Matt Nerney Poop 08

Well, where did 2008 go? I know there were a lot of babies around. Of course, Nat and I had our new bairn, Finn Arden. Already, we can tell that she’s going to be just as much of a character as her brother, Declan. She’s a trip. Meanwhile, he’s always off on some adventure … slaying dragons, battling on the pirate ship, or racing to put out the fire. Talk about action-packed! With these two, there seems to be a near-constant cacophony of sound that threatens to envelope the house like a tornado. It does make it hard to hear new music! Not that I was able to buy that much. Thanks, W! Anyway, President Obama, please save the economy … so I can POOP.

Tops of the Pops

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1. The Acorn ~ Glory Hope Mountain:
Not only the album I listened to most this year, but far and away, the best album I listened to this year. Well, this music just speaks to me. The narrative recounts a hazy daydream history of an émigré’s life journey from Peru to Canada, as told to her son. The love, longing, loss, melancholy, and joy that bring us all together are finely wrought throughout these songs, in a very organic way. I saw a movie this year called Old Joy, and one of the lines perfectly encapsulates the emotional impact these songs deliver; “sorrow is just worn out joy.” I don’t say this often, but this album really is brilliant.

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2. Blitzen Trapper ~ Furr:
I finally caught up with Wild Mountain Nation over the summer, and it just blew me away. Furr seems like a logical conclusion of form. Still barreling wildly through the musical continuum, the Trappers draw references from classic country, Dylan and the Band, the Kinks, Wowee Zowee era Pavement, and fractured space-rock. The title track is a gloriously skewed coming of age tale that leaves you haunted by the innocence and freedom of lost youth.

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3. Deerhunter ~ Microcastle/Weird Era Continued:
A fuzz-tone flashback to early 90’s indy rock glory. Bradford Cox obviously listened to the same bands I did back then, with Sonic Youth, Polvo, and Yo La Tengo looming large. Microcastle is just about perfect, plus a bonus disc of, well, weird. Just what I like.

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4. Fleet Foxes ~ S/T & Sun Giant EP:
Yes, there certainly has been a lot of hype about this band, but there is something intriguing here. Some days, I find myself nitpicking over these songs. They can seem fussy, overwrought, a little forced, and without joy. On other days it sounds just about perfect; haunting and beautiful.

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5. The Accidental ~ There Were Wolves:
A very simple, distinctly English, modern folk album. Three different singer/songwriters, each with a unique voice, came together accidentally and created a new harmony. Here’s hoping more accidents will happen.

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6. Ruby Suns ~ Sea Lion:
California dreamer moves to New Zealand, incorporates the sound of the Maori into his memories of Brian Wilson and New Order, and puts the results to tape in a shack on the beach. Messy and just about falling apart, but joyous and majestic nonetheless. Mucho Funo.

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7. Sam Phillips ~ Don’t Do Anything:
On her own for the first time, Sam lets things get a little rough around the edges. It’s all right, all the fuzz and clatter can’t hide the pop gems that she seems to spit out so easily. I do dream about what this album might have sounded like in the hands of a sympathetic producer, though.

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8. Sigur Ros ~ Med Sud I Eyrum Vit Spilum Endalaust:
I think this album title might translate as something like Sigur Ros Get Happy and Spin Around Endlessly. Well, that’s what the music sounds like, anyway. A timely and welcome expansion of the majestic sound that Sigur Ros are known for.

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9. Bon Iver ~ For Emma, Forever Ago:
Supposedly, Justin Vernon packed up his van and drove into the Wisconsin woods after breaking up with his girlfriend and recorded this album. I don’t know what the hell he’s on about most of the time, but it does sound pretty damn beautiful. Chalk it up to acoustic guitars, reverb, and falsetto.

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10. Dr. Dog ~ Fate:
I know, I know. They are easy to slag off, but I really like this band. I guess I just like rehashed classic rock. So friggin’ shoot me.

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11. Liam Finn ~ I’ll Be Lightning:
Definitely his father’s son. Liam inherited Neil’s voice, pop hooks, and left of center perspective, but has tempered a unique talent of his own. Crowded House are an obvious reference point, but also recalls Michael Penn.

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12. Beck ~ Modern Guilt:
Completes the perfect triumvirate of albums: Mutations, Sea Change, Modern Guilt. Taut production from Danger Mouse keeps the guilt from dragging the proceedings into murky territory. Come on, Beck, lighten up a bit.

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13. Tyler Ramsey ~ A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea:
Imagine After the Gold Rush era Neil Young, Sea Change era Beck, and Leo Kottke all rolled into one album and you have A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea. I like it.

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14. Horse Feathers ~ House with No Name:
A really spare, almost disconnected folk album that just kind of screws its way into your mind without you knowing it. Guitars and fiddles sound as if they’ve been blasted in slow motion through a particle collider connecting different astral planes. An intimate and unsettling sound.

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15. My Morning Jacket ~ Evil Urges:
MMJ continue to push into the mainstream, while maintaining enough intensity and integrity to hold my interest. Evil Urges, I’m Amazed, and Smokin from Shootin are all classic, while Highly Suspicious is just that.

Other Notable News and Olds

The Pogues ~ Just Look Them in the Eye and say … Pogue Mahone!: the mother lode of all things Pogues. The best box set ever?
Flogging Molly ~ Float: still keeping the faith.
Bonny Prince Billy ~ Lie Down in the Light: still pretty and strange.
Eliza Carthy ~ Dreams of Breathing Underwater: on hiatus from the traditional.
Goldfrapp ~ Seventh Tree: mellow and folky.
Clinic ~ Do It!: still in a world of their own.
Futureheads ~ This is Not the World: but it is pretty good.
School of Language ~ Sea from Shore: one brother from Field Music.
The Week that Was ~ S/T: the other brother from Field Music.
MGMT ~ Oracular Spectacular: they thought Flight of the Conchords was serious.
The Botticellis ~ Old Home Movies: from Brian Wilson’s attic.
Delta Spirit ~ Ode to Sunshine: a couple really good garage tunes.
Dirty Pretty Things ~ Romance at Short Notice: not as visceral as the debut.
High Places ~ S/T: kind of like Animal Collective lite.
El Guincho ~ Alegranza!: the Spanish Panda Bear?

Well, hope to hear about all that I missed. Thanks, POOPsters!