2008 music report

Well, it’s time for this year’s bulletin on the music I’ve been listening to over the past twelve months, courtesy of my Last.fm-meets-OCPD audioscrobbling habit.

In my previous posts in this series (covering 2006 and 2007, respectively), I only reported on the “new” (to me) artists I’d come across during that year. This year, though, I’m going to look at both the new artists, and the overall top ten, for reasons that may become obvious.

So first up, here are my top ten artists by number of tracks listened to during the past year:

Top ten artists for 2008

Last year’s top 10 new artists are well-represented, with Eels (a late entrant last year after I bought Blinking Lights in late December), Cat Power, Rufus Wainwright, Neko Case, the New Stenographers (who have grown on me over the past year) and Aimee Mann all staying in this year’s overall top 10.

Number 11, incidentally, was the Beatles, with 253 plays. Quite impressive given that I first got into them back in 1980…

New artists for 2008

Chumbawamba are not technically a “new” artist – I’ve had Tubthumper in the collection for a decade – but their recent albums are such a departure from their earlier stuff, and made such an impact on me this year, that I’ve given them a wildcard entry into the chart. I’ve also included Shearwater and Bon Iver, who were way down the field, just to show how far down the field they were. If you follow.

It has to be said that, in contrast to 2006 and 2007, 2008 was not an epic year for discovering new artists. Only four new artists – the National, Chumbawamba, the Magnetic Fields and Fleet Foxes – beat the Beatles in my overall chart for the year.

But let’s not be churlish: those four bands are all absolutely superb. In the end I can hardly complain about a year which introduces me to four artists of that quality. And the others are all pretty good: just less earth-shattering in their impact than, um, the Beatles…

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10 Responses to 2008 music report

  1. Rob says:

    Try not to dismiss these suggestions just because I like Bon Iver (teasing, of course), but you should give some of these a listen:

    Dr. Dog – Fate
    Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
    Old Crow Medicine Show – self titled
    Anathallo – Canopy Glow
    Okkervill River – The Stage Names

    I think, based on some of your other faves, you might enjoy a few of these.

  2. J Random Hermeneut says:

    None of those “new bands” are Canadian. I’m sorely distressed by this turn of events. Return from whence ye came?

  3. Devona says:

    I think it’s funny that you have essentially written a blog post about how much you dislike Bon Iver. I’m also surprised that anyone likes Chumbawamba. I’ve never bothered to give them any notice since their first album was kind of given a campy one-hit-wonder status when I was in high school. I trust that you like good music so I wonder if I’ve written them off too soon?

  4. Devona says:

    By the way I’m not all that thrilled with Bon Iver either. It’s more of Rob’s thing.

  5. J Random Hermeneut says:

    How did Bon Jovi rank? Ahead of Bon Iver?

  6. John H says:

    Devona: it’s not that I dislike Bon Iver, just it hasn’t really made much impact on me yet.

    As for Chumbawamba: “Tubthumper” may have been their first album to get a US release, but they’d been around for a good decade and a half before that. They started out as an anarchist post-punk band in Leeds; Tubthumper was then their commercial sell-out to pay their mortgages (). However, in recent years they’ve shrunk in size (down to four members) and their latest albums are in much more of a folk music style – acoustic instruments, harmony singing, etc. A real contrast with their earlier stuff.

    Recommended albums: The Boy Bands Have Won, A Singsong and a Scrap. Good songs to check out include “William Francis” and “You Can (Mass Trespass 1932)” off “Singsong”, and “Add Me”, “Unpindownable”, “Sing About Love” and “All Fur Coat And No Knickers” off “Boy Bands”.

    JRH: Funny you should mention it, but Bon Jovi have yet to trouble the scorers…

  7. Jeremy says:

    I’ll second Rob’s recommendation of Old Crow Medicine Show. Not that my opinion should matter much – the only reason I’ve even heard of some of the bands you mentioned is because you’ve mentioned them before. Well, I guess I’d heard of the Beatles.

  8. B. Udral says:

    Eels are great. Ben Folds is the only other artist whose albums I’m playing as much. Magnetic Fields are very good.

    I’ve heard the Chumbawumba comment enough I’ll have to give them a serious listen. National looks like another band to check out too.

  9. Is The New Stenographers a side project of some kind, or is it the equivalent of a row of asterisks?

    Contrariwise, be aware that the Magnetic Fields have a tendency to change their/his name, and are also Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies, the 6ths, and plain old Stephin Merritt.

  10. John H says:

    Distingue: yes, as I mentioned in my 2007 report, having three children of seven and under means my wife and I tend to refer to them as the Stenographers, to avoid unfortunate questions from bat-eared children……

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