Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best New-to-Me Music of 2008

Yesterday my friend Jeffrey blogged his favorite music of 2008. He inspired me to finally blog something. Here goes.

These are things I liked in 2008. I'm sure some of them will end up being from before 2008, since I'm about as far from hip as is possible. Also, some of this is probably supposed to be lame, or only appeal to one particular group to which I don't necessarily belong, or whatever. Again, I'm not hip; I just buy what I like. Feel free to let me know how much this bothers you in the comments.

I was going to make this a list of everything I bought in 2008, since certainly that wouldn't be much of a list... but it turns out Amazon's MP3 Download system was very effective on me. I bought quite a bit this year, probably coming pretty close to the most I've ever spent on music. Kudos, Amazon.

Anyhoo, without further ado:

10. The Reminder by Feist
As you might notice going through this list, if it's in a commercial, there's a good chance I like it. It isn't that I like it because it's in a commercial; I'm a DVR addict, and usually don't realize the stuff I buy is in commercials until after I've bought it. It's just that, apparently, the kind of music people think is good for selling stuff seems to be the music I like. I know that makes me lame, but I don't care.

Feist definitely falls into that category. Her video for "1234" was a piece of single-shot coolness that bought her a long-running iPod commercial. I think I managed to see that video before finally buying the album... on Amazon, so suck it Apple!

9. Oracular Spectacular by MGMT
Something about MGMT music just makes me happy. I think it's that it sounds like they're having fun playing their songs. Or maybe it's the association with the Rock-afire Explosion YouTube videos, like the one I linked above.

8. Carnavas by Silversun Pickups
I don't get the 10 seconds of interference at the end of "Well Thought Out Twinkles," but I love absolutely everything else about this album.

7. The It Girl by Sleeper
I think this is the oldest album on my list, but I had to include it. I don't remember how I randomly stumbled on Sleeper years ago, but I fell in love with them. Last week, I found out they had an album in-between the two I owned already. I don't know how I missed it, but I had to buy it.

6. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend
They have a song about the Oxford comma (aka the serial comma), of which I am a huge advocate. Sure, they imply that I'm somehow strange for advocating Oxford commas, but their music is awesome enough that I got over their dismissiveness.

5. "Yes We Can" by will.i.am, etc
This one made the list even though, as far as I know, it isn't on any album (if you know of an album that has it, let me know; will.i.am deserves to get some cash from me for putting this together, since I've listened to it about a billion times). This video/song/speech explains in four and a half minutes why I was willing to devote so much time to getting that guy elected. The speech is beautiful, moving, and informative. Listen to it; he isn't just saying we want some glittering generality of "change" like his critics always claimed. He lays out, of course in broad brushstrokes in this few minutes, but still with a fair amount of specifics what it is we're working for. Together, we can continue to strive toward a more perfect union. Beautiful.

4. XO by Elliott Smith
I've listened to "Miss Misery" from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack many, many, many times while feeling down, and something about its sad beauty always cheered me back up. For some reason, I had never though to buy anything else buy Elliott Smith until this year. Sadly, I can't buy anything new; Elliott killed himself (probably; there's still some speculation that foul play was involved) in 2003.

3. Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow by Jonathan Coulton
The best thing about Rock Band is the new music it introduces me to. I really should have heard of Jonathan Coulton before "Still Alive" and "Skullcrusher Mountain" made it into Rock Band, but somehow I'd missed him. I've begun to rectify that with this album and the two versions of "Still Alive" from the Orange Box Soundtrack. He has a friggin' song about the Mandelbrot Set. How could I possibly not love that?

2. Costello Music by The Fratellis
Apparently the Fratellis had a song or three in commercials. Somehow I missed that until after a bartender friend played them at his bar. I went home that night and downloaded their album on iTunes; it wasn't on Amazon, so I installed iTunes and set up my iTunes Store account, because I had to own that album. Their music is just so fun.

1. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Soundtrack) by Various Artists
If you have not yet watched Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, go do so right now. I love everything about this thing. I'd heard some buzz about it before it came out, but I never expected the music to be as complex and interesting as it turned out to be. And it stars Barney Stinson, Mal, and that Guild geek chick. Could it possibly be more awesome? I don't think so.

Honorable Mention 1: "MyHope" by sweetafton23
For some reason she doesn't have an mp3 of this available yet, so I can't listen to this easily enough on repeat to figure out if I'd still love it... but I really don't have enough ukelele in my playlist. Mostly I love that people can just do this now, putting out music without a studio, let alone a label. Good stuff. Now let me give you money for your mp3!

Honorable Mention 2: "Keeping the Dream Alive" by M√ľnchener Freiheit
I still can't find an mp3 of this (in English, at least), but I actually bought two somewhat crappy covers of it earlier this year when somehow it randomly came to mind. God I love this song. I have listened to this one on repeat (back in the early 90s), but it's not at all new to me; it's just something I dug up when I realized YouTube would let me do so. Thank you, YouTube!


Jeffrey D. said...

1) I don't think I made a list in 2007, but if I did, Costello Music would have topped it. If I had made a list in 2008 of albums from 2006 that I listened to the most in 2007 and 2008, Midlake's The Trials of Van Occupanther would have topped it.

2) I had the complete Freiheit CD at one point, but I think I sold it. Everything but this song was unlistenable. It almost made me embarrassed to like this song.

3) Silversun Pickups are named after a liquor store 1/2 a mile away from me. Between here and there is the wall that served as the album cover for Elliot Smith's album Figure 8. The wall is covered in graffiti in tribute to Mr. Smith. Last year, someone spray-painted the wall with a hideous tag, but after a few months, they repainted the Figure 8 cover so the Elliot Smith fans would still have their wall. Every album before and including XO are must-haves.

4) If you haven't done so yet, please register for a Dropbox account. (http://www.getdropbox.com/). Send me your username and password, and I will create a shared folder for you. I love the pop, I love that you love the pop, and I have some stuff I think you'll really dig.

Jeffrey D. said...

... and if you ever see that Pleaseeasaur is coming to Austin, which I'm sure he must from time to time, you must see him. I will accept no excuses.


Jon the Geek said...

Hmm, I'm not in love with Pleaseeasaur from that clip...

I set up dropbox. You should get a sharing notice from them on your gmail. Thanks; I'd heard about them, but never looked into them.

Die Anyway said...

I listened to several of your selections. Not exactly my cup of tea but ok. I stopped following the music scene many years ago so I'm still stuck in the '60s and '70s but recently one of my daughters was dating the bassist for a group called Victims of Circumstance. This link has some info about their album Do It Yourself < http://www.interpunk.com/item.cfm?Item=68397& > It's Ska/Punk but I actually liked a bunch of cuts off the album and have them loaded on my mp3 player for when I'm out walking. It's not mentioned at the link I gave above but one of the cuts is Brandon's Challenge. Brandon is my daughter's friend.

Second note: I never knew that there was a specific name for the last comma in a list. I used to always use it because that's what I was taught but lately I've gotten away from using it because it looks extraneous. With the casual writing style used these days, I'm more into DIY punctuation.

Jon the Geek said...

Why I'm a serial comma advocate: "I dedicate this comment to my parents, Jeffrey D and Die Anyway." That's not nearly as clear as "I dedicate this comment to my parents, Jeffrey D, and Die Anyway."

VOC remind me of Social Distortion a bit, and that's high praise.