Wednesday, December 31, 2008

RIB's 2008 Album of the Year: Shearwater - Rook

Sometimes choosing our Album of the Year is a no-brainer, but not this time around.

Over the last few weeks, a couple of front-runners emerged but if you had asked us just a couple days ago which of our Top 3 - Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's Lie Down in the Light or Shearwater's Rook - would win out in the end, we'd have thrown our hands up in the air. All three have what it takes - Bon Iver's record is the year's warmest blanket, Billy's is one of the finest works of this decade's best songwriter and Shearwater's is as haunting and as deep as rock gets.

But this morning - decision day - we woke up and our winner was clear. No album this year was played more often, more diced and dissected, more quoted and proselytized, more treasured and enjoyed, than Rook. So much so that we've overdone it a bit - we're looking forward to the albums that will grab us in 2009 to give Meiburg and company a well-deserved rest.

All three of our favorite records of 2008 were introspective and gorgeous, but perhaps there was one element that gave Shearwater the advantage: Rook rocks. Not quite as much as its predecessor, Palo Santo, and not as much as we'd have liked it to - and not as much as we'd like the NEXT ONE to - but it was a nice change of pace to shuffle from Bon Iver's best track - Re: Stacks - and Bonnie Billy's standout cut - You Remind Me of Something - to Shearwater's knock-your-socks-off anthem Century Eyes or the ringing electric pulse of Rooks.

Only time will tell if Rook is still No. 1 years from now, but that's the beauty of music - and the risk of choosing an Album of the Year. It's also what makes the choice special - we might hate Shearwater in a few years, but we'll always have the memory of how much we loved them right now.

(Happy New Year!)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Vic Chesnutt & Elf Power: "Independence Day" @ Bottom of the Hill (11/11/08)

Decided to play around with iMovie.'s an audio clip of Vic Chesnutt and Elf Power playing Independence Day, live at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on Nov. 11, 2008, along with still photos (audio and photos taken with an iPhone). Both Matthew and Geoff G. attended the show, which was fantastic. Even met Vic briefly outside the men's room afterwards.

RIB's (of course belated) 2008 Album of the Year Nominees

A little late for Turkey Day as the tradition goes, we know, but here they are, in alphabetical order. As you can see, we kept it real short this year.

(A full-on audio podcast version, if you're interested, is available as well. Just email us or tweet @thebigm.)

Antony & The Johnsons - Another World

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Lie Down in the Light

The Magnetic Fields - Distortion

The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

Okkervil River - The Stand Ins

R.E.M. - Accelerate

Shearwater - Rook

Honorable Mentions:
The Baseball Project - Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails
Bowerbirds - Hymns for a Dark Horse
Vic Chesnutt, Elf Power And The Amorphous Strums - Dark Developments
Kimya Dawson - Alphabutt
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
The Fireman - Electric Arguments
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
The Innocence Mission - Street Map (EP)
Randy Newman - Harps and Angels
She & Him - Volume One