2008: Cole Goins
Keeping with last year’s format, I’ve cobbled together a collection of the 50 records I enjoyed the most in 2008: the first 25 are full albums, followed by ten compilations, ten singles/EPs/7"s/cassettes, and then five reissues. No rankings this time – each section is alphabetized.
Brightblack Morning Light - Motion to Rejoin (Matador)
My first experience with Rachael Hughes and Nathan Shineywater came in 2004 (back when they were still just Brightblack), when I saw them open for Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy at the Orange Twin Conservation Community in Athens. Even though the wooded, amphitheater-like setting was a perfect compliment to their mystic slow-jams, I was still bored to tears. Don’t know if my ears evolved over the years, or if the duo strengthened their psych-twang sound along with the added “Morning Light” tag (probably both), but I was repeatedly captivated by Motion to Rejoin — my soundtrack for Sunday morning rituals and late-night nod-offs alike.
Dino Felipe - No Fun Demo (No Fun Productions)
After revisiting the review I wrote for No Fun Demo in September, I realized that it ended on a bit of a negative note that seemed as if I had shrugged off the record in favor of Felipe’s other work. On the contrary: No Fun Demo received more plays in my stereo this year than most records, getting increasingly addictive with each listen. Felipe’s blurred pop cocktail was more than just a charming take on lo-fi bedroom psych, but a sentimental gem that combines genre, nostalgia and solitude with smeared imperfection. His vast body of work may feature more digital, forward-thinking material, but No Fun Demo is among Felipe’s most intimate, and is certainly one of the more sincere records of the year.
Dusk + Blackdown - Margins Music (Keysound)
Dubstep may have mutated and proliferated far from its South London origins, but Dan Frampton (Dusk) and Martin Clark (Blackdown) emphatically re-attached the genre’s subsonic grooves back in the boroughs that birthed them with Margins Music. Anyone who reads Clark’s extensive, genre-defining blog knows the man has definitely done his homework, and it shows. As the genre off-shoots continue to spawn at alarming rates (apparently funky is the newest trend), Margins Music provides a powerful document of London’s urban multiculturalism, and goes well beyond typical electronic/club boundaries.
Earth - The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (Southern Lord)
The evolution of Dylan Carlson’s Earth reached its majestic peak this year, culminating in a brilliant, beautiful translation of the doom/drone-metal formula. Each track stomps confidently in a slow-motion haze, oozing Americana with plodded heaviness. By far the group’s most solid incarnation yet, and a breathtaking statement for such an influential, long-running entity as Earth.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Primary Colours (Goner)
It’s often hard for me to articulate why I like certain rock groups over others; when a group has “it,” they just have it, you know? Case in point: Eddy Current Suppression Ring. No frills, nothing special; but damn, this shit kicks. It’s great to get excited again about bare-bones rock ‘n’ roll, and this group of Aussies threw it down better than anybody. “I Admit My Faults” was on repeat for like three months.
Emeralds - Solar Bridge (Hanson)
Though the prolific discography that Mark McGuire, John Elliott and Steve Hauschildt have been cultivating since 2006 spans all varieties of the noise/drone tape scene, Solar Bridge marked the trio’s most pristine offering yet. Deftly melding Terry Riley’s organ swirls and kosmische musik’s spacious mystique with a thick cloud of mechanical lurch, Emeralds’ work here on their first official full-length transmitted the most intense gravity of any other avant/underground outfit out there.
Fat Ray & Black Milk - The Set Up (Music House)
It was a big year for Detroit producer/MC Black Milk. His second solo full-length, Tronic, dropped in late October, building further on the Dilla-esque production with his own mix of synths and soulful boom-bap. The problem with Tronic isn’t the music, though – it’s Milk’s mic skills, which aren’t among hip hop’s brightest. He nails it a bit better with the help of Fat Ray, crafting more addictive hooks and warmer beats on The Set Up than the choppier sound of Tronic. Both records reveal an artist that is progressing with leaps and bounds, though, gently pushing hip hop’s borders in positive directions. I’m stoked to see what he’ll come up with in 2009.
Sir Victor Uwaifo - Guitar Boy Superstar: 1970-1976 (Soundway)
I originally found a link to Mr. Uwaifo’s 1981 LP, Jackpot, earlier in the year, and gave it countless spins before I heard about stellar UK-label Soundway’s compilation of Uwaifo cuts. The Nigerian-born guitar maestro released some incredible art in the ’70s, and this release gives Uwaifo’s innovative blend of highlife, psychedelia, funk and soul the proper recognition it deserves. Endlessly enjoyable and dripping with excellence from start to finish.
The Hospitals - Hairdryer Peace (self-released)
Adam Stonehouse’s nightmarish expedition into noise-punk deconstruction gets the award for biggest mindfuck of the year by far. Sadistic, unhinged, and absolutely glorious in its instability, Hairdryer Peace is a bad-trip masterpiece that is utterly confounding, yet entirely cohesive in its borderless chaos. Not for the squeamish, and heavily-medicated listeners might need a seatbelt.
Young Jeezy - The Recession (Def Jam)
What could provide a more fitting soundtrack to 2008 than an album entitled The Recession? ATL MC Jay Jenkins hammered his thug perspective home with passion, mixing hyperbolic consumerism, patriotism, and tales of drug trafficking among grandiose beats and gruff delivery. Anyone who was on U Street in D.C. on November 4th can vouch for Jeezy’s representation: his salute to Obama, “My President,” could be heard pouring from car stereos and boomboxes from block to block. The song may sound ridiculous at first, but a closer listen reveals a stark account of the African American community’s continued struggle, even in the dawning era of America’s first black president.
2562 - Aerial (Tectonic)
Arthur Russell - Love is Overtaking Me (Audika)
Dr. Dooom - Dr. Dooom 2 (Traffic)
Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna (The Social Registry)
Giant Sand - Provisions (Yep Roc)
High Places - 03/07-09/07 (Thrill Jockey)
Indian Jewelry - Free Gold (We Are Free)
Jon Mueller - Metals (Table of the Elements)
Kevin Drumm - Imperial Distortion (Hospital)
Kemialliset Ystävät - Harmaa Laguuni (Secret Eye)
Pete Rock - NY’s Finest (Nature Sounds)
Scuba - A Mutual Antipathy (Hot Flush)
Stephan Mathieu - Radioland (Die Schachtel)
The Bug - London Zoo (Ninja Tune)
Tujiko Noriko/Lawrence English/John Chantler - U (Room 40)
1970’s Algerian Proto-Rai Underground (Sublime Frequencies)
African Scream Contest: Raw & Psychedelic Afro Sounds From Benin & Togo 70s (Analog Africa)
Audible Geography (Room 40)
An England Story: The Culture of the MC in the UK 1984-2008 (Soul Jazz)
Cosmic Baeleric Beats Vol. 1 (Eskimo)
District of Noise: Experimental Music From Washington, D.C. (Sonic Circuits)
Imaginational Anthem: Vols. 1-3 Boxed Set (Tompkins Square)
Life is a Problem (Mississippi)
Nigeria Disco Funk Special: The Sound Of The Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-1979 (Soundway)
Wierd Compilation Vol. 2: Analogue Electronic Music (Wierd)
Singles, EPs, 7”s, cassettes:
Belong - Same Places (Slow Version) (Table of Elements)
Boyzone / Clang Quartet / Jeff Rehnlund / Relay For Death - Recycled Music cassettes (RRR)
Goodwillies - Greenmachines For All the Childrens (Digitalis, 2008)
Martyn - “All I Have is Memories / Suburbia” 12” (Applepips)
[If I was ranking, this would be No. 1 — hands down]
Mayyors - Megan’s LOLZ (Mt. St. Mtn.)
Oren Ambarchi - Destinationless Desire 7” (Touch)
[Actually, the entire 7” series from Touch this year could be listed here.]
Ricardo Villalobos - Vasco EP Part 1 (Perlon)
Shackleton - “Death is Not Final” (Skull Disco), “Shortwave”/”You Bring Me Down” (~scape)
Wavves - Wavves (Fuck It Tapes)
Zomby - “Mu5h” / “Spliff Dub” [Rustie Remix] (Hyperdub)
Charlie Tweddle - Original Fantastic Greatest Hits (Companion)
Debris - Static Disposal (Anopheles)
Earth Roots & Water - Innocent Youths (Light in the Attic)
Sperm - Shh! (De Stijl)
Vladislav Delay - Anima (Huume)
By Cole Goins