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Red Cortez's Top 20 of 2008

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Photo via Red Cortez's ">Myspace

December is list-making season. And for us music journalists, it is a time to look back on scores of albums, reflect upon the music and recapitulate our favorites. But this year, just like the last, we took this opportunity to flip that tradition upside down, asking the artists that influenced us what influenced them. The prompt was not limited to albums that came out in 2008.

Red Cortez (formerly known as the Weather Underground)

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So here we are packing up to do a few rounds in the pacific Northwest with a band called Little Joy, whose record this year was one of our favorites. As I write this I am uploading the ipod for the road and I am thinking about our top records this year. Realizing our choices need brief footnotes. Some of these are releases of bands that we've toured with this year and have really left an impact in one way or another. Others are artists we saw or on the road, or somewhere down the road, or at festivals we played (we saw Sigur Ros when we played Bonnaroo this summer : beautiful). Still, drafting up a top ten for the year left us pretty pensive and with ceaseless uncertainty, but that delicate line was eased by choosing releases of the just this year. Honorable mention goes to Little Joy's record and Cesaria Evora cause I've been listening to that a hell of a lot. So here is our top 20 of 2008 (with the exception of Jelly Roll Morton, which is explained below).

Red Cortez - "All The Difference"

Don't worry it will change on the road, it always does:

TV On The Radio - Dear Science
The Walkmen, You & Me
Sigur Ros, Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
Etran Finatawa, Desert Crossroads ^
French Kicks - Swimming
Grand Archives - Grand Archives
V/A - An England Story: the culture of the MC in the UK 1984-2008
Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo De Cotonou - The Vodoun Effect 1972-1975
Dr. Dog - Fate
No Age, Nouns
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Bon Iver - For Emma, For Ever Ago
Jesus and Mary Chain - The Power of Negative Thinking
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
Spiritualized, Songs in A&E
Okkervil River, The Stand Ins
Delta Spirit, Ode to Sunshine
Jelly Roll Morton, The Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax*

*This is the one record not released this year. It came out a couple of years ago. Had to put it on this list because it was really influential on me. Matt of Delta Spirit raved about this when we were on tour with them and he really schooled me on Jelly Roll Morton through these Alan Lomax recordings

^This is a record that I got turned on to by our friend Andy, who is an editor and writer for Blurt Magazine. He kept telling me to catch them when they play in LA--so much so that I forgot to go when they actually came. After rehearsal one night in downtown LA, I went to Little Tokyo with a friend to get soup and there was a band playing outside of the Japanese American Museum. I was compelled to go and listen as it sounded familiar, sure enough it was Etran Finatawa! I caught most of the show and it was just beautiful! Funny how things work that way.

This last year Red Cortez rocked out at the Lobster Festival in the Port of Los Angeles and changed their name from the Weather Underground.