Richard Allen Poop 08

Favorite Things ~ ALBUMS ‘08

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Sigur Ros ~ Med sud i eyrum vid splilum endalaust (XL Recordings).
After the “Heima” tour, these Icelandic superstars were left refreshed and re-energized, and their exuberance carried over into the studio. From singles to long, languid stunners, With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly is a document of unexpected extroversion. Special live guests include the London Symphony Orchestra and London Oratory School Choir.

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Paavoharju ~ Laulu Laakson Kukista (Fonal).
This Finnish duo doles out biographical information in dashes rather than dollops, creating an aura of mystery. Their sophomore album is an eclectic combination of electronics, freak folk and Christian mysticism, as entrancing as milk thistles floating in the early summer wind.

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Portishead ~ Third (Mercury).
Just try taking 11 years off from work, and see if you’re any good when you return. That’s exactly what this Bristol trio accomplished here. Irritated by the use of their music in spas and the classification of their catalog as “new age,” they shed their shells with a vengeance, producing an album of accessible abrasion.

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Sgt. ~ Stylus Fantasticus (Penguin Market).
Japanese trio Sgt. pulls out all the stops for this exercise in improvised elegance. Crescendos abound; killer riffs swoop from the rafters. As the disk progresses, the drama increases. While the title refers to baroque music, the album would also work as the soundtrack to “Destroy All Monsters.”
Sleeps in Oysters ~ We kept the memories locked away like the beetles of our childhood, or How to appreciate someone who’s always around (Seed Records).
Buttons, cloth, string & wax protect this wondrously intriguing disk, a hybrid of Múm and The Books, replete with stutters, bells, and seven songs about insects. The duo lived in an unheated house while recording, yet when Lisa sings, “We’ll all have to live in this winter forever,” she makes the prospect sound pleasing. A longer album is expected in 2009.

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Totakeke ~ Elekatota- The Other Side of the Tracks/Forgotten on the Other Side of the Tracks (Tympanik Audio).
On this pair of releases, Long Island’s Frank Mokros pays homage to industrial pioneers haujobb while adding contemporary relevance. These days, industrial talents are few and far between; it’s nice to find one so close to home. Elekatota is the primary, mixed disk; Forgotten, a compilation of outtakes and remixes, is nearly as good.

  @ Bad Taste Records
Kira Kira ~ Our Map to the Monster Olympics (Smekkleysa).
Kira Kira makes music for huldufólk, hiding crackles and bells in hollowed-out hutches. But this loveling is far from benign. While the disk offers odd, temporary comforts, its creased edges can cause paper cuts. The occasional trumpet, on loan from Benni Hemm Hemm, is mercurochrome.

Yasushi Yoshida ~ Little Grace (Noble).
With its watercolor cover and tissue paper exterior, Little Grace presents a pretty package. Fortunately, the album’s beauty is more than skin deep. The music is frequently contemplative, but when saxophone, strings, military drums and bicycle wheels join in, the effect is euphoric ~ a little grace indeed.

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Murder by Death ~ Red of Tooth and Claw (Vagrant Records).
A deeper voice, a streamlined sound and shorter songs haven’t hurt; Adam Turla may yet become the next Johnny Cash. In this interlocking tale of the Old West, a prequel to Who Will Survive, And What Will Be Left of Them, a villain finds redemption at the last moment, bleeding hope and regret into the whisky-soaked ground.

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Strangers Die Every Day ~ Aperture for Departure (This Generation Tapes).
Cello, violin, electric bass and drums create a convincing chamber/post-rock hybrid on this debut album. In the echoing caverns, the listener feels the presence of guitar, like a phantom limb.

Songs ~ Vocal

Conor OberstI Don’t Want to Die in the Hospital
Sleeps in OystersMoth Wings for Lisa
Mammút Svefnsky
The MummersMarch of the Dawn


Yasushi YoshidaGreyed
SleepmakeswavesOne Day You Will Teach Me to Let Go of My Fears
Sgt.Koe o Dashite Kangaeru Houhou
This Will Destroy YouThe Mighty Rio Grande
‘Olafur ArnaldsHiminninn er ad hrynja stjörnurnar fara pér vel

The Year in Books

Steven Millhauser Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories.
The Pulitzer winner’s latest accomplishment: snack-sized magic realism.
Alberto Manguel The Library at Night.
For bibliophiles in search of tips on how to organize their personal libraries.
Dana Jennings Sing Me Back Home: Love, Death and Country Music.
A memoir, a travel document, and a colorful history of the real Americana.
Randy Pausch The Last Lecture.
Moving without being maudlin, even though the author died soon after publication.
Charlie English The Snow Tourist.
A mid-life crisis turns into a worldwide search for the deepest, purest snow.
Lynda BarryWhat It Is.
Inside the artist’s craft, with surprisingly vibrant, collage-styled illustrations.
Blake Bell The World of Steve Ditko.
The reclusive comic book innovator finally receives a comprehensive tribute.
Stephenie Meyer The Host.
In which the Twilight author proves that she can write for the adult market.
Castle Freeman Go With Me.
A compact, cinematic thriller just waiting for a big-screen adaptation.
David Rothenberg Thousand Mile Song.
A clarinetist attempts to make music with whales; cd included.

The Top 10 Movies of 2008

The Dark Knight: Ledger’s legendary performance was also his swan song.
Wall-E: An effective meditation on time and a bold environmental warning.
Young@Heart: A documentary about elderly people who sing punk songs!
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: The best Fitzgerald adaptation – ever.
Tell No One: A French thriller replete with car chase and a scary femme fatale.
Vantage Point: A pure popcorn movie, no Oscars, just like watching “24.”
In Bruges: “It’s in Belgium!” Sardonic humor and Farrell’s best role yet.
Gran Torino: “Get off my lawn!” A fitting coda to the Dirty Harry franchise.
Chocolate: Amazing Muay Thai from female star Jija Yanin Vismitananda.
Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr. makes an amazing comeback; fine action, too.


Richard Allen