Jerry Grit’s Year In Albums #13: December (The End!)

A significant shuffle of priorities has long delayed me from finishing my project to document every single album I bought in 2008 (for example, real life and things on cats). But always the completist, I will bring this to a close…a quarter of the way through 2009.

  • Andrew Daly – Nine Sweaters There was a funny comedian on Mad TV. Too bad he wasn’t allowed to be funny. Freed from that show’s painful banality, Andrew gets his laughs solo with longform occasionally subtle (and mostly obscene) character routines inspired by wearing 1 of 9 distinctive sweaters. Although you can’t see the sweaters (it being a recording and all) the characterizations are rich enough to imagine the sweaters. DO NOT listen to it with grandma. Or do, pervert.
  • Blue Giant – Target Heart EP A kinda pacific northwest supergroup: the Viva Voce couple with help from members of the Decemberists, Circus Lupus, Swords Project, Sleater-Kinney and Bradford Cox. But mostly, its Viva Voce on an alt-country kick. Which is awesome. The distinctive vocals and swaying guitar, filled out with the pedal steel, organ and fiddle. Also, stars in the Blue Giant phase are middle-aged massive stars in a transitionary period prior to becoming either a planet nebula or a supergiant.
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today I haven’t yet learned to fully appreciate Byrne or Eno*, supergiants in a music universe I mostly like. And I don’t think I’m helping myself by starting with this album. It’s fine and there are some nice weird parts. But overall it’s a little too adult contemporary for me to be comfortable about it. That could be just because I’m uncomfortable being adult now.
  • Fucked Up – The Chemistry Of Common Life I freaking love it. Takes me back to the smart hardcore or Fugazi or Negative Approach. And still, they manage melodies and some neat uses of not-hardcore instruments. (Is that a flute in the beginning?). Father Damien’s vocals come in like the earth is opening up. Takes me back to high school, driving nowhere in small messy cars and watching other people smoke.
  • Dr. Dog – Fate It’s alright. They’re the Band, at an impressionable age, teleported to our time and embracing modern weirdness. Nonetheless, a step up from the last album.
  • Grouper – Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill For those who can’t keep up with Beach House, Grouper might be the perfect porridge for you. Reverbed drenched vocals moving at a somnolent snail’s pace…like actually dragging a dead deer up a hill. I have yet been able to listen all the way through without a dose. So also perfect for insomniacs.
  • Hercules And Love Affair – Hercules And Love Affair I’ve made a significant investment in my attempt to appreciate Antony Hegarty. I’m not there yet. It’s always overkill with that ridiculous vibrato. And yet I have 7 albums of this. The disco beats here breaks it up a bit. 
  • Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue I don’t think I like this. Loved the Rabbit Fur Coat, and I can even defend that last Rilo Kiley album. But this one’s annoying. Is it a joke? That “Where’s Fernando?” song puts me through the roof. Along with “Bad Man’s World,” “The Next Messiah” (8 and half minutes and it has Elvis Costello) and “Jack Killed Mom”…yech. A lot of stinkers here. I’m still onboard with Jenny, but slowly shuffling exitward.
  • Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak I’m sorry, it’s awesome. A part from the irony of his critique of consumerism turned into a product (unlike Tim Fite and his excellent Over the Counterculture, Kanye’s not giving it away).
  • Love Is All – A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night Oh, it’s fun. But it’s not for the ages. And I do not need to have fun.
  • Marching Band – Sparks Large It’s just so nice. I bet these guys wear sweater V-necks and drop people off at airports. I like it because I think they’re nice. But not enough to give them a ride to the airport.
  • Richard Swift – Ground Trouble Jaw EP Indie do-wop? Who knew?
  • Rodriguez – Cold Fact Supposedly buried treasure from the 70’s and I’m not one to appreciate buried treasures from the seventies. But this one’s alight.
  • School Of Seven Bells – Alpinisms It sounds like the brother from the Secret Machines hooks up with Au Revoir Simone. And half of that’s true. Also, this album compels and bores the same ways of the Secret Machines and Au Revoir Simone.
  • The Faint – Fascination Not as great as Danse Macabre or even Wet from Birth. Nonetheless all the elements are same and it still does what a Faint album is supposed to do. Which are good things.
  • The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound If Plato was ever to try to identify the ideal Jersey Band, I think the Gaslight Anthem are pretty much it. Other Jersey bands are only Jersey bands insofar as they share characteristics with this Jersey Band. Epic blue collar anthems from shore trash. Love it.
  • The Mae Shi – Hlllyh More ecstatic high-energy youth ranting. Does not suit my rocking chair at all. I won’t be seeking any of these tracks in the ever-accumulating clutter of my digital music library. But if one happens to come up in the shuffle, I won’t skip it. Unless I’m in my rocking chair.
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns Sounds a little too much like Neutral Milk Hotel. So much so it feels more like theft than homage.
  • Why? – Alopecia This is awesome. Cool beats. Smart rhymes. Self-deprecating white boys being inventive.
  • Women – Women I like the weird catchiness of the album. I even like the experimental parts. And I really like how the entire album hangs together. It’s one of those strange small albums I cherish, like the Ruby Suns’ Sea Lion I got earlier this year.
  • Camera Obscura – Underachievers Please Try Harder From a few years ago. I realized I hadn’t bought a Comera Obscura in a while. So buying an old one will do. No surprise. It’s great.
  • Isobel Campbell – Sunday At Devil Dirt The 3rd Mark Lanegan album I managed to buy in this year alone. But once you get past his cheesy growl, you appreciate that its more about Isobell Campbell. And it’s to its tremendous benefit.
  • The Delgados – The Great Eastern An old album from a band I don’t know I was compelled to buy for no other reason than I thought it might be good. Actually, it happens to be the second back catalogue album from a Scottish band I bought this month (see Camera Obscura). Seems to be a good strategy.
  • Starling Electric – Clouded Staircase Sound like Guided by Voices, but with longer songs. I like it.

There it is. All the albums I bought in 2008. All 176, give or take (but mostly give). Did I learn anything? Do I appreciate more? Maybe, but I’m not consuming less. So far I’ve already long surpassed my 2008 number and it’s only early April (but I’m doing much less buying…I’ve discovered the library, much to the librarians’ chagrin).

The more I have the more I want. Alas, it seems I’m like everyone else.

*This was written 3 months ago. I have since come to appreciate Eno and Byrne in their individual distinctive greatness. Buy Here Come the Warm Jets and Another Green World and Remain in Light.

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