… Let me start off by saying I’m generally not the type of person who
thinks you can break things down into black and white absolutes as
portrayed by best of the year lists. Generally when asked if I have a
favorite album or band I say no, I can name favorites, but not a
favorite. This is betrayed in some cases, such as the fact that since first seeing it upon video release I easily consider Donnie Darko my favorite film of all time. Another case of the favorites I have is The Great Gatsby – it has been my favorite novel since first reading it in high school. I’m not exactly sure how or why some things pull themselves
into so specific a class as to stand out above everything else, but
these two definitely do. However being that it’s not generally something I
dwell on I usually don’t attempt to write out a best of list for any
given year at said year’s conclusion.



However



April 10th 2007, GRINDERMAN, Nick Cave’s Bad Seed off-shoot band’s
self-titled first album was released and I knew the second I heard the
first note of that album that it would be the best album I heard that
year.

It was.

Thinking of this recently while reading other ‘best
of’ lists to get an idea of what I’ve missed this past year I decided to try
and compile my own. This decision was partly arrived at due to my
previous exclamation that Brad Anderson’s
TRANSSIBERIAN was my movie of the year. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t suspect this apparent need to name a movie of the year hadn’t manifested due to some of the borderline McCarthy-ist suspicion I’ve felt at not touting Christopher
Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT* as movie of the year, but it was definitely also due to the impact Anderson’s movie had on me when I first watched it. I think you could safely call it Awe.


Well then, apparently this new prediliction for choosing and list gathering has set in, so I’m running with it. Problem is, other than the film category, I’m swimming.



Books the reason is a no-brainer – I haven’t read too many new books this year, it’s been mostly catch up. The one that stands out though is one I have discussed here earlier: Chris Connelly’s CONCRETE, INVISIBLE, BULLETPROOF AND FRIED – MY LIFE AS A REVOLTING COCK. It was actually released in October 2007 I believe, but what the fuck, this isn’t the academy here. Close enough and probably the newest thing I’ve read so it wins. 



Musically is where I’m really having some problems. At the
beginning of the year when BAUHAUS’ return album GO AWAY WHITE was
released and I found that it was actually really fucking awesome, I
kinda had that same ‘this is it’ feeling I did with Grinderman. But
then ol’ Nick returned with another Bad Seeds album that, although I
love the last couple to varying degrees (well, Nocturama not so much)
was really more on point with what I loved about Grinderman. Over
the last couple days I’ve been holed up with a doozy of a sickness and
combing through the collection and internet lists and there is just
soooo much good music that was released this year that I do not know
where to start. TV On the Radio, The Bronx, Black Keys, Frank Black, Raveonettes,
Captain Jack, Jamie Lidell, The Melvins, the list goes on. The Portishead
comeback is up there, I almost want to give it album of year just based on the fact that I also think they out did themselves – to me it’s the only Portishead I think holds together as a perfect album instead of just a collection of alternately interesting or catchy songs that vary in degrees of awesomeness. And what about Zooey Deschannel and M. Ward’s She & Him which, despite being the ‘best of’ pick by douche bag mags like Paste, is actually really
fucking good.



Then there’s the stuff I’ve been waiting for like Underworld’s Oblivion
with Bells, Greg Duli and Marc Lanegan’s Gutter Twins, Kaiser Chiefs’
tour-pre-empting 3rd album, Mike Patton’s amazing score for the short film A
PERFECT PLACE. Then there’s the albums I didn’t realize had come out or have forgotten
about, like Brazilian Girls, Opeth (damn I love me some Opeth) and the
surprise of the year when I just found out last week that Prog metal
masters (I know that sounds bad but in this case it’s not) CYNIC have
just released a new album** which will no doubt climb very high very
fast, once I have the cash to purchase it.



Television doesn’t really factor in for me because I don’t watch it as
it airs, other than LOST, which is still, to me, the best show since
Twin Peaks. Granted I don’t really watch other shows because of the
stigma against tv that I have, and when I catch things in boxset form
there are others I like, such as BONES and of course FAMILY GUY, but
LOST is the only thing on tv that really gets me out of bed in the
morning, so to speak.



Now, if you haven’t had enough of my endless prattling and you have no
fear of all things nerdly, then here comes my assessment of ’08’s
comics.



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NERD PORTION – READ AT YOUR OWN RISK



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Comic book wise I know just where to start.

2008
saw the cancellation of one of the best new books in a while, or so I
felt, THE VINYL UNDERGROUND. I’ve spouted venom here before about that
though. I just want to offer a hearty ‘Thank You’ to Si Spencer, Simon Gane, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Kelly, Guy Major and the whole crew that gave us 12 great issues of that book. Keeps up the good work lads, I’ll buy whatever you do next.



Then there was Millar and J. Romita Jr’s KICK ASS which, in four
issues, has definitely lived up to all the billing as the best
superhero book ever (that might be a bit much, but it is really
freakin’ good)



Robert Kirkman’s THE WALKING DEAD remains my
the-instant-I-get-it-I-must-read-it book and I implore anyone not
reading it to go pick up the first two trades, read them and then tell
me you’re not hooked. IT’S THAT FUCKING GOOD.



I know I’m glad as hell I didn’t make a commitment to reading Marvel’s
bloated and apparently completely pointless Secret Invasion. I
generally don’t follow superhero books – I don’t  really even follow
titles or characters at all, having learned long ago to follow certain
writers instead. But with most of those writers I love having been
handed the reins to various Big Label, Big Characters over the last
couple years (Morrison essentially owns the DCU, an entity I’m sure
I’ve mentioned before here that I abhor, and Millar and Bendis the
Marvel U – I cannot believe BMB actually sleeps) the crossover events
that are always promised to (dramatic timpani drum roll) CHANGE THE (insert Company name here) UNIVERSE FOREVER MORE (drum roll takes us out in a fluster of Mel Gibson-esque dramatics) offer
a strange degree of intrigue for me these days. I will eventually read
Final Crisis, or Ultimate Crisis, or This Time We’re Not Fucking
Kidding Everyone Dies Oh Wait No They Don’t Crisis, whatever it’s
called, when it’s in trade, because I read everything Morrison does and
from the first two issues I perused at work on the comic rack I thought
even though I don’t have a redneck-in-Kohl’s idea about most of DC’s
continuity, it had that everything-is-coming down feeling GM does so
well with cataclysmic story lines. His BATMAN RIP however just ended
and without tripping spoiler wires on anybody, as it stands now I
pretty much didn’t like it at all. However, anyone who is a GM fan
knows that until you read his stuff in trade after it’s completion, it
tends to not make sense. The man is definitely a disciple of the ‘Big
Picture’ school of story telling.



Oh, and ’08 has been the year that I’ve kinda lost my ’07 lust for all
things written by Warren Ellis. I love the man’s writing, but I believe
he’s stretching himself a bit thin as of right now. DOCTOR SLEEPLESS is
still my 2nd fav every month (or whenever it comes out), and the
conclusion to BLACK SUMMER was awesome, but Anna Mercury and No Hero
seemed kinda reiterations of the previously mentioned two books. Oh, GRAVEL however has been consistently awesome in that Ellis depraved kind of
way, fighting it’s way to the top of my stack.


And finally I’ve mentioned David Lapham’s YOUNG LIARS here before and that’s still probably my Rookie of the year so to speak. Great book, even though I’m not really sure where the hell it’s going. That’s always a good thing.




………………..



* Again, just to call off the dogs, I really liked the film but left
feeling kinda let down and frustrated. Perhaps this was because I only
saw it once, perhaps it was because the hype machine was working
overtime on this one for about two years, or perhaps it’s because after
Ledger’s amazing performance any subsequent movie without his Joker is
going to pretty much be fucking pointless, so it was all for naught.



** Their first, FOCUS, released in 1993 is breathtaking and although a
prog-metal thing, also so good it transcends the trappings of the genre.