Weird At My School: 2008, the Year in (P)review

This time of year is always so strange for me. Because while everyone else is compiling their “Best of” list for the preceding 12 months*, I’m inevitably jumping ahead. There are so few new titles in December, I can’t help but flip the calendar forward and start digging into the forthcoming bounty. For a change, instead of living in the past, I find myself stuck in the future. Not that it feels too different; I’m still gassing on about music most folks haven’t heard — or heard of — yet. With that in mind, here are my Top Ten faves for 2008 thus far.

magfields_distortion.jpg Magnetic Fields, Distortion (Nonesuch) Stephin Merritt said his intention for the eighth album by The Magnetic Fields was to sound more like the Jesus and Mary Chain, circa Psychocandy, than J&MC did. And it does. Not only does feedback permeate all these new songs, but Merritt’s twisted pop ditties are catchier to boot. (release date 1/15)
babydee_safeinsidethedaycov.jpg Baby Dee, Safe Inside The Day (Drag City) This transgender, cigar-chomping harp player is the coolest artist to hail from Cleveland since Pere Ubu. Her oddball songs make Joanna Newsom sound like Carrie Underwood, and production by Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Matt Sweeney them that little something extra. (release date 1/22)

“The Only Bones That Show” (MP3)

bobmould_districtlinecover.jpg Bob Mould, District Line (Anti-) The best thing he’s done since the first Sugar album? Possibly. If “Paralyzed” was your favorite cut off 2005’s Body of Song, this batch of hard beats, guitar hooks and gut-wrenching sentiments is for you. (release date 2/5)

“The Silence Between Us” (MP3) courtesy of Spinner

grandarchives_cover.jpg Grand Archives, The Grand Archives (Sub Pop) You already heard the swell demos on KEXP in 2007. But the full-length is even sunnier than those indicated. Not what you were expecting from former members of Band of Horses and Carissa’s Wierd, eh? And wait till you hear the instrumental dub cut. Honest! (release date 2/19)
goldfrapp.jpg Goldfrapp, Seventh Tree (Mute) Never mind that track #8 is entitled “Cologne Cerrone Houdini,” these ten folky songs are the complete stylistic opposite of Supernature‘s high-gloss disco glam. Think the Múm remix of “Number 1,” or Felt Mountain minus the Morricone, but even mellower. (release date 2/26)
kpolar.jpg Kelley Polar, I Need You To Hold On While the Sky Is Falling (Environ) Not quite electro or Italo disco or Krautrock and yet, the sophomore full-length from the go-to string arranger for Metro Area, et al, integrates elements of all these genres and more. Like Matthew Dear and the late Arthur Russell, Polar uses club music as a jumping off point for some of the most idiosyncratic pop imaginable. (release date 3/4)
theones.jpg The Ones, The Ones (A Touch of Class) This trio of fierce NYC nightlife icons has already dropped several blistering singles, including the UK hits “Flawless” and “Superstar.” “I Feel Upside Down” puts a fresh spin on the ’80s dance-rock grooves minted by Talking Heads and the Clash. Finally, this full-length collects all the jams in one place. (release date 3/4)
beyourownpet.jpg Be Your Own Pet, Get Awkward (Ecstatic Peace/Universal) A million other blogs might have moved on to the next bright shiny thing, but the second album from these youngsters is markedly superior to, and more varied than, their punky debut. Bonus points for “The Kelly Affair,” inspired by Russ Meyer’s camp classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls! (release date 3/18)

DeVotchKa, A Mad and Faithful Telling (Anti-) Will Little Miss Sunshine spoil our favorite off-the-rails ensemble? Oh no. Accordion, theremin, bouzouki, tuba, upright bass, see-sawing strings, mariachi brass and, most importantly, savvy songs add up to the musical equivalent of “It’s A Small World” on peyote. (release date 3/18)

Various Artists, In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 (Shout! Factory) Angelique Kidjo, Tony Allen, Les Nubians, Sierra Leone’s Refuge All Stars and eight other superstar African acts update U2 classics. Added rhythmic punch and stunning vocal arrangements transport even the most familiar cuts to new realms. (release date 4/1)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, kids. You can also look forward to thought-provoking hip-hop coming from Cadence Weapon and Del The Funky Homosapien. Roots music galore by Tift Merritt, Chatham County Line, and Blind Boys of Alabama. Local sounds courtesy of friends both familiar (Mark Pickerel) and new (Throw Me The Statue). A dreamy solo album by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, under his Atlas Sound moniker. There’s even a third volume of Disco Not Disco: Post Punk, Electro & Leftfield Disco Classics 1974 – 1986, packed with vintage jams by Shriekback, Maximum Joy, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Vivien Goldman — not to live in the past, or anything.

* Did you remember to vote for the Top 90.3 of 2007 yet?

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One Comment

  1. TitoP
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    So many great releases to look forward to. That new Devotchka album is going to be genius I suspect! Also can’t wait to see Magnetic Fields in support of their new one.

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