Saturday, December 20, 2008

MUSIC: Faves Of 2008

There are good albums every year and this year was no exception. But for reasons I have yet to exactly figure out, most new music just didn’t “taste” as good to me this year and new albums on the whole didn’t do it for me in 2008. Maybe this was just one of those years where the reissues were far more interesting, with Doll By Doll, The Move, Dennis Wilson, and The Replacements leading the way for me on that front, with plenty of others right behind them.

So with the above caveat in mind, here are a few new albums I liked in 2008, in alphabetical order:

The Baseball Project---Volume 1: Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails

Cobra Verde---Haven’t Slept All Year

Ray Davies---Workingman’s CafĂ©

Alejandro Escovedo---Real Animal

Future Clouds And Radar---Peoria

The High Dials---Moon Country

Magnolia Summer---Lines From The Frame

Primal Scream---Beautiful Future


Raphael Saadiq---The Way I See It

Sparks---Exotic Creatures Of The Deep

Steve Wynn---Crossing The Dragon Bridge

No song moved me more on an emotionally sentimental level this year than “Sensitive Boys” from Alejandro Escovedo’s fantastic Real Animal album. If back in the ‘80’s you were in a two guitars, bass, & drums American rock band that wore vintage thrift store clothes, then maybe this song moved you in the same way it moved me.

In my opinion the greatest accomplishment in rock music in 2008 had to be Sparks 21 date run last May & June in London. They called it Sparks Spectacular (click the "more" icon after each album cover), and indeed it was. Over the course of the 21 dates they played every single song in chronological order off every album in their legendary 21 album catalog. As they posted on their website, “That’s approximately 250 songs, or for you musicians, 4 million, 825 thousand, 273 notes.” They had a live web cam thingy going for the shows, and the times I was able to tune in they blew me away no matter what album they were performing that evening. The Maels' top notch band (including Redd Kross' Steven McDonald on bass!) handled the ever changing musical directions of the Sparks’ history quite well, Ron Mael was as genius as always, and Russel Mael’s herculean singing earns him my vote for Musician Of The Year. All of it just total mind blowing stuff on so many levels. A “Sparks Spectacular" search on YouTube will land you all sorts of amateur videos from the shows of varying quality, so fingers are crossed in hopes the product-savvy Maels will release some sort of worthy official document of the event sometime soon.

I saw an embarrassing small number of live shows in 2008. Ian McLagan & The Bump Band at The Duck Room and Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3 at Off Broadway were both great, but by far the best rock show I saw in 2008 was Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at the Scott Trade Center. Best Springsteen show I’ve seen since 1975, and the fanatics are calling it the “best night of the tour” (scroll down to the 8/23 entry).

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