Note From Jon


Monday, December 29, 2008

Plenty of Play(s)!

No matter how I choose to interpret my New Year's resolution, 2008 was wildly successful. So successful in fact that I'm not entirely sure what I should resolve for 2009. Between reading Crossworld, Wordplay, a visit to Stamford—former home of the American Crossword Championship, and my Christmas gift subscription to the Times crossword archive, I am tempted to resolve to submit a crossword to the Times. But I've still got a couple of days to finalize my resolution (and having two punny ones last year worked out quite well so maybe I'll double down). Do I need to have some cross words with someone (or rather let them have some with me?)... yeah maybe.

While our circle of friends didn't formally continue our tradition of swapping mix CDs, I did receive the fantastic ABCD 2008 (A.B.'s CD of course), and I will once again post my own year's soundtrack to accompany the photo slideshow above (or for the resourceful—and bored—to create your own copy of my CD). One of the few things that got worse this year was my internet access at work—they blocked NPR's Discover Songs—but I still found plenty of new music listening to KEXPlorer. As a result I decided to include only songs which were released here in 2008. I believe I succeeded—with one exception that I couldn't pass up.
  1. My Year In Lists by Los Campesinos! - A fun, poppy Welsh (despite the name) band that easily had the most appropriate song for starting a Year's Best Music List.
  2. Journey of the Featherless by Cloud Cult - My band and album of the year for 2008. They score bonus points for being great live, having two artists doing realtime paintings during the show, and printing all of their CD materials in a sustainable manner. They also offer great advice if you happen to be flying anywhere: "If you ask a goose a question he never shuts up".
  3. Too Drunk to Dream by The Magnetic Fields - Another phenomenal band that I didn't discover until this year. Their 69 Love Songs is a true classic, and this pick from their Distortion album helps inject some humor to this list (and irony, since I don't drink). In addition their concert was truly magnetic for my friends as we saw AB, Melissa and Chad, and Jon Wye (who makes great belts!). One final thing that makes them great? They wrote the only song I know of about my city, Washington D.C.
  4. Old Old Fashioned by Frightened Rabbit - Serious contender to take my album of the year from Cloud Cult. I'm psyched (that's relatively Old Old Fashioned slang now) for their show next month... except that it is the night before inauguration and getting to and from the show could be an adventure.
  5. I Love the Unknown by Eef Barzelay - Made the honorable mention list last year and released a great new album in 2008 with this track as a bonus from the movie Rocket Science. The chorus was stuck in my head at various times throughout the year and particularly memorably during my Century ride as I passed mile markers 70, 80, 90 and 100 for the first time ever.
  6. Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur by Sigor Ros - While I didn't take my Recession Vacation to Iceland like I considered, I did find the new more-upbeat-than-usual album from these Icelanders.
  7. Jocasta by Noah and the Whale - Perhaps it's because the vocals reminded me of another favorite band I found this year: Neutral Milk Hotel (they haven't made new music in a decade so I'm not including them but you should listen anyway if you don't know them)
  8. Lolita by Throw Me the Statue - One of two overlaps between the ABCD and my list. Some of their songs have a hint of The Postal Service to them, which as you'll see I am clearly craving.
  9. North by North by Faded Paper Figures - I found these guys in the last few weeks and their songs remind me even more of The Postal Service. Why oh why is there not a follow-up yet!?!
  10. Oxford Comma by Vampire Weekend - Overhyped? Perhaps, but it's a fun album nonetheless and this song was wonderfully influential in my life this year.
  11. Oh My Heart by James - The best show of 2008 (even sweeter since I'd waited 14 years to see them again). Between Flight of the Conchords, The Magnetic Fields, Bishop Allen, Cloud Cult, and James all of my concert dreams came true in 2008. The only problem is that I couldn't pick a song from their album. Frankly, I'm not a huge fan of any songs on this album... but amazingly I loved those same songs live. So this song is mostly here as a placeholder and I recommend catching them on tour instead.
  12. Now by Mates of State - I thought I'd remember this band mostly from the sadly humorous experience we had losing the tickets to their concert in November, but as I reviewed some of my favorite music this year I found I loved several of their songs (without realizing it was them). I'll be much more ready to hear them when they come back around... and much more vigilant about the tickets!
  13. Little Boxes by Persephone's Bees - Supposedly there was a Mates of State recording of Little Boxes from this year but I couldn't find it, but while searching I found this version... in Russian! One of many versions recorded for one of my favorite shows I found in 2008—Weeds—when I heard them say Krasnaya (Red) I knew I had to include this version... even if it was from 2007.
  14. Vanished by Crystal Castles - The second overlap with the ABCD marks the second half of my list where I am including individual songs I enjoyed this year without necessarily getting into the band.
  15. Taking the Farm by The War on Drugs - And someone accused an Arcade Fire song I played last year of sounding like Springsteen...
  16. More Bad Times by The Presidents of the United States of America - Yes, I guess they are the same ones who made Peaches and Lump so long ago but I really like this new one... especially because it's a cover from the under-rated Ed's Redeeming Qualities.
  17. First Sight by These United States - A local band I need to investigate further... especially since they also remind me a little of The Postal Service
  18. Say Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti and Spearhead - Just a damn happy song by a favorite of mine from Def Poetry Jam.
  19. Sax Rohmer #1 by The Mountain Goats - With all the new music I've heard, these guys have one of the few sounds that I can always pick out.
  20. Tree Hugger by Antsy Pants - Can you tell I had a sickeningly sweet upbeat year? Get used to it (and check out the video link for the song)
  21. Write it all Down for You by Elliott Brood - One of the very few non-electronica songs to get a positive comment from Darren so it's got to have something going for it.
  22. Lost Coastlines by Okkervil River - Not much to say except I can't believe they actually started their show on time at 8pm... causing me to miss most of my favorite song: The President's Dead from last year's list.
  23. Where You Belong by Kael Alden - So I found this song while researching Faded Paper Figures. This was a side project for one of their day jobs for a Lexus commercial, but I really liked it so I'm closing out the list with this last favorite song I found in 2008.
Here's to 2009 finding some way to surpass 2008 :-)

1 comment:

Cold Spaghetti said...

I'm blown away by your hipster music list... but hopeful that next year, you'll have more New Orleans musicians on it!

(Two starting point suggestions: Basin Street Records and WWOZ.)