turns out the whole albums isn’t all that bad, considering the time and the artist involved. Turns out all those crazy Paul fans were right — this is one of his better efforts, and certainly the best from the 1980s. Check out “Distractions” (Rhapsody player needed) as well.

Paul Simon – Graceland: The song “Graceland” kept coming up throughout 2007. I can’t really explain it. Again, this was one of those, like Gillian Welch, but even more so, that I was totally conscious of but never really bothered with. I clearly remember seeing Simon perform “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” on SNL. That and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” performances are two of my best SNL musical memories, and both really impacted me. I have a copy of MTV’s best of Unplugged compilation, featuring “Graceland” and I would always rewind it. Still, I can’t listen to that song only once. But like “Flowers in the Dirt”, “Graceland” (which is a year older), has some 1980s lameness, which I am generally most unforgiving of. But I’m learning to hear past the lameness, and it’s expanding my horizons in a major way. There’s no looking back now. Flock of Seagulls, here I come!

Stick around for the Most Underrated Band Award and Still Discovering List coming soon!

I’m Doing It

I’ve decided to write a novel.

Not just any novel. I’m writing a NaNoWriMo novel.

That’s right. I’ve signed up to write a craptastic 50,000-word novel in November. I think my biggest problem (other than physically being able to sit at my computer long enough to force that much output) will be not editing. I’m sure this is a common issue. I edit text as I read it even — any text. Novels, non-fiction, instructions, blog posts, etc. I can’t help myself. I can’t let go.  I’m a better editor than writer.

Still, I think I have it in me. My inspiration is Paul Simon’s lyrics, namely, “Graceland“. That song in particular has so many snippets of stories that can be elaborated upon. His songs were about isolation, loneliness and life as an artist long before Thom York came along. And I love art inspired by art, or reactions to other pieces of art. Like Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible”. It’s the new thing, kids.

I’m excited! Now I just have to stick to it.

Music makes the people come together

Isn’t music great? It will never cease to amaze me how much music can move me and get right under my skin. Here’s what I’ve been listening to obsessively lately:

The National: This is my new favorite band. “Boxer” and “Alligator” make me wonder how I went through life without those two albums. I’ve rewound two or three songs in particular from each album fervently. From “Boxer” (the latest album) these repeatable songs are “Fake Empire”, “Slow Show” and “Apartment Story”. “Slow Show” nearly turns me into one of those obsessive fans who thinks the singer is singer directly to them:

You know I dreamed about you
for twenty-nine years before I saw you
You know I dreamed about you
I missed you for
for twenty-nine years

And from “Alligator” I’m addicted to “Karen” and “Mr. November”. The later includes the mantra “I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders”. Who thinks of that? I’m impressed.

Paul Simon’s “Graceland”: I downgraded my cable to Standard/Basic only after I finally recorded the Classic Albums episode featuring this album. The album as a whole is not something I crave, but “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”, “The Boy in the Bubble”, “You Can Call Me Al” and of course, the brilliant “Graceland” are enough to designate this as an album classique. I even rewound the ten or so minutes Paul and others spent discussing the origins and recording of the song “Graceland”, how “I’m going to Graceland” was a throwaway line through most of the recording session. The riff always gives me chills which are amplified by this line,

She comes back to tell me she’s gone/As if I didn’t know that/As if I didn’t know my own bed/As if I’d never noticed/The way she brushed her hair from her forehead.

That line is absolutely perfect to me, and is indicative of Paul Simon’s casual, yet perfectly phrased, style. He says it’s his best song, and I agree.

My senior year of high school was soundtracked by Simon & Garfunkel’s greatest hits (and “Jesus Christ Superstar”), particularly “America.” That song and “Graceland” are very similar to me, not only because they are about roadtrips in the USA (and the metaphors that go with that kind of story), but they showcase how Paul Simon is one of the best songwriters for telling the truth. He simply says it like it is, and it turns out to be poetry.

What have you been listening to lately?