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Music with Jameson & Lone Star: 2008 Recap In One Hour - GO!

Submitted by RamonLP4 on December 30, 2008 – 3:01 amNo Comment
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Since I’ve been taking a holiday break from live reviews, I figure I should roll through some of the stuff that I’ve dug this year. This is not intended to be all-encompassing. Hell, right off the top of my head, I can think of great artists - Tambersauro, Sharks and Sailors, PLF, Young Mammals, Hearts of Animals, Buxton, Giant Princess, etc. etc. etc. - that I didn’t mention below. But the way I figured I’d approach this was like one of those games where you just say the first thing that pops into your head but with a time-limit of my Monday lunch break. So, for better or worse, here is what I could list off in that hour.

Best Album of 2008
Papermoons - New Tales (CD Team Science) -
“What’s that you’re listening to?”
“Oh Papermoons. I love this album!”
“Oh really?” (nod)
“You really like this?” (nod)
“…bummer.”
Ouch! OK so maybe one person I know didn’t take a liking to this but, for me, this was the high watermark of music released in Houston this year and would put it up against anything released in 2008 outside of the city; I’ll gladly take the label of being a wuss for thinking so. Much like last year where I obsessed endlessly about Hearts of Animals’ Lemming Baby (Link), Papermoons’ New Tales was never far from my CD player. This was an album I picked apart over and over again - stunned at how brilliantly constructed the whole thing is. I guess I’m a sucker for the juxtaposition of beautifully melodic songs with an undercurrent of sadness. With gorgeous harmonies, understated performances, and the idea that you can say a lot more without shouting this was an album with no equal.


Best EP of 2008

Balaclavas - Inferno (12″ Phonographic Arts) The CDR early in the year was amazing but dropping in on 140 Gram Vinyl with a silkscreened cover was just too sweet! Dark, moody, and even danceable with the Dub-esque bass lines - this was a band that sounded like nobody else in Houston. It’s the work of a band that clearly engages music as an artform but yet never goes so far as to see itself as precious. This was music as engaging and emotive theatre without succumbing to corny theatrics or self-important pomposity. If this wasn’t on your turntable in 2008 you sorely missed out on some of the most vital and original sounds of the year.


Best Trend of 2008

The humble 7″
- This year it’s hard to pick just one single. With the huge boom of local labels you could easily point to any label like Dull Knife, CutThroat, AG82, Ditchwater, Team Science, etc. or even self-released gems like the Monocles/News On The March split or the Welfare Mothers single and say “There, there that is the single of 2008!” only to reconsider as you flip to the next single in Sound Exchange’s local 7″ bin. So, I’m just throwing my hands in the air and not naming one for 2008! I was even thwarted in calling 2008 the year of the 7″ as 2009 looks to already be lined-up with an even longer queue of 7″ singles and EPs from more artists. So, God bless the humble 7″ and all who sail with her.

Best Thing to Rise from the Bayou in 2008
Wild Moccasins - (Photo Molly Rodriguez) Hard to believe that last February, Ruth Rodriguez (yay Ruth!) wrote a little story in The Daily Cougar about a band by the name Wild Moccasins (Link). Here it is - not even a year later - and they’ve probably become the most ubiquitous band on the scene. It’s not by accident or smarmy glad-handing that they have gotten to where they are - no, instead, if you’ve been following them this year, they’ve progressively gotten better and better by fine tuning their performances and their songs to the point where by the late summer they were pretty much an unstoppable force of H-Pop. Detractors may call them the Mickey Mouse Club but who needs those nay-sayers when you’re in a club or warehouse packed with dancing kids having a blast? That’s a rhetorical question, son. Look for their debut release in January 2009.

Best “Who the F*$# is This?” of 2008
Room 101 - If you walk into one of Roburt Reynolds performances (complete with stock film backgrounds and him collapsing on the floor), you’d think the guy was on leave from some lower level of hell but Chicago was his former residence and he has the aggressive post-punk angular guitar lines to prove it. And yes, while you’d think with the Wiggins, Hearts Of Animals, and so on, that Houston couldn’t possibly use another drum machine backed solo performer, Room 101 proves that the pool is still plenty big. Bonus points for utterly driving poor Shea Serrano over at the the Houston Press nutters with a horribly obtuse interview (link). Look for a 7″ in 2009.

Best Recorded Music You Never Heard in 2008
Jenny Westbury -
(Photo Mark Armes) When I interviewed Jenny Westbury earlier this year, she gave me a CDR of recorded material which was a huge eye-opener to her depth as a writer. Later, a good portion of the songs ended up on the AllStar Power Up CDR issued by Joe Mathlete but many of my favorites like Plight Of Leah and Gadget didn’t which is a shame because they are such good songs. That’s one of the problems you run into when you’re as prolific as Westbury, she’ll create these wonderful gems and then, like a sand mandala, they’ll just blow away. Lucky for you, I posted a few of these “lost” tracks on for Non-Alignment Pact - check them out here (Link).

Best Live Festival of 2008
Hootenanny - Here’s how I figure it. On paper this should have sucked. Cover bands?! Yuck! Nothing but glorified Karaoke! But here is the thing, this small one-venue festival blew the roof off the Mink - TWICE! The brainchild of Anna Garza, Ben Murphy, and ADR (I think Anna was the original organizer of the first), it worked because the bands are by nature NOT cover bands and what you got, for the most part, were interpretations and not mimicry. From John Sears playing Sam Cooke on an acoustic to the (then) Dimes and Mlee Suprean literally making the Mink floor shake as the Pixies, the first Hootenanny exceeded everyone’s expectations and fire code capacity. The second Hootenanny had two strikes against it - recreating the success of the first and a safer selection of artists covered - but those handicaps were quickly put aside as, from Marshall Preddy breathing life into tired Rod Stewart warhorses to the show stopping American Sharks take on The Cars, Twotenanny’s proved that the local indie bands were smarter and more clever than any naysayer could have expected. Sadly, there will be no Troistenanny.

Most Ungodly Smell of the Year
Rudyard’s Plumbing - Yes, currently there is a plumber working to fix the cause of this and it most likely is fixed by press time here but - woo - man, that was some heinous funk!

Best Reason to NOT Steal Money from the Walter’s Tip Jar
Roy - Just trust me. You really don’t want to do that!

Most Lovable Crank of 2008
Kerry Melonson (Satin Hooks) - When some people get on their high horse it is usually pretty annoying but somehow Kerry is able to get away with it because he has that gift where he can be an asshole without being an asshole which is a good thing as when the man gets on one of his rants about “what musicians need to do”, he gets epic.

Most Weaksauce Moment of 2008
The Proletariat Closing - Jeez hard to believe that back in February one of the best clubs in Houston read the Metro tea leaves and closed its doors forever. The final bittersweet show may have been headlined by the Fiery Furnaces but it was the locals (The Dimes, Hearts of Animals, and Elaine Greer) that really stole the show and why not? This was more than just a skanky bar with gross restrooms and a PA in need of repairs, it was our skanky bar with gross restrooms and a PA in need of repairs. For many of us, Denise Ramos’ little club will always have a place in our hearts.

———-
OK There’s a lot more that happened in 2008 but my self-imposed time limit is up. So, have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. See you in 2009.

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