Favorite edition 2008: Quarter first

It’s weird enough for the first quarter of the year to yield some really strong contenders for the year-end favorite list. It’s weirder still when many of those releases came out in January, a traditionally slow month where releases are concerned.

Something tells me some of these releases were squeezed out of the fall schedule. I think the fall schedule would have been much more interesting if some of these titles had been pushed up.

I don’t have very high hopes for the second quarter, but I very much enjoyed this first quarter of 2008.

  1. MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS

    This debut crams a lot of music into a mini-album. It’s easy to drop a lot of names in comparison: condor44, NUMBER GIRL, mono.

  2. The Magnetic Fields, Distortion

    A noisy mess of a record, filtering Stephin Merritt’s classic pop writing through a Jesus and Mary Chain lens. Heartwarmingly sinister.

  3. Chris Walla, Field Manual

    Death Cab’s Plans tried to sound epic, when it shouldn’t have. This album doesn’t try to be epic, but it is.

  4. hey willpower, P.D.A.

    More indie bands should be inspired by Rhianna.

  5. Bob Mould, District Line

    When I grow up, I want to write rock songs with dance beats like Bob Mould.

I like these albums, too, but I’m not sure they’re so strong as deserve a shot in the top favorites. I might graduate a few of these titles if nothing turns out terribly thrilling next quarter.

  • ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, World World World AKFG go for a more conceptual sound.
  • BUGY CRAXONE, Good morning, Punk Lovers Sorry, I will scream here.
  • Fuji Fabric, TEENAGER They got the whimsy back.
  • Leo Imai, Fix Neon Despite Imai’s penchant to write the same choruses over and over, his mix of post-punk and New Wave feels vintage without sounding vintage.
  • Yorico, Negau Yorico dials back the hard rock gestures of second VERSE.
  • Terry Riley, The Cusp of Magic (Kronos Quartet and Wu Man) Incorporating toys into the score sounds preposterous on paper, but it really does work for the piece.

And what would any first quarter be without some stragglers from 2007?

  • Osvaldo Golijov, Oceana Dead Can Dance wishes they recorded this album.
  • Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians (Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble) Spunky.
  • Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson, Sings Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs Moving.
  • Darren Hayes, This Delicate Thing We’ve Made Double albums are an invitation for indulgence, but damn if Darren Hayes managed to keep it all together through 25 songs.
  • Annie Lennox, Songs of Mass Destruction I think this album is the first solo Annie Lennox album I’ve really liked.

Comments

  • Kevin says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t give Yaida Hitomi’s new album a try – “colorhythm” is much stronger than “IT’S A NEW DAY”, and although it’s still removed from the flair that punctuated her Toshiba-EMI releases, it’s pretty solid.
    And I thought Yorico’s “negau” was a bit spotty – the single tracks were for the greater part much stronger than the album tracks, which to me lacked the focus and tightness of “second VERSE”, despite some songs drawing paralles with predecessors (“futashika na mono” with “TAIYOU”, and “moshimo hitotsu dake negai ga kanau nara” with “tsumugu ito”). Or maybe I’m just fonder of her first two major label albums.

  • NemesisVex says:

    Yeah, I have to admit I’ve lost interest in Yaida. “Here today-gone tomorrow” was the last album of hers I really liked. I did give colorrhythm a shot, but I’m just not in the frame of mind for her sound any more. I don’t even know if I got through the first few seconds of IT’S A NEW DAY.
    Negau is all right, but I agree — second VERSE and Cocoon are actually better. But I like Negau a lot more than the Kicell album, or the new ones by the B-52’s and Gnarls Barkley.

  • smashingtofu says:

    But I like Kicell : /
    What makes you say that though? I haven’t heard of their new album.

  • NemesisVex says:

    The new Kicell album isn’t very good. The songwriting isn’t as compelling as previous albums, and the production is definitely not as lavish. I would end up playing Negau a lot more than magic hour.