Talking Music: Reflections & Recommendations by Admohr

Adam Mohr’s 2008 Albums of the Year & Other Favs

Posted in The Year's Best, Top Ten, Year Retrospective by admohr on December 20, 2012

In 2006-2008 I posted my year-end music reviews on Facebook. I’m moving them over here for the sake of completion in their original, unaltered state (despite the overwhelming temptation to omit some of the selections, or at least edit the endless and often ill-advised rambling).

10. Horse Feathers – House With No Home
Hear for yourself: “Curs In The Weeds” http://blip.fm/~1sku2
Why It’s Here: Truth be told, this follow up LP from Horse Feathers is only half the performance that the earth-shaking In Our Blood LP is. But ultimately, I’ve never heard such power and crippling emotion from the sounds of just an acoustic guitar and complemented strings. The In Our Blood LP was always one that could just tear me apart into a sobbing mess for no good reason whatsoever, and the sound of the House With No Home album actually carries slightly uplifting moments throughout much of it – but the emotions that make Horse Feathers what they are (it is?) is without a doubt a group & sound that I think that absolutely everybody just has to hear.

9. M83 – Saturdays=Youth
Hear for yourself: “You Appearing” http://blip.fm/~1skss
Why It’s Here: performances like “You Appearing” and the conquering “We Own The Sky” absolutely alter the listener’s sense of reality. The album & sound takes itself so seriously that there’s nothing ironic or grounded about it at all – but the compositions, sounds, & performances are just so convincing that it actually doesn’t matter.

8. No Age – Nouns
Hear for yourself: “Sleeper Hold” http://blip.fm/~1skqo
Why It’s Here: Noise-power-pop-punk complete w/ moments that will leave your ears bleeding. “Sleeper Hold” and “Teen Creeps” are the type of trajectory-changing tracks that hit the listener so hard all they can do is reach over to keep turning it up.

7. Deerhunter – Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.
Hear for yourself: “Vox Celeste” http://blip.fm/~1skpi
Why It’s Here – Pitchfork counted these as the same album, so I’m going to do the same. The Weird Era Cont. portion of “extras” is in someways more satisfying than much of the diverse Microcastle LP – though moments like “Nothing Ever Happened” are the perfect balance of noise and accessibility.

6. Sun Kil Moon – April
Hear for yourself: “Tonight The Sky” http://blip.fm/~1skn3
Why It’s Here: Moving, emotive pieces like “Moorestown” and “Lost Verses” provide the soundtrack for absolutely ANY late-evening drive home, and the triumphant “Tonight The Sky” provides a balance that pushes this performance into one of the strongest artistic collections of the year. Mark Kozelek’s restrained vocals evoke Damien Jurado and Centro-Matic’s Will Johnson, but the musical landscapes that Mark’s vocals are painted on push the whole of the sound so much further than the listener ever expects it to.

5. Portishead – Third
Hear for yourself: “The Rip” http://blip.fm/~1skl0
Why It’s Here: It’s generally rare that mainly sonic pieces find much of a lasting impact with me, but the collection of performances on Portishead’s Third LP overwhelm the listener in a way that makes usual performances seem completely obsolete. Beth Gibbons’s voice absolutely haunts throughout “The Rip” and when the army of dominating, angry chords hits midway through “We Carry On” it feels like the soundtrack to a completely surreal and out-of-control experience. The vibrations of “Machine Gun” alone paint a more vivid image than anything else on record from this year.

4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!
Hear for yourself: “We Call Upon the Author” http://blip.fm/~1skjv
Why It’s Here: Critics cited that the strength of what makes Dig!!! relevant is a rejuvenated, reborn angry Nick Cave courtesy of the balls-only Grinderman side project. Bullshit. Cave & The Seeds have absolutely grown more beautiful, more powerful, and most complete as they have aged, evidenced brilliantly by the criminally-overlooked Lyre of Orpheus & Abbatoir Blues LPs. Dig!!! is the balance of the more brooding, creeping compositions (“Hold Onto Yourself,” “Moonland,” “Jesus of the Moon”) from the Lyre/Blues LPs and the No More Shall We Part LP balanced by the characteristic edge of lyrical performance that Nick Cave will forever be defined by in performances like “Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!” and “We Call Upon the Author.” And if there could possibly be any question that Nick Cave is one of the most accomplished & still accomplishing artists of our time – put on the landmark “More News From Nowhere.”

3. Shearwater – Rook
Hear for yourself: “Rooks” http://blip.fm/~1skil
Why It’s Here: Jonathan Meiburg composed such a committed, thorough effort throughout all of the emotive and haunting Rook LP that it immediately strikes the listener in a way that so much of Okkervil River keeps the listener wanting more. Never before have I been more confident in comparing an album to the score of a dark film, one whose music paints a more overwhelming picture than actors and lines could ever provide. Meiburg & the Band’s performances between the rocking performances provide a segue and yet also the landscape that makes the album what it ultimately is – an incredible masterpiece of sound, spirit, and mood that few LP performances have matched.

2. David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Hear for yourself: “Strange Overtones” http://blip.fm/~1skfw
Why It’s Here: Because no matter how many times you spin it, incredible pop performances like “Strange Overtones” “Wanted for Life” and “The River” won’t be heard enough in your life. It’s hard to listen to Byrne’s vocals and not immediately think of all of the masterpieces that he has already sung & been a part of. It’s hard to hear the sonic assembly that Eno has created all his life and not immediately want to put on one of those LPs that alone have caused hundreds of bands and artists to go into making their own sounds spun out of his influence. The performances on this album are so unbelievably genuine and complete – that as you listen to this one, all you will want to do is play THIS album over and over again. There is absolutely no greater testament to this album possible.

1. TV on the Radio – Dear Science,
Hear for yourself: “DLZ” http://blip.fm/~1skde
Why It’s Here: They’re absolutely dominating our age with album performances in noise rock, yet it’s criminal to characterize them with only noise rock. Their vocal performances are masterful and conquering, they continually provide some of the greatest rhythms on record for the year, the performances of the greatest noise of the year, the greatest rock hooks of each year. As a listener, I have to characterize their sound with the experience that is a genuine surprise each time I listen. The surprise is how convincing and how established each turn in sound they make is. Desperate Youth & Blood Thirsty Babes and Return to Cookie Mountain characterized the raw power and hook-driven distortion of so much of what characterizes the independent rock scene today – and yet each time their album performances have remained the standard in that particular instance of sound, whether the emphasis is on the distortion, the hooks, or on the rhythm. This more than any other is TV on the Radio’s Rhythm album, and the performance is undeniably overwhelming.

Other Favorites, 2008:
– Cut Copy’s “Out There On The Ice” (http://blip.fm/~1slzs) and about the first half of the In Ghost Colours LP
– Titus Andronicus’s The Airing of Grievances LP with heightened emphasis on the “Fuck Everything, Fu-uck Me” part of the “Titus Andronicus” (http://blip.fm/~1slz6) track. Kudos to Conor for one of his more convincing performances (wink).
– About 3/4 of the seriously-not-just-powerful-lyrically Why? – Alopecia LP
– The entire, pissing intensity of Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life LP (w/ special emphasis on the few moments that had a touch of focus on the music surrounding the screaming, i.e. “Black Albino Bones” (http://blip.fm/~1slye). (In all seriousness – the band’s performance and the impact it had on me after the first listens reminds me of the first time I heard The Hold Steady)
– “Slapped Actress” (http://blip.fm/~1slxk) and “Constructive Summer” of The Hold Steady’s Stay Positive LP. When this album dropped this past Spring, I thought it was an instant classic. Anymore I can’t get past the idea that the band has turned a corner that minimizes the impact of the band for the sacrifice of making a more expressive, artistic type of sound. I’ll always feel that Separation Sunday (& half of Boys & Girls) was the most brilliant blend of an abrasive rock performance with a touch of actual soul & meaning – something so few punk LP’s have ever been able to effectively pull off (coming from one who thinks Let It Be is the most moving performance of a lifetime). Finn & The Band deserve to be able to display the true range of abilities they have in musicianship & most certainly songwriting.
– The breathtaking back & forth between Will Sheff & Jonathan Meiburg on “Lost Coastlines” (http://blip.fm/~1slwp) on YET ANOTHER underrated, incredible performance on the The Stand Ins LP.
– Contantines’ “Our Age” (http://blip.fm/~1slvg)
– So, so much of Bon Iver’s unbelievably emotive For Emma, Forever Ago LP. “Skinny Love” (http://blip.fm/~1sluk) just puts me on the brink of tears each time I hear it.
– The praise is well-deserved for Fleet Foxes after their seriously life-changing s/t LP with transcendent moments like “He Doesn’t Know Why” (http://blip.fm/~1slry). It’s such a testament to the band that such a genuine, musically-moving sound can make such a splash on so many year-end lists.
– I hate to dwell on efforts that don’t get to me as much as I hope they will – but Kathleen Edwards’s Asking For Flowers LP really left me wanting more of the incredible performances littered throughout her first two LP’s. But even stronger moments like “Buffalo” (http://blip.fm/~1sltc) and “Oil Man’s War” just make you want to put one of her first LP’s.
– Giant Sand’s “Stranded Pearl” (http://blip.fm/~1slr9) (although I wasn’t moved by anything else nearly as much off this LP, unfortunately, sorry.)
– While I’m apologizing – I’d like to offer sincere apologies to Wolf Parade for my unreachable expectations in your 2008 LP. For What It’s Worth – the more time passes, the more I think that the Apologies to the Queen Mary LP is the greatest LP of my listening-life. And I’d like to apologize to myself for ruining the handful of the truly strong-to-great moments, such as “An Animal In Your Care” (http://blip.fm/~1slpf) of the At Mount Zoomer LP. It’s just nothing close to how great that band can truly be.
– The Walkmen’s “Four Provinces” (http://blip.fm/~1slpf) and a few other tracks of a great surprise of 08.
– The Gaslight Anthem’s “Great Expectations” (http://blip.fm/~1sloz) and almost everything else of the fantastic, youth-saving, fist-pumping The ’59 Sound LP. So incredibly unbelievable that a band this IMMEDIATE can still prove to have more depth than the first listens yield.
– Destroyer’s “Shooting Rockets” (http://blip.fm/~1slnr) Trouble In Dreams LP which was so genuinely satisfying and may prove to be an even more lasting listen than 06’s unbelievable Rubies.
– Silver Jews’s “San Francisco B.C.” (http://blip.fm/~1slmx) and the rest of the pleasant-sounding LP (which is ultimately, the main problem about the Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea LP)
– I really don’t love the Vampire Weekend LP – but damn if about one out of every ten moments really, really reminds me of early Talking Heads and for that a shout out for “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” (http://blip.fm/~1sm1v). SPECIAL BONUS – God, I absolutely adore this cover of “Everywhere” so many thanks to them for putting out such a brilliant piece, and thanks to XMU for brining this to my biased, hating ears: (http://blip.fm/~1sm2j)
– And Finally: there are too many moments to list here but first and foremost goes to “Ghost to Most” (http://blip.fm/~1sllx) off of the seriously, we don’t deserve this many great moments, no seriously Brighter Than Creation’s Dark LP from the Drive By Truckers. This album was too long to be ultimately considered an album, but there’s moments on here that will be on playlists for the rest of anyone’s life, and will most certainly be on mine.

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