This year I wanted to do something different with list season, I wanted ENS to have more than one voice. As much as I love doing lists, I wanted to share the wealth a bit this time. So I asked several artists in Cincinnati and beyond for their favorite albums of the year. The response has been great, and this is the first installment of those lists, enjoy!
***Daniel Martin Moore*** – (Moore released an excellent debut album this year on the Sub Pop label, Stray Age, and is a native of Cold Spring, KY)
Basia Bulat – Oh My Darling
I first heard her when she opened for Devotchka at the SGH back in May. She walked out in front of a chatty audience and sang, a cappella, an old ballad about death. That took guts, plus she nailed it. Then, as the evening brought out her own songs, it became clear that she is an artist of high degree. This record is further proof. The arrangements are sweet and sometimes unexpected. And there’s a since of honesty, as both concern and joyfulness, that makes this one a keeper for me.
Beck – Modern Guilt
Beck’s songwriting is what draws me in. His lyrics are sometimes abstract, always vivid. Even at their most obscure, they are still direct in setting the scene. And musically, Beck is a seemingly endless source of catchy and/or beautiful melodies. With each release, he moves in a new direction and that’s an admirable quality in any artist. “…Modern Guilt, I’m under lock and key…” This is another collection of great songs.
Rachel Unthank and the Winterset – The Bairns
This album may have come out in 2007, but I think it wasn’t until 2008 that it made its way across the sea to us. I like everything about it. And, don’t miss a chance to catch this group live. In these recordings the atmosphere moves, old is new and the songs spring to immediate life. On stage, it’s much the same, but the sadness deepens, and the connections are magnified.
Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs
A glimpse into an artist’s method. How could any fan resist a collection of alternate takes from such a fruitful period? My favorites: ‘Mississippi’ and ‘Can’t Wait’ from Disc One, and ’32-20 Blues’ from Disc Two. Wow.
Ben Sollee – Learning to Bend
This record is full of surprises, and never even thinks of resting on its laurels. The instrumentation is rich, impressive (cello, harp, electric guitar, banjo, sax, the list keeps going!) and so well-placed. The songs are straight from the heart. Ben is also an artist whose live show is not to be missed.
***Cameron Martin Cochran*** – aka Paul Bunyan – Cam is one half of The Sheds, a great Cincinnati duo and has been trying his hand at behind the decks a bit more this year. Enjoy his favorite albums….
Lil Wayne – The Carter III
If you want to look at the future of music listen to hip hop radio. Pop music has continually looked to this genre for advice on how to produce new music. Little Wayne’s Carter III absolutely destroyed everything else that came out this year. Driving home this past year “A Millie” came on the radio and my jaw dropped. Sean Carter spit venom over a dope beat…no hooks…no flair…just ill, plain and
simple. He is a rock star.
King Khan and the Shrines – The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines
Speaking of rock stars… have you ever met King Khan. This dude is the real deal. Let’s be honest nobody really likes garage rock…people want something that sounds timeless and King Khan has the recipe. Blues, booze, horns and cocaine…sure it has all been done before, but we liked it then and we still like it now.
M.I.A. – Kala
Okay, so this is supposed to be a best of 2008 but MIA still rules the roost. “Paper Planes” is a comercial hit this year. MIA has only gotten hotter. Kala from start to finish is perfect. Get on board
My favorite CDs this year hands down are from local folks. Most are not official releases. Sometimes you can just ask your favorite artists for stuff they’re working on and wind up with everything they’ve ever recorded. It is so very cool to know the folks that are singing the songs you’re listening to. Our city has some truly talented, sincere and genuine artists.
Matthew Shelton – unreleased demos.
Matt inspired me to write the first love song I ever wrote, something I’d never have dared attempt for fear of adding to the pile of garbage growing out there. He can somehow take all the awkwardness, pain, joy, desperation, confusion, elation and triumph that comes with love and do them justice in a song like you’ve never heard.
The Stick Figures – unreleased demos.
Their songs remind me of all the good times I’ve had during bad times. A oasis of friends, intoxication and perfect weather. They are as sweet as they sound.
The Seedy Seeds – Count the Days.
This is my most recent local acquisition. I’ve always loved the Seedy Seeds and I loved Count the Days right off the bat, but I keep listening and it keeps deepening. I love an album that you can appreciate, then dissect, then appreciate in a whole new way. I’m always secretly wishing I were part of their band.
Rainy Day Parade – bootleg live recording.
You can hear some sweet recordings via myspace, but this duo has to be heard live. I’m glad I kept all my tape recorders. Steve Hasser’s delivery and tone remind me of Will Oldham at his best. Alisa Cook is a perfect ray of sunshine. Just when you relax into a song, a word or phrase comes along that surprises you, kind of like when someone swims up under your raft in the pool. Its good to be tipped.
In the past couple of years, I’ve listened to nothing but locals. I can’t wait to hear the sounds of 2009, released, given or captured on-the-sly.
***Stuart MacKenzie ***- Stuart is the frontman for The Lions Rampant, one of the best live acts in town, be ready for something new from then in 2009.
The Sundresses – Barkinghaus –
Before this album was released, Cincinnati’s musical community feared that the album was turning into the Queen City’s “Chinese Democracy” … but Barkinghaus was definitely worth the wait. I enjoyed the superior soundscapes Brian Niesz crafted and the addition of piano to the recordings as well as other extra instruments/sound effects that are icing on the cake to songs that already stand on their own! To Cincinnati natives it’s like seeing your girlfriend get all gussied up for a date–and you forgot how pretty she is!
The Turnbull ACs – Small Town Parade –
Another great Cincinnati release … there is no filler on this 8 song EP … (for the record, I, was well as the Stooges and a lot of other great bands believe that 8
songs make an album, not and EP, but hey, who’s counting?) Anyways, Dan Mecher recorded a lot of these songs at home and it shows… the recording are well thought out, and arranged while still maintaining a lot of levity and looseness. The recordings also showcase the band’s growth from being very guitar driven to a more diverse sound with many songs written around a piano arrangement. This album (there I go again) is a indie-rock masterpiece… name a bad song on there, I dare you!
King Kahn and the Shrines – The Supreme Genius Of King Khan And The Shrines –
This is a “greatest hits” CD released by VICE records with a bunch of songs released only in Europe by notorious weirdo and garage-rock legend, King Kahn. Listening to this album I hear Sun Ra, James Brown,the Sonics, Dion, JSBX, Elvis, Motown, Sex Pistols …. Just buy this album, we’ll talk about it for days.
Standout tracks: Torture, I Wanna Be a Girl, Welfare, No Regrets.
We have another installment of Artists pick for you later this week……..