Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A year of music listening and warming pierogies.

After leaving A.K.A. Music my resources have slimmed for compiling a year end music list.  It was one of the simple pleasures of life in Philadelphia to walk down the aisles and recall albums of the year, cover by cover.  It is a different sensation--though one no less gratifying, to have nothing whatsoever to do with the alley-catting of the critics and otherwise hip.  Truth be told, after a while it got kinda hard to take any pop music seriously.  I've worked in record stores, bars and restaurants of all class strata and ethnic origins, and the result is always the same:  you come to loathe the wares you traffic.

That said, I continue to find differences with pop music--that could take a while.   Pitchfork still ain't helping.

New (and some old) finds include Hamish Milne's superb Bach Piano Transcriptions: 5 on the English Hyperion label.  The performance is witty and penetrating, especially in the somber Goedicke versions. I don't often comment on it (because I don't often detect it) but the disc earns as much praise for its crystalline production, which grants a hologram of recorded space: the silence is as nice as the music.  

On the other hand it's been a great year's end, spent on the floor of Jerry's classical aisle, rummaging through mostly crap 78's to find shushing Carusos and Kathleen Ferriers--though no true believer in Woody Allen's last ditch resuscitation bid (white collar Scarlet Johanssen porn) the austere Match Point made handy use of Allen's inevitably terrific antediluvian record collection.   But heads above these dust plates are the precious few Alfred Cortot's scored through several (not exactly cheap) French eBayers; their lanky native son looked kinda like Basil Rathbone, and played like a Steinway shambling down a fire ladder.  So wild.

I have a few others from those visits in the currently infatuated with stack, so comment shall be presently withheld.  More blog stuff on that to come--though you can scroll back to the Howard Hanson piece to see the first spoils of the expeditions.

Dan sold me on The Hold Steady, while the cathartic liquidation of my cd collection has lead to revisiting some missed connections and forgotten faves:  Gillian Welch's Time, The Revelator, Wilco's A Ghost is Born, Oval's awesome Diskont 94 and Tindersticks' sadly neglected Waiting For The Moon. 

Tindersticks' latest, The Hungry Saw, is also a fine showing.  I do miss Dickon Hinchliffe's sophisticatedly haunted arrangements, but the new (Americ-indy) simplicity benefits from some terrific songs.    

After listening to my pal, Daniel, sing the praises of Lil' Wayne I finally caved.  An easy favorite of 2008.  As usual Daniel is right: 2008 was a banner year for Wayne, yielding  Tha Carter III. the jawdropper bootleg mixtape Da Drought III, and The Hood Internet (often linked through Pitchfork's "eh" Forkcast) turned up a mash-up with Wayne on T-Pain's "Can't Believe It", set to The Rosebuds' latest title cut.

On to The Rosebuds.  Once again, to very little fanfare, they've put great new pop songs into our midst.  Life Like improves on Ivan's recent mystical bent, while Kelly has never sounded better.  Going back to The Fall's Brix-era I can hear that 'we hate everything in love together' viscerality in the (albeit nicer) Rosebuds swooning domestica.  It's been so long since his & hers synth pop has sounded so gothic and stirring.  

So much of me lives in the past that labels like Soul Jazz & Honest Jon's have acquired perennial status:  this year's are the already lauded Give Me Love collection from the latter (already went there) and the former's Steppas' Delight, which manages to bottle the proverbial lightning of U.K. dubstep on four annihilating discs (when I left Philadelphia they were still selling compact discs, of which you needed but two to make the set--but come on).  There's a fine Boxcutter tune, and Burial crony, Kode 9, returns.  But it's the one-two punch of Uncle Sam's cocky summer jam, "Around The World Girls", followed by the bone-crushing, feministic electro-ragga of The Bug & Warrior Queen's "Poison Dart".  The comp never stoops to define dubstep, as so many of its assortment lessers did.  And for its liberality it kinda defines it anyway:  The complements of popular reggae derivatives and dark funk/electro rhythms converge, it all works.   

The Vibrators' "Baby Baby", on Gooski's jukebox, is decidedly not new. But it too, makes the list.  Did I mention Veedon Fleece?  That too.

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