Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Five Underrated Albums from 2008

Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg and Curse. A Flagpole critic called this one of the overlooked gems of 2008. I wrote about it here. It's not a perfect album -- I think they could have dropped "Elegant View" -- but the band has a lot of talent, intelligence, passion, and promise. As a Southern band, the Colour Revolt also has an element of the blues in their music, and Baptist hellfire in their lyrics. Critics tagged their influences as Surfer Rosa and Pablo Honey. I can hear the first two U2 albums in there too, and I mean that as a compliment. If you haven't heard the Colour Revolt, there's a free mp3 at Fat Possum.

The Duke Spirit - Neptune. I don't think there was a harder-working band this year. They toured the US three times this year, supporting BRMC, the Eagles of Death Metal, and Scars on Broadway (wha?) Leila Moss has a stunning voice. The band's range recalls everything from "As Tears Go By" and "Somebody to Love" to "Gimme Shelter" and JAMC. Neptune was in the top 5 of 2008 at Under the Radar magazine, and at the Intellectual House of Pancakes. There's a live studio session here.

Evangelista - Hello Voyager. Since the Geraldine Fibbers disbanded, Carla Bozulich has made experimental and improvisational music on her own and with Nels Cline, Simone Massaron, and others. After a solo album called Evangelista, Carla formed a band of the same name with members of A Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You Black Emperor. Carla is known for her brutal honesty as well as the rough-edged richness of her singing voice. The songs on Hello Voyager are both confrontational and celebratory, regretful and hopeful. A number of the writers at Tiny Mix Tapes put this album on their year-end lists, Xiu Xiu put it on a Pitchfork guest list, and Resonator liked it; but I didn't see it recommended elsewhere as highly as it should be. There are some live Evangelista songs (and videos) available on the WFMU blog. Carla's website has lots of free songs from all phases of her musical career.

Giant Sand - proVisions. Someone once said that there should be a legal limit on who can make records, and that Howe Gelb should be one of the few allowed to do so. He's a great lyricist, and an underrated guitarist. His weathered voice sounds best when complemented by a female singer. In the past, Howe has sung with Juliana Hatfield, Victoria Williams, Lisa Germano, various Bangles and Go-Go's, and Falling James (who isn't a woman, but often dresses like one). On proVisions, Howe is partnered with Isobel Campbell (except on one track with Neko Case). Howe is backed by a drummer and acoustic bassist whose sympathetic playing rivals that of Giant Sand's former rhythm section (which became Calexico.) Fans of the Sand can also buy a Provisional Supplement.

Wintersleep - Welcome to the Night Sky. This was actually released in November 2007, but I heard NOTHING about this band until their infectious single "Archaeologists" surprised me on the radio one morning. So maybe you haven't heard them either. The band was nominated for a Juno Award in their native Canada, and some of the members are Holy Fcck buddies. There are sonic similarities between Wintersleep's sound and Snow Patrol or the Arcade Fire; but I think that comparison does Wintersleep a disservice, as their music is more subtle and less arena-ready than either of those bands, but every bit as accomplished. You can listen to a live recording of Wintersleep here.



At 1/08/2009 12:01 PM , Blogger PCarino said...

Thanks for the Colour Revolt recommendation--their Daytrotter sessions in particular piqued my interest and I downloaded some stuff from Emusic.

At 1/08/2009 5:46 PM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

Glad you liked them, Paularino. I didn't like their Daytrotter session so much, but I usually prefer the first version I hear of any song.


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