Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Best Albums of 2008

It is never easy to simplify and boil down all the greats from one 12 month period into one finite list of the very best for a particular year. However, this is what we've attempted to do. Here is a list of my favorite albums of 2008, in no particular order. I've also included favorites from my husband (Mr Qwerty). Most of the time our taste in music is quite similar but there are some genres that he prefers more than me and vice-versa. It's an eclectic list and also includes our favorite compilations, acts outside our remit and other goodies. Hope that there is an artist or band on this list that encourages you to look further and seek out their music. In 2009 I will be looking forward to discovering many more, new powerpop bands and the next International Pop Overthrow Festival in Liverpool.

Powerpop Albums of the Year
1 Adrian Bourgeois - Adrian Bourgeois
2 Sloan - Parallel Play
3 Third of Never - Moodring
4 Gurus - Now
5 Roger Joseph Manning - Catnip Dynamite
6 Junipers - Cut Your Key
7 Liam Finn - I'll be Lightning
8 Julie Ocean - Long Gone and Nearly There
9 Galaxies - Here We Go
10 The Quarter After - Changes Near
11Explorers Club - Freedom Wind
12 Class Three Overbite - Horses For Courses
13 Feeling - Join With Us
14 Ike - Where To Begin
15 Presidents of the USA - These Are The Good Times People
16 The Major Labels - Aquavia
17 Raconteurs - Consoler of the Lonely
18 Scott Murray - Vinyl Generation
19 Greg Pope - Popmonster
20 Lund Bros - Songbook IV

Honorable Mentions Which Might Be Outside Of Our Remit
1. Counting Crows - Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings
2. Mark Kozelek - The Finally LP
3 Winterpills - Central Chambers
4 Black Francis - Svn Fngrs
5 Dexateens - Lost and Found
6 Brent Cash - How Will I Know If I'm Awake
7 Boo Hewerdine - Toy Box No. 1 (e.p.)
8 Jeff Hanson - Madam Owl
9 Black Crowes - Warpaint
10 Killers - Day & Age
11 Duffy - Rockferry
12 Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
13 Lindsey Buckingham - Gift of Screws
14 Dwight Twilley - Singles
15 Envelopes - Here Comes The Wind
16 All American Rejects - When The World Comes Down
17 Greg Laswell - How The Day Sounds

Legendary Comebacks of the Year
Famously, the likes of Glen Campbell and Neil Diamond and other legendary old timers have put out substantial albums this year to equal (in some cases) their finest work. Less trumpeting and flags were erected for Beau Brummels' mainman Sal Valentino's contribution this year. His album, Every Now and Then quietly appeared to no particular fanfare. Understated, unassuming - Sal even revisits past glories, but it makes me happy that guys like Sal are still marking worthy statements which are vying for attention in the crowded marketplace.

Reissue of the Year
I bought it on vinyl in 1977 and when it first came out on CD in the 80's/early 90's but I'm still happy to lay out a third time for Dennis Wilson's sublime Pacific Ocean Blue, this time including his unfinished follow up Bambu. Often overlooked, even by Beach Boys fans, Dennis in any other band would be the major songwriter and central talent. This release proves beyond any doubt that we lost one of our finest musical contributors back in 1983

Goo Goo Dolls - Greatest Hits Volume 2
VA - International Pop Overthrow Volume 11
Gripweeds - Infinite Soul (Best of The Gripweeds)
Linus of Hollywood - Attractive Singles

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Holiday Recommended Books For The Music Lover

At this time of year many of us look for the perfect book for the
serious music lovers on our Christmas list. That person may indeed
be us as it is so tempting to purchase this type of gift for oneself.

This Is Your Brain On Music - Daniel J. Levitin - Plume, 2006
Extremely well researched book that delves into the mysteries of how
our brains and other receptors are affected by music

Music Lust - Nic Harcourt - Sasquatch Books, 2005
Written by KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. Book is broken down into
various themed chapters that describe bands and/or musicians that
fall into that particular category. For example the chapter for Good
Enough to Eat lists bands that have names describing food. The
individual who loves music combined with an obsessive love of lists
needs this book!

Lost In The Grooves - Kim Cooper and David Smay - Routledge, 2005
This is one of those books you can get lost in. Described on the
cover as a capricious guide to the music you missed this is the type
of book that fanatical music collectors love. Here's where my husband
found that the James Gang and Martin Mull were worthy of re-evaluation
and discovered Fool's Face for the first time. If this kind of thing
sets your heart racing, then this is the book for you.

Listen To This - Alan Reder and John Baxter, Hyperion, 1999
Musicians from different genres recommend their favorite artists and
recordings which gives this book an original outlook. For fans of
Peter Buck of REM you will gain insight into the bands and influences
that impacted his music. Highly recommend the book because of the
unusual music that is mentioned but also for the depth of the research

The Green Book of Songs by Subject, 4th Edition - Jeff
Green,Professional Desk References, 1995
This is the book that all disc jockeys would have loved to have gotten
their hands on in the days of early 70's free form radio. The book is
divided into all types of categories and songs that fit into those
categories are listed. The categories range from Africa - world. I
myself used to make up playlists of the 3 perfect songs that would go
together thematically if I were a DJ. At the time I purchased the
book I hesitated due to the price but in retrospect I am glad I made
the acquisition as I haven't seen it since.

The Encyclopedia of Record Producers - Eric Olsen, Paul Verna & Carlo Wolff, Billboard Books, 1999
As essential as directors of movies are the legendary producers of
records. Here are the visionaries behind the stars,the ones twiddling
the knobs, sliding the sliders and dishing out the direction and
advice. Pretty thorough and gives discographies which feature their
misses as well as their hits. As a companion to this volume, can we
also recommend the BBC book The Record Producers which accompanied
their radio series of the same name, where fuller accounts and
interviews are conducted with a number of classic producers. Not all
are obvious with some surprise entries.

Shake Some Action - The Ultimate Power-Pop Guide - John Borack,
Not Lame, 2007
Essential for any fan of the genre, this book lists the top 200 power
pop albums and discusses each record. But this book is a variable
feast for the fan and additionally contains another 14 riveting
chapters that none of us can afford to be without. Seasoned powerpop
hack veteran Borack has pretty much rounded up every important
commentator, musician and mover/shaker on the jangly genre that is
worthy of a sniff and nailed a comment, a top ten or other important
fact for us ever grateful servants of this thing we love. Unfortunately this
book is now out of print but was originally available from the Not Lame

Old Rare New: The Independent Record Shop, Barry Seven, Black Dog
Publishing, 2008
Although a rare experience now - this book recreates the feeling and
experience of finding that unusual record shop in a new town that has
you salivating beyond control. It panders to those of us of a certain
age, but lets face it, unless you remember the record shop of
yesterday then this book will probably not appeal in the first place.
Well researched and contains a couple of stores that are our
favourites too.

All books listed above with the exception of Shake Some Action are all
available at Amazon. There are even reasonably priced used copies of
many of them. Hope this list has been an inspiration for this holiday season.