Sunday, 28 December 2008

My 2008: Artists and Records of Note.

‘Best of’ lists are a collective certainty in the music blogging world, and I am personally not adverse to them myself. In fact, I think it’s a great method of discovery new artists, and celebrating the lesser known genius that occasionally elude the mainstream press. Everyone enjoys spinning yarns about the aural pleasures that have popped up throughout a calendar and I’m not going to buck the trend by not doing one.

As I’ve said elsewhere before, it can take me some time to ‘discover’ acts from bygone years and I’m not going to attempt to try write an article solely devoted to my favourite new bands or records that have been released throughout 2008. Some of these relationships can be fleeting anyway. I’ll give you a concise overview of records and artists who have dominated my speakers throughout the year.

For most of the year, I’ve been on the move, traveling to several new continents. Consequently, the diverse musical tastes of fellow travellers, work pals and other new friends have facilitated my exposure to many new artists. Generally, I can sum up the year with a few bands that, while most of them I’ve heard of, I grew to appreciate. Sort of like a fine wine I guess (alternatively insert some other innocuous metaphor here).

Wilco was one band that asserted itself in my consciousness with their classic “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” album accompanying me throughout South America (I do recall with fondness traversing the Bolivian salt flats with ‘Jesus Etc’ belting from the four-wheel drive speakers). I now curse myself for once giving up the opportunity to see the band live a few years back when I was slightly ignorant of their talent.

Ryan Adams is another artist that I grew to appreciate, particularly his most recent release “Easy Tiger”. I had cycnically assumed Adams as a petulant rock star of little talent and all hype, but now I’m a bit more forgiving. Yes, he is petulant and given to some childish behaviour but he does write some rather good little ditties such as ‘Oh My God Whatever Etc’ which is a personal favourite.

Fleet Foxes (pictured above) released their sublime self-titled debut which quickly became a personal favourite. I’m sure if you’ve listened to the radio or read the music press at any stage this year then you would have heard about some of this bands work. Trust me; they deserve all the praise they have rightfully garnered.

As you may have read, I delved into some older 80s punk/alternative music, with The Replacements and their records “Let It Be” and “Pleased to Meet Me”, along with some Husker Du. R.E.M’s “Murmur” has also undergone more than a few listens.

In terms of new releases and new records, the folk pop crooning of Chad Vaangalen and Bon Iver have been a pleasure to find their way on to my stereo. On the flip side, the doom metal of Japanese rockers Boris kept the metal monster inside of me alive and kicking. On that point, I’d never thought I’d ever say this again, but my teenage romance with Metallica was wistfully re-imagined after the released of the surprisingly good “Death Magnetic” (despite what pitch-arse might say!).

Recently, The Pains of Being Pure of Heart have shaped up as a great new prospect and I eagerly await the release of their debut record scheduled for 2009. Guided by Voices, Of Montreal, the Magnetic Fields and a dozen other regulars still provided me with a lot of joy, head banging, shower-crooning and even air-drumming.

Well, that’s a typically meandering essay of my musical adventures of 2008. I hope 2009 will provide even more fresh discoveries.

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