As I look through iTunes, these are the top five albums that I bought this year, irrespective of release date:
- The Hold Steady, Stay Positive (tracks: “Ask Her for Some Adderall,” “Slapped Actress,” “Stay Positive“)
- The Drive-By Truckers, Southern Rock Opera (tracks: “Zip City,” “Dead, Drunk and Naked,” and, of course, “Let There Be Rock“)
- The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound (track: “Great Expectations” )
- Against Me!, Reinventing Axl Rose (tracks: “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong,” “Baby I’m an Anarchist,” “Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious“)
- TV on the Radio, Dear Science (tracks: “Crying,” “Dancing Choose,” “Love Dog,” bonus sentimental video)
I also bought most of The National’s back catalog, and picked up a huge amount of uncollected KRS-ONE tracks. Oh, and the soundtrack to Juno was fun, and led me to Jeffrey Lewis’s It’s the Ones Who’ve Cracked That the Light Shines Through. The Counting Crows album was, I thought, better than its reception, but I am pretty old. The DBT’s newest album, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, is also terrific. (And they’re playing in CT in 3 weeks!)
My favorites from this year include Dear Science, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, and The ’59 Sound, but, really, the album of the year in our house was Stay Positive, a CD we wore out playing in the car. “Ask Her For Some Adderall” will always be the song of 2008 for us. (And, as I’ve written elsewhere, there’s nothing quite like hearing your 5-yr-old belt it out at maximum volume, nor developing a tradition of pulling up to kindergarten in the morning just as the final section of “Constructive Summer” kicks in: “I went to your schools / and did my detention / but the walls were so gray / I couldn’t pay attention.” A. liked the line about “Saint Joe Strummer” so much she bought me the 4-hour documentary about him, The Future Is Unwritten, for Christmas.)
Beyond The Hold Steady, the 5-yr-old also enjoyed the Barenaked Ladies’ kid-friendly release, Snacktime, as well as Justin Roberts’s Pop Fly, and Kimya Dawson’s Alphabutt. Favorite tracks: “Ask Her for Some Adderall”; DBT’s “Bob“; Beefy’s “I’m No Superman“; Ozzy Ozbourne, “Iron Man“; and Dawson, “Alphabutt.”
Movies are expensive when you factor in baby sitting. I suspect the best movie we saw at a theater was Tell No One, and we probably had the best time at Iron Man. (I’ll give you that The Dark Knight is a better movie, but it seems inarguable that Iron Man is more fun.)
It looks like the best movies we rented were United 93 and No Country for Old Men.
Like everyone else, we thought Wall-E and Kung-Fu Panda were the best children’s movies, with Bolt right below that. I suspect that if the 5-yr-old were typing this, he’d rate Star Wars: The Clone Wars pretty highly. I fell asleep during the Horton movie, and refused to see the Madagascar one, since I’d fallen asleep during the original.
The best book I read to the 5-yr-old this year was Simon Armitage’s Sir Gawain & The Green Knight, followed by H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds. 20K Leagues under the Sea wasn’t as successful, because we had a bad translation.
The worst things I read him: The novelizations of the Star Wars & Indiana Jones universes are just astonishingly bad–and they’re badly copyedited, to boot. Here’s hoping that the H. G. Wells helps the boy improve his taste, or I might have to start reading him Neuromancer or something, and he might be a little young.
Tomorrow I’ll round up the things I read more or less professionally.