Monday, January 12, 2009

Great World of Sound: My Fav Music of '08

Part 1

I find myself being more and more selective about the music I buy. It's not for lack of good music- in fact, my acquisition of XM radio last year opened up the vessels of available music in ways too many to count- but I find myself sticking more closely to the tried and true artists before branching out to new ones. Granted, the mosaic YouTube is probably one of the most fascinating avenues for research of music than anything before (if only most of the clips weren't crappy live performances from a handheld phone), and for this music lovers should rejoice. Still, I purchased about 15 new cd's this year, and I can say that half of them were pretty great. In order of preference, here are my fav albums of the year:

10. The Black Crowes- "Warpaint"

Either you like the laid back southern-rock blues of The Black Crowes or you find it a passive sound in a world that's moved on. "Warpaint" is by no means a re-invention of their sound, but it accomplishes so much in its simplicity. I can remember the thunderbolt that "Shake Your Money Maker" and "Southern Harmony Musical Companion" brought to me. In fact, I believe I bought the latter twice because I wore out the first copy in one of those first generation in-dash cd players that skipped with every tiny bump. "Warpaint" is stripped down, bare bones blues rock like only the Robinson brothers can pull off.

9. Coldplay- Viva La Vida

Go ahead... toss every "40 Year Old Virgin" reference you want at me. I like Coldplay. Have since their debut. Again, nothing revolutionary here, but some nice show stopping sounds that mixes choirs, synthesizers and melodic Brit-rock. Radiohead knock off, yes, but a damn fine one.

8. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead- "Festival Thyme" (EP)
If Austin, Texas can lay claim to one style of music, that would be the explosive 'wall of sound' exemplified in pioneering purveyors such as Explosions In the Sky and the above mentioned band- and I guess they all have a four letter minimum for their names. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead released this EP in late October as a stop-gap for their upcoming album in '09 and I can't wait.

7. The Mars Volta- "Bedlam In Goliath"
To call this album a disappointment is selling it extremely short, but typically a Mars Volta album ends up as the one I cherish most upon release. No where near the masterpieces of "Deloused in the Crematorium" or "Frances the Mute", "Bedlam In Goliath" took a couple of listens before I warmed up to it. Their heavy, free-from prog-rock is not everyone's cup of tea, and "Bedlam" sounds a little choppy compared to the maddening flow of music that often streams through their work. Still, anything these guys do ranks head and shoulders above what ANY other artist is doing.

6. Mogwai- "The Hawk Is Howling"
Seeing this band in person was going to be a high point for me this year, but mother nature and the nasty after effects of something called a hurricane earlier this year foiled those plans. Mogwai is a band that hardly changes their sound (moody instrumental rock that Michael Mann favors for many of his films) and "The Hawk Is Howling" is full of more head bobbing tunes that puts one in a reflective mood. Come to think of it, I couldn't imagine a better band to listen to during a hurricane. And who doesn't love songs titled "The Sun Smells Too Loud" and "I'm Jim Morison, I'm Dead"?

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