25 Albums

I wrote this for facebook, but since it took forever I think I’ll share it here too…

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If I understand this right, we’re supposed to list the 25 most important albums in our life, whether or not we are totally embarrassed by them? All right, here goes…in humbling chronological order. (This list is totally predictable, I know!) albums

1. Anne Murray – This was probably a greatest hits album or something, I don’t remember, but I remember loving the song “Even though we ain’t got money, I’m still in love with you honey…” There was a house in my friend’s neighborhood whose mailbox said “Murray” and every time we went by I thought of Anne Murray. About 15 years later I would become friends with one of the Murray girls who lived in that house, and she confirmed that there was, in fact, no relation to Anne.

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2008 – My Musical Year in Review (but not like a musical revue).

Hey, I agreed that Bon Iver recorded a good album, but I don’t know if I agree with the way that everyone has been gushing about it.  Just about every music blog that I read has to mention him somewhere in their Best of 2008 posts.  If recording something in the middle of a bitter Wisconsin winter is all it takes (because that is the one consistent point that all reviewers bring up) then I’ll plug the mic in tonight – it’s well below zero degrees – and you can tell me where to get in line.  But instead of being a grump about it and taking out a long, frustrating day on poor Bon Iver (it really is a good album) I’m going to make my own Best of 2008 list.  This is based on my very limited exposure to pop and indie culture (compared to the real music bloggers, anyway) and is really just reflective of my own personal experience with music this year. So if that kind of thing interests you, read on!

Deep breath, here goes (in order remembered, no special hierarchy). 

1. Jenny Lewis at Epiphany Church | Chicago, Illinois | September 19, 2008 – This show was partly great because of the adventure that surrounded it, but it was mostly great because Jenny Lewis is great.  I’ll say this item on the list also includes the release of Acid Tongue, but we heard the live versions of all the songs first and the album was a tiny bit pale in comparison (just a tiny bit).  This show also gave my my first taste of new favorite drummer, Barbara Gruska.     …stay for the breakdown!

 

2. Tegan and Sara at State Theater | Minneapolis, Minnesota | October 11, 2008 – Half the fun of this show, as I said in my original “review” was how funny these girls are!  The grow-to-love-it Twin-Rock was pretty great too, I mean, that’s the thing that gets you there.  Lots of songs from The Con which I love.  

3. The Art Table Reunion Show at The Eagles Club | Green Bay, Wisconsin | September 20, 2008 

arttable

– A year in the making, The Art Table finally got together to make gentle the masses still quaking with mourning. This was a fun show, if a bit rough (my crash cymbal stand was stripped and just about useless) and we played a few new songs inluding Door Mat and Break Up River which will possibly someday be recorded.  There is some video from this show that I almost forgot about, which I will put up when I get a chance. 

 The piggy-back to this item is The Art Table mini-show, when Holly and I played a couple songs at Kristin and Nathan’s wedding at The Train Museum.  We both had shiny happy fits of rage…

4. The return of purchasing CDs (forget you, iTunes!  I want album art!) Some of my buys in 2008 included: Jeff Hanson – Madame Owl | Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs | Bon Iver – For Emma Forever Ago | Nedelle – From the Lion’s Mouth |Dear Nora – 3 States | The Welcome Wagon – Welcome to the Welcome Wagon | Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue.  I would recommend all of them (although I haven’t actually received the Dear Nora discs yet, I pre-recommend them.)  This can also include my list of albums on backorder, The Dears – Missiles | TV on the Radio – Dear Science | She & Him – Volume One | Nicole Atkins – Neptune City.

5. Discovery of old Elliott Smith bootleg.  Increasing love for Quasi.

6. Growing bored of Mates of State, Tilly and the Wall, and Rilo Kiley.  I think this is a significant corner being turned in my musical taste, personally.  Of course it could turn right back just as easily (I’ve been known to fall in and out of love) but for right now the power-pop is a little more grating than it is fun.  Performances like this do not help their case:

Granted I never picked up MoS or TatW’s new albums, and only “acquired” Rilo Kiley’s disappointing Under the Black Light, but the point isn’t that they aren’t still good bands, just that I have started losing interest in them.  It’s not you, it’s me.  Speaking of, check out Milwaukee’s own, our friend Mike Mangione! (I think we saw him at The Cup at some point  in 2008, so he can legitimately be on this list)

7. Threatening to grow bored of Sufjan Stevens… (also here) Of course I will never really give up on Sufjan Stevens, but we had been getting a little antsy for some sign of life.  This was before I knew anything of The Welcome Wagon, though, whose debut Sufjan was busy producing.  Yay, Sufjan!

8. The Welcome Wagon – Welcome to the Welcome Wagon – I really do love this.  I’ve posted enough links to this band by now, but since this IS my exhaustive year-end list I’ll post it just once more.  It’s gospel music!

9. Seeing a free Ra Ra Riot show at The Union | Madison, Wisconsin | I don’t even remember the date.  This just kind of fell into our laps, we had never heard of the band, it was before their ship had taken sail, or at least before The Rhumb Line was released.  It was awesome.  It was totals fun.  The Virgins opened.  

 10. Handel’s Messiah at Christ Presbyterian | Madison, Wisconsin | December 14, 2008.  NOT just because I needed to find a number 10, this really was great!  I’ve always loved the music at this church, and this performance came at a time when I really needed an angel choir to shout praises in my ear.  It’s Advent, y’all!  But ah, I didn’t bring my video camera, so watch some other folks perform it!

Oh, there is one other thing that will make this list (I guess at top 11) but it’s not ready to go up here yet.  Stay tuned.

Jockeying of musical tastes.

Tegan and Sara. They were awesome. Easily one of the most fun shows I’ve been to. At first I thought it was a little quiet, but really it had just been a while since I’d been at a venue that has good acoustics, and forgot that a live show isn’t actually supposed to hurt your ears. It was a good night. The crowd was fun, we didn’t get lost getting to the theater, our handsome party somehow multiplied halfway through the night, we bought fun raccoon pins, we could see the stage, the opening acts were good.  And then of course there were Tegan and Sara who sounded amazing, sang most of our favorites, and were funny and entertaining on stage. My only disappointment was that they didn’t play their anticipated cover of Rhianna, but overall there was very little to complain about.

Tegan and Sara at State Theater, Minneapolis 10/11/08: (not my videos)

Burn your Life Down

Introducing Walking With A Ghost

And the cover we didn’t see…

Umbrella

If you play a good show you’re going to move up on my list, it’s pretty simple. Tegan and Sara put on a good show, and have elbowed their way a little higher into my oh-so-important hierarchy of musical taste.  Probably at this point, and maybe this is an impulsive comment I’m about to make because I’m coming off of a really fun weekend, I’d say that Tegan and Sara have momentarily bumped Rilo Kiley for my number one chick-fronted indie band.  Under the Blacklight was disappointing overall, and Jenny Lewis has hopped ship to another categories favorite as a solo artist, and anyway, I make changes like this all the time but don’t usually bother to write about them.  But this one seems kind of big, and here’s another big one: Sufjan Stevens is slipping.  He hasn’t released anything new in too long and he hasn’t toured, and it makes me sad to keep waiting for those things.  So the beautiful-voice-beautiful-face-and-beautiful-hearted-male-vocalist category is currently up for grabs.  Put your name in now!

There was a lot more that happened this weekend, and I’ll write more about it soon.  In the meantime, why do I lose things all the time?  Remember those racoon pins I mentioned above?  Lost them.  The cord to connect my camera?  Lost them.  My cell phone?  Lost it again!  Lame.

Edit: Laura found my pins :)

And okay, I had to add this one, since today (Monday) IS Cananadian Thanksgiving:

Easter snow.

Though your sins are like scarlet you will be white as snow, and today, on Easter, it snowed.  Today it snowed giant Christmastime flakes and perhaps it was an attack on our fledgling spirits but it didn’t even faze us, there was just too much love in the room.  Although my drive to my parents’ house was complicated by this Spring blizzard, the roads home tonight were clear and dry, and was there music?  Yes, there was!  Maybe you are dying to know what my first post-Lenten album was.  I hadn’t given it too much thought before hand, and in the end my choice was predictable but nonetheless perfect: Sufjan Stevens, Come on Feel the Illinoise.  After 47 days without playing music there is no lovelier way to welcome it back into your life than by listening to this album during a car trip.  Was there Cherry Coke?  I have to admit that there was, mainly for the sake of staying awake while driving.  It felt a little weird to be drinking it again and I’d like to take that as a good sign, that maybe I’ve really kicked the habit (but I won’t make any presumptions here, not when it comes to Cherry Coke).  But, all right, what is this Easter business really about?  Why all the build up?

Though our sins are like scarlet we will be white as snow.

We sang a song in church this morning that I have always liked, but on Easter morning it seems extra fitting, especially the last two verses:

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

– From “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend

He lives that we might also.  White as snow!

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