Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mike's Year In Review

As the year comes to a close, it's time for the year in review. I won't bore you with a top ten list or any profound insights, just a very brief overview of what caught my ears and eyes during the past twelve months.

BEST ALBUMS (Regional and National)

Do You Like Rock Music? - British Sea Power

This album is exactly why I love Brit-Pop. Packed with stadium ready anthems ("Waving Flags") as well as the down tempo shoegaze much like their genres predecessors ("No Need to Cry)". Garnering rave reviews from just about everyone (Pitchfork and Pop Matters, are you actually listening to the same album?), it was also nominated for the coveted Mercury Music Award. Even for those unfamiliar with their previous work, this is a good introduction to the band.

mp3: Waving Flags

Rook - Shearwater

My love of Austin music is no secret. Couple that with my penchant for overly sad, almost mournful sounding songs, and Shearwater's June release was bound to make my favorites. As usual, Jonathan Meiburg uses the natural world, particularly birds (guess that happens when you are an ornithologist), as recurring themes. The vocals are soulful, yet slightly emotionally pained, while the instrumentation blends beautifully underneath. Again, almost universally acclaimed by the critics (got it right this time Pitchfork and Pop Matters) and picked by many as a 'must have'. I concur.

mp3: The Snow Leopard

We Belong to the Sea - Aderbat

Philly has been producing notable music since the '50s soul scene. Now as the '00s come to a close, the city is seeing a sort of revival. Not to say the music hasn't always been here, but bands are breaking from the local scene and garnering national acclaim. For pure indie, I give the nod to Aderbat. I only recently became acquainted with their music midway through this year and within the last month received their latest release. I am completely enamored with them since. Not much on the typical rock & roll stylings and ego driven individual contributions, Aderbat fuses everything into a tight package of subtle musical wonder.

mp3: Make You Run

On The Ground - Peasant

The Philly folk scene has always been a mainstay, with the annual folk festival camp out every summer, just outside the city limits. One man band Peasant (Damien DeRose) is the brightest light out of the many beacons the city claims. Well crafted lyrics sung with timid, muted vocals over simple yet complimentary instrumentation, this is the album to spend a rainy day with or as a cool down from a frantic week. The album is going through another release, this time with wider distribution, just after the new year.

mp3: We're Good


I got to see quite a few shows this year. Some I have seen before, others I caught for the first time. Most were locals, with some big names sprinkled in. Of course, the biggest show for me was seeing Robert Smith do his thing. But that's the obvious choice. I'm here to give love to the locals that deserve it.

Papertrigger is the must-see band in Philadelphia. I said it last year, and this year I double my emphasis. SEE THIS BAND! Whether it is the belled ankle coverings that are constantly jingling from the stomping feet of their owners, the upright bass getting bowed and rocked back and forth, or the stand alone bass drum with "Papertrigger" in electrical tape stuck to it being pounded, something will catch your attention and make you listen. It is an experience that must be had. With a new album coming out next year, this band is only going to get bigger. Now is the time to jump aboard.

mp3: Fox Hunting

And speaking of experiences, this time of the almost religious, you will be screaming 'Hallelujah' after seeing the gospel/folk/bluegrass blend of Hoots & Hellmouth. After seeing both of these bands within a week of each other, it was so hard to chose my favorite, so I suggest you take my word for it and see them both.

mp3: Want On Nothing

And I wouldn't be an IA writer if I didn't give a shout to These United States. Their two shows at IOTA for our anniversary were absolutely stellar. Never one to mail it in, they gave it their all both nights and we thank them whole-heartedly. A repeat showing next year? God, I hope so.

mp3: If You Gotta Go, Go Now (live)

Now I am sure my co-writers will have different opinions (if they put something together), but that's why we have so many. If you just listened to me, you would only be getting part of the picture. I hope that you enjoy what we bring to you here at IA. Let 2009 be just as musically relevant as this year was. Happy New Year!



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