J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Playlists, podcasts and music from WQFS Greensboro's J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Notes From Underground - #46
Mid-ish Year Mayhem 2008

Well, for the second year in a row I have slipped the hour and missed what is the obvious time for my mid-year Mayhem recap: the end of June. Now here it is nearly August and I'm looking back at the year so far. I think 2007 was a bit strong year for music, but 2008 is no slacker and certainly these two years have put most of the earlier 2000s to shame. Three categories to look at here, so let's get started:

Most Disappointing Releases:

Marah - Angels of Destruction: I don't know exactly why this disappoints me. I guess it's that, despite their pretty solid set of albums, everything since Kids in Philly just feels disappointing. There are some pretty snazzy songs on this album, but then again it hasn't kept me coming back that often. "Wild West Love Song" aside, it's weak by Marah's standards.

The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia: I had super high hopes for the project meshing Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan but again, despite a handful of pretty sharp songs, this album is ringing pretty flat in the long run. The Twilight Singers' recent albums and Lanegan's work with Isobel Campbell are both far more interesting. Not quite on the trainwreck level that Audioslave was in matching a couple of heavyweights, but still really disappointing.

Supergrass - Diamond Hoo Ha: You haven't heard me play anything off this on the show yet, mostly because I've been gone for three weeks during which I nabbed it, but again, it's just a law of diminishing returns. It's not a bad album, per se. Supergrass hasn't made a bad album yet. While some people argue that I Should Coco was their peak, those people are flat out wrong. Road to Rouen was a masterful 'aging gracefully' album that, while not producing any smashing singles like you could usually expect, was a gorgeous, grower album. But here it's back to the rock and..well, it just doesn't work that well. Disappointing, lads. Get back on the road to Rouen. That was a good place to be.

Most Surprising Releases:

Drive-by Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark: Why was a really awesome album by one of my favorite bands a surprise? Two reasons. Jason Isbell and A Blessing and a Curse. The former left the band and with him went, honestly, my favorite songwriter of the bunch. The latter was their really unsatisfying prior album. So after that, and then Jason taking off, I wasn't sure what to expect. But Brighter Than Creation's Dark is every bit as sharp and powerful as the Truckers have ever been. Its sole problem is that it's too long. I could probably pick a few songs off that I would've dropped - not necessarily because they're bad - they're not - but because of the album length. 19 songs is a whale of an album to swallow. But when the songs are as amazing as "3 Dimes Down," "The Righteous Path," "The Purgatory Line," "A Ghost to Most" and others, you don't mind quite as much.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash: This may be another one that you wonder why it's surprising. Here the answer is Face the Truth. The first Malkmus solo album was full of poppy, catchy goodness, but that album has reflected nothing of the rest of his work since. I enjoyed Pig Lib, but haven't returned to it or Face the Truth that much at all. This is Malkmus' best post-Pavement work without a doubt and his band is at the peak of its powers. God bless him for picking up Janet Weiss. She needed something important to do after Sleater-Kinney passed and she's got it. No offense to Quasi, Janet.

Paul Westerberg - 49:00: This is a surprise just all around. Out of the blue, Paul Westerberg releases his first album since 2004's Folker and it's one track, 43 minutes long, the songs fading in and out like a radio station, ragged, lo-fi and fantastic. Not to mention you can get the track for 49 cents from the online retailers that are carrying it. Following his accident with a screwdriver that cost him the use of a hand for a year, there was some question as to when, if ever, he would return. The answer is in this one track. 49:00 is just as enjoyable as his Stereo/Mono return in 2002 and just as unexpected. Sure, I'm going to have to break out the mp3 editing software just to get tracks to play on the show, but for an album this good, I don't mind.

Best Releases:

This is a short list - no real explanations - of the albums I've seen as the best so far this year. No particular order, so no fair using this to peek at my end of year list. Make your comments or leave your own best in the comments. Let me know if you think I'm missing something obvious.

The Whigs - Mission Control; Jim White - Transnormal Skiperoo; Citified - The Meeting After the Meeting; Drive-by Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark; Black Mountain - In the Future; Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago; Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash; The Black Angels - Directions to See a Ghost; The Roots - Rising Down; Alejandro Escovedo - Real Animal; Julie Ocean - Long Gone and Nearly There; Fleet Foxes - self-titled; Portishead - Third; Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

J's Indie/Rock Mayhem returns this week as does normal blogging activity. I've got Sean Coon from the dotmatrix project coming by to talk about everything that great local group is doing for local music as well as playing some of the live music that the monthly concerts have been recording and talking about this Thursday's show. Until then, take care!

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  • At 11:26 PM, July 30, 2008, Blogger sean coon said…

    thanks for having me, josh. it was a blast. next time i'll bring some actual musicians.


  • At 12:48 PM, August 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My favorite albums of this year have been (in no order): The Raveonettes - "Lust Lust Lust." Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks "Real Emotional Trash." Bombadil "A Buzz A Buzz." Frightened Rabbit "Midnight Organ Fight." Pete & The Pirates "Little Death." The Whigs "Mission Control." Wye Oak "If Children" ...



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