The half-way point of the year is approximately July 2, since 365 days divided in half is roughly 183. 2008 was a leap year, so July 3 would be the midpoint.
All that to say it’s close enough to the perfect time to evaluate the Favorite Edition 2008 list thus far.
The first quarter had an unusually impressive number of memorable releases, but the second quarter absolutely dropped the ball. So far the domestic release schedule of Q3 hasn’t offered anything to grab my attention, but in Japan, a lot of interesting activity is coming up. (It’ll be interesting to see how polarizing the next ZAZEN BOYS album will be.)
A few second quarter releases do manage to scrape into the Favorite Edition list, and a few titles from Q1 get a stronger endorsement after further evaluation.
MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS
The Magnetic Fields, Distortion
Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be
It’s been said Emmylou Harris doesn’t record a bad album, just different levels of good. On this album, she combines her past role as an interpreter with her more recent role as songwriter, and the results are seamless. Shedding the ethereal alt-country production of her last three albums, Harris sounds her most organic in years. I’m almost thinking All I Intended to Be is up there with Bluebird or Pieces of the Sky in terms of strength.
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, World World World
I started listening to this album on my commute to work, and it really started to sink in. ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION is really in top form with this album, and it’s pushing me to become more of a fan than I have been in the past.
Chris Walla, Field Manual
hey willpower, P.D.A.
Bob Mould, District Line
Leo Imai, Fix Neon
This album has its quirks — oh oh oh oh oh — but it’s got a distinct personality.
Nico Muhly, Mothertongue
As enigmatic as this album can get, it’s difficult not to be singing the fractured phrases of "The Only Tune" by the time the album ends.
Kylie Minogue, X
Wow wow wow wow!
These albums came close to making the cut:
- Janet Jackson, Discipline She should have shaken up her production team four albums ago.
- Jonathan Mendelsohn, various tracks from SNOCAP It’s a new world order in the music industry — none of the tracks Jonathan Mendelsohn offers from his SNOCAP store on Myspace are part of any album. He’s got a suitably commercial voice for R&B, but his music tends to be more adventurous than what you might find on the radio.
- KAREN, MAGGOT IN TEARS There’s a definite ’80s college rock sound threading through the songs on this mini album, but the presence of the saxophone feels a lot like The Dream of the Blue Turtles-era Sting.
- Madonna, Hard Candy That’s a nice parting gift for Warner Bros. there, M-Dolla.
- Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust (Legacy Edition) My life will be so complete when Blue Sky Mining gets remastered.
- R.E.M., Accelerate Holy fuck this album is loud!
I just started listening to these two albums, but I can tell they’ll make some good contenders:
- Sigur Rós, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust It’s not the brilliant beauty of Takk … but the faster tracks on this album are incredibly refreshing.
- The Dead Betties, This Is My Brain on Drugs The Dead Betties are madly prolific, and I’m actually taking in a number of their albums all at one time. Despite the incredible pace at which they release material, every album I’ve so far heard feels slightly different. The aggressive performances and crushing sound are all constants, but the band tweaks each album just so to keep things interesting.