Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TOP 10 OF 2008

I know you're wondering to yourself, "Self, what could Shawnté possibly be listing here?" You may be confused and/or confounded, and that's understandable since, of course, I could very well be presenting any one of my well-researched lists of:

* Top 10 Cheeses of 2008
* Top 10 Words Created and/or Smooshed Together With Kathy in the Hackmart Office
* Top 10 Terms of Endearment Cooed Whilst Snuggling Eddie Cat Halen
* Top 10 Daydreams About Chocolate
* Top 10 Methods for Procrastinating When There is Work to be Done
* Top 10 Lusted-After Items from Anthropologie
* Top 10 Scenarios Cooked Up in Head for When the Day Comes that I Meet Joaquin Phoenix
* Top 10 Beats Created on Steering Wheel and/or Thighs While Driving To and/or From Work

But alas, you will have to wait another day to learn what might comprise those extraordinary lists. Instead, I'm going to go out on a limb here and gift you with my totally subjective list of my Top 10 Albums of 2008.

Surprise, surprise.

In No Particular Order
(Ok, in alphabetical order)

I wish I'd taken Caitlin's advice sooner and given these Carolina mountainboy-lovehunks a listen a few years back. Luckily, fate intervened when I discovered that an entire chunk of my LA posse was in love with these (mostly) brothers and their harmonious punk rock-meets-back porch holler. When Mo gifted me a "Favorite Avetts" mixtape (er, CD...), I was hooked...and just in time to be wooed at Red Rocks during the Monolith Festival. I would marry them all if I could. Long live the Avetts!

Dude, THANK YOU, Danger Mouse. For reals. The Black Keys were great before, but this album was positively stratospheric. Sometimes, when I closed my eyes, it was like Cee-Lo was right there, wearing a tu-tu and bowler hat, singing right alongside with The Black Keys. This was space-jam blues-rock at its best. Holla!

With Amy Winehouse up shit creek without a paddle or her Blake incarcerated, thank Wales for producing this little Lulu for the aughts. Her songs aren't anything new, per se, but with her vocal chords wrapped around that slinky 60's girl-group production, ain't no one gonna mind if she's sangin' the same old songs. Bonus points for the infectious title track and how I think of it every time we're recording the iTunes Weekly Rewind and David says, "What's happenin', Rockbarry?"

You gotta see 'em live. Leila Moss is a slinky little minx on stage, all legs and attitude. Oh, and fucking ridiculous pipes. The rhythm section steals my heart every time I give this CD a listen - the build-up in "This Ship Was Meant To Last" gives me goosebumps and would totally make my "Top 10 Beats Created on Steering Wheel and/or Thighs While Driving To and/or From Work" list if that was a real list. This album makes me want a set of floor toms in my bedroom.

Thank you, blogosphere, for bringing me Fleet Foxes. Listening to this album transports me to the forests ringing the outskirts of Portland, where I have never even been. It's that powerful! What made me even happier and further ensconced this band in my Yes Yes YES file was watching them live and realizing that if angels were bearded, wore flannel, sported hippie hair, and were total geekboys, this is how they would sound. Good lord, those harmonies! Good, good lord.

Whenever I listen to my husband (Jemaine) and his sidekick (Bret), it's business time. I had no idea such wickedly gifted musician/comedians existed on this lonely planet until the land below the land Down Unda unleashed this freakishly talented and gorgeously hot-like duo upon us. Are your nipples hard, Bowie? Are your rhymes bottomless? Is that why they're called business socks? Is it the Year 2000, the distant future?

This is one of those rare albums that makes me want to do some sort of delicious combination of dancing, playing the drums, and making sweet dirty love. In fact, after seeing them live, I kind of wanted to make sweet dirty love to Jamie Hince, because about three chords in on their opening song, he started looking ugly-pretty like Tyra always says on ANTM. I love blues-dance-electro-rock. I really, really do. I don't care if it gives me fugly rock musician goggles.

In the efforts of full disclosure, my name is on this CD packaging, and about 9 months of my life was put into promoting this damn album. But you know what? I fucking LOVED this album. Syrupy sweet Beatles-esque Zeppelinified dancey-dancey pop rock n roll to soothe my soul. Even though half of it is in Japanese, I still sang every word, even if it sounded like "lame in like I did it, same on I three days punt" when I sang the Japanese parts. I still don't understand why "Everybody Needs Somebody" didn't end up on an iPod commercial. Damn the damn.

Oh, Nick, you sexy menacing man, you. I thought you topped it all with Grinderman. Clearly, I was wrong. Here, you bring back some of that dirty carnival barker-meets-seductive señor magic you did so well in the past, and allowed the Bad Seeds to grind out the rock. I know that I'd probably have nightmares if you sang me to sleep, but I wouldn't mind one bit.

Do these guys ever make non-genius music? If so, they must hide that shit away because this album, like their others, blew me away with the first song, "Halfway Home," and just kept on going until the end. Walls of noise, layers of sonic fuzz, loud hints of disco, and ridiculously smart lyrics...and even some Massive Attackian whispers, like on the addictive "DLZ." Plus, it's so much fun to say "Tunde Adebimpe."


BIRDMONSTER - From the Mountain to the Sea: San Franciscan Fugazi folk rock

BON IVER - For Emma, Forever Ago: Enters Northwoods Wisconsin cabin a heartbroken boy, emerges a heartbroken man

BLITZEN TRAPPER - Furr: Like snuggling under a fleece blanket with a stubbly-faced mountain boy

THE BREEDERS - Mountain Battles: Because they didn't give a fuck about critics, they made this avant-garde delight

THE CURE - 4:13 Dream: I love you, Fat Bob. Marry me.

DEVOTCHKA - A Mad & Faithful Telling: Haunting gypsy chamber pop for lovers

THE EXPLORERS CLUB - Freedom Wind: Carolina boys channel Brian Wilson & the gang to marvelous effect

GNARLES BARKLEY - The Odd Couple: Eerie-hop from two of the freakiest minds in music

MY IMAGINARY FRIENDS - This is My Knife: A honey-voiced Erin Armstrong wins with heart-on-sleeve and fingers-on-piano

THE PRETENDERS - Break up the Concrete: Chrissie still has the mojo, baby!

THE RACONTEURS - Consolers of the Lonely: The White who?

SCARLETT JOHANSSEN - Anywhere I Lay My Head: Listen, haters, I liked it.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE - soundtrack: Made me want to scoop up everything A.R. Rahman's ever scored...

TEDDY THOMPSON - A Piece of What You Need: A late find, but a hot one - Richard & Linda's baby boy has The Gift

So...now get all of this on iTunes or at Amoeba! NOW!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It’s been a good one, I must say—probably the best in memory. As always, it’s been a year of changes and adjustment, but it’s also been a year of incredible good fortune and fun:

1. Having the best family & friends in the universe. I win.

2. Participating in the birth of my dearest friend Christy’s baby boy, Oliver. Speechless.

3. The whirlwind Denver music festival adventure that was Monolith. Now Ric Baca, The Avetts, and Sputnik mimosas hold a dear place in my heart.

4. Being home in Wisconsin. Camp & GC Crew reunions were topped only by a mother-daughter day in Door County, complete with fish boil and sunset on the shore of Lake Michigan.

5. Watching my job at HackTone Records segue into two amazing new opportunities, allowing me to remain pleasantly swamped under a deluge of music every day, all day.

6. Voting for Barack Obama and for the first time, being overwhelmed with emotion as I marked my ballot.

7. Getting a handle on this gluten-sucks bizness and watching my body return to full health.

8. Waking up each morning to Eddie Cat Halen, the most loving ball of fur to trot on four feet.

9. Driving across these great states with MaryEllen & Max, through rainstorms, dust devils, hurricanes, missing headlights, monsoons, and handicapped-accessible rest stops in Mississippi. We made it – with style, and more than a few mementos.

10. Spending my 30th birthday at a cabin in Big Bear with some of the best people I’ve ever met, who created for me the best birthday treat I’ve ever eaten, and even provided shiny unicorn-themed party hats.

11. Riding a beach cruiser around the gorgeous streets and alleyways of Charleston with the two most lovely ladies, on the loveliest spring day – then chowing mushy, salty boiled peanuts on a curb in our skirts, bikes at our sides, totally carefree.

12. Returning to New York after two years’ absence to vague terrorist threats, alone time at the Met, gluten-free pizza, Gencarellaville, scenic Montclair, my old blue casserole dish, and a lot of ridiculously great people.

13. Enjoying Disneyland 5 times in 12 months. This needs no further explanation.

14. Being very pleasantly surprised at the power that is Patti Smith, and remembering that music can often make times and friends far away seem completely within reach.

15. Experiencing a 4 Non Blondes weekend in Encinitas, and being in awe of both Henry Herms’ tortillas and Henry Herms, himself. Always knew Mo came from great stock, but that made it crystal clear.

16. Interviewing my dream man, Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords. We briefly touched hands while I asked him dumb questions about banal subjects for a magazine that wouldn’t care. It was magical.

17. Discovering the Museum of Jurassic Technology on an In-N-Out-fueled day with Alex. Then going back with MaryEllen and discovering that the place was a WHOLE lot bigger than I realized.

18. Watching the Cure at the Hollywood Bowl. I cried during the encore (ironically, “Boys Don't Cry”).

19. Cracking eggs, singing karaoke, drinking tequila, rolling baklava, and delicately peeling off browned spit-roasted crunchy delicious lamb-bits during my first Greek Easter.

20. Enjoying a wine-and-cheese-fueled weekend spent at a faux-gypsy encampment nestled on a lake outside of Paso Robles.

So - thanks to all of you who were a part of all of these memories and the quadzillions more that would have taken up too much space here.