This time of year there's no shortage of lists, everywhere you turn you're hammered with Top Ten and Best of 2008 harangues.
Me, I'm not going to waste your time raving about Portishead, TV on the Radio or Vampire Weekend's CDs. Why bother? I'd rather turn you onto great music that slipped between the cracks.
My favorite album of the year was JD Souther's "If The World Was You." JD was most famous for co-writing a bunch of 1970s era Eagles tunes, but this new CD demonstrates the Detroit-born, Amarillo, Texas-raised musician hasn't dried up in the intervening decades.
The new CD, recorded live in a Nashville studio, has a dark, brooding sound. JD's accompanying musicians are serious players. But it's the writing that kept this disc in heavy rotation in my house. There's a bit of the late, great Warren Zevon influence in there, so if you're a fan of 1970s Southern California rock If the World Was You would definitely be worth a listen. It's at least as good as Randy Newman's excellent "Harps and Angels" CD that was also released this year.
A friend turned me onto Lizz Wright's "The Orchard" CD and I couldn't get over her straight from the heart vocals. This woman can sing, this kind of depth of feeling is rare nowadays, but Wright comes from a different tradition. … Read more
*From the Free MP3 archive* Hailing from the flats of Omaha, Neb., Conor Oberst delivers angst-filled songs with a quavering-yet-melodic lyrical style. He has the range to captivate a festival crowd with just his voice and an acoustic guitar as well as engage his dedicated following with a full-on band.
Everyone is always complaining about how nobody dances at shows anymore, and it's getting on New York's nerves. Fortunately, Brooklyn's Oxford Collapse takes on the dance-punk challenge, and now people are putting their drinks down and dancing around like uninhibited 10-year-olds. Imagine Spike Jonze directing a Gang of Four video.
FREE MP3 FROM THE ARCHIVE. Forget their influences--people now want to know what bands Fall Out Boy have inspired. Their latest efforts have scored them prime cover shots on all the top magazines (such as "Rolling Stone"), and although it's hard to remain punk after such praise, they still get props among the hardcore.
Irreverent classic "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" gets a remix and new satirical company on Dr. Elmo's new holiday EP. In addition to threading scratches into that hokey number, Elmo serves up some fresh contemporary fare: see especially the wistful "Prison Without Martha" and the beat-laden "Night Before Kwanzaa."