Year End Comments: 2008

This is where my year-end poll-related comments will eventually appear, once I get around to writing them. Past year's comments have been rather extensive: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002.


The Ballot

First things first. The ballot, which was due Dec. 24:

  1. K'Naan: The Dusty Foot Philosopher (IM Culture) 16
  2. William Parker: Double Sunrise Over Neptune (AUM Fidelity) 10
  3. The Roots: Rising Down (Def Jam) 10
  4. Vijay Iyer: Tragicomic (Sunnyside) 10
  5. Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: We Are MTO (Mowo!) 10
  6. Raphael Saadiq: The Way I See It (Columbia) 10
  7. Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Holon (ECM) 10
  8. Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway) 8
  9. Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar (Nonesuch) 8
  10. The Mountain Goats: Heretic Pride (4AD) 8

Didn't get an invite from Idolator this year.

The Rest of the List

I spent some time in December looking at early year-end lists, collecting notes on new and old music releases. My Rhapsody account ran out of gas back in October, and I haven't been buying, begging, or borrowing shit, so it's not easy for me to check out things that should be of interest.

Last year I tried splitting up my year-end list into jazz and non-jazz components. As of Dec. 23, 2008, the 2008 list looks like this:

The 2008 jazz A-list:

  1. William Parker: Double Sunrise Over Neptune (AUM Fidelity)
  2. Vijay Iyer: Tragicomic (Sunnyside)
  3. Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: We Are MTO (Mowo!)
  4. Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Holon (ECM)

  5. Rob Brown Ensemble: Crown Trunk Root Funk (AUM Fidelity)
  6. Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Summer Suite (Libra)
  7. Scott Fields Freetet: Bitter Love Songs (Clean Feed)
  8. Mostly Other People Do the Killing: This Is Our Moosic (Hot Cup)
  9. Kris Davis: Rye Eclipse (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  10. Vandermark 5: Beat Reader (Atavistic)
  11. Randy Sandke: Unconventional Wisdom (Arbors)
  12. Adam Lane/Lou Grassi/Mark Whitecage: Drunk Butterfly (Clean Feed)
  13. François Carrier: The Digital Box (Ayler, 7CD)
  14. Jorge Lima Barreto: Zul Zelub (Clean Feed)
  15. The Roy Campbell Ensemble: Akhenaten Suite (AUM Fidelity)
  16. Kenny Garrett: Sketches of MD (Mack Avenue) *
  17. Fieldwork: Door (Pi)
  18. The Soprano Summit: In 1975 and More (1975-79, Arbors, 2CD)
  19. Mike Ellis: Bahia Band (Alpha Pocket)
  20. Mike Reed's People, Places & Things: Proliferation (482 Music)
  21. Bill Frisell: History, Mystery (Nonesuch, 2CD)
  22. Anthony Braxton/Milford Graves/William Parker: Beyond Quantum (Tzadik) **
  23. Sonny Rollins: Road Shows Vol. 1 (Doxy/Emarcy)
  24. Ben Allison & Man Size Safe: Little Things Run the World (Palmetto)
  25. Patricia Barber: The Cole Porter Mix (Blue Note)
  26. William Parker Quartet: Petit Oiseau (AUM Fidelity)
  27. Cassandra Wilson: Loverly (Blue Note)
  28. Donny McCaslin Trio: Recommended Tools (Greenleaf Music)
  29. Ulf Wakenius: Love Is Real (ACT)
  30. David Murray/Mal Waldron: Silence (Justin Time)
  31. The Gust Spenos Quartet: Swing Theory (Swing Theory)
  32. Dick Hyman/Chris Hopkins: Teddy Wilson in 4 Hands (Victoria) %
  33. Satoko Fujii Trio: Trace a River (Libra)
  34. Jerry Bergonzi: Tenor Talk (Savant)
  35. Dave Douglas & Keystone: Moonshine (Greenleaf Music)
  36. Scott DuBois: Banshees (Sunnyside)
  37. The Microscopic Septet: Lobster Leaps In (Cuneiform)
  38. Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Proverbs for Sam (Boxholder)
  39. Steven Bernstein: Diaspora Suite (Tzadik)
  40. Oleg Kireyev/Feng Shui Jazz Project: Mandala (Jazzheads)
  41. Mary Lou Williams: A Grand Night for Swinging (1976, High Note)
  42. François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Jean-Jacques Avenel: Within (Leo)
  43. Raoul Björkenheim/William Parker/Hamid Drake: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 2 (DMG/ARC)
  44. Anat Cohen: Notes From the Village (Anzic) *
  45. Maceo Parker: Roots & Grooves (Heads Up, 2CD)
  46. Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Vol. III: The Croydon Concert, May 14, 1981 (1981, Widow's Taste, 2CD)
  47. Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition: Apti (Innova)
  48. Steve Reid Ensemble: Daxaar (Domino)
  49. Paul Shapiro's Ribs and Brisket Revue: Essen (Tzadik)
  50. Horace Silver: Live at Newport '58 (1958, Blue Note)

The 2008 non-jazz A-list:

  1. K'Naan: The Dusty Foot Philosopher (IM Culture)
  2. The Roots: Rising Down (Def Jam)
  3. Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway)
  4. Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar (Nonesuch)
  5. The Mountain Goats: Heretic Pride (4AD) **

  6. Drive-By Truckers: Brighter Than Creation's Dark (New West) **
  7. Old 97's: Blame It on Gravity (New West) **
  8. Les Amazones de Guinée: Wamato (Sterns Africa) **
  9. James McMurtry: Just Us Kids (Lightning Rod) **
  10. Jesus H Christ & the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse: Happier Than You (Jesus Christ Rocks)
  11. Tokyo Police Club: Elephant Shell (Saddle Creek) **
  12. Al Green: Lay It Down (Blue Note)
  13. Conor Oberst (Merge) **
  14. Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 (Columbia, 2CD)
  15. The B-52s: Funplex (Astralwerks) **
  16. The Hold Steady: Stay Positive (Vagrant) **
  17. Liz McComb: The Spirit of New Orleans (GVE/Sunnyside)
  18. Gabi Lunca: Sounds From a Bygone Age, Vol. 5 (1956-78, Asphalt Tango)
  19. Todd Snider: Peace Queer (Aimless, EP)
  20. No Age: Nouns (Sub Pop) **
  21. The Kills: Midnight Boom (Domino) **
  22. Kate Nash: Made of Bricks (Geffen)
  23. Jeffrey Lewis: 12 Crass Songs (Rough Trade) **
  24. Loudon Wainwright III: Recovery (Yep Roc) **
  25. Robert Forster: The Evangelist (Yep Roc) **
  26. Cephas & Wiggins: Richmond Blues (Smithsonian/Folkways)
  27. Duke Robillard: A Swingin' Session With Duke Robillard (Stony Plain)
  28. Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby (Stiff)
  29. Radiohead: In Rainbows (TBD)
  30. Toumast: Ishumar (Real World) **
  31. Dominique Cravic & Les Primitifs du Futur: Tribal Musette (Sunnyside)
  32. Alan Jackson: Good Time (Arista) **
  33. Jenny Lewis: Acid Tongue (Warner Brothers) **

For my year-end lists, I've gotten into the habit of listing vault music (previously unreleased old music) in with the compilations, but for here I've moved most of that into the lists above, leaving:

  1. Steinski: What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective (Illegal Art, 2CD)
  2. The Rough Guide to Congo Gold (1949-93, World Music Network)
  3. Kid Creole: Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1976-1983 (Strut) **
  4. The Complete Arista Recordings of Anthony Braxton (1974-80, Mosaic, 8CD)
  5. Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump: Original Heavyweight Afrobeat Highlife & Afro-Funk (1968-81, Strut) **
  6. Curlew: 1st Album/Live at CBGB (1980-81, DMG/ARC, 2CD)
  7. Princes Amongst Men: Journeys With Gypsy Musicians (Asphalt Tango)
  8. Dave Brubeck: 50 Years of Dave Brubeck: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-2007 (Monterey Jazz Festival)

Numbers

In 2006 I figured I had worked through 1075 albums -- 744 new, 331 old. A chart by grade shows 646 new albums, so that must mean that I had 98 unrated at the time (new only; not sure about old). By the same method, this year I have about the same: 1099 albums, but they've shifted toward new (877) and away from old (222), with 112 unrated new, 9 unrated old. Most likely the only reason the new went up this year was a burst of downloading at the end of the year. The drop in old mostly shows that I didn't pursue Recycled Goods very hard in 2007, which is one of the reasons I wound up dropping the column.

The following is an initial stab at a genre/grade breakdown table. The categories are somewhat arbitrary. In particular, country and blues lean toward the alt end of the spectrum, which means they could be filed under rock. Also, Latin is divided between jazz and world. The non-jazz skews toward the left, because I buy stuff there I expect to be good, and don't get much otherwise. The jazz is a more normal distribution, although compared to other genres it's probably skewed left also -- I don't run into a lot of bad jazz, and I rarely knock merely competent stuff even when it doesn't catch my fancy.

The green lines represent 2006 data.

GENREAA-3*2*1*BB-C+CC-TOT
Jazz 3 45 66137125 85 26 5 6 4502
Jazz 3 46 69136117 96 31 10 1 2511
Rock 1 23 7 4 5 11 2 1 54
Rock 3 16 22 25 24 25 5 4 2125
Rap 3 8 2 1 1 15
Rap 9 7 7 4 3 30
World 1 10 7 6 6 5 2 37
World 2 10 9 12 14 12 3 1 63
Country 5 1 3 2 6 17
Country 7 4 3 2 1 1 1 19
Blues 3 1 1 1 2 1 9
Blues 1 2 3 2 1 9
Folk 1 1 1 3
Folk 1 2 2 5 10
Classical 1 2 2 1 6
Classical 0
Soundtrack 1 2 3
Soundtrack 0
TOTALS 008094086152144114029008006005646
TOTALS 8 90115188167138 40 15 2 4767

Comparing 2007 to 2006 shows remarkable similarity in jazz. Rock, rap, and world raw counts grow, mostly the result of superficial downloading (although I have been getting more world music albums). Last year I tried breaking jazz, rock, and world down into several subgroups. I don't think there's a lot to be gained from that here.

Last year I also put together a section where I picked up Idolator's poll results and picked out the records I hadn't heard. Given my access to Rhapsody, plus a month spent downloading contenders, I've done much better this year. We'll use the Pazz & Jop poll this time. The top rated albums I haven't heard are:

  1. Battles: Mirrored 450 (45)
  2. Lil Wayne: Da Drought 3 262 (24)
  3. UGK: Underground Kingz 243 (19)
  4. Alicia Keys: As I Am 137 (14)
  5. Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris 135 (14)
  6. Bat For Lashes: Fur and Gold 118 (13)
  7. Ted Leo/Pharmacists: Living With the Living 118 (12)
  8. The Clientele: God Save the Clientele 115 (11)
  9. I'm Not There OST 112 (13)
  10. Jesu: Conqueror 112 (12)
  11. Dinosaur Jr.: Beyond 110 (12)
  12. Pig Destroyer: Phantom Limb 108 (10)
  13. Stars of the Lid: And Their Refinement of the Decline 105 (12)
  14. Devendra Banhart: Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Mountain 102 (10)
  15. Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet 99 (7)
  16. Little Big Town: A Place to Land 99 (6)
  17. Magik Markers: Boss 98 (9)
  18. Sloan: Never Hear the End of It 96 (8)
  19. Elliott Smith: New Moon 94 (10)
  20. The Dillinger Escape Plan: Ire Works 93 (8)
  21. Rufus Wainwright: Release the Stars 92 (10)
  22. Menomena: Friend or Foe 91 (9)
  23. Prodigy: Return of the Mac 89 (9)
  24. Black Moth Super Rainbow: Dandelion Gum 89 (8)
  25. Mark Ronson: Version 88 (9)
  26. Dirty Projectors: Rise Above 88 (7)
  27. Neil Young: Live at Massey Hall 87 (7)
  28. Baroness: Red Album 86 (9)
  29. Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge 84 (10)
  30. Aly & AJ: Insomniatic 84 (9)
  31. Amerie: Because I Love It 83 (8)
  32. Ween: La Cucaracha 81 (9)
  33. The Klaxons: Myths of the Near Future 81 (8)
  34. Ojos de Brujo: Techarí 80 (8)
  35. After Dark 80 (8)
  36. Patrick Wolf: The Magic Position 79 (8)
  37. Interpol: Our Love to Admire 74 (9)
  38. AA Bondy: American Hearts 74 (6)
  39. Fratellis: Costello Music 73 (10)
  40. Café Tacuba: Sino 73 (8)
  41. Freeway: Free at Last 73 (7)
  42. Fall Out Boy: Infinity on High 73 (7)
  43. Pissed Jeans: Hope for Men 71 (7)
  44. Stars: In Our Bedroom After the War 71 (6)
  45. Foo Fighters: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace 69 (8)
  46. Maximo Park: Our Earthly Pleasures 69 (8)
  47. Roisin Murphy: Overpowered 68 (8)
  48. R. Kelly: Double Up 66 (7)
  49. Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals: Lifeline 64 (6)
  50. Bill Callahan: Woke on a Whaleheart 63 (7)
  51. Paramore: Riot! 62 (7)
  52. Explosions in the Sky: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone 62 (6)
  53. The Weakerthans: Reunion Tour 62 (4)
  54. The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse 61 (7)
  55. Mary Weiss: Dangerous Game 61 (7)

Basically, I picked off almost everything I could find from the top of the list down to around 80. Beyond that I picked around more lightly. From 100-160 and beyond proved to be beyond my reach, with only a few records sampled. The poll goe son to about 1650 albums, with Carly Simon's Into White and Chamillionaire's Ultimate Victory among the more recognizable albums tied for last place.

Village Voice Jazz Poll Ballot

Earlier I had to settle on a top ten jazz ballot for the Voice poll (no sidebar piece this year):

  1. William Parker: Double Sunrise Over Neptune (AUM Fidelity)
  2. Vijay Iyer: Tragicomic (Sunnyside)
  3. Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Holon (ECM)
  4. Rob Brown Ensemble: Crown Trunk Root Funk (AUM Fidelity)
  5. Scott Fields Freetet: Bitter Love Songs (Clean Feed)
  6. Mostly Other People Do the Killing: This Is Our Moosic (Hot Cup)
  7. Kris Davis: Rye Eclipse (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  8. Vandermark 5: Beat Reader (Atavistic)
  9. Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: We Are MTO (Mowo!)
  10. Randy Sandke: Unconventional Wisdom (Arbors)