Archive for the ‘2008 in review’ Category

The Cinescape 2008

January 1, 2009

Video by Matt Shapiro

(Hat Tip: Slash Film)

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2008 in review: Matt Ralph’s best/worst

January 1, 2009

The Best

1. Honeymooning in Montreal. As unforgettable as my wedding was, spending a week in Montreal with my best friend was even more memorable. Chocolate croissants served at our door every morning, afternoon hikes, delectable meals and long walks around downtown and along the water at night. Not to mention, no computers, cell phones, work or other outside distractions for an entire week.  

2. Holding my niece for the first time. I have a really small family so the birth of my first niece/nephew and my parents’ first grandchild was a really big deal. Loudon Wainwright, Sigur Ros and Mojave 3 provided the soundtrack for this unforgettable moment in a Lexington, Ky., hospital in May.

3. Sherron Collins’ steal/three-point combo. Mario Chalmers’ shot will be remembered 100 years from now, but it was Sherron Collins’ acrobatic steal and subsequent three-pointer that gave Jayhawk fans everywhere hope, setting up Mario’s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing shot for the ages.

4. The Wire. Access to HBO for the first time in my life during the first part of the year led to my prompt addiction to the final season of a show deserving of the endless praise lavished upon it over the last five years. I’ve since gotten my fix watching 30 additional hours of the show’s earlier episodes and read a significant chunk of The Corner before I ran out of renewals at my local library.

5. The Phillies winning it all. Mike Schmidt was still roaming the hot corner when I last considered the Philies a rooting interest (I was rooting for a Blue Jays win from the upper deck of the Vet in the ’93 series), but by the time the reality of the Cubs’ latest failure had sunk in I was excited to see the Fightins’ end that silly William Penn curse. Better the Phillies than the E-A-G-L-E-S and all of their annoying fans.

6. Finally finishing the book “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music” by Mark Zwonitzer and Charles Hirshberg. One of the best books about music I’ve ever encountered, this meticulously researched, insightful and heartbreaking book took me a while to get through, but it was well worth the time investment.  

7. Parking the car and riding the TARC bus instead. Rising gas prices convinced me that I needed to figure out my local bus system back in April. A September wind-storm wiped out one of our cars, but we didn’t even blink at being a one-car family thanks to the monthly bus pass I managed to get my work to subsidize in place of a parking space in a nearby garage. My bus riding also helped me win $200 in a TARC contest and read a lot of books that had been collecting dust on my shelves.

8. Turning 30 and going on a surprise scavenger hunt set up by my wife where I serenaded a TGI Friday’s hostess with the song “I Believe I Can Fly,” asked a couple of bikers to hug said wife and arm wrestled a guy who kept telling me the bottle he was carrying was filled with iced tea.

9. Slumdog Millionaire. I know the movie doesn’t completely hold up to critical analysis and that parts of it resemble a music video. I know it’s probably one of the most overrated and overhyped films of the year. I know the dance during the credits is hokey and that some of the graphic design of the promotional pieces is gawdy. I don’t care. I loved every minute watching what I would consider my most enjoyable cinematic experience of 2008 (Young @ Heart takes a close second).

10. Damien Jurado’s “Caught In Trees.” It wasn’t what I’d consider the best album of 2008 and it isn’t even Damien Jurado’s best album to date, but “Caught In Trees” received more rotation on my iPod than any of the other dozens of albums I purchased, downloaded or received in the mail in 2008.

The Worst

1. The presidential campaign. Simply put, the campaign brought out the worst in almost everyone involved either directly or indirectly…on both sides of the aisle. Inane conspiracy theory, anti-Muslim rhetoric and blatant racism from the right. Vile hatred, equally as ridiculous conspiracy theory and sexism on the left.

2. Libby Dole. Her campaign released an attack aid against her Sunday School teaching opponent trying to link her to an atheist group. Fortunately, the sleazy ad, which featured an off-camera voice yelling “there is no God” in the finale, back-fired.

3. Manny Ramirez. Though I’m still not sure what is more annoying, Manny Ramirez or the endless media coverage that has elevated Manny to the Britney Spears of baseball status. Fortunately, the Phillies put an abrupt end to the inane chattering and speculation of a possible Dodgers/Red Sox match-up.

4. Philadelphia sports fans. Whether it was booing vice presidential candidates or flipping over cars celebrating the end of a long championship drought, the bad apple Philadelphia fans gave some backing to the claim that the city of brotherly love has the worst fans west of New York City.

5. Kosuke Fukodome. “America, Fuk yeah,” was the way one clever Cubs fan put it when news spread of the Japananese star signing with the Cubs. His three-run, bottom-of-the-ninth homerun to tie the game on Opening Day only added to the endearingly clever word play, but unfortunately for Cubs fans that was the highlight of an otherwise frustrating and annoying rookie season.

6. Hallelujah. Just when you thought one of the most covered songs of our time couldn’t get any more ubiquitous, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was featured on the British reality show X-Factor. The song has topped the UK charts and propelled Cohen’s original and Jeff Buckley’s rendition into UK’s top 40.

7. Astroland closing. Another thing that made Coney Island a colorful, kitschy tourist attraction has apparently bit the dust. Astroland closed its doors supposedly for the final time in September, but fortunately landmark wood coaster The Cyclone is going to be sticking around. 

8. The New York Yankees. It wasn’t enough that they signed CC Sabathia or A.J. Burnett. Oh no. They had to go and dump a wheelbarrow full of greenbacks on Mark Texeira too.

9. AIG executives. You know who I’m talking about. The ones that took a reported $440,000 spa trip a week after the company received an $85 billion bailout from taxpayers.

10. Josef Fritzl. The Austrian sicko who, we learned back in April, had sexually abused, raped and physically assaulted his daughter for three decades, holding her captive in a small cellar.

2008 in review: Scott Hatch’s picks

December 31, 2008

Top 10ish records (in alphabetical order)*

1970’s Algerian ProtoRai Underground (Sublime Frequencies)
Birchville Cat Motel – Our Love Will Destroy the World cd and Second Curved Surface Destroyer 3xcd
Earth – Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull deluxe LP
Johan Johannsson – Fordlandia
Julian Koster – The Singing Saw at Christmastime
Mount Eerie – Dawn, Lost Wisdom, and Black Wooden Ceiling Opening
Max Richter24 postcards
Shadow Music of Thailand (Sublime Frequencies)
sigur rosMeð Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
Cat Stevens – Harold and Maude Soundtrack, deluxe LP editions on Vinyl Records
Sun Kil MoonApril
Sunn o)))The Grimm Robe demos 3xLP re-issue
Ulaan Khol – I
Eddie VedderInto the Wild Soundtrack, deluxe LP edition on Vinyl Records

Stuff I gave 4 or 5 stars to on Netflix in 2008 and put into this list:

1. The King of Kong!!!! I don’t know of many documentaries I’ve ever seen that hold up so well upon re-watching. I’ve seen this probably 5 or 6 times and had many of my friends watch. This is a life changing movie. You will become an expert on Billy Mitchell. I think I may have first seen in 2007, but who’s counting. I did watch again in 2008.

It doesn’t matter much after number 1, but here goes:

30 days series
The Assassination of Jesse James
Big Love Season 2
Blades of Glory
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 6
The Darjeeling Limited
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Into the Wild
My Blueberry Nights – Wan Kar Wai
The namesake
No Country for Old Men
Shadows – cassavettes
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance – Chan-wook Park

Top live shows:

Sunn O))) in the Unitarian Sanctuary
Efterklang in the Unitarian Sanctuary
Rhys Chatham at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport
Earth at Johnny Brenda’s
Jimme Dale Gilmore at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago

* Scott excluded all releases on Burnt Toast Vinyl, the record label he runs.

2008 in review: Marty B’s favorite tunes

December 30, 2008

 

* PortisheadThird — I can’t stop listening to it once I put it on. The most engaging thing I heard all year.
* Dead CSecret Earth/tour LP — A pummeling return to form for these veteran noise makers from New Zealand.
* LeviathanMassive Conspiracy Against All Life — one-man American black metal that makes me air drum in the car, even though I totally can’t keep up.
* WireObject 47 — Wire continues to do it up right. Compared to the Read/Burn EPs, this album reminds me of Colin Newman’s other band, Githead, but with more punch.
* EarthThe Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull – A layered and beautiful album with some of the most patient musicianship I’ve ever heard.
* Randy NewmanHarps & Angels — Randy Newman still writes my favorite love songs and my favorite political songs. “Feels Like Home” is everything you wanted to say to that special person in your life, but couldn’t because you’re not Randy Newman.
* SpiritualizedSongs in A&E – A more restrained outing compared to “Amazing Grace,” but the songs are still there, especially “Borrowed Your Gun…”
* DestroyerTrouble in Dreams — I can’t stop humming various parts of this album to myself…at work…in meetings…on dates…it’s a huge problem.
* Harvey MilkLife…the Best Game in Town — A killer mix of sludge and classic rock with some really poignant moments.
* Big DipperSupercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology (reissued and unreleased material) — Woefully underappreciated ’80s band gets the reissue it deserves with a third disc of unreleased songs up to par with their best material.
* WomenWomen — A late addition to the list, thanks to a friend. Kind of like Animal Collective meets the Shins. Just a great listen.

I also fell in love (in some cases again) with the following older albums this year:

Bruce SpringsteenDarkness on the Edge of Town — The perfect Springsteen album. The songwriting is so crisp, but he hadn’t totally become the Woody Guthrie parody he would later become (which I still love).
Jerry Jeff Walker Viva Terlingua — Google the lyrics to “London Homesick Blues.” So good.
MadonnaConfessions on a Dance Floor — It’s ok to dance.
Diana RossDiana — Disco as hell.
Bathory Bathory — Classic, charging black metal.
Screaming FemalesWhat if Someone is Watching Their TV? — A current New Brunswick, N.J., band that just plain rips.

2008 in review: Jesse Eubanks’ best music, film, TV

December 29, 2008

 

BEST MUSIC 2008
The Verve – Forth
Sixpence None the Richer – My Dear Machine EP
Ray LaMontagne – Gossip in the Grain
The Lassie Foundation – Jetstreams / Three Wheels
Interstates – Run Run
Hammock – Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow
Coldplay – Viva La Vida

BEST FILM RENTALS 2008
Dan in Real Life
Run, Fat Boy, Run
The King of Kong
Gone Baby Gone
Once
Iron Man
Flag Wars
Jesus Camp

BEST TV 2008
The Shield – Season 6
Battlestar Galactica – Season 4
Lost – Season 4
This American Life – Season 1
The Office – Seasons 4 & 5
Ninja Warrior

2008 in review: Matt Stone’s best/worst

December 28, 2008

 

Best

1. Phils Win World Series. I’m a Red Sox fan (the Phils are my NL team) and as great as ’04 and ’07 were, it paled in comparison to being in Philadelphia, and surrounded by a celebrating community.

2. Rhys Chatham’s 100 Electric Guitar Orchestra in Williamsport. There was this kid who looked like Chunk from the Goonies rocking out. One of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

3. The Office. The Dwight/Angela romantic dynamic has surpassed the Jim/Pam relationship.

4. Discovering Chris Bell’s “I Am The Cosmos.” Don’t know has this one slipped through the cracks. One of the greatest albums ever.

5. Turning 30 and getting a kegerator in return. It is my best friend.

6. William Basinski at Issue Project Room. One of my favorite ambient artists ever. Blew away my perception of him when we brought him donuts and called us “the sweetest guys ever.” The mechanic Japanese space jump suit didn’t hurt either.

7. The Mitchell Report. Only to see Roger Clemens go down in a ball of flames.

8. White Rainbow @ Johnny Brendas. Revolutionary.

9. The Field-Sound of Light/Nordic Track Hotel. On the surface, pleasant dance music. Once you dig in, it’s so much more than that.

10. The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters. 2nd. Best. Movie. Ever.

The Worst:

1. Rhys Chatham & His 200 Electric Guitar Orchestra performing A Crimson Grail. Actually, it wasn’t performed. Due to poor planning and poor decision making, this would-be-historic event (which I was a part of…Alto 2, Section 2) was rained out. 

2. Joe Morgan/Joe Buck/Tim McCarver. These guys make me turn the sound off when watching baseball. How can former players no so little about the game they played?

3. Working during the World Series Parade. The entire city was off work that day. Except for me. 

4. Philadelphia Brewing Co. All of their “beer” tastes like sticks and dish water.

5. Manchester United Double. I hate them so much.

6. Giants win the Super Bowl. Worst sporting event ever. Finally made me realize that American football is BORING and fraudulent.

7. Woody’s. Because of a snafu at work, I had to go down to Woody’s (most definitely a gay bar) to record a DJ. The worst part was, I didn’t even get hit on.

8. The stuff they pass off as new and interesting music. I can’t even think of a good record that came out this year (in the indie community) that excites me. Vampire Weekend? Deerhunter? Band of Horses? BOOOOOO-RING. No thank you.

9. Manny Ramirez. I was desperately NOT hoping for a Boston/Dodgers world series. Can you imagine the field day they would have had with that?

10. Blue Dog Trivia Night. We are regulars. But our regular staffers, Linsey and Joel, don’t work there anymore. So now we don’t feel like special regulars anymore. Kinda takes the joy out of going to the bar on Tuesday nights.