Monday, February 16, 2009

Holdin' Steady... And More On 2008

As noted in my Best of 2008 post, I haven't quite jumped on the Hold Steady bandwagon, another much-hyped band that I should probably like more than I do. Dunno, maybe it's those Springsteen by way of Bob Mould vocals that fail to win me over. Nonetheless, perseverence does sometimes bear fruit, and in this case, a listen or two later, I've ended up reaching the inevitable conclusion that "Sequestered in Memphis" (off Stay Positive) is one of the truly great rave-up songs of 2008. Great sound, great lyrics, and (maybe it's the lawyer in me) it's hard not to love a song with the refrain "Subpoenaed in Texas, Sequestered in Memphis." So the final burn of my Best of 2008 disc ended up subbing this great tune in place of Calexico (yes, a fine band, but their slow-burn Americana doesn't quite make for mix-tape fodder, at least not a primarily upbeat mix).

Here's the video:

Further reflections on the 2008 mix: The Drive-By Truckers' Brighter Than Creation's Dark probably does a better job of capturing the current economic mess better than anything else out there, and "Righteous Path" totally nails the zeitgeist (sample line: "More bills than money, I can do the math, [but] I'm trying to keep focused on the righteous path."

But the song that may be the charmer of the year is Vetiver's "Swimming Song," off the Americana-tinged all-covers collection Thing Of The Past. Can't say I've ever listened to much Loudon Wainwright III, who wrote the original (nor, for that matter, his various musically-inclined family members who seem to be all over the place these days), but, damn, if this song doesn't bring a wistful tear to my eye every time I play it...

Here's the original, not radically different from the cover, albeit a bit more folky than the bluegrass-Americana-pop Vetiver version:


At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too file The Hold Steady under "some awesome songs, but don't listen through the whole album much." I agree with your review of "Sequestered...". I also really like the tune "Magazines."

I don't understand why "Brighter than Creation's Dark" wasn't on more Best of 2008 lists. Every song tells is such a rich story with self-destructive characters painfully aware of their flaws.


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