Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Ears Of The Midwest - Best of 2008

Ah, the Midwest.  I'm not sure if it's the Lake effect snow, the smell of ethanol or the exposure to the voice of Gerry Faust - but the ears of the Midwest offer something special.  I don't know what that is, but work with me here, okay?

Below is a mathematicalLEE compiled list of the best albums (and other things) from folks with said ears.  Whether they were born or grew up or worked or were locked up somewhere in that more Eastern than Mid or West area of the U. S. of A. - they have opinions.  And ears.  They might not all be in the Midwest now, but in order to tie something together here, that's what we're running with.

A few notes about the list.  It was compiled by giving each release a numerical value and those values were added and sorted accordingLEE.  However, a slight change was implemented this time (because it's my list).  Preference was given to titles that appeared on more than one list.  So, while a record like My Morning Jacket's Evil Urges only had a numerical value of 4, it's appearance on two lists ranks it higher than say, a record at #8 on only one person's list. Ya dig?

So, without further adieu - the Best of 2008.

LEE's list

Yes - LEE goes first, because it's LEE fer chrissakes.  A lover and a fighter, LEE strives to bring the world great music, either through his website or the bevy of compilations that could pack more than a few landfills.

2 L 0 E 0 E 8


1.       ProCon – Kingmaker.  Hey, if you released an album on your label, I’d hope it would be your favorite of the year.  All the right influences mixed up in tomorrow’s blender.  Hooky, dancy, sexy, funky, dirty and pretty much perfect.

2.       The Fireman – Electric Arguments.  This one came out of nowhere and knocked everyone on their ass.  This guy’s 66?  Macca’s got a hell of a run going with the last few records.

3.       David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.  Two geniuses collaborate again.  And, with staggeringly good results. 

4.       Lindsey Buckingham – Gift Of Screws.  The record everyone wanted when Under The Skin was released.  Well, here it is.  Now shut up and enjoy.

5.       R.E.M. – Accelerate.  The old fart parade continues.  Listening to this record almost impossible to believe it’s been over 20 years since Life’s Rich Pageant.

6.       Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid.  I don’t know why this band isn’t huge.  I really don’t.

7.       Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping.  Not as immediately gratifying as the last few records, but one that pays off in spades.  Incredible packaging on the wax, too.

8.       Sigur Ros – Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust.  I’m always driven to put their records on my year-end lists.  Maybe because there’s (still) nothing like them.  Maybe because they’re just that good.

9.       My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges.  My first time trying on the Jacket, and boy did it fit nicely.  It’s been a long time since I stopped what I was doing to listen to every track on a record.

10.   Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend.  Got it.  Loved it.  Put it away.  Took it back out.  Still loved it.


Ten more that missed it by that much (alphabeticLEE):

Walter Becker – Circus Money

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Girl Talk – Feed The Animals

Inara George with Van Dyke Parks – An Invitation

Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch

Jim Noir – Jim Noir

Todd Rundgren – Arena

Skafish – What’s This?

The Week That Was – The Week That Was

The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing



Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue


Guess I should get these:

Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs

TV On The Radio – Dear Science


Still don’t get why I should care:

The Hold Steady

Kanye West

Bob's list

Bob - So simple, yet so complex.  Bob.  We all know a Bob, don't we?  But this Bob-O's rekkid spins are tha coolest.

Bob's Top Thirteen Albums of 2008

1) Daniel Lanois  - Here Is What Is

2) Lisa Hannigan - Sea Sew

3) Dido -Safe Trip Home

4) Byrne/Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

5) Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords

6) Randy Newman - Harps and Angels

7) Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

8) Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs

9) Various Artists - Big Blue Ball

10) New Order - Power, Corruption & Lies Reissue

11) Fireman - Electric Arguments

12) Amadou & Miriam - Welcome To Mali

13) Robert Plant/Alison Krauss -  Raising Sand

* a note for those keeping score - Bob's #10 choice was ineligible for inclusion on the main list due to the fact that it is a reissue, moving his #11 to the #10 spot for computation purposes.

Jack's list

Jack - A man who not only did battle with A.W. Prop, but funneled that insanity into your favorite record store.  Plus, he kinda looks like Jesus.

Best of the Year 2008  - drowning in a sea of digital of music 

1)    Nick Cave – Dig Lazurus Dig
An intoxicating blend of song craft and passion.

2)    Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal / Live Animal (EP)

A tough as nails journey through the 70’s music scene.

3)    Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs
Amazing wide ranging set of outtakes, alternate versions and live cuts.

4)    Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
A fragile beauty that just draws you in again and again.

5)    James McMurtry – Just Us Kids
A compelling look at the American political landscape and its victims.

6)    Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
A mindless fun concoction of  Afrobeats and 80’s alternative.

7)    Gary Louris – Vagabonds / Acoustic  Vagabonds (EP)
The singer-songwriter cd of the year, for fans of 70’s California pop.

8)    Lucinda Williams – Little Honey
She finds love and her electric guitar, it rocks from the heart.

9)     Mudcrutch – Mudcrutch / EP Live
High school band reforms for a classic country rock homage.

10)    Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
The voices and the vibe mix together into an ethereal listening experience.


Slightly flawed favorites:

The Rolling Stones  - Shine A Light

B.B. King – One Kind Favor

R.E.M. – Accelerate

She & Him – Volume One

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line

Santogold – Santogold

Coldplay – Vival La Vida …

Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs

Hayes Carll – Trouble in Mind

Duffy – Rockferry

Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue

AC/DC – Black Ice

Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It


From the Vaults:

Clash – Live at Shea Stadium

Neil Young – Live at Canterbury House 1968

T.Rex – The Best of the BBC Recordings



Buena Vista Social Club – At Carnegie Hall

Amandou & Mariam – Welcome to Mali



B.B. King – One Kind Favor

Buddy Guy – Skin Deep

Tab Benoit – Night Train to Nashville

James Hunter – The Hard Way

Larry's list

Larry the K - An award winning screenwriter who also looks dead sexy in a pair of pantaloons.  Not afraid to like what he likes (see: pantaloons), Larry tries 2008's offerings on  for sighs. 



1   Glen Campbell - Meet Glen Campbell

2   MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

3   Chromeo - Fancy Footwork

4   The Raconteurs - Consolers Of The Lonely

5   Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs

6   Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

7   Little Jackie - The Stoop

8   Coldplay - Vida La Vida

9   Lori McKenna - Unglamorous

10  Britney Spears - Circus


Best Single: Love Lockdown - Kanye West


Best CD based on previously released material: Feed The Animals - Girl Talk

Mike's list

Mike - a voice you can always trust to give you the news, the whole news and nothing but the news.  And who never pointed his Dick Addis.

We are all broke and the weather sucks. So there isn't much choice but to hunker down in the house and listen to good tunes or watch a DVD.  

1. Felice Brothers "Felice Brothers" - I was no more than 30 seconds into hearing Radio Song on the satellite station and I said who are these guys. These guys are the Felice Brothers and it is the best and most unique CD I have heard this year. They really are from near Woodstock but not phony transplants. And yes they seem to sound like grandchildren of The Band. Check out Frankie's Gun for that. They recorded this CD to make enough money to play gigs in NYC. One song was recorded in a chicken coop and another under a bridge. Great stuff that I play at least once a week.

2. Bob Dylan "Tell Tale Signs" - It makes you wonder what the bard still has in the big music vault. His "leftovers" amount to one of the best releases of his career. Hard to believe that "Dignity" has never been officially released. You can get a good deal on satellite radios right now and Theme Time Radio is appointment listening at our house. Now airing on both services since the merger.

3. Chip Taylor "New Songs of Freedom" - The Former lead singer of The Troggs (really) delivers the best heartfelt American Cd of the year. Two songs here will bring tears to your eyes.

4. The Low Anthem "Oh My God, Charlie Darwin" - This is gorgeous Americana. One of those CD's you need to hear from start to finish to make a judgment.

5. Matthew Ryan "Matthew Ryan vs The Silver State" - It really is a crime that Matthew Ryan is not widely regarded as one of the best singer/songwriters of his generation. Every one of his albums is terrific and this one is his most cohesive.

6. Alejandro Esvovedo "Real Animal" - This album is full of homage to real people and places that have been a part of his life and it is among the best straight rock and roll albums of the year. Produced by the same guy who did much of T.Rex and David Bowie's work and it sounds like it too.

7. Joseph Arthur &The Lonely Astronauts "Temporary People" - JA turned out a slew of material in 2008 but this is the best. Hints of The Faces, Rolling Stones and even The Replacements without being obvious about it.

8. Reckless Kelly "Bulletproof" - Still my favorite band working out of Austin and I think this is their best album yet. "American Blood" is the Born in the USA from the Iraq war. A Texas President gets trashed by a Texas band, now that is some legacy.

9. My Morning Jacket "Evil Urges" -A lot of hype for this one before it came out but it lives up to it. A roots retro band with some classic guitar riffs.

10. Matthew Sweet "Sunshine Lies" (Deluxe Version) -Think the Beach Boys and The Byrds as produced by Phil Spector. A real wall of sound here.


Honorable Mentions

Glenn Campbell "Meet Glenn Campbell"

Drive By Truckers "Brighter Than Creations Dark" 

Shawn Mullins "Honeydew"

Lucinda Williams "Little Honey"


Box Set of the Year/ Roy Orbison - Finally all of his material in one place and all of it remastered. Ranks with Sam Cooke and Smokey as the smoothest male voices in the history of rock and roll.


Rock Movie of the Year/Shine a Light - Not that there was much competition but even if there was this still wins Worth it on DVD just to see Buddy Guy blow away Keith on guitar and Mick on vocals. Keith spitting out a cigarette is also quite cool.


Rock DVD of the Year/Willie Nile Live on the Streets of New York. - Everything live rock and roll should be, a energetic, thoughtful lead singer (who can play guitar and piano equally well) a tight band, a small club and hand held cameras. Good from start to finish.


Books of the Year


The Forever War/Dexter Filkins -When we finally get out of the Iraq debacle this books will stand above all others of what it was like on the ground. Should win a Pulitzer.

Havana Nocturne/T.J. English -The sub title "how the mob owned Cuba and then lost it to the revolution" says it all. Does Scorcese have the movie rights yet.


The Secret Scripture/Sebastian Barry -Ireland's best novelist follows up "A Long, Long Way" with another masterpiece.


Movies of the Year

Most of the late year good ones have not played here so I have to go with earlier releases. May I have the envelope please?


Ghost Town


So there you go and this should be enough material to tide us over until baseball season or Obama saves the planet, whichever comes first.

Mike's website

Rave's list

Bruce Rave (if that's your REAL name) - who'd a thunk a boy from outside Chi-Town would become the A&R man who brought you The Knack & Missing Persons and who blinded you with science?



3--Elbow—The Seldom Seen Kid

Fleet Foxes—Fleet Foxes

9--Foxboro Hot Tubs—Stop Drop and Roll

8--MGMT—Orangluar Spectacular


6--Pendulum—In Silico

                5--The Rumble Strips—Girls and Weather

4--Skybombers—Take Me to Town

2--Switches—Lay Down the Law

10--The Ting Tings—We Started Nothing

1--Vampire Weekend—Vampire Weekend

Honorable mention goes to Liam Finn, The Fratellis, and Shiny Toy Guns



1)     MGMT—Kids

2)     Switches—Drama Queen

3)     The Ting Tings—That’s Not My Name

4)     The Rumble Strips—Girls and Boys In Love (TV commercial)

5)     The Cribs—I’m A Realist

6)     Foxboro Hot Tubs—Stop Drop and Roll

7)     Devo--Watch Us Work It (TV commercial)

8)     B-52’s--Pump

9)     The Last Shadow Puppets--The Last of the Understatement

10)  Shiny Toy Guns—Ghost Town

11)  The Fratellis—Mistress Mabel

Rave's Raves!

Waters' list

Waters - I've seen him naked.  Wait, did I just type that? Nah, I'm just kidding.  Or am I?  Much like getting to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop, the World may never know.

1.  Patti Smith and Kevin Shields The Coral Sea
2.  Fuck Buttons Sweet Horssing
3.  A Place to Bury Strangers  self-titled
4.  TV on the Radio  Dear Science
5.  Stew  Passing Strange Soundtrack
6.  Goldfrapp  Seventh Tree
7.  Atlas Sound  Let the Blind lead those who can see but cannot feel
8.  Beach House Devotion
9.  Santogold Top Ranking and the other one
10.  Meredith Monk   Impermanence
11.  The Teenagers  Reality Check
12.  Glen Campbell   Meet Glen Campbell
13.  Freezepop futurefuturefutureperfect
14.  Bob Mould  District Line
15.  Nico Muhly  Mothertongue
16.  GirlTalk Feed the Animals
17.  Lykke Li  Youth Novels
18.  Cloud Cult  Feel Good Ghosts
19.  Ben Folds  Way to Normal
20.  Bloc Party  Intimacy

1.  Synecdoche, new york
2.  Hunger
3.  A Christmas Tale
4.  Tell No One
5.  The Dark Knight
6.  Reprise
7.  Waltz with Bashir
8.  My Winnipeg
9.  In Bruges
10.  Speed Racer (most underrated film I didn't direct)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Visit Ginchopolis today!