Monday, February 16, 2009

Oh Ate Was Great

First of all, how about Joaquin Phoenix these days? Has he completely lost his mind? By the looks of things, he totally has. Incase you haven't heard (if not, where have you been?) here he was on Letterman last week....
What the...?? Is it drugs? Is he crazy? Is it perhaps... a joke? Last year he announced he was done with acting and heading for the hip-hop lifestyle (and why not). But, word is Casey Affleck is putting together a documentary featuring Joaquin's transition from Academy Award winning brilliant actor to wannabe thugsta acta' turnt rappa'. Is it possible these boys are pulling an Andy Kauffman on us all? Hmm...either way, I gotta see that doc when it comes out.

I figured I'd finally get my Favorite Albums of 2008 list down. I remember I still need to give a run down of the whole American Idol experience. (Since I had quite a few people ask how it all works out, I may as well give an amusing recap soon.)

So, these are #'s 20-11 of the albums I just couldn't get enough of, with a brief "what-fer" incase you were interested further.
There were quite a lot of interesting releases this last year, and it was hard narrowing it down to just 20. One thing I noticed, though; despite the over abundance of good stuff to come out, very few were truly "AMAZING" masterpieces of ear drum delight. Then again, I didn't get to all the albums I wanted to either. Perhaps we need more actors to show us how its really done?

There was, however, an inspiring amount of nude cover art, some of it featured in this very list (don't worry it ain't too explicit, but be warned, O ye eyes of innocence).

On that note...

Summer Rains

One of my favorite groups of recent years. Their newest was released only on their website and it took me a while to finally get around to grabbing it. But, when I finally did (at the end of December) it instantly helped to melt the ice. One of those albums that keeps summer going all year round. The pop-up packaging is great too (and was up for a Best Packaging Grammy infact).
Try These: "Summer Rains," "What Happened to the Radio?"

In Ear Park

What's the next best thing to a Grizzly Bear album? Well, 07's fabulous Grizzly Bear "Friend" EP I guess...but what's the NEXT thing? This litttle ditty from some of the same dudes. Little bit of a different sound, and a different animal, but still good baroque space-folk. Only reason its not higher is lack of exposure (I seem to have misplaced the thing). I am sure this one will grow more on me with time.
Try These: "No One Does It Like You", "Teenagers"

Secret Machines

Original guitarist Benjamin Curtis left to start School of Seven Bells (which I still haven't got a hold of), but new one Phil Kartnas does a good job keeping the universe expanding. Not nearly the masterpiece Ten Silver Drops was, but a good album all the same. Spacey psychedelic pop-rock to the extreme.
Try These: "Underneath the Concrete," "Last Believer , Drop Dead"

Songs For You, Truths For Me

Definately one of my favorite singing voices at the moment. Just a year after his debut Undiscovered, he delivers the goods yet again. Incredibly soulful pop, maybe a little more so than 07's. I don't get why this dude isn't bigger here, but hey, it is America we live in. Lotsa great tunes go unnoticed. Glad my sister Jenni introduced me to him!
Try These: "You Make It Real," "Dream On Hayley"

Evil Urges

This one was a bit of a surprise. Great guitar driven jams mixed with bouncy Prince-ified boppers? Its hard to tell what's a joke and what's serious; the album is almost like a big dare. But, overall very entertaining stuff, and when you are this talented, I think you get a little freedom to muck around. This one will age well, too.
Try These: "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream If You Don't pt. 1"
"Evil Urges"

Dig Out Your Soul

The first thing I noticed different on the vets newest was its slightly less epic nature. While the melodies aren't as suited for the stadiums, the booming rhythm section sure is. The boys haven't sounded this raw in quite some time, and they have never had this much THUMP to their groove. An impressive detour for the group.
Try These: "The Turning," "(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady"

We Started Nothing

These folks are much more then just another iPod commercial. The former British pop stars decided to take matters into their own hands and create one of the most fun, danceable bits of tuneage available in the last year. With an influence of new and old post-punk sounds ranging from The Strokes to Blondie, this pupper is all killer no filler!
Try These: "Great DJ," "Be the One"

Modern Guilt

Beck has never been known to do too much wrong. Teaming up with my current favorite producer, Danger Mouse (Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley) wasn't a bad idea either! The two rocked the old school with the new for this fabulous effort. One of the many albums this year to proclaim doom and gloom while sounding upbeat and chipper. (DM shoulda taken that Producer of the Year Grammy over Rick Rubin, too.)
Try These: "Modern Guilt," "Profanity Prayers"

Only By the Night

"Sex On Fire" converted me. But there are plenty of other treats on this southern blues tinged beauty. Epic and emotional, these guys have such a great style to their sound. So what if track one sounds a little like Gnarl's Barkley's "Crazy," track 2 sounds kinda like Secret Machine's "Sad and Lonely" and track 3 sounds exactly like Yacht's "Its Boring?" Its all good to me. Give this'n a listen and see fer yerself.
Try These: "Crawl," "Manhattan"

Hercules and Love Affair

A modern dance gem. Andy Butler has taken the last three decades in dance and concocted this contemporary classic. Antony Hegarty jiggles his Adam's apple throughout the album and for some reason fits perfectly. Lesser known guests add their flair to the mix as well, creating some of the best tracks. The sum ends up much greater than its parts. Barely missed my top was a hard choice.
Try These: "You Belong," "Hercules Theme"

To Be Continued...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quick Grammy thoughts...

Last night was the 51st Grammy awards and what have you. I haven't paid much attention to the Grammy's for some time, least of which the program itself (except for when Gorillaz performed with Madonna a few years ago, that was kinda cool.) But, this year, I was actually pleasantly surprised at the decent nominees, at least in the categories worth looking at. Not only that, but the performances were worthy enough to gain my full attention.

Some of my favorite stuff from the last year or so earned nominations, (and even took home awards!) including Coldplay, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Kings of Leon, Metallica, Beck, etc. etc.....

Oh and of course, 

Radiohead, Coldplay, and Plant/Krauss were all up for the big prize of Album of the Year. Sadly, Radiohead did not win this prize. Third time they've been shafted for this award! And each time they lost to some Old School! Observe:

1998: Ok Computer Lost to Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind.....
2001: Kid A lost to Steely Dan's Two Against Nature.....
2009: In Rainbows loses to Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin!) & Alison Krauss' Raising Sand

Jeez! Move over and die already, old dudes! 
Actually, Raising Sand was a phenomenal album, and did deserve it, but not over Coldplay and especially not over the almighty Head of Radio. (Both made my top ten of '07) Infact, am a little confused about why Raising Sand didn't get stuck in last year's Grammy's. I guess I don't know the eligibility rules. Radiohead were included this year and not last because though In Rainbows was available to everyone (for free if you wanted) in 07, its physical release didn't come till 08. 

Aaaaaanyways, also up for album of the year were Lil Wayne and Ne-yo, but I knew neither of them would win cuz Wayne is rap (rap never wins album of the year) and Ne-yo sucks. 

Coldplay and Plant/Krauss actually came out big winners overall in the night, including Viva La Vida (my fav song of last year) winning Song of the Year. 

Radiohead brought home trophies for Alternative Album of the Year (third award in this category), and Best Boxed Set or Limited Edition Package. They were also nominated for Album of the Year, Best Rock Song (House of Cards), Best Rock Performance By a Duo Or Group (House of Cards), and Best Short Form Music Video (House of Cards), while producer Nigel Godrich was up for Producer of the Year and Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood was up for Best Musical Score for Tv or Movie for There Will Be Blood.

There were a surprising number of great performances in the night as well. Besides Radiohead's joyous romp, I was very moved by Jennifer Hudson's emotional performance (keep in mind her brother and mother were murdered recently), and I even enjoyed The Jonas Brother's singing "Superstition" with Stevie himself. Coldplay, Plant/Krauss, and a smooth guitar jam including the likes of BB King and John Mayer, and an ultra prego M.I.A. rocked too. Coulda done without Kanye and his frollet though.
And of course, Neil Diamond.

Couldn't find postable clips of Neil Diamond...but look them all up on youtube. Twas fun. Suppose I should finally post my fav albums of the year now too eh?