Thoughts on 2008: Exclaim! Assistant Editor Alex Molotkow
Published Jan 02, 2009To tide us over while we indulge in the holiday spirit gorging on stuffing and egg nog, we asked a bunch of our contributors to tell us their thoughts on 2008, as well as their favourite records that helped make it a memorable year. Alex Molotkow was grateful to have Jonathan Richman make an appearance:
No matter what the year, a Jonathan Richman record always provides a refreshing injection of earnestness to a new release chart marked by foolishness, anger and irony. The more cynical I get, the more I appreciate JR's undying optimism, and for that reason he tops my chart. The old standbys didn't disappoint: Stephen Malkmus and Stereolab both returned to form, while Portishead, true to their "instant classic" release strategy, put out one of the most striking albums in years. On the other hand, 2008 had its share of innovation - Gang Gang Dance and the Music Tapes released records that reflected well upon this time in music and showed levels of originality impressive by any measure. There's nary a dud on the Social Registry label and when in doubt, one can always mine their roster for an impressive new release.
There's an unfortunate shortage of Canadian acts on this list (for reasons of taste only), but Black Mountain and Women deserve honorable mentions. Overall, it's a relief that new artists are moving away from that tired '80s and '90s sound and taking more risks; it's satisfying to watch "indie rock" dissolve into new and improved genres.
1. Jonathan Richman Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild (Vapor)
2. Portishead Third (Mercury/Island)
3. Gang Gang Dance Saint Dymphna (The Social Registry)
4. Stephen Malkmus Real Emotional Trash (Matador)
5. The Music Tapes Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes (Merge)
6. The Julie Mittens The Julie Mittens (Holy Mountain)
7. Ladyhawk Shots (Jagjaguwar)
8. Stereolab Chemical Chords (4AD)
9. Blood on the Wall Liferz (The Social Registry)
10. Sian Alice Group 59:59 (The Social Registry)