Year: 2008

2008 – The Year in Recorded Musical Performances

2008 – The Year in Recorded Musical Performances

Music
A few months into this year I couldn't shake the feeling that 2008 just wasn't going to be the great year for new music that 2007 was.  And so here I am, about a week away from 2009, and I still feel the same way.  It wasn't a total wash mind you, as there was definitely some quality to be enjoyed.  So here's my take on the 2008 music year - good, bad, and ugly. The Best of the Best (Albums) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop) Yeah, this seems like an obvious choice, but it's also a damn good one.  I'm always up for listening to good vocal harmonies, and this band has them in spades.  The music is gorgeous to boot, and is a highly engaging blend of folk titans like CSNY, America, and early '70s Fleetwood Mac.  The vocal round of "White Winter Hymnal" is worth the price of admission
8 Christmas albums you need to own

8 Christmas albums you need to own

Listcruft, Music
Radio stations across America started playing Christmas (sorry, holiday) music at least a few weeks ago, but I refuse to acknowledge any of it until Thanksgiving dessert is done.  So now that it's officially safe to enjoy some holiday tuneage, I thought I'd pass along some of my personal favorites to you.  Because not all Christmas music is crap. #1 A Charlie Brown Christmas Vince Guaraldi Trio Let's just get this one out of the way now.  I defy anyone to hear any part of "Skating" or "My Little Drum" and not be instantly transported back to their childhood.  I can't say anything that hasn't been said a million times about A Charlie Brown Christmas, so I'll just implore you to add this to your collection even if you hate Christmas music.  Just be careful what version you purcha
Book report: The Once and Future Spy

Book report: The Once and Future Spy

Books
Having recently read the magnificent spy epic The Company for the third or fourth time, I decided it was finally time to explore some of Robert Littell's other works.  So for no particular reason I picked his 1990 novel, The Once and Future Spy (which Mrs. Suit informs me is a King Arthur reference). While TO&FS is not nearly as engrossing or rewarding as The Company, it was fun and engaging nonetheless.  Without giving too much of the plot away, the basic story goes like this: A CIA operative named Wanamaker is running an operation (code name Stufftingle) that may or may not be officially sanctioned by the agency, but is confounded by a leak.  To find and stop the leak he brings in a retired and somewhat disgraced former Naval Intelligence officer, one Admiral J. Pepper Toothacher
Exit Robert Plant, enter…

Exit Robert Plant, enter…

Music
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding but the current word out of the Led Zeppelin camp is that the group (co-founders Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, as well as new drummer Jason Bonham) don't much feel like waiting around for Robert Plant anymore and will take to the road without him. Jones also stated that this new singer will not simply be a Plant sound-alike, in order to avoid seeming like a tribute band.  So the big question is: Who will be the one to step into Plant's skin-tight bell bottoms?  While the safe choice would be someone with some strong pipes and a decent hard rock pedigree (but not necessarily a big name), a new contest by the good people at Popdose has given me inspiration to think outside the proverbial box. So indulge me for a moment, while I spitball a few
Can you handle another trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?

Can you handle another trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?

Movies
Of course you can.  At least you'll have to, since the movie's release is inexplicably being pushed back until July 2009.  Thanks a lot, ignoramus studio executives! Oh yeah, the trailer.  It looks even darker than the previous movies, which of course is to be expected, but the touch of humor at the end is most welcome.  What's not welcome is the continuing de-evolution of Rupert Grint (aka Ron Weasley), whose face looks like it continues to suffer the ravages of the full moon.
BFF + RM = GFS happy

BFF + RM = GFS happy

Music
It's a rare pleasure when one of your favorite bands gets back together to play, long after having broken up (well unless you're a fan of Kiss, Eagles, The Police, etc.).  It's rarer still when they spend their lone reunion show playing one of your favorite albums of all-time. But it happened for me when Ben Folds Five got together about a month ago for a one-off concert at UNC-Chapel Hill's Memorial Hall to play the entirety of their criminally overlooked swan song, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.  That's right, the whole thing - Ben's dad even came out to recreate his answering machine message as heard on "Your Most Valuable Possession."  How fucking cool is that? To me, the band sounds like they've never been apart.  The only giveaways are Ben hiding what appears t
Retrotisements: Halloween edition

Retrotisements: Halloween edition

Advertising, Retrotisements
It'll be at least another week or two before the usual bombardment of Christmas/holiday marketing kicks in, so let's take a minute to enjoy some classic Halloween-themed advertisements.  Not surprisingly, most of the ads you'll find are very costume or candy-centric, as Halloween is most definitely seen as a children's holiday.  Of course it wasn't always that way, and even today there are many visible vestiges of the holiday's pagan roots.  But I digress... Now I don't remember getting any Cracker Jack in my bag when I went panhandling for goodies (aka 'trick or treat').  And even if I had I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have had the gall to stand there and eat it right there on the person's front walk.  (Cracker Jack, 1954) Witchcraft?  No, that's just Procter & Gamble's patente
Album cover of the week: Wind & Wuthering

Album cover of the week: Wind & Wuthering

Album Cover of the Week
OK, it's been a few weeks (more like four or five) since the last entry in this series, but what can I say?  I needed a break I guess.  But now that summer is a distant memory and the first frost of the season is almost upon us (in central Jersey anyway), I found some inspiration. This week's featured album art is the 1976 Genesis classic, Wind & Wuthering.  And I think you can see why. Beautiful, isn't it?  Reminds me a lot of Fleetwood Mac's Bare Trees actually, another album I really like.  It fits perfectly with the slightly chilly mood of the album, which turned out to be guitarist Steve Hackett's last with Genesis (leaving the trio of Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford). And surprise - this is another Hipgnosis effort!  Doesn't look like one, does it?  Col
Geek alert: New Star Trek photos

Geek alert: New Star Trek photos

Movies
Courtesy the MTV Movies Blog, a half-dozen production photos from the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie are online for your geek pleasure.  Actually, they've just collected the photos from various other sites, and so I've done the same for you.  Enjoy! 1. Eric Bana as Nero, waiting to hear back from the casting director for the new reality series Romulan Ink. 2. A Federation ship identified as the USS Kelvin takes a wrong turn and ends up somewhere over Camden, NJ. 3. Ain't no party like a Federation party, 'cause a Federation party don't stop!  (l to r.: Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, Simon Pegg as Lt. Montgomery Scott, Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, John Cho as Sulu, and Zoe Saldana as Uhura) 4. Zachary "Sylar" Quinto shows some of that famous Vulcan