Things I Meant to Remember

Now is the time that all good blogs and magazines compile their lists of their favorite albums, songs, and all that nonsense.  My ten favorite songs list is up now on Aquarium Drunkard, and my albums should be up there sometime next week.

I listened to a lot of music this year, more than any other year since I’ve been doing this.  And, despite the things you may hear older people say, this was a great year for music.  I had trouble putting together a top ten last year, and my number one was an obvious one, but this year I’ve wrestled much more.  (I didn’t decide on my number one until last night.)

Even though I spent a ton of time with records this year, I didn’t get to hear everything I wanted, or everything that intrigued me.  Here’s a short list of bands that I wish I would have paid more mind to in 2008:

The band that the New York Times was afraid to tell you about was a strange beast:  a hardcore band that shares a label with Belle and Sebastian; a band with a patently vulgar name that played on MTV; a punk band capable of playing twelve-hour shows; a group with members named Pink Eyes and 10,000 Marbles.  They seem capable of being reverent and heretical, often in the same song.

“Wild Mountain Nation” was one of my favorite songs last year, and I reviewed Furr favorably for Filter a few months back (phew, say that five times fast etc).  So I’m not really sure why I didn’t stick with it, but I didn’t.  Regardless, there are some great sticky melodies all over this record, a hazy, contemporary version of the Grateful Dead’s classic American Beauty with some scorching guitar leads.

Justin passed me Are Men right before I left Los Angeles.  It’s perfect Southwestern road trip music: classic country that’s drunk on equal parts guitars and bourbon whiskey.  Like BT, The Weight are adept at the stoner country sound, only they’ve got the chops to be George Jones’ backing band should they ever want it.  Blame it on the road trip, or the fact that I couldn’t find the actual record in any stores (both bad excuses), but I let this one slip past my radar, and I’m not too happy about it.  Man, I love country-rock.

Jersey’s Roadside Graves passed their EP to us near the end of the summer for consideration for Autumn Tone.  The front-porching shoutalongs rotated non-stop, and they now call Autumn Tone their home.  Maybe their full-length is a little samey for me, but the EP is killer.

I love Grizzly Bear, and I’ve never heard a bad word about associated act Department of Eagles.  And I have never heard a note that they’ve recorded.

These guys opened for Broken Social Scene back in October and were thoroughly impressive.  Singer Elizabeth Powell sounds like Feist and her band pounds with the atmospheric blast of Mission of Burma.  They sent their record to our office, and I’ve listened to it maybe one half of one time.

Sorry to ruin your December 2009, but when I make my decade-end list of my favorite songs of the ’00s, the Walkmen’s “The Rat” is going to be very, very high on that list.  Unfortunately, nothing else on Bows & Arrows stuck out, and even though reviews for A Hundred Miles Off were overwhelmingly positive (and its lead single was called “Louisiana,” no less), I never gave it a chance.  So blame it on a posture of apathy, but when You & Me came out to universal acclaim, my interest was piqued, but quickly quieted.  This may be the one I’m most upset about sleeping on.

I struggle with this style of music.  I love noisy rock ‘n’ roll (had my mind shaken by Neil Young two nights ago), but I find it hard to sustain.  This may be why I never (ever) got too deep into Sonic Youth.  Whatever the case, We Versus the Shark are one of those bands who have yet to find their noisy corner of the musiverse, and I blame my detuned ears for part of that.  Their free online-only release came across 2008 — a track per month, and all covers.  Against all odds, I had enough discipline to download every single track, starting all the way back in January, and listened to each track exactly once.  Their cover of Pattern is Movement’s “Right Away” is scorching hot, and their take on Radiohead’s “Idioteque” is at least inventive, if not terribly fun to listen to.  Perhaps this’ll grow on me over 2009.

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