Jeff Schwartz Poop 08

The top 8 of 08’, top eight of two thousand and eight, 8 records in 08’ that are deemed GREAT.

Here we are. Quite a year I must say. This time I bring you my usual diverse list of records, however this year I will not bore you with the cliché of “close but no cigar/2nd fiddle” titles, nor will I consume your eyes & brains with the list of “letdown” releases. Instead I give to you the crème de la crème, the SHIT, the best of the best, the PoOp. Put on your napkin, pull up a plate, sharpen that knife n’ fork, lick your lips, prepare to dig in and chow down on this years meatiest of the meat, I present to you the 2008 PoOp. Bon appétit.

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The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
I did not think that they could out do their debut, but I have to say …THEY DID. Well OK it’s a tie. Both were amazing. As difficult as it was to not fall short on song quality on the follow up record, I’m happy to report that the Rac’s came through with flying colors. Caught em’ live as well & the show was phenomenal. “You Don’t Understand Me” – can you say “sloan-vocals”, however if anyone can pull it off it’s these guys. The combo of White & Benson plus the Greenhorne’s as the rhythm section is truly a super group. “Attention” rocks, “Top Yourself” is as bluesy as one can get, “Five on the Five” has the driving drum beat that never ends, and “Carolina Drama” tells the story like it should. All in all this one lived up to the high standard that they set the bar at anyway. The question is, can they do it again.

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Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Real Emotional Trash
Pig lib was so good; again like others listed in this years poop, I thought that never will they be able to deliver on that level like their previous record. Wrong again I was. By taking their sweet (5 years) time to come up with songs like the title track, plus “Gardenia”, “Baltimore” – the keys, along with the muddy fuzzy guitar make this one a classic, “Dragonfly Pie”, “Elmo Delmo” – kind of (1% of One-ish from Pig Lib) in terms of it’s masterfulness; It’s the complete package. Would have liked to see them live on this tour, but from what I hear the live show is just so so at best anyway. I think I can firmly say after this release plus Pig Lib, that I like him better with the Jicks than on his own.

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Beck – Modern Guilt
He’s back, I mean he’s beck, but he’s back with another one of his hi-quality musical journeys into the world of unique as only Beck can give us. It’s difficult to name stand out songs in this brief synopsis, as they all have a great feel to them. As usual Beck delivers Diversity at its finest, with a capital “D”. The only act around who can come close to his genius like creativity in the “diversity” category would be WEEN, but Beck certainly is at the top of his game with this one. When a record makes the all mighty POOPLIST, there usually is not a bad song on it. One never knows what to expect when BECK drops a record, however the teamwork on this one with Danger Mouse really makes it a masterpiece. I know the poop usually doesn’t have a “best of the list” title as they are all supposed to be the best, but overall on my year end list, the BECK record is probably my favorite one of them all.

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Nada Surf – Lucky
These guys write great songs….PERIOD. Great melodies, Great harmonies, musically the songs just pick you up. If you don’t start tapping your foot, bobbing your head, or bouncing up & down while listening to this one, then you’re just missing out aren’t you? I feel sorry for you if you don’t see how brilliant this record is. Try listening to it on a long car ride for starters. Over the years I figured that eventually I’d tire of them, you know “same ol’, same ol’” but that’s not the case. They are able to keep it fresh and as long as they continue to give me the fresh, I’ll continue to give them the props that they deserve. Yes indeed, I’ll keep coming back for more and will continue to keep singing their praise. On “Who’s Authority”? Who else, on mine!

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Eagles of Death Metal – Heart On
Glad to see that they are on their 3rd release over the past 6 years. At first one would/could think it was a novelty band, however when the songs & songwriting continue to evolve & deliver, their longevity is comforting especially that initially I figured they’d be a 1-off or like I said a novelty act. The EODM kick some serious ass and are here to stay. Right out of the gate they come with great guitar flange-amp/crunch and at times the songs sound like they should be in commercials for either blue jeans or beer. Maybe it’s because I remember that one of their previous records had a song used in a Budweiser commercial. (Good thing for them financially) “Secret Plans” talk about a great guitar riff combined with a catchy dance hook, this song, let alone the entire CD gets you moovin’ & groovin’. The mellowness of “Now I’m a Fool” is classic, and at times the songs sound 70’s Stones-like. The EODM can stand, or should I say “Fly” on their own merit.

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Q-Tip – The Renaissance
It’s been almost 10 years since his last “decent” solo record came out. The Renaissance brings us back OLD TIP. The beats, the lyrics, the instrumentation, the samples, the vibe, the funk. Lots of guests too. “Won’t Trade” is great with the sound byte of either Lebron or Kobe talking about trade hype at the end, plus the sample during the chorus is strong too. “Official” is as close to A Tribe Called Quest as anyone is going to get again (aside from a reunion with Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Jarobi). “ManWomanBoogie” starts off with quite the funky bass line, while “life is better” features Norah Jones & it’s arranged phenomenally. “Believe” & “Shaka” both have samples very reminiscent of ATCQ as well.

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Neil Young – Sugar Mountain – Live at Canterbury House 1968
The dialog throughout the CD make it worth it, just the little anecdotes and stories “raps” as they call it on the disc, that Neil fills up the time between songs is quite comical. The stripped down versions of his songs are quite good too. “The Last Trip to Tulsa” & “the Loner” stand out. “Bookstore rap” is one of the better tales he tells. It’s Neil at his “acoustic” finest. Just because it’s Neil, he doesn’t automatically get a slot on the list you know. It’s worthy I tell you. It’s certainly no Chrome Dreams II – what a disaster that one was.

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Metallica – Death Magnetic
Back to the front! I mean back to the sound that made them the KINGS back in the 80’s. Add in the first time working with producer Rick Rubin helming the production board and songs clocking in at 6 & ½ + minutes, what could be bad about that? The record starts off with “That Was Just Your Life” – back to the speed that put them on the map in the early 80’s. “Broken, Beat & Scarred”, “All Nightmare Long”, & “The Judas Kiss” all have the “old school” Metallica feel plus they give us a traditional instrumental with “Suicide & Redemption” which has that ultimate HEAVYNESS feel & that “going into battle” motivational like anthem theme to it.