It’s practically November, the end of which is when I pretty much settle on my year-end favorite list. I’ve been looking at that list and checking it multiple times, and it seems pretty solid. But November is when labels ramp up the release schedule in time for the holiday season. As much as I’d like to put a lid on the year now, I don’t want to shut anything out prematurely.
So what between now and the start of December can affect the outcome of the Musicwhore.org Favorite Edition 2008 Final?
First, some releases that already have me juggling the last published list:
- Samamidon, All Is Well Nico Muhly’s gorgeous and understated orchestration puts this album head and shoulders above Amidon’s first outing, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted. His casual delivery would probably appeal to anyone who thought Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois was remotely impressive.
- Spangle call Lilli line, ISOLATION I’m almost inclined not to pay much attention to the forthcoming PURPLE because this album has a surplus of beauty. I keep raving about the piano work, and I think the band made a terrific decision emphasizing that instrument on this album.
- Girl Talk, Feed the Animals When MC Hammer commandeered Rick James for his own ends, it came across as crass and lazy. Nor did it do anything to forward the idea of sampling as a legitimate creative expression. Fast forward nearly 20 years, and Girl Talk rebukes that first impression. Feed the Animals is a breathtaking endeavor, the sheer volume of co-opted material impressive enough to overshadow the brilliance of how it’s all put together. The two words I’m looking for are "Holy fuck …"
- Ivri Lider, Beketzev A’hid Batnu’ot Shell Haguf (The Steady Rhythm Of Body Movements) I think I made a mistake trying to take in all of Ivri Lider’s albums at one time, because now I can’t seem to pinpoint one from the other. This latest album, however, seems to rock harder than anything he’s done before. The opening track and single "Rak Tevakesh (Just Ask )" starts off sounding pop but by the end, Lider unleashes the guitars and a passionate roar. Nice.
Then there are recent releases I’ve yet to explore:
- unkie, too many secrets Judging by the 30-second samples on iTunes Japan, this second album will rock just as hard — if not harder — than its predecessor, which came in at No. 4 on last year’s list. I have to say, the competition is pretty stiff this year.
- ZAZEN BOYS, ZAZEN BOYS 4 The fact this album doesn’t annoy me right off the bat already bodes well.
- VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE, Halan’na-ca Darkside The band has managed to shake off the influence of POLYSICS just long enough to let the potential of their debut EP re-emerge.
And now forthcoming releases I want to check out before making a final call:
- Matt Alber, Hide Nothing This former member of classical vocal ensemble Chanticleer will inevitably draw obvious comparisons to Rufus Wainwright, but I find Alber’s use of electronics more akin to Sacha Sacket.
- Wendy & Lisa, White Flags on Winter Chimneys I’m listening to "Invisible" right now, and I have to say, I wish they took more time off from their busy film and television work to record more albums.
- ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Surf Bungaku Kamakura This album contains three coupling tracks and one single, and the quick turn-around time makes me skeptical. At the same time, I really like World World World. But I doubt I’m going to make room for two AKFG albums on one year-end list.
- Enya, And Winter Came … Who am I kidding? This album is going to sound the same as her other ones. Just as long as it’s not as boring as A Day Without Rain.
- Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy I’m anticipating this release will be the most anti-climactic of the decade.
- The Killers, Day and Age Towleroad gives far too much credit to the pre-release single "Human". The Killers would have been better off covering the Human League.
Yeah, I’ve got a lot of listening to get through in the last two months of the year. So glad December is a slow month.