Music

Part 1: AmpLive to Damien Jurado

Born Ruffians

From AmpLive to Damien Jurado, PopMatters offers up the first batch of Slipped Discs, 40 great albums that didn't quite make our year-end list in 2008, but our writers thought belonged there.

The Charlatans to Alejandro Escovedo

Alejandro Escovedo

Artist: The Charlatans

Album: You Cross My Path

Label: Cooking Vinyl

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/c/charlatansthe-youcrossmypath.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-06-10

UK Release Date: 2008-05-12

Internet release date: 2008-03-03

Display as: List

The Charlatans spent nearly 20 years as British rock survivors. They overcame critical skepticism and all sorts of bizarre calamities to become one of Britain's best rock bands. By 2006,though, directionless and drug-addled, it seemed they were finally about to write themselves off. So leader Tim Burgess sobered up and the band sharpened up their songwriting pens. The faux-reggae was ditched and the Hammond organ was dusted off. Veteran engineer Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, Swervedriver) was brought in to add a sharp, glimmering edge. And the taut, nervy You Cross My Path was the band's best album in a decade. Ten lean, mean, melodic, danceable songs, and no frills. Crucially, the Charlatans rediscovered their knack for co-opting UK pop trends while retaining their own identity. While the Killers and Primal Scream tried with mixed results to add modern relevance to 1980s dance music, and Oasis made a hit-and-miss attempt at resurrecting Britpop-era tunes'n'tude, You Cross My Path excelled at both. John Bergstrom

 

Artist: Elvis Costello and The Imposters

Album: Momofuku

Label: Lost Highway

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/c/costelloelvis-momofuku.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-05-06

UK Release Date: 2008-05-05

Display as: List

After vowing to stop making albums, Elvis Costello thankfully reneged on that threat and delivered one of his spriest albums in years, with Momofuku. Named after the creator of Ramen noodles, and referencing both the quick prep of the soup and this record, Momofuku was one of the rare albums (by any artist) that favorably and accurately sounded like a musician's "old" stuff, while still moving the ball forward -- no small feat given Costello's wide-ranging discography. To wit, the opening one-two punch of "No Hiding Place" and "American Gangster Time" could legitimately have been This Year's Model outtakes and "Harry Worth" mixed Imperial Bedroom's orchestration with the noir of The Delivery Man. To top things off, album closer "Go Away" proved Costello's still got more piss and vinegar in him than most supposed actual Angry Young Men. Stephen Haag

 

Artist: Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald

Album: Recomposed Vol. 3

Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/r/recomposedcarlcraig.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-10-17

Display as: List

Both minimalist and technically complex, Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald's Recomposed: Music by Maurice Ravel & Modest Mussorgsky is a transgression into the world of soundscapes represented by two of the most prestigious artists in the electronic world. Originally commissioned by the Berlin Philarmonic, Oswald went in and took out the original multi-tracks to Maurice Ravel's Bolero and Rapsodieespagnole, and Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in Ravel's orchestration. He then invited Carl Craig along for the ride where they both worked meticulously on the recomposing of classical orchestrations from the mid-'80s. What came out was a world of analog soundscapes that build among old-school techno drum machines and sampled orchestrations. It's as intriguing as Brian Eno's work with Cluster, meticulous as Philip Glass, and ambitious as Steve Reich. John Bohannon

 

Artist: Deerhoof

Album: Offend Maggie

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/d/deerhoof-offendmaggie.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-10-07

UK Release Date: 2008-10-13

Display as: List

It may be a publicity stunt, but it's one too ingenious to come from any other band: soliciting fan interpretations by releasing the sheet music before the song itself. Plenty of the "Fresh Born" recordings captured the group's warped, split-second melodic instincts, but none nailed that intensely raw, noise-rock undercurrent, a brilliant foil to Satomi Matsuzaki's cutesy "tot tots" and "rah rahs". Offend Maggie, the group's ninth album in about as many years, is all about that contradiction, scaling back the extravagant, proggy flourishes of Friend Opportunity. And really, to hear "My Purple Past" blast from the speakers, all visceral, noisy riffs and monstrous drum grooves, is to be reminded that the 'hoof is a rock band first and foremost, and they do bring the rock. Glancing at year end lists, it seems the critics and indie kids alike jumped off the Deerhoof wagon as abruptly as they hopped on in '05. It's their loss. Zach Schonfeld

 

Artist: Department of Eagles

Album: In Ear Park

Label: 4AD

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/d/department_of_eagles_-_in_ear_park.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-10-07

Display as: List

This release from Fred Nicolaus and Daniel Rossen, dedicated to Rossen's late father, is a collection comprised of everything from intimate creaks and strums to brash, bold collages of scattered textures. More than once, scratchy chords, resigned vocals, and battered beats give way to lyrical passages of emotional force and pure intensity rivaling any alternative work released this year. Nicolaus and Rossen successfully achieve what so many of their peers aim to do but can not: they have created a work driven by eclecticism that never once feels contrived. Angsty and momentous, mournful and glorious, In Ear Park causes speakers to effuse a delicate glow for many moments after the last track fades away, as both its haunting lulls and sweeping storms linger in the ear and mind. Elizabeth Newton

 

Artist: Digitonal

Album: Save Your Light for Darker Days

Label: Just Music

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/d/digitonal.jpg

US Release Date: Available as import

UK Release Date: 2008-09-09

Display as: List

Digitonal is a British electronic project whose gorgeous 2008 album flew mostly under the radar. Featuring fragile chamber orchestration and carefully constructed rhythms above sweeping waves of sound, their latest is a tour de force of genre fusion. “Ana Kata” oozes with shoegaze, channeling the note-bending of My Bloody Valentine and the calm of Slowdive. “A Lighter Touch”’s crisp electronics would delight any fan of Ulrich Schnauss or Boards of Canada. “Emberkreiss” echoes the post-rock of Saxon Shore and The Album Leaf. “Silver Poetry”’s muted vocals even call to mind Dredg at their quietest moments. What really makes the album indispensable, though, is the interpolation of small-ensemble strings, clarinet, and harp into this ultramodern sound world. Their slow, deliberate, graceful melodies evoke the heartbreaking, profound sorrow found in the “holy minimalism” of composers like Arvo Pärt and Henryk Górecki. In straddling the worlds of ambient electronica and modern classical, Digitonal have created a masterpiece not to be missed. C.T. Heaney

 

Artist: The Dirtbombs

Album: We Have You Surrounded

Label: In the Red

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/d/dirtbombsthe-wehaveyousurrounded.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-02-26

UK Release Date: 2008-02-23

Display as: List

These Detroit uber-garage punks have made a soul album, a pop album and now, an end of the world album, but it’s hard to say which is more fun. We Have You Surrounded is their fin du monde epic (they even have a song called “Fin Du Monde”, and it’s in French, suckas!) partying at the edge of the abyss. With these big fuzzy bass lines, exuberant “yeah yeahs”, skanky distorted guitars and pounding double drums, it had better be the end of days, or we’ll all have a hangover tomorrow. It’s all good, but the undeniable climax is “Leopardman at C&A” as sharply written as it is body-shaking and, hands down, my favorite song of 2008. Jennifer Kelly

 

Artist: The Dodos

Album: Visiter

Label: French Kiss

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/d/dodosthe-visiter.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-03-18

UK Release Date: Available as import

Display as: List

San Franciso's the Dodos eschew the tropes of a traditional guitar-and-drum duo. Heavily influenced by West African Ewe drumming Singer Meric Long applies rhythmic finger-picking to his pleasant folk melodies while drummer Logan Kroeber supplies the complex tom-tom heavy beats. Of course, Visiter is peppered with an assortment of horns, backing vocals and toy piano but the songs essentially revolve around what Long describes as the "space between the beats". It's perhaps this reliance on the Ewe drumming method that separates the Dodos from other indie folk acts. Their single "Fools" shows the beauty of this approach as Meric Long's gentle croon gives way to the raw underbelly of breakneck drumming. The result is a surprisingly supple two-piece. Freak-folkers everywhere should be intimidated. Joe Tacopino

 

Artist: Earth

Album: The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull

Label: Southern Lord

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/e/earth-thebeesmadehoneyinthelionsskull.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-02-26

UK Release Date: 2008-02-25

Display as: List

For 20 solid years, guitarist Dylan Carlson and his ever-revolving cast of collaborators in Earth have defined metallic drone music for a generation of musicians. Following a re-emergence from a five-year hiatus in 2002, they inking a deal with influential doom label Southern Lord and recorded an amazing album in '05, Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, that played upon Carlson's love for the soundtrack works of Ry Cooder and Ennio Morricone. Flanked by perhaps his strongest line-up yet, Carlson's sixth Earth album perfects those dustbowl atmospherics merely hinted at in Hex by creating an arresting work of dark desert beauty that would serve as a perfect score for the forthcoming film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Road. Ron Hart

 

Artist: Alejandro Escovedo

Album: Real Animal

Label: Back Porch

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/e/escovedoalejandro-realanimal.jpg

US Release Date: 2008-06-24

UK Release Date: 2008-06-24

Display as: List

Alejandro Escovedo takes a sweeping, 360-degree view of his life so far, careening from downtown NYC days (“Chelsea Hotel”), to a fascination with Iggy (“Real Animal”), to a boot-knocking cow-punk era (“Nun Song”, “Chip ‘N Tony”) through to late-life serenity (“Slow Down”). Escovedo can still rock as hard as anyone, but he achieves transcendence in two of the disc’s gentlest, most lyrical moments. “Sister Lost Soul” mourns the passing of a love who wandered off alone, years ago, to be lost but not forgotten, while “Golden Bear” ponders the virus that almost killed Escovedo and persists, even now, in his blood. Poetic but never overwritten, nostalgic but not in the least sentimental, this is Escovedo’s finest album yet. Jennifer Kelly

 

Prev Page
Next Page
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.