It's kind of hard to hear Oliver laughing in this one over Avery's laughing. So fun that she enjoys it as much as he does!
In other news, I'm getting my gall bladder removed tomorrow (thurs). So, here's hoping for a easy procedure and speedy recovery! It's been bugging me for a while and at first, they said they couldn't get me in for surgery until April. But, I was a 'squeaky wheel' and got a cancellation spot. So, if you're reading this between 8:15 and 10:30 Colorado time, shoot a little prayer up for me!
Avery's birthday party is this weekend (on a sidenote... go Cards!!). So, lots of pictures of our big 4 year old to come!!!
Hope all of our midwestern friends are thawing out after the big freeze! We'll be sending some warmer temps your way soon!
To begin with, I want you to know that the winner this year is definitely not as clear-cut as it has been in years past. A quick recap of the winners from recent years (with iTunes links, if you're interested):
2004: "Who We Are Instead" by Jars of Clay
(An amazing album by one of my alltime favorite bands. This album was sort of a return to awesomeness for these guys, and made me love them more than I ever had before. If you've not heard it before, it's a low-key rock album, with a slightly southern feel, sweet elec. piano and organ on a few tracks, and good thought-provoking lyrics.)
Honorable Mention: "The Beautiful Letdown" by Switchfoot, "Redhead" by Bleu, "Feels Like Home" by Norah Jones
2005: "Nashville" by Josh Rouse
(This album flat-out blew me away right from the outset, which is saying a lot for a pretty low-key album by a not-too-flashy singer/songwriter. There's not a bad song in the bunch, and some of the catchiest and/or prettiest songs I've ever heard. I kind of liked Josh Rouse before this album, but I've loved him ever since.)
Honorable Mention: "Haughty Melodic" by Mike Doughty, "In Your Honor" by the Foo Fighters, "Guero" by Beck
2006: "The Dust of Retreat" by Margot and the Nuclear So & So's
(What a fantastic find! The station manager at my school, PHHS, kept telling me I'd like these guys, and I finally listened to him sometime in the autumn, and I didnt' listen to hardly another album all year. An awesome blend of acoustic guitar/folky feel with a whole bushel worth of other instruments, giving it a very unique, sort of mysterious, feel. The balads on this album are some of my favorites, ever.)
Honorable Mention: "Subtitulo" by Josh Rouse, "Plans" by Death Cab for Cutie, "Ben Kweller" by Ben Kweller, "Some Cities" by Doves
2007: "Oh! Gravity" by Switchfoot
(I was hesitant to buy this album by one of my former favorite bands, after I was let down on their previous release. But thank goodness and Bob Thompson that I gave this one a chance, because it sort of became my soundtrack for life as Steph and I were pursuing the big Colorado move. The lyrics on several songs are amazing motivators to take life by the reins, and the balads are beautiful, and the rock songs, well they rawk.)
Honorable Mention: "Memory Man" by Aqualung, "Amos in Ohio" by Kyle Andrews
So now here we are at 2008, and here's the deal... This year gave me lots of really good albums, but no real standout. In the past couple of years, the winner was either a new band that blew me away and changed my life, or an old favorite act that returned to glory with a new fantastic album. But this year, well, it was good, but nothing clear-cut. So I don't wanna bum you out before we finally hit the meat of this blog post, but that's the facts. This is why I had to think so long and hard about it, and I did come to a decision that I do feel good about. The weird part is that I really liked several albums, so the winner could have gone a few different ways, but it was odd that nothing took hold of the award and said "This is mine, sucka!" So without further ado, here's what I've come up with for 2008...
These are the last 2 of the 4-part set of solo EPs from Switchfoot's lead man. These probably would have been my album of the year, except that I got the first two in 2007, and the fact that there are 4 different albums made me a little less excited about each subsequent album. In fact, each one is great, and I simply love the overall feel of these acoustic but still well-produced songs of depth by a great songwriter. If you haven't heard any of this, don't worry about whether or not you like Switchfoot, but please go listen to these. Now. Seriously.
Tracks of Note: "House of God, Forever", "Your Love is Strong"
"Narrow Stairs" by Death Cab for Cutie
I started getting into these guys over the past couple of years, and they've really grown on me a lot. I was looking forward to this album, and it didn't disappoint. I got it a couple weeks before I saw them in concert at Red Rocks, which wsa freakin' awesome! So it's hard for me, actually, to decide whether I really love this album or I really loved the concert or, most likely, both. Parts of this album are a little spooky and serious, and other parts just plain rock - in that nerdy way that only Death Cab is capable of.
Tracks of Note: "Cath", "Long Division", "No Sunlight"
These guys had a great album back several years ago, but have sort of disappointed me since then. So when I got this new album at the library - notice that I didn't even trust them enough to go buy it - I was really pretty blown away. It's a lot harder than the old stuff I loved, but still retains a lot of the melodic qualities that make them great. There's a lot of musical surprises, I think, plus some really catchy tunes. Good album, and a really pleasant surprise to get to listen to an old favorite again.
Tracks of Note: "Leader", "Do the Panic", "Raise the Dead"
I just got this album as a Christmas present, and so it's giving me a problem that several albums give me every year. When I've only had an album for a week or two, there's really no way that it can make itself seem as 'important' as an album that's been impacting me for several months. Also, though, I don't want to jump the gun and throw something on the list just because I'm enjoying it a lot in its initial few plays in my CD player. Will I still be enjoying it as much in a month or two? Anyway, I think that this album, by a guy who's becoming one of my favorites, has the staying power to make this list. It's a little lighter than his last one (which is an album that I looooooved) but I think that's okay. He's still basically a serious lyricist, and it's nice to just have some easy-to-like-in-any-mood songs, plus some nice horns here and there.
Tracks of Note: "On My Knees", "7 Keys", "Nothing Else Matters"
So anyway, I realized that she's great, and that her albums always grow on me, but that she hadn't released an album that I initially liked in a while. So this year when Steph gave me this album for father's day, and I liked it right from the outset, I knew I was in for something special. It grew on me as much as her other albums have, but since I already liked it, the growth was growth into a love for a truly great album. It wasn't a standout for album of the year, because Aimee Mann has been such a mainstay with me for so many years, and because her songwriting is so simple that it doesn't always jump out at you. But I feel good about this choice as the winner, because it's a great album, and because it was so fun to enjoy an Aimee Mann album right away this year, instead of having to wait a couple years to realyl appreciate it.
Well, congratulations if you stuck around to read this whole thing. I hope there was something interesting in there for you, and that maybe you even find a song or two you like out of all of this. Talk to you again in a year.