Thursday, December 18, 2008
Hey, it’s the season when “Best of’’ Lists prevail. It’s been a year of change, from politics to Wall Street (not to mention the auto industry) so it should come as no surprise that the trend toward digital music continues.
While the original Napster is long gone, everyone else seems to be finally getting with the program.
The New York Times recently reported that the revenue for digital music at Atlantic Records, the vaunted home of the likes of Ray Charles, John Coltrane and Aretha Franklin, exceeded sales for the first time. (Atlantic guiding spirits Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler would probably be on board. Ertegun died at the age of 83 after a fall backstage at a Rolling Stones concert in 2006.)
There’s a proliferation of end-of-the year offerings, but one of my favorites is www.mog.com. Berkeley-based and founded by David Hyman, formerly of Addicted to Noise, it’s a gathering that that “makes it ridiculously easy to find new music, watch music videos and read news and reviews that make your personal taste,’’ according to the mission statement on the site. “Imagine if Rolling Stone or MTV had thousands of writers and producers contributing news, reviews, songs, and videos that were filtered based on what you were listening to, so you could always find the good stuff.’’
Enough preamble: On to the good stuff.
A recent update leads you to some of the best songs and albums making bloggers’ lists this year, from Checktheavailability, which puts Friendly Fires, favorably reviewed by Weekly music maven Stuart Thornton in these pages, at the top of the list (www.myspace.com/friendlyfires), then breaks it down with Cut Copy, Ra Ra Riot, Born Ruffians, Brooklyn faves Santogold (No. 6 on Rolling Stone’s Top 50 list, available at www.rollingstone.com), MGMT, Wax Stag, Lykke Li, Guns N’ Roses and Long Wave. In other contributions to Mog’s brave new electronic world, the blogger Pop Tarts Suck Steady likes Hold Steady, Chewing Gum for the Ears, digs Black Keys’ Attack and Release, Blitzen Trapper’s Furr and Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever, among others.
Indiehere digs Radiohead’s Weird Fishes Arpeggi and Hercules & Love Affair’s Raise Me Up.
Blogger fuzzylion (www.fuzzylion.com/2008/12/top-albums-of-2008/) is also up to the challenge.
“This was a fantastic year for music, hence my expanding this list from 20 to 25,’’ he enthuses. “Even with that expansion, there were still some very fine albums that did not make the cut. Such honorable mentions as Headlights’ Some Racing, Some Stopping, as well as Lykke Li’s Youth Novels, Snow Patrol’s A Hundred Million Suns and Glasvegas’ self-titled debut.
“There are some records on the horizon that I’m very excited about and I have some very high hopes for 2009. In the meantime, I present the Fuzzy Lion Top Albums of 2008.” Picks include works by Nine Inch Nails, Nada Surf, Raphael Saadiq, the ubiquitous Santogold, The Broken West, The Dears, Takka Takka, The Weepies, Blondfire, Wolf Parade, Delays, The Hold Steady, The Whigs, The Silent Years, The Streets, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, MGMT, Coldplay, Vampire Weekend, James, Augustana, Mates of State, She & Him, Sigur Rails and, his top pick, Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight all made the cut.
There are countless other sites around, of course. When all else fails, you can always still buy CDs– or vinyl. Pitchforkmedia (www.pitchforkmedia.com) currently includes a plug for the incomparable Nina Simone’s equally incomparable box set To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story. If you’re looking for a Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa gift, you can’t get much better than that.