I always read people’s end-of-the-year review lists of music and secretly wish that I kept up with the pace of new music during the year, but honestly I never can. There’s so much to discover in the nooks and crannies of the recent past, and so the amount of music I discover in any given year that actually came out that year is like a snow cone on the tip of the proverbial iceberg. That said, here are some things from 2008 that wound my particular clock.
Steinski – What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective
Steve Stein is hip-hop’s Missing Link between old school rap and today’s collage-sample producers like Prince Paul and DJ Shadow. I wrote about this phenomenal album in-depth here back in July.
Spiraling – Time Travel Made Easy
I have a hard time finding enough great things to say about my favorite band. The new album is more laboratory-crafted syth-pop-rock with a proggy edge. “Victory Kiss” is the greatest radio single you’ll never hear. “Cold Open” is the best album intro (and title for an album intro) I’ve heard in a long time. And “The Future” is one of those songs I wish I’d written about how disappointing it is that we’re almost to 2010 and we haven’t made any headway into the life promised us by the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Jetsons, the 1964 World’s Fair, or hell, even Back to the Future II.
Panic at the Disco – Pretty. Odd.
I know the young teenagers like this band a lot, but I don’t hold it against Panic. I still haven’t heard their first record, but this album shines like a thousand Christmas trees. Clearly they wanted to make a grandiose Sgt. Pepper statement with it. It may be the best sophomore record I’ve heard by any band since Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk.
Sonny Landreth – From the Reach
The world’s greatest slide guitarist goes the star-studded route, with help from Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, Vince Gill, Dr. John, and Mark Knopfler. I’ve been dying to see what Sonny and Eric Johnson might do on record, and “The Milky Way Home” does not disappoint.
Other fine releases from 2008: Take Shelter by Boondogs, Play by Brad Paisley, An Invitation by Inara George with Van Dyke Parks, and Other People by American Princes.
Pre-2008 music that I discovered for myself this year: Mew, Mika, Mulatu Astatké, Pelican, The Factory, The Nines, Henry Cow, Soft Machine, Hawkwind and Dada’s amazingly gorgeous final disc, How to Be Found. Honorable mention goes to the distinctly nonmusical but no less compelling Conet Project.
Albums I’m dying to hear in 2009: the new records from The Mercury Program, David Mead, Owen, and The Bird and the Bee.
1.) Although I have to say I’m impressed that my mom’s TV does display her caller ID so we’ll know not to pick up when Flea calls.