Tuesday, December 23, 2008

All You Are Love (Day 175)

Blonde Redhead - "Spring And By Summer Fall"
The Wrens - "Jake Fakes A Hug"
Whiskeytown - "Easy Hearts"
Pavement - "So Stark" (live)
Blonde Redhead - "My Impure Hair"
Johnny Cash - "One"
Guided By Voices - "Pimple Zoo"
Jens Lekman - "Someone To Share My Life With"
Nada Surf - "Treading Water"
Whiskeytown - "Not Home Anymore"
Vulgar Boatmen - "Margaret Says"
De La Soul - "I Can Do Anything (Delacratic)"
The Flatlanders - "All You Are Love"
Dolorean - "You Can't Win"
Elliott Smith - "A Passing Feeling"
Sufjan Stevens - "Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)"
Pavement - "Dancing With The Elders" (live)
Death Cab For Cutie - "Lowell, MA"
Elliott Smith - "Tomorrow Tomorrow"
X - "Come BAck To Me"
The Books - "Smells Like Content"
So much for my promise to at least throw up my daily playlist... It really was a busy month for me, but big thanks to anyone who's checked in only to see Day 174 sitting there like stale bread. Also thanks to some blog friends for keeping the concept alive with their own shuffle posts. In the meantime, you will be glad I haven't been posting the last couple of days, because these little anecdotes would be tinged with anger and vitriol. I have had back-to-back the two worst commutes in my 14 years living in NYC. Mysterious train stoppages and delays up the ying-yang. No matter what train I hopped on, it seemed to find itself behind a train having a police emergency, medical emergency or system malfunction. It's enough to squeeze the holiday cheer right out of an elf. Okay, I don't want to
belabor it. I do want to get to my FAVORITE RECORDS OF THE YEAR before I am called into a meeting for get an urgent email or some other stupid work related thing happens. (But before that, quick comment on today's list: It's obviously Two-For-Tuesday! I don't think this has ever happened, double-plays from three different artists in one day. Interesting.) Okay, without further adieu, here is the list. (Note: This was really hard. There was a lot of good new music in 2008.)

1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Umm... duh. This was their year. I like to feel that I get a little share of their glory too. I actually wrote about them on this blog way back in May - - before the full-length album came out. They first showed up on the shuffle on May 12 and I sang their praises on May 23 and guaranteed fans of My Morning Jacket would not be disappointed. But this debut album has even surpassed my own expectations. It's an evocative, timeless, haunting, inspiring piece of music that I have yet to even remotely tire of. I wonder where it will stand in 5 years? 15 years? I have a suspicion it may find its way on some kind of all-time list.

2. Little Joy - Little Joy
This one blindsided me. Released just a month ago, I knew nothing about it, but one blog post somewhere hooked me right away. And it's just a side project! For those who don't know, Little Joy is The Strokes Fabrizio Moretti, his girlfriend an L.A. singer/songwriter, and a Brazilian musician friend from the band Los Hermanos. They holed up in a house in Silver Lake and made a laid-back, breezy and great record that mixes 70s pop, bossa nova and the Velvets. And the name? It's actually the name of the group's local bar. Appropriate - - this should be standard issue on any good cocktail lounge's jukebox.

3. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
At first I was freaked out like so many fans, but Evil Urges didn't take long to really grown on me and become one of the records I kept coming back to all year. Even "Highly Suspicious," a song so strange I first thought it had to be a joke, turned out to be my favorite driving song of the year. Is this blind devotion? Perhaps, but if a band is this good you just have to follow them wherever they go.

4. Department Of Eagles - In Ear Park
Another one that I never expected to like quite so much. Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen and buddy Fred Nicolaus have created an amazingly textured record that recalls Grizzly, but in many ways is much more listenable - - and pleasurable.

5. Vetiver - Things Of The Past
Can a covers-only record qualify as year's best. Why not? Especially when the songs and arrangements are this good. And since most of the covers are obscure anyway (the only song I knew was Townes Van Zandt's "Standin'" and I love this version), it might as well be a record of originals by one of the best modern folk bands out there. And FYI: There is nothing freaky about Vetiver's folk. Unless being awesome is freaky.

6. Deerhunter - Microcastle
How good is this record? So good that I think I've only listened to it 3 or 4 times and it still makes this list. It's worlds better than Bradford Cox's debut Cryptograms, with fuzzy guitars and dreamy pop in equal measure. It came out this year, but I'm going to be listening to this one a lot in '09.

7. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Lie Down In The Light
As soon as I start to forget Will Oldham's genius I hear a new record of his and get blown away again. This one's pretty straightforward 70s-style country rock, mixed with (yes, Virginia, I'm going to steal a phrase from Pitchfork) "front-porch spontaneity." I wish I had a front porch.

8. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
Just when I think I'm out, he pulls me back in. Oberst is annoying. Like, Ryan Adams annoying. But I can't shake him. (Ryan either, for that matter.) At first this record didn't thrill me. And then one day "I Don't Want To Die (In A Hospital)" came up on the shuffle and all I could hear was his exuberance and his talent. It's a winning combination.

9. She & Him - Volume One
No, it's not just because Zooey Deschanel is so darn cute. It's because she and M Ward made a record that surpassed expectations and defied modernity. It wouldn't be out of place in a dusty bin in some off-the-beaten-path record store. But since those don't exist, I'm glad this album does.

10. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend, Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs (tie)
Yes, it's a cheat. But I wanted to get them both on the list. They actually contrast quite well. Vampire Weekend came on like a bat out of hell and Narrow Stairs just kinda hung around like a lingering cold. The shine is off Vampire's debut slightly, but I can't resists its charms. And this wasn't Death Cab's best (or second or third best), but it's still a very satisfying record that saw Ben Gibbard and Co. stretching themselves sonically.

*Honorable Mentions (that seriously barely missed the cut): The Raconteurs - Consolers Of The Lonely, Beach House - Devotion, Boston Spaceships - Brown Submarine, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cardinology, The Dodos - Visiter, Times New Viking - Rip It Off, Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

**And by the way...I changed my mind after my Mid-Year List. I now consider Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago to be a 2007 record. It came out last year on an indie and was re-released in '08. If it were officially a 2008 release, it would be 1A on this list - - right behind Fleet Foxes. (Interesting how my faves changed, by the way...)

There it is. Pretty great stuff all. So, I will definitely not be posting again until after the new year. But believe me this time, I really will start blogging about What I Listened To On My Way To Work again in '09. Happy Holidays, all.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 20
Total minutes of music (approx.): 110
Song with the most previous plays: "All You Are Love," "A Passing Feeling" (tie) - 8
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I went to get my haircut, but had to abort! Commute was too long, and there were too many people waiting. I guess I'll have to start '09 as a long-haired hippy freak. Not really.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Canals Of Our City (Day 174)

Robert Pollard - "I Surrounded You Naked"
Ryan Adams - "Please Do Not Let Me Go"
Vetiver - "The Swimming Song"
Hello, Internets! I'm back-ish. Sorry to leave you (and you) wondering about what GE is listening to on his way to work all those days. It must have been awful. Is it Pavement? Some stupid jazz song? Etc. Maybe I was just too embarrassed to show my face after losing that bet with Comoprozac. Or maybe I ate so much on Thanksgiving I couldn't type. Or, gulp, maybe I was Bush-ed, a.k.a. downsized due to the fact that some moron(s) has been steering the national economic ship for eight years. Thankfully, none of the above. Still gainfully employed (fingers crossed) and just really busy. But today I actually have 5 minutes of downtime, and I've already read all there is to read about baseball's hot stove. (They should call it the lukewarm stove.) So, here ya go, a nice playlist from this AM. It's just in time - - I need to flex my blogging muscles before I unleash that all-important year-end list of favorite albums. Expect my list sometime before X-mas. In the meantime, here's a song from a strong contender to find it's way on there: Vetiver's Thing Of The Past. This collection of obscure covers is excellent from end-to-end - - breezy, 70s-flecked folk-pop. This particular track is a Loudon Wainwright cover from his 1973 album with a title you gotta love: Attempted Mustache.
fIREHOSE - "Honey, Please"
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "After I Made Love To You"
Charlie Parker - "Mohawk"
Iron & Wine - "Innocent Bones"
Interpol - "Not Even Jail"
Magnolia Electric Co. - "Don't Fade On Me"
Calexico - "Nom De Plume"
Gnarls Barkley - "Go-Go Gadget Gospel"
Beirut - "The Canals Of Our City"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 12
Total minutes of music (approx.): 42
Song with the most previous plays: "Lion's Mane" - 9
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Well, my daughter and I have kicked the muffin-a-day habit on the way to drop her at school. Today's breakfast snack du jour? A waffle. Today's question of a 3-year-old with an exponentially inquisitive mind du jour? Daddy, where did the butter go? You try and explain why a solid melts to a toddler...