Starting off with the ususal disclaimer when it comes to a list of this sort, this is by no means going to be the all encompassing perfect list from the last year but moreso what I listened to and enjoyed the most. With the overwhelming amount of music that came my way this past year there’s surely still potential greats I haven’t even listened to. Here’s the first five more to come as soon as I can get it ready to post.
Feel free to chime in with comments along the way,let me know your picks, what you think I missed, etc.
25 Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend [BUY]
By the time Vamppire Weekend finally got around to releasing a ” real” album very early in this year I had grown tired of listening to them for the most part. But to not include them here seemed to somehow discount the fact that they did in fact release a pretty good album. While not necessarily brand new sound, Their blend of afropop and new wave was unique amongst their peers. So for better or for worse no one else in 2008 sounded like them and they triumphed despite some pretty widespread backlash. It’ll be interesting to see where album number 2 takes them.
24 Nada Surf – Lucky [BUY]
After the addicting brilliance of 2005’s The Weight Is A Gift, my expectations for this record were so high that if it met them this would easily be in the top five on this list. While there are some true gems here like Whose Authority, I Like What You Say, and Ice On The Wing, most of the album is relatively good songs mired down in a slow midtempo vibe which drains a lot of the
power out of them. What you end up with is really good record instead of the potential career defining classic it had the promise to be.
23 Hot Chip – Made In the Dark [BUY]
Hot Chip is the personification of the cell phone,text message,video game,internet generation in sound. Frenetic and danceable and catchy as hell with a top 40 pop melodic sense twisted into it all. They also know how to slow it down too, the title track Made In The Dark could easily pass for a lost Jayhawks song while In The Privacy Of Our Love dabbles in the same atmospherics as Grizzly Bear’s The Knife. Overall, an album with a lot more depth than it got credit for.
22 Eli “Paperboy” Reed And The True Loves – Roll With You [BUY]
The sound of Old School Soul and R&B made some significant return in 2008 and Eli Reed’s apprenticeship in Memphis roadhouses served him well. Roll With You is a horn infused flat out party record steeped in the sounds of classic Rhythm and Blues artists like Otis Redding and Jackie Wilson.
21 Jukebox The Ghost – Let Live And Let Ghosts [BUY]
One Philadelphia’s shining stars at the Moment, Jukebox The Ghost released it’s debut full length record this year. It harkens back to the kind of classic piano based pop songs Ben Folds used to write when he still had the fire in his soul. Hold It In easily qualifies as one of the catchiest singles of the year.
A few photos from last night’s final Bag Of Songs night of 2008 at The M Room with Pow Wow! and DeJesus. DeJesus kicked it off with a loose but excellent solo set which included a mix of old and new songs and a few covers thrown in, including a version of Kate Bush‘s Deeper Understanding. When not playing solo or with his own band Daniel also currently plays in Rasuputina. Pow Wow! closed it out with a fun and energetic set of original music. Eddie’s vocals take on a real soulful, almost Motown like feel that. really brings their songs to life live. See you all back at the M room on Sunday January 18th. Stay tuned for the lineup to be posted soon.
Funk and soul music is not something you can throw together off the cuff, it has to have a groove, a feel that makes it more than just the music itself. James Brown, Otis Redding, George Clinton & P-Funk, Prince, etc. all channel that power into their music. To categorize Phildelphia’s Swift Technique as just another band playing a blend of funk, soul and hip hop sells what they’re doing far too short. They know how to channel that groove, with some of the best musicianship I’ve seen in recent memory and a stage show overflowing with unbridled energy. The times I saw Swift Technique were easily two of the best shows I saw all this past year.
They have quite a few shows coming up including their Boston debut tomorrow night. I highly recommend you get out and see them if you can. Go, they’ll make you a believer too.
Swift Technique :
Sean McCann – Vocals, Lyricist, Rhymes
Jake Leschinsky – Bass
Andy Bree – Guitars
Rich Agren – Drums
Alex Roysdon – Alto Sax
Greg Rosen – Trumpet
Matt Fischer – Trombone
Saturday December 27th
All Asia Club
334 Mass Ave.
More Upcoming Shows
Jan 2 2009 10:00P The Bitter End New York, New York
Jan 10 2009 7:00P Lansing School Ithaca, New York
Jan 14 2009 10:00P University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jan 23 2009 10:00P Maxi’s (Temple University) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Feb 10 2009 8:00P The North Star Bar Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Feb 13 2009 10:00P Uncle Mike’s New York, New York
Feb 18 2009 9:00P Bootlegger’s Woodlyn, Pennsylvania
Capping off a great year of Bag Of Songs Presents nights with our last one of the year this Sunday December 28th at the M Room in Philadelphia. Three fantastic bands to warm up your cold December evening. First up, a former Bag Of Songs Artist Of The Day , DeJesus will be performing a solo set in which he promises new songs as well as some surprises. The first time I ever saw Daniel was a solo set and it blew me away, he’s an amazing cello player and vocalist, I’ve been a fan ever since. Next up is Brooklyn’s Pow Wow! the musical project of the the Nazareno brothers, Eddie and Jeff, they describe their sound as “like the lovechild of burt bacharach and the supremes. from the future. in outerspace. fit for all kinds of dancing (and floating) to.” and I have to say it’s right on the mark. Really cool. Closing out the night is Philadelphia’s Broken Trees fronted by the lovely and talented Liz Boyd on Fender Rhodes piano and vocals, I can best characterize their sound as falling somewhere between Nellie McKay and Kate Nash. You don’t want to miss it. See you there.
Sunday December 28th
Broken Trees, Pow Wow!, DeJesus
8PM – $8 – 21+up
The M Room
15 W Girard Avenue
With only one more day to go we’re winding down to the end of this year’s Christmas song extravaganza, thanks to everyone who left comments or sent emails along the way and I hope everyone is having a great holiday season.
A few versions of a dark and gritty Tom Waits number for you on this cold and icy Christmas Eve.
A Christmas cover song today from Trenton, New Jersey’s power pop band extraordinaire Luzer, whose Reset album is an overlooked classic. Sadly, Luzer disbanded in 2007 but the key members reformed as the equally excellent The Celebrities. Check them out.
You may only know him as the actor playing an ex junkie on the HBO series The Wire but he’s also an amazing songwriter. A couple versions of Steve Earle‘s Christmas in Washington for you today, the original version from the El Corazon album, and a version he performed live with Joan Baez.
Digging into the now classic A Christmas Gift For You album produced by Phil Spector for my favorite version of this song. Here’s a trivia fact for you, this album was originally released on the same day that JFK was assasinated in November 1963 and was pretty much ignored by a public with much larger issues to deal with. It has since gone on to be heralded as one of the great Christmas albums of all time, even inspiring Bruce Springsteen’s cover of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town along the way.
Holiday television specials have become as much of a harbinger of the impending season as the arrival of Santa at the Thanksgiving Day parade. In the process they have spawned quite a few holiday classic songs in their wake, who can think of Christmas without The Grinch or Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang dancing around a tree. Here’s a couple today that I’m sure are imbedded deep in the subconcious of anyone who watched those holiday specials year after year. Go ahead, sing along you know the words.