Home > Uncategorized > A TWO-FER! “This Goddamn Winter Weather is Going to Kill Me” & “2008’s Best Albums”

A TWO-FER! “This Goddamn Winter Weather is Going to Kill Me” & “2008’s Best Albums”

It doesn’t officially become "Winter" until this Sunday, and I’m already sick of the season. I hope to God that last week’s ice storm, the current 6"-12" of snow we’re having dumped on us now, the storm we’re getting on Sunday, and the other one I hear we might be getting right before Christmas isn’t indicative of the next few months. If it is, then I’m going to quit my job and move down South. The only thing preventing me from doing it now is that I’d be homeless and destitute, but if this is the alternative, then maybe I should wrap my essential belongings up in a kerchief and tie it to the end of a stick. I’ll eat turkey hobo stew for lunch every day and do a little pre-swing jazz shuffle dance for my dinners. Also, I’ll make up an entirely fictional backstory that I’ll only reveal to those who have ridden the rails with me for an extended period of time, and whenever others ask if I have any regrets I’ll say "just one, my friend…just one…" and look off wistfully towards the Alabama night sky as the moonlight reveals enough of my eyes to show a slight tinge of sadness but not enough to reveal the single tear rolling down my cheek.

Man, that would be the life and so much better than dealing with this goddamn snow.

I’m also already sick of the crowd complaining about complainers. Yes, we always get bad storms every year and we’re notorious for our winters, but it’s not like half a foot to a foot at a time is a regular goddamn occurrence. Please allow those of us whose lives are in jeopardy while driving on the road to worry about our personal safety without having to worry about being judged by somebody who’s just trying to look cool or tough.

Speaking of which, while driving home from work at around 3:45pm, I let out an audible "wheeeee" as my car slid precariously at an angle through a side street even though I was the only one in the car. I might be losing my mind. Oh well, at least I got out of work early. Funny story – my work, ever the model of efficiency, announced that they were closing at 2:00pm due to inclement weather. We were informed of this a little after 2:30pm. You read that right.

So here I sit, snowed in and listening to my iPod. I’ve actually downloaded a crapload of albums in the past few days, and even moreso when you take the last couple weeks into consideration. I’ll admit, I’ve been catching up on music primarily with the assistance of all those "Best of 2008" lists that are popping up in all the music and pop culture websites and magazines. But I mean, Hell, it’s the only way I can keep up with music that I’ll actually enjoy.

It’s tough. I find that most people I know just aren’t into music that clicks with me. That isn’t through any fault of their own, but rather just that my tastes are (hoping to not sound pretentious) a bit all over the place and spotty. Okay, okay, some of you I love to death but despise your taste in music, so that contributes to it. But I do find that I can get enough of a gauge of what I know I’d like and dislike to where if I get a list of, say, 100 albums that people view as the best of 2008, I can pinpoint exactly what I’ll like and avoid what I won’t like with a very high success rate.

Okay, I’m starting to ramble. Long story short, I’m finally getting back into music again and I’m loving all the shit that’s come out in the past year that’s on my iPod right now.

THE LIST OF ALBUMS RELEASED IN 2008 THAT I JUST LISTENED TO BECAUSE I AM WOEFULLY BEHIND AND THEREFORE DECIDEDLY UNHIP TO WHAT THE KIDS ARE RANTING AND RAVING ABOUT ON THEIR XANGA JOURNALS:
* The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
* Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!
* Glasvegas – self-titled
* Deerhunter – Microcastle
* My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
* Vampire Weekend – self-titled
* TV on the Radio – Dear Science
* Coldplay – Viva La Vida
* The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
* Willie Nelson – Moment of Forever
* The Roots – Rising Down
* Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreaks
* Lupe Fiasco – The Cool
* Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
* Lil’ Wayne – Tha Carter III
* Fleet Foxes – self-titled
* Nas – untitled
* The Knux – Remind Me in 3 Days…
* Q-Tip – The Renaissance
* Beck – Modern Guilt
* Magnetic Fields – Distortion
* Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cardinology
* The Black Keys – Attack & Release
* Raphael Saddiq – The Way I See It
* Jamey Johnson – That Lonesome Song
* Flying Lotus – Los Angeles
* Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads
* Walkmen – You & Me
* David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
* Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Young Man…

REQUIRED LISTENING:  I might, maybe, re-produce this list and rank it, but that’s about the extent of what you’ll get in terms of a "Best of 2008" list from me. I will say that of the albums on the list that I’ve given a decent spin, I’m liking The Knux’s "Remind Me in 3 Days…" and Erykah Badu’s new album the most. Both are seriously the shit, and I consider them required listening. Seriously.  Actually, I’d throw The Hold Steady’s "Stay Positive" in there as well, as it’s the best rock album I’ve heard in years.  But seriously, album of the year hands down belongs to The Knux.  YEAH-YUHHHH, IT’S CHRISPYYYYYYYYYYY check it out.

DON’T GET IT…YET:  The Deerhunter album just…never caught on with me. I might try to give it a few more spins, but I gave it three and it didn’t elicit a goddamn thing from me. I’m not sure what all the talk was about. Same deal with The Raveonettes to an extent, although I really haven’t given that album as much of a chance, and feel like I might like it more if I do.

ALSO PRETTY GODDAMN GREAT:  Nick Cave, My Morning Jacket, TV On the Radio, Q-Tip, Glasvegas, Willie Nelson, and Los Campesinos

THESE GUYS ARE GREAT IF YOU’VE NEVER HEARD LATE TALKING HEADS:  I know that everyone seems to either love Vampire Weekend, blog about how much they hate Vampire Weekend, or blog about how much they hate people who write backlash blogs about how much they hate Vampire Weekend. Me personally, I think it’s an alright album. I will say, though, that I’m incredulous at people who will label them a "great" band, and that includes a lot of the upper-echelon in the music critics’ circle. I mean, a couple of the tracks are fun and the album’s listenable. However, they don’t come across to me personally as much more than a weird combination of They Might Be Giants style geek rock attempting to ape the afro-Caribbean leanings of the latter days of New Wave. And I hate to say it, but there’s something about their sound that’s starting to get old already and is bordering on annoying me.

ALBUMS I LIKED A LOT MORE THAN EVERYBODY ELSE SEEMED TO:   The Roots and Kanye West’s new albums. In the case of The Roots, I think they’re one of the consistently great musical acts of our time, and I guess I’m just a lot more willing to accept this new direction of theirs than other people are. Kanye West’s "808s & Heartbreaks" is admittedly nothing we haven’t heard before from other artists, but it’s also more synth-pop meets Chaka Khan than the "lazy robot T-Pain shit" that other people keep trying to pigeon-hole it as.  Like him or not, as a producer he deserves a lot more credit than that, and though there are effects on this album that are also employed by other mainstream hip-hop acts, none of what he does with "808s & Heartbreak" sounds like anything else out there.  I may be on an island when I say this, but I personally think it’s the best work of his career.

ALBUMS I LIKED A LOT LESS THAN EVERYBODY ELSE SEEMED TO:   Coldplay & Lil’ Wayne. The problem with Coldplay is that they are such total rock stars that, at this point, their songwriting sounds anything but organic or from the heart. There’s a handful of tracks I enjoy, but as a whole I think the album’s waaayyyy overproduced (even for them) and there’s an emotional disconnect when listening to it that I can’t get over . Lil’ Wayne put out a really good mainstream hip-hop album, but to call it the seminal record of the last ten years for the genre is a bit ridiculous, especially considering the vast majority of the tracks wore out on me after about three listens. Don’t be fooled by me lumping it in the same category as Coldplay; I still think it’s really good, just not nearly as perfect and untouchable as the press seems to think.

I JUST STARTED LISTENING TO AND AM QUICKLY FALLING MADLY IN LOVE WITH:   Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Raphael Saddiq, Beck, Lupe Fiasco (I cannot believe this is the same dude that released that total shit that was his debut), Jamey Johnson, and The Black Keys.  I honestly think Adams, The Black Keys, and Saddiq could have been up in the "required listening" section if I hadn’t just heard them for the first time in the last couple days.

I HAVEN’T YET OR ONLY PASSIVELY LISTENED TO:   Fleet Foxes, Nas, Magnetic Fields, Flying Lotus, Kaiser Chiefs, Walkmen, David Byrne & Brian Eno. All I can say about any of these is that the Magnetic Fields album was a lot of fun on its first passive spin in my office, and what I’ve heard thus far from Nas’s album hasn’t swayed my position that as good as he is the dude takes himself way too seriously and needs to develop a sense of humor in his work. I’m not saying he needs to clown his shit up like Lil’ Wayne has a tendency of (over)doing, but his approach tries to give everything a sense of weight and importance that – and I might be alone on this – isn’t reflected in the quality of his writing. Sorry guys, I just don’t buy that he’s an impeccably brilliant lyricist.

…ah, shit. Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to do a "Best of 2008" write-up? I really didn’t intend to, and I don’t think I really did. But there you go, that’s what I’m listening to.

More later…

NOTE – I’m still doing work on the last two installments, but the next one of "Five Stars" is already written and will be posted sometime this weekend.

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  1. December 20, 2008 at 12:43 am

    “Speaking of which, while driving home from work at around 3:45pm, I let out an audible “wheeeee” as my car slid precariously at an angle through a side street even though I was the only one in the car. I might be losing my mind.”

    During the Valentine’s Day snow storm a few years ago, I had to go get Madeline from day care. She was a tiny, bald little girl but could say a few things here and there.

    I went to take a right turn. Turned my wheel just right, but my car went “Naaah. Not into it” and Madeline and Maeve were left parallel parked in the middle of the street. (Not a busy street, so not too scary.)

    After the car stopped, and I was assessing our situation, Madeline helpfully went “….wheeeeee.”

    So you’re about as batty as a one year old.

  2. December 20, 2008 at 7:25 am

    I have no idea who most of those alleged musicians are, so I’ll only make a couple brief comments.

    Coldplay: Plagiarists.

    Vampire Weekend: The name does not make me want to hear them. There is a strong hipster quality to it that scares me away.

    Nick Cave and Willie Nelson rule.

    • December 20, 2008 at 9:59 pm

      They totally do. I’m just glad that Willie can still record an album that stays true to his roots while still remaining fresh, and also doesn’t go into that lazy bullshit that most old country guys do where they simply try to cover contemporary songs and fail miserably where Johnny Cash succeeded. I’m looking at YOU Glen Campbell!

      Vampire Weekend are so hipster they hang out on Lark Street and won’t shut the fuck up about how they’re going to move to New York City in two weeks.

  3. December 20, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    If I could put into words how much I disliked My Morning Jacket’s Evil Urges , I’d express them here. I don’t know what it is, but the lead singer’s falsetto gets to me. Badly. I guess it was just the fact that every major music magazine and website praised their work, and I had different expectations when I went into the album.

    ON THE OTHER HAND(THE LEFT ONE?!)

    Good choice on the Knux album. I haven’t heard good nerd-rap in a while, and these two deliver.

    And I feel you on Deerhunter. They just come across as a band that screams “Look at how WEIRD our lead singer is. Isn’t he weird? He’s weird.” and I can’t get into that. It’s why I hate Of Montreal.

    • December 20, 2008 at 9:57 pm

      I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Jim James when he goes into super falsetto mode (which he does quite a bit in this album), particularly since stuff like the cover of Dylan’s “Acapulco” that he did with Calexico for the film “I’m Not There” shows that he’s actually a really gifted vocalist and doesn’t need to do that shit. At all.

      BUUUUUT I was able to get past it after a couple spins, to the point where I was able to love the album despite that obstacle. I think it also helps that in recent years I’ve fallen in love with a lot of the 60s/early 70s folk-country stuff that the band pays homage to/apes at points during the album. Basically I love it because I’m more of an old man at heart, but I also fully understand why you wouldn’t like it. And to be honest, I think if I’d heard this album four years ago I’d hate it with a passion.

      And 100% agreed on your observations of Deerhunter and Of Montreal. On the latter – I really dug their last album, but haven’t found much of what I’ve heard of the new one enjoyable at all.

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