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Thursday, January 06, 2005  

Musical Octys
All in all, it turned out to be a pretty good year for music release. This is the toughest Octy for me to award because there is simply SO much good stuff out there, and I can’t ever seen to get a handle on even a small portion of it (as was evident last year when I overlooked the Shins who would have given Radiohead some stiff competition for the award.) I tried to really capture as much a possible this year, and as a result I had one hell of a time narrowing down my list of notable releases (I don’t even get to mention Modest Mouse’s superb “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” in this post.) That said, the runner up this year is SMiLE by the venerable Brian Wilson. I really wanted to give this disc top-honor, and by all means it deserves all the praise that has been heaped on it. The penultimate album of sixties-psychedelia didn’t quite have the (commercial) impact it would have had 30 years ago, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still (way) ahead of its time. The album’s best features are the way it plays with time and space, both in the technical construction of the songs and the feeling that your listening to a time-capsule of a record, newly unearthed but already antiquated. I still kinda feel like I’m missing the big picture when I listen to it, like there is so much going on that is over my head, but the real beauty of the disc is that at its very core it is a pop album and therefore it is actually very accessible. You’d do yourself a favor by giving the disc a spin (or three.)

The Octy winner this year is a bit of a dark-horse, and even now I’m amazed that I’m awarding the Octy to the Ditty Bops’ premiere album and not to a more conventional disc. But there you go, I just couldn’t NOT give them the award. Their debut album is just THAT good. Infectious, witty, saccharine-sweet, heart-breaking, exciting, makes-you-want-to-dance-even-though-you-don’t-know-how; the CD has spun more times in my car, Julie car, our house, our iPods, and at anyone’s house who would let us put it on than anything else in recent memory. I feel wonderfully lucky that I was able to see them live at what must be the most intimate club in LA just before they launch into the stratosphere of stardom. For those who didn’t heed my earlier advice to purchase the album a month ago (or didn’t get one as an xmas gift from me,) The Ditty Bops is a masterful mixture of folk-rock, rag-time, post-punk, and singer-songwriter, all wrapped up with a big bow and tied by producer-extraordinaire Mitchell Froom who lends a warm, polished sheen to the album. I could go on-and-on about this record, so save me the trouble and GO FRIGGIN BUY IT (if you don’t I swear I will do a track-by-track review of this disc during the month of February.)

The Honorable Mention for this years award goes to the Shins: Oh Inverted World. Yes, I realize this disc “dropped” in 2001 but my thinking here is two fold: the album had TWO tracks on the Garden State soundtrack disc (which was HUGE this year,) and it is my god-damned award I was going to give it to Chutes Too Narrow since I didn’t discover that until this year but figure if I’m going to cheat, I might as well give it to the better of the two albums. SO there it is. I’ve sung the Shin’s praises several times in the past, so I’ll keep it brief now. The Shins fucking rock.

posted by JMV | 1/06/2005 04:07:00 PM
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