As usual, the first quarter of the year isn’t very active in terms of releases, and while I was hoping the anomalous activity of 2008 would repeat itself, it was not to be.
I really ought to wait till April to publish this list, but about the only thing I want to check out next Tuesday is the new Pansy Division album, more for curiosity than any real desire to write about it.
So I may as well compile the preliminary favorite list for the first quarter. The pickings are slim, and so is the list, arranged by rank but not numbered as such.
- … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Century of Self With the exception of Source Code & Tags, … Trail of Dead’s major label era was something of a wash. With a return to the indie sector, the pressure is off, and the band can get back to pounding the hell out of the speakers. If you missed the … Trail of Dead of olde, this album should alleviate that longing.
- Office, Mecca The first time I listened to Office, I thought they were too perilously aligned with the ’80s revival. Mecca proves that first impression was incorrect. The band sounds far more expansive on this album, and the songwriting reaches further back with influences from the ’60s. The best part? It’s available for free online. The bad part? You have to go to Sendspace to get it.
- Wendy & Lisa, White Flags of Winter Chimneys Previously mentioned, but now the duo has released the CD version of the album.
- Van Tomiko, Van. The idea of Do As Infinity getting back together is a good one, because this second studio album of original songs sounds like a Do As Infinity album. If it were a Do As Infinity album, it would be one of the better ones. I never did get around to listening to her second covers album.
Yup. That’s it. Just four. I’m not bothering with ranking the other six albums I bought in Q1 because I’m certain they’d fall off the list as more releases come down the proverbial pipeline.
Now for some late discoveries from 2008:
- Department of Eagles, In Ear Park I don’t get all the accolades given to Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House. I like Horn of Plenty much more. So too In Ear Park. I think In Ear Park is what Yellow House should have been.
- Jennifer Koh, String Poetic Violinist Jennifer Koh really does a fine job programming the works on this recording with pianist Reiko Uchida. All of the works — by American composers — are accessible but have some bite to them. Lou Harrison’s Grand Duo is the most impressive performance on the album.
- Yo Majesty, Futuristically Speaking … Never Be Afraid This album topped the Advocate’s year-end critics’ list for music, and I have to say, I can’t disagree.