Mark Rosen Poop 08


I don’t know if it’s because I bought less, heard less or cared less, or whether I found David Gergen and Campbell Brown more intriguing than Stephen Malkmus, or Soledad O’Brien infinitely more appealing than anyone else on these lists, but I spent considerably more time watching CNN this year than listening to CDs. I’m still not sure whether it was just a bad year for music or a thrilling year for political theater. In either event, 2008 was a fascinating media year, just not the medium I ordinarily revel in. With that out of the way, here’s the Sweet 16:

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
1. LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM – Gift of Screws
On more than a few of these tracks, Lindsey conjures up those two great mid-70s albums by that group he used to be in, whatever they were called. That recognizable voice and those guitar tones tinges this new stuff with a bit of nostalgia. Simply shimmering pop music.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
2. PETE MOLINARI – A Virtual Landslide
Molinari makes his home at the intersection of Woody Guthrie Boulevard, Hank Williams Way and Highway 61. Actually he’s British and makes his home in the UK. This year’s most American album is not even by an American.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
3. SHANTEL – Disko Partizani!
I mean, come on, who doesn’t think about dance-floor electronica when they think of gypsy music. European DJ Stefan Hantel does, and did. Exotic Balkan melodies meet dance-floor beats. Call this exotica-electronica and the most exciting record of the year. See also last year’s Putumayo Presents Gypsy Groove.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
4. THE BASEBALL PROJECT – Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails
If the title of this means nothing to you, this record does not have your name on it. This album takes in both of my leisure time passions, tuneful guitar pop and baseball. Paeans to the usual big guys as well as the Harvey Hadduxes, Curt Floods and all those that give baseball such historical texture. For fans, by fans.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
5. FLEET FOXES – Fleet Foxes
The Fleet Foxes simultaneously revive lush harmonic acoustic folk-pop and beards. Since this has recently appeared on just about every critic’s Top 10 list, it is now officially backlash season.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
6. THE CLASH – Live At Shea Stadium
In a few short years, The Clash went from Che Guevara to Shea Stadium, and this fabulous sounding live set captures all that that implies. Now how about release those 1978 shows sampled on From Here To Eternity, when “the only band that matters” still did.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
7. DR. DOG – Fate
The Philly Dogs channel The Beatles, The Band and themselves in this quirky little record.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
8. PATTY LOVELESS – The Traditional Country Soul Of Patty Loveless: Sleepless Nights
I am not embarrassed to admit that from 1973 to 1975, a time period bookended by There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and Never Mind the Bollocks, I listened primarily to country music. So it’s not that surprising that this throwback collection to country music’s golden era felt immediately comfortable. She’s got a great voice too. And anyway, I still prefer Phases and Stages to Hotel California.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
9. NEIL YOUNG – Sugar Mountain: Live At Canterbury House 1968
It sounds like this coffeehouse crowd didn’t quite know who this new solo artist was yet. I’m not sure from the sound of it if Neil did either, and that accounts for a lot of the charm of this album.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
This took me a while but every listen revealed something new. Without an original idea in 40 minutes, the novelty comes in recycling and synthesizing a whole lot of already used musical ideas and clichés until the record finally sneaks up on you.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
11. ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO – The Real Animal
Just one more noteworthy record from this guy’s deep catalog. He definitely gets in touch with his inner Keith, for sure.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
Worth the wait, maybe. As good as their first, definitely not. Anything new and unheard by Sandy Denny is going to make this list, but the unevenness in the production from song to song and the occasional out of place post-production flourishes get in the way at times.

captaincoconut_shoop   Buy New or Used via Amazon
This is a self-(and not very well-)produced CD by the absolute funkiest band ever to play at Bacchus bar in New Paltz. That night will remain the closest I’ll ever come to seeing the Josie-era Meters: a bunch of 20-something white kids from NYC.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
14. JAMES HUNTER – The Hard Way
Not quite as good as his previous outing, this record keeps the spirits of Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke alive one more year (not that Sam Cooke’s spirit needs reviving in a year that saw every artist who has ever recorded do a version of “A Change Is Gonna Come”).

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
15. THE HOLD STEADY – Positive
Whenever I have the lyric sheet in front of me, bar bards The Hold Steady hit their mark. The difficulty of doing that while driving keeps me from ranking this higher on my list.

  Buy New or Used via Amazon
16. VAMPIRE WEEKEND – Vampire Weekend
I liked this at first, got tired of it real quick, and decided ultimately that it was pretty cool. Just like college.


DETROIT COBRAS – The Original Recordings (1995-1997): America’s best soul garage band at their earliest and rawest.
NICK LOWE – Jesus Of Cool: Pure pop for then people and for now people. Loaded with bonus tracks and a timeless classic. All winners, no doggie’s dinners.
P.F. SLOAN – Here’s Where I Belong: The Best of the Dunhill Years 1965-1967 Finally a collection done right that chronicles America’s best ever social protest writer, babe.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – Henpecked Daddies: Fussin’ An’ Fightin’ Cute, ol’ fashioned country songs about such time honored topics as bad marriages and misogyny. Yee-ha.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – You Heard It Here First!: The obscure original versions of well-known songs and accompanied by detailed, informative and liner notes. Right in my wheelhouse.
HANK WILLIAMS – The Unreleased Recordings: About a quarter of these songs are about the afterlife, or in Hank’s case, one year later. Historical and magnificent.


“Make Me Your VP (Hey There Obama)” – Clever as hell and done by New Paltz’s own Jesse Schniedewind, this is available at and YouTube (with apologies to “Hey There Delilah”).

“Obama Song” – Michael Franti & Spearhead’s eminently catchy tribute song is available on their website.

“Yes We Can” – will i. am’s exquisite video featuring anyone and everyone, also available on YouTube and elsewhere.


Spectacle: Elvis Costello With. . . – There’s never been a show quite like this.