Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008: Music

Without much preamble:

Albums Released in 2007:
Alegranza, El Guincho
Sleep Forever, The Big Sleep
At Mount Zoomer, Wolf Parade
Venus on Earth, Dengue Fever
Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Stay Positive, The Hold Steady

Albums Discovered/Re-Discovered in 2007:
Brightblack Morning Light, Brightblack Morning Light
Comicopera, Robert Wyatt
Strange Geometry, The Clientele
The Body, The Blood, The Machine, The Thermals

Still Processing:
Vivian Girls,
Vivian Girls
Alight of Night, Crystal Stilts
HLLLYH, The Mae-Shi
Analog Africa No. 4, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou
Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, David Byrne & Brian Eno

2008: Movies

Movies enjoyed (and recommended!) in 2008, both old and new. I have not seen Frost/Nixon or The Wrestler yet, but the best movie I saw this year is Milk. List below, caveats at the end:

Highly Recommended:
Man on Wire
Slumdog Millionaire
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Encounters at the End of the World
Planet B-Boy
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
There Will Be Blood
(the last two technically from 2007)

Also Recommended:
Gran Torino
War, Inc
The Wackness
Tropic Thunder
The Flight of the Red Balloon
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Role Models

Enjoyed on DVD/Internet/Airplane/etc.
Inside Man
Southland Tales
Into the Wild
Gone Baby Gone
Dogday Afternoon
The Visitor
Baby Mama
Flight of the Conchords (TV)
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (TV)
Casino Royale

Missed (i.e., to catch or rent)
The Band's Visit
Paranoid Park
Frozen River
Pineapple Express
Hamlet 2
Rachel Getting Married
City of Ember
Tell No One
Synecdoche, New York
Cadillac Records
The Wrestler
The Class
Waltz With Bashir

No really incredible movies this year, but a fair amount of quality overall.

2008: Books

Sadly, I've had nowhere near the opportunity to read as much quality literature as I would like this year, less time and focus to write about the things I've read, and I have only a handful of real stand-out recommendations. The two best books I've read this year are Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson and The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.

I certainly hope (heck, resolve!) to pick up the pace of reading and writing this year. Until then, here's the list. And always, very few actual 2008 releases, since I like to read in paperback:

Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
The Easter Parade, Richard Yates
Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson
Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris
Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell

The World Without Us, Alan Weisman
The Trouble With Diversity, Walter Benn Michaels
Brand Simple, Allen P. Adamson
The Long Tail, Chris Anderson
The Substance of Style, Virginia Postrel

Jim Shepard's collection of short stories Like You'd Understand, Anyway deserves mention for a few excellent stories in the collection ("The Zero Meter Diving Team," "Pleasure Boating in Lituya Bay"), but uneven quality throughout. Shepard's collection suffered from plots, characters, and scenarios that were over-imagined, forcibly too unique and consequently, made it hard for me to achieve any real empathetic connection. I'll completely damn Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You with the same criticism, as well. A collection I fully expected and hoped to like, but one that was altogether too indulgent in its quirkiness for its own good.

Well, so much for 2008. The pile of books for 2009 is already a two feet high, so it's time to get going...