Random Thoughts

2008 Year In Review

2008 is over, and overall I’d say it was a good year, though it kind of ended in a crappy way.  Kind of odd that in my first year in Chicago I attended one game at Wrigley Field, and it was a hockey game (another post on that coming soon).  As I like to do every year, I post my favorite CDs and movies and such of the past year.  So I’ll just go ahead and do that.

Top 5 Albums:

I said last year was really tough for picking top 5, and this year was even harder since I probably paid a lot more attention to music than I have in previous years.

1)  Frightened Rabbit The Midnight Organ Fight

For any of you who have spoken to me about music this past year, this is no surprise.  I continue to be affected by this album even after having almost the whole thing break my Top 25 Most Played on iTunes.  It is just an amazingly emotionally honest album, heartbreaking and beautiful.  You can read my full review I did earlier in the year here.  It’s not only my favorite album of this year, but possibly of the last 3 or 4.

2)  Sigur RosMeð Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

This also takes the cake for favorite album I cannot for the life of me pronounce.  I was one of the last people on the planet to get on the Sigur Ros bandwagon.  I had several friends tell me “you know, they wrote their own language for their music” to which I responded “wow, that’s the most pretentious thing I’ve ever heard.”  So with utter reluctance, I listened to Takk early in the year, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t love it.  So when this latest album came out, I picked it up, and was subsequently blown away.  It is just incredibly gorgeous and wonderful stuff, and easily the most accessible of all their albums.  If you’ve not given it a listen, you should.

3)  Mike Maimone Open Mic Nights, Empty Bottle Mornings

It’s ironic that his album is titled that, and I met him at an open mic night.  When we first crossed paths with Mike, we were a little taken aback.  This guy had so much energy and passion in his music, but such an unusual style that we nicknamed him “Psycho Clown.”  I was saying that if he wore a full clown suit, dyed his long curly hair red, and specifically hammered on the piano while wearing clown shoes, it would be hilarious, and oddly fitting.  As we attended more open mics that he was at as well, we slowly grew to realize that this guy was crazy talented, and a pretty incredible songwriter.  When he said he was making a full length album, I got a little excited, and it did not disappoint.  His stuff is heartwrenching, and yet so fun to listen to.  His songwriting is so tight in its emotion and its raw-ness, and then when you read the lyrics, you realize that he has a chaotic brilliance that’s hard to resist.  Drawing on some of his reviews, I would say he’s the result of the combination of Tom Waits, Randy Newman, and Cookie Monster. He’s also a pretty great guy.  If you’re in Chicago, and he’s playing, you would be very sorry to not check him out.  You can find this album on CDBaby.

4)  TV on the RadioDear Science,

I did an amazing 180 on these guys this year.  I heard their first album Return to Cookie Mountain, and I felt like it was the perfect kind of album for pretentious people to rave about, and no one else to understand.  There are a couple gem songs, and the rest are just so inaccessible from a sound point, that it was really hard for me to get into.  However, Dear Science, changed all of that for me.  This album has an edge to it that I felt was missing from the previous album, and the songwriting is just amazing.  But the key for me is that this album has a far more accessible sound, while not sacrificing any true musical creativity.  It really is a tremendous album from start to finish, with every song bringing something a little different to the table (Family Tree and Halfway Home being my two favorite tracks).

5)  ColdplayViva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

It partially pains me to put this on my list, as I kind of feel like Coldplay doesn’t really need my help, but this album is really quite fantastic.  As I listened to it more and more throughout the year, my affection grew.  I mentioned before that rhythmically this album is fascinating, and it still has that wonderful poppiness that anyone who likes Coldplay has grown to love.  You can read my full review of it here.

Honorable Mentions – Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs, Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid, This World Fair – This World Fair, The Hold Steady – Stay Positive, Rise Against – Appeal to Reason, The Weepies – Hideaway, Son Lux – At War with Walls and Mazes  (told you this year was tough)

Too Early to Tell – Keane – Perfect Symmetry, Snow Patrol – A Hundred Million Suns, Fall Out Boy – Folie A Deux

Favorite Completely Random Discovery – I’m From Barcelona – Who Killed Harry Houdini?

Theme Song of the Year

The first time I ever did this was last year, because there was a very clear theme song for me.  This year was a little tougher, so I’m listing the three that were my theme songs:

The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit
Have You Forgotten? – Red House Painters
Gobbledigook – Sigur Ros

Top Movie of the Year

1)  Dark Knightenough said

Favorite TV Show

Hands down It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Favorite Personal Moment of the Year

– Being at Grant Park when Barack Obama was elected the President of the United States.

Overall 2008 was a pretty good year, but it’s been overshadowed a little bit by recent events.  I hope that I can overlook those and remember 2008 for all it was.

So cheers to 2008.  I hope it was wonderful to you all.  Here’s to 2009!

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