OK, so here’s a mix of my favorite music that came out in 2008. Seventeen tracks — an hour’s worth of audio for your listening pleasure.
8tracks allows you to listen to the mix in sequence only once. If you listen a second time, playback is randomized, and that might make the following “liner notes” confusing.
- “Smoke Reel” by Minor Seconds from I’ve Got Gems in My Pocket, to Heal You
I don’t know much about this mysterious electronic artist, but the entire album is freely available online. Download ’em all; it’s some weird cool stuff.
- “Backward” by The Bad Trips, live at the WFMU SXSW showcase
This dark psychedelic rock jam was recorded on March 14th at Spiro’s in Austin TX during WFMU’s showcase at SXSW and published on WFMU’s blog under a Creative Commons license.
- “Power ” by Nick Jaina from Wool
Here’s a mellow and poignant folkish song from Portland, Oregon. I can’t remember how I first heard this but I love it. Visit the artist’s website at nickjaina.com.
- “Nicotine Sonnet” by PJ Christie from the forthcoming Highway from My Heart to My Eyes
I wrote the lyrics to this song. Actually I wrote them as a poem maybe twenty years ago. PJ was looking for collaborators as he plowed through February Album Writing Month, and I was happy to share. I’m pretty pleased with the result, but then I am prejudiced. Correction: PJ’s album is no longer “forthcoming” it’s here!
- “Flume” by Bon Iver from For Emma, Forever Ago
A melancholy folk ballad from the Wisconsin woods. Again, can’t recall how I first heard this but it’s haunting. Check out Bon Iver’s website at boniver.org.
- “Larsen B” by Sian Alice Group from 59.59
Another melancholy tune. I heard this via the always reliable Fluxblog back in January.
- “Babbling” by PJ Everpax
This one speaks for itself. Or rather for herself.
A very brief audio snippet recorded at the Samhain Saining.
- “Puerto Rican Jukebox” by Panther from 14kt God
Awesome party jam from Portland, Oregon. Panther has a website at panthertouch.com.
- “Beat of the Double” by Apes from Ghost Games
The Apes are from Washington DC. All Music Guide describes their sound as “what would happen if Tony Iommi played organ rather than guitar in Black Sabbath” and that’s not far off. Of course they have a website at theapes.com.
- “Just Like the Superdome” by Kevin Nealon from the TV show Weeds (Season 3, Episode 15)
New Orleanians especially should dig this. I guess a little context is in order. A California subdivision catches fire and everyone evacuates to a shelter. You’ll recall when this happened in real life there were comparisons made to Katrina. Here Kevin Nealon strolls through the posh “refugee camp” with a banjo and sings about how this is “just like the Superdome.” It’s funny as hell, but it’s also some cutting satire, and an oddly catchy little ditty to boot.
- “The Geeks Were Right” by The Faint from Fasciinatiion
The title says it all. Well, not really. The lyrics say it all. I heard this on WTUL. Electronic new wave science fiction dance rock from Omaha? I had to rush right over to Amazon and buy it. I suggest you do the same.
- “White Lines in the Sky” by In Vitro from Breathe 01
Here’s some ambient chillout music from Mexico. It’s from the excellent Breath 01 compilation, which is available absolutely free from Breathe Compilations. Holy hell, I see Breathe 02 is out already.
- “When We Refuse to Suffer [Second Version]” by Jonathan Richman from Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild
Don’t take Jonathan’s disparaging references to antidepressants the wrong way. It’s not a slam against people getting psychological help. He’s trying to say something deeper about the healing nature of pain itself. As soon as Jonathan comes out with a new album, I buy it, without even bothering to listen to samples or read reviews. He is probably the only artist to whom I am so loyal.
- “1-1” by Preslav Literary School from Autumn Bricolage
Extreme mellowness without an ounce of cheese. This is an experimental ambient soundscape and it’s just sublime. Released through Clinical Archives, you can get the whole album, no charge. Highly recommended.
- “Hemlock” by The Bad Trips, live at the WFMU SXSW showcase
Here we are again. Two tracks by the Bad Trips, and no one could be more surprised than me, but I love this stuff. As much as I like psychedelic rock, I’ve gotta say the dark psychedelia is the bomb.
- “Sploo” by Goodhands Team from _
I would also be remiss if I failed to mention the fantastic album Haab’ by Tzolk’in. Probably my favorite album of the year, in terms of how much I’ve played and replayed it. Somehow the whole is greater than the parts, so none of the individual tracks made the above list. But I can’t recommend the album highly enough. If you’re looking for some dark ambient tribal industrial jams, buy the MP3 album from Amazon.
As much as I love all this music, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. 2008 was a year of musical exploration for me, in which I added over 10,000 tracks to my library. (I had a lot of time off when the girl was born.) If I compiled a mix of my favorite music discovered in 2008, rather than just the subset of music released in this year, I think it would tell a more interesting story. But that’s a much more ambitious project than I have time for today.
PS: Also worth checking out and freely available on the net: Motown Meltdown by Qulfus and Blanketship. “That Girl’s Alright” should have made the mix above but I didn’t have the year tagged correctly so I overlooked it.