Saturday, January 10, 2009

So, how about that best of 2008 list, eh?

I know, I know, it's January 10th but it wouldn't be my blog if I wasn't late to the party.

Probably goes without saying, but the older I get, the less new stuff I buy. No matter how hard I try, this is the inevitable conclusion. But I'm over it, and you will be too when you see what I did absorb. Quality over quantity, baby.

Anyway, here are some of the top things in 2008 that rocked my little world.


Tricky -- Knowle West Boy

There's nothing really new and groundbreaking from the trip-hop legend (and founding member of Massive Attack) on Knowle West Boy, but what's there is fantastic. Sonic assault to smooth soundscape to scratchy beats, with a soulful female vocalist -- sound familiar? Tricky's 1995 debut Maxinquaye and his 1996 classic Pre-Millenium Tension are IMO his best records, and his latest is a solid return to form. Got this album in heavy rotation, and really enjoying it.

Hayes Carll, Trouble in Mind

Even though he's from Houston, I'm convinced Hayes Carll is one sweet, rural, sentimental country boy. And I know he's hard-working. I saw him at Cafe du Nord in October -- halfway through his nonstop Fall tour -- and the man played an incredibly long set, even letting his band take a break while he continued to entertain us with some acoustic ditties. After a brief holiday break, he's back to touring for the Winter and early Spring of 2009, all to promote his beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking record, Trouble in Mind. There's a little Louisiana swamp, a little Randy Travis, a little folk, and a little bluegrass that all adds up to a great Americana record. I can't stop listening to:

'It's a Shame'

...and 'Beaumont'

Chad VanGaalen -- Soft Airplane

It's the Auto Tune era, as well as the era of the dime-a-dozen singer-songwriter, so it is refreshing to come across someone who can still make a haunting record in his basement with a guitar, a boombox, and an old tape machine. Rife with odd noise and dream-like lyrics, VanGaalen's MO is best decribed as experimental folk, and it is terrific. VanGaalen is also an accomplished artist; here is his video for the song from Soft Airplane that got me hooked, 'Molten Light':

Also, HUGE props to Funeral Crashers bassist Frankie Teardrop for turning me onto Scottish electronic pioneer Robert Rental. Props to his blog followers too, for posting links to Rental's long-lost (until 2008!) demo tape, Mental Detentions. Along with The Conet Project, one of the best noise discoveries of 2008.


A tie for best film of 2008.

Milk, Gus van Sant's inspiring and tragic story of the first openly gay American elected official, San Francisco's Harvey Milk.

Sean Penn is winning the Oscar. Trust. What a film, packed with other fantastic performances too. There should be a way for James Franco, Diego Luna, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch to win an ensemble best supporting actor Oscar. Also features the under-used Victor Garber (love!).


Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In

Although now that I'm typing this up, I am leaning toward the latter -- an exquisite film where the trailer really doesn't capture the right vibe.

Let The Right One In is a vampire story, but more than that it is a story of adolescence, and of childhood lost. Set in winter in Sweden in what looks like the 1970s in both dress and perfect filtered drab, the cinematography is breathtaking, the images poetic and visceral. The film is both terrifying and beautiful, displaying a mythos ironically lacking in pretense and fable. This is a cold white North reminiscent of Atom Egoyan's masterpiece The Sweet Hereafter -- cruel, relentless, tragic. Real.

Oi, forget the sparkly-skinned cheese-angst of Twilight -- most impressive about Let The Right One In is how well it captures the near-catatonic misery that would result from never aging coupled with the need for human blood. One I'll be buying on DVD.


One book that really stood out to me this year was a New York Review Books (love this publisher) edition of Rebecca author Daphne du Maurier's amazing short stories, Don't Look Now. du Maurier's stories are perfectly formed tales of the supernatural, and are so unassuming and well-crafted that they can make even the most jaded of thriller readers fall right into them. Trevor and I agree that the title short story has the most perfect ending ever.


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Warfield.

What were your bests of 2008?

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Blogger LAS, PhD., Esq., DDS said...

as for movies, my top whatev:

dark knight
in bruges
iron man
the wrestler

i was trying to think of two more to make it a top 10, but MEH.
07 was a banner film year. 08 dragged its heels.

i can't think of any new music i liked. new music needs to get off my lawn. i bought a bunch of old shit though. i didn't really read any new books either. school has killed my desire to read. i tried to power through one over winter break, got 100 pages in and gave up. sad, sad, sad.

January 12, 2009 at 4:08:00 PM PST  
Blogger saudade said...

Oi, I forgot Iron Man and Dark Knight! I still need to see Slumdog Millionaire. Will wait for 2 for $5 at the Parkway in like a month.

You have to see Let The Right One In -- it will make your top ten. GHO says you recommend seeing killing with a carrot?

BTW, saw The Unborn last night. UGH. Rollerball still holds worst film ever honors, but it was so close.

You're not sad, you're just tired and old. Feel better? ;)

January 12, 2009 at 6:30:00 PM PST  
Blogger LAS, PhD., Esq., DDS said...

tired and old really sums it up.

GHO is referring to shoot 'em up, the retarded-brilliant action movie we rented last summer. if you are drunk enough, it will change your life.

i'll pass on unborn. i dont do the pg13 horror. however, i refuse to believe it is worse than bedtime stories, which i took my niece and nephew to a couple weeks ago. i was ready to burn the theater down.

i would love to see LTROI if it ever comes out in my shithole cowpoke suburban sprawl multiplex hometown. in other words, i'll netflix it in 6 months.

January 14, 2009 at 9:09:00 AM PST  

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