Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sonic Parthenon's The Year In Music 2008: Part 1

The 1900’s
The Chicago pop band picked up right where they left off in 2007 with a swell show at Union Hall in January. Are they still together though?

With the very first notes of "Rock n' Roll Train" there was no fooling as to who was back and back as only they can be. Angus, Malcolm, Brian, Cliff, and Phil don't get together very often these years but when they do, the world is a little bit more fun.

Action Painters
Two reviewed gigs this year - including a Bowery gig that completely trounced the Siren Festival going on earlier in the day - established Action Painters as THE band to watch in New York City. The single "Supermarket" only helped that cause. And they'll be your band to take you into 2009 should you choose to attend their New Year's Eve gig at the Lit.

The Airborne Toxic Event

If there was a Best New Artist Award on this blog, here would be your winner, with little in the way of competition. Their debut LP is certainly the best candidate for Album of the Year (if there were to be candidates). And their live show is up there with the cream of the crop. The new master of the crafty hook, Mikel Jollet has put together the most exciting band to debut from west of the Mississippi in a very long time. They'll never play Pianos again but you can say you saw them when, before they blew the lid off the world.

Be Your Own Pet
They were a bit too much when they debuted (with the grand exception of "Damn Damn Leash"). Then they released a mainstream label record this year that featured "What's Your Damage?" and "The Kelly Affair" and it was all "woah this band is for real". They even generated a bit of punk rock controversy with their label over some content. Then they broke up. Just like that. Punk.

The BellRays
At long last, the BellRays returned to New York and with textbook precision (and a new record) made the case as one of the truly heart-pumping yet soul-satisfying acts to emanate from a now very healthy Southern California scene.

The Black Keys
I'm not going to kid you. I wanted to dislike the new Black Keys record, Attack & Release. This nice and very talented but nevertheless stoic duo from Ohio is one of the landmark bands of the decade but their energy seemed to have run its course after the disappointing Magic Potion and the Chulahoma EP. And the prospect of working with Dangermouse did not translate to automatic excitement. But as it happened, the Auerbach-Carney song-construction company recaptured its old glory and Dangermouse caught the band's sound like lightning in a bottle. Fittingly enough, they've become one of the bigger bands out there and they deserve it.

Black Kids
Along with Vampire Weekend, Black Kids burned the hype candle so bright and caught an insta-backlash so severe, that candle blew out before the LP even debuted. Unlike VW however, there was little love left for this pretty annoying band from Florida. But damn if the hooks on some of the cuts fight through the incredibly dumb lyrics. Anyone who dislikes "I've Underestimated My Charm Again" needs to relax. But it is probably a good thing I didn't see them live because there has yet to be a single positive review in that department.

The Blacks
Their 2007 record, Nom De Guerre, started to gain traction (and my attention) in 2008, and while the Hipstervese was too busy trying to have the Vivian Girls' babies, this trio out of Frisco reminded us what it is like to just appreciate a hook whilst absolutely shredding your amps to beautiful pieces.

Basia Bulat
"In the Night" was one of the singles of the year sung by a Canadian folk dame of the highest caliber, cute as a button, with a fine album (Oh, My Darling) and a beautiful supporting gig with DeVotchKa to boot. If the Grammys had any decency she'd have been the big nominee this year.

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