Here are the liner notes from this year’s CD (for those who don’t speak German, “Zweitausendacht” means “Two thousand eight”).
1. Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies
Biffy Clyro, Puzzle (2007)
I love the extended buildup at the beginning of this song. A textbook study of the musical principles of tension and release
2. Supernatural Superserious
R.E.M., Accelerate (2008)
R.E.M. shows they can still rock the house.
3. Scar That Never Heals
Jeremy Fisher, Goodbye Blue Monday (2007)
This catchy tune came from a set of Paste magazine CDs that our friend Kevin lent to us.
4. Buildings & Mountains
The Republic Tigers, Keep Color (2008)
Every week the iTunes store gives away two or three tracks for free. Most are free for a reason, but I find enough gems to make it worth a weekly visit.
5. Electric Feel
MGMT, Oracular Spectacular (2007)
Dance pop, art rock- whatever you call it, it’s pretty fun. Also recommended: Time to Pretend
Monareta, Picotero (2008)
I dare you to listen to this song without tapping your foot, nodding your head, or drumming your fingers. I dare you.
7. Everyday It’s 1989
Moby, Last Night (2008)
Flashbacks of Moby’s Play album from 1999 (not 1989). Also recommended: I Love to Move in Here, The Stars.
8. Brandy Alexander
Feist, The Reminder (2007)
Female alternative-pop singer with a great voice. Also recommended: Sealion, 1234.
9. Fortune Teller
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (2007)
Talk about mellowing with age… Plant occasionally, very occasionally, shows flashes of Led Zeppelin-style wailing. But for the most part this is a far more subtle album. It took more than my usual three listens to really feel the nuances, but it was definitely worthwhile. Also recommended: Please Read the Letter.
10. Impossible Germany
Wilco, Sky Blue Sky (2007)
SONG OF THE YEAR
Hands down my favorite song of the year. I’ve never particularly been a fan of Wilco, and my most recent foray into their back catalog yielded little to interest me. Sky Blue Sky, however, has this distinctive guitar warble that burrows deep into your ears. It doesn’t hurt, honest.
My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges (2008)
MMJ has been critically acclaimed on their last few albums. “America’s Radiohead,” opined one critic. I’ve been slow to jump on the bandwagon, and this year was no exception. I listened to Evil Urges three times, and came away with the impression that this CD was uneven, with some good songs and some stinkers. A funny thing happened though, as I was reviewing my new music from the past year. One MMJ song after another moved onto my candidate list. The album is growing on me and if 2008 were another three months longer, would be a candidate for album of the year.
12. Du Är För Fin För Mig
Dungen, Ta Det Lugnt (2004)
My cousin Laura turned me onto this psychedelic rock group. Don’t bother trying to understand the lyrics- unless you speak Swedish. A Swedish colleague assures me that the song title means “You’re too good for me.” What matters to me is that after the soothing (melancholy?) intro, the blistering guitar solo in the second half of the song translate to “shred.”
13. The State of Massachusetts
Dropkick Murphys, The Meanest of Times (2007)
Bang your empty Guinness glass on the bar and order another one- this party’s not over.
14. Shady Grove
Mudcrutch, Mudcrutch (2008)
“I’m getting the band back together,” Tom Petty said in 2008, but it wasn’t the Heartbreakers he had in mind. It was Mudcrutch, Tom Petty’s first band. They were good enough to get a record contract the first time around, but broke up before they could record. Tom plays bass, not guitar, on this country rock album.
15. One for the Cutters
The Hold Steady, Stay Positive (2008)
Do not miss a chance to see them live. Do. Not. Also recommended: Sequestered in Memphis, Both Crosses
16. Ruby Room
Foxboro Hottubs, Stop Drop And Roll!!!! (2008)
The Foxboro Hottubs sound like Green Day with a retro feel. This is because the Foxboro Hottubs are Green Day with a retro feel.
17. All I Need
Radiohead, In Rainbows (2007)
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Need I say more? Also recommended: Faust Arp, Reckoner, House of Cards, Jigsaw Falling Into Place, and all of the other songs on the album.
Laura Veirs, Saltbreakers (2007)
A soft and quiet ending to this year’s CD.
Alas, CDs only hold 80 minutes of music (although I won’t rule out the possibility that some of you may be celebrating at this point). Here are some other songs that I really liked, but that didn’t fit.
Finger Eleven, Them vs. You vs. Me (2007)
Most of the music my friend Michael listens to makes my ears bleed. This one doesn’t.
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (2008)
People Have A Way
matt pond PA, Last Night (2007)
Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe
Okkervil River, The Stage Names (2007)
Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling)
Youssou N’dour, Rokku Mi Rokka (2007)
I’ve been experimenting with African music this year.
Debbie Harry, Necessary Evil (2007)
Yes- that Debbie Harry. You can hear African influences in this song as well.
Steve Winwood, Nine Lives (2008)
Gran Ronde, Secret Rooms (2008)
Another iTunes song of the week.
Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2
My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges (2008)
Sorry, I couldn’t help adding one more track. This is actually my favorite from the album, but too long to fit on the CD.