Yes, I'm still recommending albums for you from the past year:
Damien Jurado - Caught In The Trees (Secretly Canadian Records; released September 9th)
A slightly more hi-fi feel this time around for Seattle's Mr. Jurado, but still just a man and his guitar pouring his heart out- apologetic and somber in its folk-ballad overtones, the music is rife with the imagery of unrequited love and heart-ache without being sappy or corny. Strings make an appearance on more songs; (as do live drums) something Damien has eschewed in the past to give his music a lo-fi bedroom sonic resonancy. Excellent production notwithstanding, this is a lovely little slice of Americana.
Jay Reatard - Matador Singles '08 (Matador Records; released October 7th)
A few weeks ago the guy at my local record shop told me about Jay and that I should've already been listening to him. Sweet! I love record shop employees, they're just like snarky little critics that have that rare combination of "know everything about music" and "nothing about tact". Kind of like Jay and his Blogspot page. So he may be a dick but he can write some mean pop songs; I don't really know what to call it (garage pop with a punk edge?) but these thirteen songs are delightful and fun. Highlights of the singles compilation: a cover of Deerhunter's Fluorescent Grey and I'm Watching You.
The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride (4AD Records; released February 19th)
I'm getting lazy, so-
Full album review here!
The National - The Virginia EP (Brassland Records; released May 20th)
The past twelve months must've been a progressively exhaustive year for The National, constant touring, playing tag with their shadows and at the current moment heading back into the studio for a follow-up to The Musicologists' 2007 Album Of The Year, Boxer. But any way you slice it, this band has been working their asses off the past few years so if all they can muster is a few unreleased tracks, some b-sides, a few live tracks and a cover here or there, let it be.
Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (XL Recordings; released June 24th)
Iceland's second favorite celebrities come back with a more accessible and folkier effort on (translated): With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly; and I hope they do forever. However, the songs are a little on the shorter side (for these guys) with only two tracks up around the nine-minute mark. Lead singer Jonsi trades in his patented falsetto for lush string arrangements and blaring horn phrases, it's a much more earthy feel for Sigur Ros in 2008. It works to some degree, but what I really want to hear is a twelve minute space-rock anthem with an e-bow for that added ambiance. And if you have to ask who Iceland's favorite celebrity is, you shouldn't be reading this blog.
...and this probably would've made my Top 20 if my thumb wasn't securely (shoved up my ass) in my ear most of the year:
Ponytail - Ice Cream Spiritual (We Are Free Records; released June 17th)
Holy crap is this a fun ass record; if it's this fun to listen to it must have been twice as fun to play on- you can actually hear lead singer (screamer) Molly Siegel smiling as she's assaulting the microphone. I don't know if that's true, can you actually hear a smile or am I projecting my happiness on this band? Pure noise freak-out with a sprinkling of surf rock in there and vocally, think Corin Tucker's warbly vibrato crossed with Yoko Ono's crazy-crazy. Again, not an actual term but this shit is just so rad and fun that you'll forget that there aren't any actual lyrics, it's just made up sounds and yelps that act as another instrument. So much fucking fun I want to poke my ears out yesterday and never listen to anything ever again that's not this album.