The Riff - December 2008

Cavalcade of Best Album of 2008 Lists Shows Little Agreement

| Wed Dec. 3, 2008 3:12 PM EST

Jeez, I guess I was in a turkey-induced coma over the holiday and missed some of these, but Stereogum was on top of it: Brit mags Uncut, Mojo and Q have released their Top 50s, while stateside rag Blender opted for a Top 33, just to be cute. So, are any critical trends emerging, and is any one album this year's In Rainbows, a juggernaut of critical praise?

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Note To Shelby Steele: Stop, Honey. Just Stop.

| Tue Dec. 2, 2008 7:33 PM EST

Poor Shelby Steele, writing the same book over and over again. The same utterly irrelevant and embarrassingly misguided book.

This time, he called it A Bound Man, but it's still just his one-hit wonder with a new cover.

XLR8R's Top Albums of 2008 List Speeds Out In Front

| Tue Dec. 2, 2008 4:46 PM EST

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San Francisco- and New York-based mostly-electronic music magazine XLR8R has just released its Best Albums of 2008 list, and while they wimped out and didn't rank their 25 titles (come on, hippies!) their choices are so much better than the last magazine's list I'll give them a pass. Noted Party Ben faves Flying Lotus, Beach House, Portishead, M83 and Tobacco xlr8rare in the mix, as well as intriguing choices from Atlas Sound, Daedelus, The Notwist and Spiritualized. Interestingly, they've rejected Lil Wayne (with hip-hop represented by Bun-B and Dizzee Rascal) as well as TV on the Radio (gasp, swoon). And of course there's the requisite super-obscure ridiculousness from Syclops, whose MySpace page announces huffily, "We are sorry, we don't do interviews or tour." But you have an awesome MySpace page! The magazine's inclusion of Yelle is a little iffy, since Pop Up came out in France in September, 2007 (remember me talking about Tecktonik last year?) but my own list archive has a few inaccuracies as well so, you know, glass houses.

Anyway, props to the '8R, and check out their full (and alphabetical—sigh) list after the jump.

"Black Friday" Not So Great for Music Industry

| Tue Dec. 2, 2008 4:02 PM EST

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Is that still an "industry," even? Billboard is pointing out that while many retail sectors are breathing a sigh of relief after post-Thanksgiving weekend sales rose slightly, the world of music you pay for didn't do so well. First up, high profile album releases from Guns N' Roses and Kanye West both underperformed expectations, with G N' R's Chinese Democracy selling around 250,000 copies (compared to expectations of 300-700K), and Kanye's 808s and Heartbreak moving 425,000-450,000 units (while many expected double that). Maybe people just don't like those albums? Unfortunately, it looks like music sales in general suffered as well: stores like Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart showed declines of up to 40% compared to last year.

Thoughts on Milk

| Mon Dec. 1, 2008 4:06 PM EST

mojo-photo-milkcastro.jpgBraving the round-the-block lines at the Castro theater for an opening-weekend showing of Milk seemed like the right thing to do (see my cell-phone photo of post-screening mayhem at right), and the hour-long wait was made kind of enjoyable by the almost celebratory atmosphere of the crowd, which turned practically giddy once we filed in. Milk is a work of art, a reality-based fiction, but after a year of stumbling across the film crew all over town, and finally sitting in a theater across the street from Harvey Milk's old photo shop, one couldn't help but feel a sense of being a part of history. Milk is a good film, with very good performances, but its story and message are so pertinent today, I couldn't even try to remove that from my consideration of it as a movie. So, there are a few spoilers after the jump.