we asked our friend, & local blogger extraordinaire, brent finnegan about his favorite albums of the year. he replied:
I don’t go out of my way to seek new music anymore. I rely almost entirely on friends’ recommendations and Pandora. To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to albums in years. Albums made more sense when you had a physical, tangible unit (like a record, a cassette or a CD) to put into the stereo. All my music is now on an external USB drive. I listen to singles, mixes and playlists, not albums. As far as I’m concerned, the album is dead.
So, I can’t give you a top 10 albums of 2008 list. But I can say that this year, I listened to a lot of Sigur Ros, Kodomo, Dungen, Film School, Malajube, Doves, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and The Octopus Project. Here are a few of my Here are a few of my favorites since August.
¡thanks brent! & we’ve been glad to see your recent posts up at hburg news, i.e. the bob goodlatte piece & the discussion of potential virginia noose legislation.
and, as a stodgy musician who still owns cds and loves to buy vinyl, i need to point out that independant music, and especially vinyl, is the main growth sector in the music economy right now.
and now, from the most revered, dan savage:
I consider condom and birth control use to be aspects of sexual behavior, so it seems to me that virginity pledges do make a difference—a negative one, a harmful one. It’s time to level with America’s moms and dads: It’s unlikely that your kids will save themselves until marriage—you didn’t, why should they? But if you want to make sure your kids arrive at the altar with a history of STIs and a baby or two in tow… by all means coerce them into taking that “virginity pledge.”
the washington post today reports a new study from the johns hopkins bloomberg school of public health. it found: “Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do.” interesting…especially interesting because harrisonburg has a special place in the debate over abstinence-only education. the ol’ dnr reported in september:
2006 Teen Pregnancy Rates Per 1,000 Females
Rockingham County: 26.3
* Rates provided by the Virginia Department of Health
we’re running 22.1 per 1000 over waynesboro, the town w/ the dubious distinction of top preg rate when my wife was growing up there.
so, i’m sure local folks have taken heed of the problem and are working to provide teens w/ education, contraceptives, and options… ¿right?
again, the dnr:
Parents Should Talk About Sex
Katherine Baird, Teen Pregnancy Prevention coordinator, said it is unclear why Harrisonburg’s teen pregnancy rate is so high, but poverty could be a factor.
In 2004, 17.9 percent of Harrisonburg residents were below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s nearly double the state’s poverty rate of 9.5 percent that same year.
“We really don’t have a definitive answer” to the cause of the city’s teen pregnancy rate, Baird said. “But the city’s poverty rate is substantial.”
Susan Null, executive director of the Harrisonburg Pregnancy Center, said the statistics show that “there’s a huge need for abstinence education.”
She said it’s important for parents to talk to their children about the risks associated with premarital sex.
Parents should “not just talk about abstinence, but talk about why abstinence makes sense,” Null said. “Not only is there a risk of unplanned pregnancy, but there’s a risk of a permanent infection” due to sexually transmitted diseases.
Baird agreed that parents play a vital role in helping prevent teen pregnancies.
“The best prevention is to share your family values and be an open and accessible parent,” she said. “Parents need to voice their opinions and share their values.”
yes, poverty, yes, talk about sex, and yes, need for—¡wait! but susan null, of the harrisonburg pregnancy center, the statistics seem to show there’s a huge need for real sex education and resources?? in fact, the study in the washington post seems to say that abstinence only education is more dangerous than other methods:
“Taking a pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior,” said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. “But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking.”
i know public policy and programs take time to reform, so until we can give worthwhile education and resources locally, i suggest a modest first step: print savage love in the local paper & make sure the teens have uncensored access to the internet.
it seems to me that a best of list should be mostly music from that year, but if we’re going for what i’ve been listening to this year, i guess it would be:
texas. shoegaze. psych.
power of soul
cosmic american music
mustaches and mayhem
ever since the nanci raygun
the black keys: attack and release
the old and the new
luscious loops and nick’s words of wisdom
thanks for being a friend gram
and it was
youtube strikes again. as i wrote up 1 and 2 end-of-the-year music lists, i was frequently derailed by this stuff. other than the small format, it’s better than mtv is, or has been for years, if ever.
there’s also this video, set to their song “fake empire”:
this hilarious joke of a video bridges me from time-wasting, ¡to joking! as a certain fellow (¿or she-fellow?) pointed out (christian name: “anon”), many people have an impression that al jazeera is some kind of state-run, terrorist-cell, media jihadi.
to avoid total blog cliché, i won’t dredge up all the ways in which western media outlets fell pathetically short of useful in the leadup, say, to the iraq war, for example.
instead, let me just toss out two useful bits related to this credible news source:
1: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. the bush administration has targeted al jazeera and its journalists in unprecidented ways, including targeting and bombing their bagdad bureau during the initial stage of the iraq war, and detaining a cameraman, sami al-haj, for 6 years on no credible charge. al-jazeera was a media outlet unique in its access to the middle east and its freedom of influence from washington (unlike aforementioned u.s. media). amy goodman wrote a piece that sums up some of the recent, sordid history:
In November 2001, despite the fact that Al-Jazeera had given the U.S. military the coordinates of its office in Kabul, U.S. warplanes bombed Al-Jazeera’s bureau there, destroying it. An Al-Jazeera reporter covering the George Bush-Vladimir Putin summit in Crawford, Texas, in the same month was detained by the FBI because his credit card was “linked to Afghanistan.” In spring 2003, the U.S. dropped four bombs on the Sheraton hotel in Basra, Iraq, where Al-Jazeera correspondents—the only journalists reporting from that city—were the lone guests. Another Al-Jazeera staffer showed his ID to a U.S. Marine at a Baghdad checkpoint, only to have his car fired upon by the Marines. He was unhurt. That can’t be said for Tareq Ayyoub, an Al-Jazeera correspondent who was on the roof of the network’s bureau in Baghdad on April 8, 2003, when a U.S. warplane strafed it. He was killed. His widow, Dima Tahboub, told me: “Hate breeds hate. The United States said they were doing this to rout out terrorism. Who is engaged in terrorism now?”
any media source should be questioned and held to account, but by virtue of their identity and history alone, i think al-jazeera deserves a reader’s/viewer’s fair shake.
& 2: they do a persuasive job, um, at their job. just ask josh rushing. he was a CENTCOM p.r. officer (you may have seen him in control room, the great documentary about al jazeera), and now works for al jazeera enlish. (he spoke on the daily show last year). while serving in iraq, rushing’s experiences led him to (slowly) change his attitude on al jazeera (check rushing’s ’07 democracy now! interview.)
anyway, he came back from iraq, wrote a book,and got a new job:
so, as israel blows up the gaza strip, or as the next conflict erupts, i absolutely believe, as jill posted on the blog yesterday, that folks should look to diverse media to keep track of the story. and i would gladly go to al jazeera first, no joke.
Filed under: -of localism, -of sound, -of the new year, -of townie-to-townie
our friend andrew, local musician (the wolf gang), author & journalist (rocktown weekly, virginia correspondent for lancaster farming, formerly of the page news and courier, as well as freelance work) sent us his list for the year.
as we at the state suggested, these lists need not be limited to the calendar year. what someone is listening to & excited by this year says something about the year’s musical environment, but also gives a bit of autobiography-via-music. so, here we go, andrew’s “list of my best of all time music, as conceived at the end of 2008″:
“In no particular order, other than alphabetic, b/c that’s how my iTunes is organized:
The best description I ever heard of Aes Rock’s stuff was “musical dadaism” which seems to totally fit. I completely love everything about this album, but especially the completely bizarre raps that come out of left field but somehow talk to me. Every time I listen, some new phrase jumps out of nowhere, e.g. “You won’t be laughing when your covered wagons crash,” and I think, “so true.”
Bloc Party – Silent Alarm.
So cool. Apart from Radiohead, who will appear later on this list, there’s quite a bit of British hipster rock that’s generally pretty cool, but this album stands head and shoulders above most of it, IMHO. I love how the song Helicopters sounds has some of the most helicopterish guitar work I’ve ever heard.
but if you absolutely forced me to pick one, I’d go with Disc 2, which includes Craven Choke Puppy, High Tide or Low Tide, Burnin’ and Lootin’, Concrete Jungle … OK, better stop before I just name every song. Bob is in the serious running for my favorite/most influential artist ever, and if your only exposure to him is Legend, shame on you. And if you belong to that huge group of morons who think that “liking Bob Marley” is code-talk for “I smoke weed” DOUBLE shame on you. He does the love songs, he does the fight songs, he does it all… Do I make my love for him clear?
This is a tough call, b/c I have to include Danny on this list (b/c he’s Bob M.’s biggest competition for the single most important musician ever) but I don’t think he has one album that stands out from all the others. Parables and Primes has the highest concentration of essential tracks, though, so I’ll go with that. It’s very sad that this means songs like “McCreary’s Pipes” from Enjoying the Fall don’t get on this best-of list.
Is this too trendy of a choice? Is Iron & Wine sooo 2005? Whatever. It’s a beautiful album and we had some friends play “My Lady’s House” at our wedding because it’s the prettiest song in the whole entire world.
So this is a best-of-ever list, but I’m writing it Dec. 2008, and this is on heavy, heavy personal rotation because it just sounds so cool. Could get bumped next year.
The first time I ever heard this I was with a college buddy, and we listened to it start to finish in his apartment, and we didn’t talk once. We just sat there listening, and then, when it all ended, we sort of looked at each other and went, “whoa.”
I won’t get started on why this is, without doubt, without hesitation, without question, the NUMBER ONE ESSENTIAL ALBUM of all time (this designation slightly different from essential artist of all time). Just trust me, and by the end of Paranoid Android, track 2, you’ll agree unless you suck. One of the most memorable, exciting and important nights of my life ended with me listening to this album in its entirety just before I went to bed. Long story, but please trust me and listen to this album.
This one snuck on b/c of the year 2008 currently-enjoyable thing going on here. Cool instrumental electronic rock, turned awesome with Garage Band and an iBook. I saw them live once; the mosh pit was more violent than at the Rammstein show I was at (they are cool too, but not going to make this list), if you can believe that, or if you have any appreciation for why that’s surprising, or if you care.
I had that same “which album to pick” conundrum here, but went with their latest, mainly because it has two whole discs of Chili goodness. Flea was the main reason I bought a bass guitar at age 18, and the album art from Blood Sugar Sex Magik is probably the reason why I have a few tattoos, and and and. John Frusciante has a few solo albums, all of which are honorable mentions on this list.
It’s true. Third Eye Blind on my Best of List. This is one of those rare albums that I thought was great in high school, and I still think is great 10 years later. Plus, I went to a 3EB show right after I graduated, and it was one of those seminal moments in my life that I realize, in retrospect, had a big impact on me in all sorts of ways that I won’t get into, because I already feel sheepish about this pick. But certain.
I’m almost done typing now. This makes the list because I love this album, and I’m feeling a defiant backlash after my Third Eye Blind sheepishness, so I’m not going to justify or explain Wolf Parade at all. Listen to it.”
since we wrote, performed, & recorded this ep, my informed opinion should carry some major weight: this is a great record. a must-own. (we at the state are fond of the cover art, as well.)
…anyway, we (samuel joseph, jason summer, and johan grimsrud) finished recording the music, mixed it w/ matt doctor at bear creek studios, mastered it w/ chris hanzsek, put the package together, and toured through the southwest in the depths of summer. ¡voilá!
with just days to spare, i think tim dechristopher made a strong effort for trickster-of-the-year. this guy somehow managed to get in as a bidder on a bureau of land management auction of drilling rights to southern utah land. tim drove up prices on thousands of acres, then ¡bought 22,000 acres’ rights himself!
not too shabby for a regular university of utah student (& gutsy environmentalist).
he spoke with amy goodman on democracy now! last week about his action and subsequent arrest. & this, from tim’s blog:
What I have learned since then is that America is still a place where when you stand for what is right, you never stand alone. I can now see that I acted together with all Americans who respect the right as much as the law. I stood with Thoreau, Adams, Parks and Bob Moses. I now stand with the thousands who have expressed their solidarity with my act and will join me in Washington DC on March 2nd for the Capitol Climate Action.
¡favorite albums of 2008!
part 2; the old 4
i wanted to include a set of music that, though it isn’t brand new, has been especially, insidiously habit-forming for me this year.
some weeks ago, i had a talk w/ brent finnegan at a party about good-old-american songs and records that were deeply bleak and depressing. john melancamp and bruce springsteen came up, of course, but i thought that as double-edged as “jack and dianne” may be, nebraska takes the cake. from the badlands-esque narrative of the title track on, this music got in my head & wouldn’t leave. i think it was an unavoidable hazard of driving through oregon, california, oregon again, washington, idaho, montana, wyoming, south dakota, iowa, illinois, indiana, ohio, pennsylvania, maryland, west virginia, virginia, oregon again, california again, arizona, new mexico, texas, arkansas, tennessee, and virginia again, in a bout 2 summer weeks. i’m still tired.
i was a little slow to pick this one up (it came out 2005), but wow did it get me this year. he’s sung w/ lou reed, and worked w/ (jeff buckley’s ex) joan as policewoman on his own recordings.
the songs on this record are amazingly written & produced, w/ sharp minimalism from the solo-vocal-&-piano into multitrack-ghost-choir of “hope there’s someone,” to the drum-guitar-horns-etc. soul of “fistful of love,” there’s always enough space to let the arrangements breathe and the dramatics pop.
this 1975 gem (recorded in ’73) is a dirtier, looser, grungier record of neil young, almost as if the dirty three got a hold of neil’s smoother, poppier bits and scattered them around the studio. the sound is rough, and it works in perfect service of the impact of the record.
i’ve been listening a lot to neil young this year, from 1970′s after the gold rush to 2006′s living with war. i picked tonight’s the night because, like nebraska, it’s an uncanny american record: part denunciation, part reclamation. a sort-of everything-is-fucked & everything-is-going-to-be-alright, yin-yang balance, that seems timely. of course neither record is 50% nice & pretty and 50% gloom and doom–both are much more doomy on the surface, but both are disarmingly honest in delivery and unwaveringly american in their construction (sound, theme, voice).
plus, with “roll another number” and “albuquerque,” this record scratched my road music itch.
like antony & the johnsons, this record caught up w/ me a bit late (it came out in 2007), but held on tight once it finally bit. andrew bird is a violinist, whistler, vocalist, writer, and additional-multi-instrumentalist. his delivery is almost opposite the rough approach i’ve been so excited about w/ neil young & nick cave and all, but the songs are nearly irresistable. e.g., scythian empires brings images of disney-seven-drwarves waltzing through blasted-out terra-war-scapes.
it’s a striking effect, and i’m excited to hear noble creatures, out this year, and to see him in d.c. this february. looks like a promising show (“measuring cups” is off his 2005 release, but it was a bit of a themesong for me during my stint in evergreen’s master in teaching program this year):
don’t rely on Fox News right now, folks. here’s the headline:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The White House issued a statement blaming Hamas for the Israeli air strikes on Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinians in the bloodiest day there in decades.
(or maybe, just don’t rely on the u.s. government…in case you haven’t heard…)
for coverage of the current upsurge in Israeli/Palestinian violence,
and if you must have domestic, the new york times isn’t half-bad these days.
check it out:
Foodies had reason to think Obama would lean in their direction. In an interview with Time magazine’s Joe Klein, he said he’d read Michael Pollan’s New York Times Magazine cover story “about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil.” Momentum built as Pollan, along with Alice Waters, Rick Bayless, Wendell Berry, Eric Schlosser, Dan Barber, Marion Nestle, and many others, sent a letter to the transition team with their suggestions for the next secretary of agriculture. The letter inspired a hugely successful petition, swiftly collecting 55,000 signatures, helped in part by the Times’ Kristof, who called on Obama to focus on a “secretary of food.”
Vilsack’s appointment was like a slap in the face, and “sent a chill through the sustainable food and farming community,” said a representative from the Organic Consumers Association. The association has started a new online petition to mobilize opposition to Vilsack.
Filed under: -of civil rights, -of funny, -of jhumphrey, -of politik
as dan savage says: “god bless rachel maddow…”
ha! we are laughing.
specifically, it is this quote, in reference to receiving coal, which makes us laugh:
Perhaps it was deserved, in which case you’ll probably just have to repent and do better next year, said Ted Grimsrud, professor of theology and peace studies at Eastern Mennonite University. An undeserved gift of coal, however, could merit a campaign of nonviolent direct action to confront the coalgiving oppression.
“You could withhold your consent to be governed by your parents,” said Grimsrud, who also recommended bringing public awareness to the injustice, and possibly, should the oppressor fail to respond, acts of civil disobedience like letting the air out of your parents’ tires.
doesn’t look like obama noticed…
blech. is what i have to say about the secretary of ag. (heh.) appointee.
corn. corn. and more corn. is what we’re in for.
listen to michael pollan’s response to the appointment on npr. here’s a blurb:
“I was very disappointed in that news conference,” he said, “not to hear Vilsack use the word ‘food’ — or ‘eaters.’ And the interests of everybody except eaters was discussed: farmers, ranchers, people concerned about the land.”
And so, he said, it’s difficult not to see Vilsack’s selection as “agribusiness as usual.
or read the response on the daily kos.
i read somewhere that obama’s cabinet is a “middle-of-the roader’s dream”.
dude. why does he think he got elected?
because we all though that we wouldn’t have to listen to rick warren’s worthless drabble at obama’s inaguration…
excuse me. i’m feeling a little down.
can anyone cheer me up?
if there is any doubt in your mind that issues of gay rights are not issues of human rights, go see this film.
if you have convinced yourself that somehow, being gay is different than being black or being a woman, go see this film.
if the phrase, “lifestyle choice” has seriously slipped through your lips, for god’s sake, go see this film.
it may be the first step in waking you up…
here’s a segment:
and then you should start reading some dan savage. such as:
as harvey milk used to say:
“i’m harvey milk, and i want to recruit you”
and he recruited the elderly, and the teamsters, and the hippies, and the mayor, and…
why not you?
amazing! i’m so thrilled about this discovery:
i am a frustrated polaroid user. it’s harder and harder to find the film.
glen’s fairprice has a few dusty boxes of old-school film, but it’s so expensive…
and then, i was alerted this morning about some mac-only freeware that does this:
thanks to polaroid pablo for being the unknowing photogenic model for this experiment.
my guess is that the slick creator of this freeware is trying to get the eye of the apple folks for a sweet deal. in other words…it won’t be free for long, folks. if you feel so inclined, you can donate to the developer on the website…
fantastic! hello christmas presents….
the new preacher myspace is up and running. it will be the spot for the new band (w/ jason and johan of oscar’s mad + josh, of the wolf gang, and jon, of many bands, most recently harlem and johnny hash) to share demos, musings, and big plans & ideas as their new creation comes to life and begins to turn on its maker. here’s the blurb:
preacher is the bastard brain child of jason and johan, which is slowly being born w/ intensive regimens of pedal steel guitar, stomp sessions w/ josh and jon, and a nip or two of whiskey. the poor creature appears to have the teeth of slim cessna, the hands of keith richards, the dreamy eyes of loretta lynn and gram parsons (one each), and the shifty spine of will oldham. we’ll keep the updates & demos coming as this unfortunate soul winds the long, hard, narrow road to Life.
Filed under: -of funny
i just want to share that since we posted about a tenuous connection between ¡former! congressman virgil goode and a racy film, one of our “top searches” (blog stat that tracks blog hits referred from search engines, including search terms) has been “goode porne.”
Some of the tunes are fuzzed-out and blissed-up, while others are these gentle little lullabies that you have to listen to over and over. True to the band’s “slowcore” aesthetic, all the numbers unfold at an achingly, deliberately slow pace…. To blazes with a diamond! Low’s Christmas album is the real gift that keeps on giving.
i couldn’t agree more.
low, by the way, are one hell of a band.
yeah, what he said (via the new york times):
“This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” He then threw a shoe at Mr. Bush, who ducked and narrowly avoided it. As stunned security agents and guards, officials and journalists watched, Mr. Zaidi then threw his other shoe, shouting in Arabic, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!”
The foot occupies the lowest rung in the bodily hierarchy and the shoe, in addition to being something in which the foot is placed, is in constant contact with dirt, soil and worse. The sole of the shoe is the most unclean part of an unclean object. In northern India, where I grew up, the exhortation “Jooté maro!” (“Hit him with shoes!”) was invoked when one sought to administer the most demeaning punishment. (Another footwear tidbit: The effigies of unpopular politicians in India are regularly garlanded with shoes and paraded down the streets.)
In the Muslim world, according to Hume Horan, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, “to have the sole of the shoe directed toward one is pretty much the equivalent of someone in our culture giving you the finger.” Matthew Gordon, a historian of Islam, says that since one takes one’s shoes off before entering a mosque–as a way of maintaining the purity of the place of worship–”the use of a shoe as something to hit you with is an inversion, directing impurity and pollution at the object of the beating.”