Jesse Jarnow, host of The Frow Show, presents:
My 10 faves of 2008 in no particular order:
- "Money," Apollo Sunshine, from We Shall Noise Upon (Headless Heroes). "Imagine"re-imagined for the meltdown. (youtube link) "Wonder what I'd do if everyone forgot what money was," they sing, getting their Simon & Garfunkel on. "With all that's happened, will we still play guitars?" they ask. Yes! And harmonize!
- One Bit Music, Tristan Perich (Canteloupe). The New York composer is all about anti-emulation, programming simple chips that are his instruments. Cantaloupe finally put out a first proper "album": a hard-wired chip with an 1/8" output, housed in a jewel case, chirping gorgeously.
- sonic Obama ephemera. What better way than to capture/remember the stupid/gleeful/awesome optimism of the campaign than stupid/gleeful/awesome tunes like Obama is Beautiful World by the Everyone Brothers Band from Japan, or the peaceful reggae of Barack Obama by Coco Tea? None, I tells ya.
- Soul Folk in Action, the Staple Singers (Stax). Similarly, the Staples '68 LP was meaningful commercial music angled directly at its time. So happens that gospel about how "We've Got To Get Ourselves Together" and "Got to Be Some Changes Made" rings pretty addictively 40 years later. Also Pops Staples is still totally sweet.
- Heads Ain't Ready 7-inch, Oneida (These Are Not Records). The Brooklyn Brahs go full-frontal Deadhead, amping up two tunes the Dead recorded for their first album when they were already on speed and eating raw meat. Just feels right.
- Yeti, no. 5 Yeti Publishing. Mike McGonigal's Portland lit-zine hits multiple happy places: Unica Zurn's beautiful drawings, a Sublime Frequencies travelogue, a Luc Sante photo essay, and a totally bitchin' CD with Secret Museum-style 78s from Jeff Mangum's collection, live Akron/Family & other goodies.
- Arcade Ambience, Andy Hofle Arcade Ambience Project. A primitive electronic gamelan: seemingly dozens of individual instruments tuned to work as one, bleeping simultaneously. Like trickling water. Or just a lot of video games.
- Alopecia, Why? (Anticon). Yoni Wolf, the dude with the annoying/endearing voice drops killer rhymes, almost outsider melodies that you can totally sing along with, and idiosyncratic Escher-like arrangements. Crit-speak aside, it's probably the only album from this year where I remembered all the words without trying.
- The James Brown Collection (Christie's). A 208-page book, gorgeously sorted by the color of the artifacts. Reproduced are handwritten letters ("Polydor is trying to kill me off"), break-up notes, hair supplies, living room sets, sunglasses, and a rainbow of S-E-X jumpsuits. Also online, but less elegant.
- The Guatemalan Handshake, directed by Todd Rohal (Benten Films). Screened for a festival minute in 2007, Rohal's debut is sublime True Stories / Nashville ensemble weirdness starring Bonnie Prince Will
Oldham, a bunch of Pennsylvania locals, and a strange little car.
Many more WFMU DJ Top Ten lists here.