A few weeks before the holidays hit a fever pitch, we reached out to a few beer people and asked them:
"What was your favorite album purchased in 2008?"
We emphasized that this didn't have to be a new album -- in fact, 32's favorite music purchase of 2008 was 1996's Alabama Hip Shake by Quadrajets. Mine happened to be from 2008: Portishead's Third -- one of those albums that get me all skittish and jumpy. In a really good way.
Below are the twenty-odd answers we received, which shows an amazing range of musical styles: from African harp to classic blues to modern alternative to practically everything in-between. It's not like we picked the best of the responses: these ARE the responses, and they symbolize the great diversity and great taste of craft beer enthusiasts.
Enjoy! And Happy New Year!
"Probably Roots of Chicha - Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru. This music combines traditional rhythms with bouncy Esquivel-style cocktail-music styles. Crazy fun stuff, and coincidentally "chicha" refers to the traditional native beer of Peru - the music is named after it."
" I'm going with Tift Merritt's Another Country -- and not just to curry the favor of your North Carolina audience. In part because in a year that our travels kept us form seeing much live music we caught her in a live, and quite intimate, concert in Burlington, Vermont, in July. I kind of miss the rowdiness of here music with the Two Dollar Pistols but her songwriting keeps getting better....and what a voice."
Stan Hieronymus is the editor at Realbeer.com; a professional journalist for 40 years and amateur brewer for 15; and the author of four beer books, including Brew Like A Monk.
"I'm split on the answer. It's either Toumani Diabate's latest, The Mande Variations or my new discovery of the group Shpongle.
I guess I'll go with the former.
I had the rare and special opportunity to see Toumani in Stockholm this past July. We were taken by Mr. Wong, who we'd met at Stockholm's American craft beer centric bar Oliver Twist, which is owned by my good friend Jörgen Hasselqvist. It was a fantastic concert, and I can honestly say that it was probably the best and most inspiring live show I'd ever seen (and I spent eight years in the music business in Los Angeles). I was already a fan of Toumani's music, but didn't own that much of it...mostly stuff that was on compilations. I bought The Mande Variations and absolutely love it."
Greg Koch is the founder and CEO of Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, California.
The beer geeks of beerinator.com
We got a bunch of responses from this question. Check out the thread here.
The beer geeks of beerinator.com are total beer geeks who take beer very seriously.
"This is an easy one to answer: Amy Winehouse's Back in Black. Having seen her mug everywhere in the gossip sections (which I avoid) I assumed she was just another lightweight pop tart with substance troubles. But then my bride put "Rehab" and the title track on her Ipod and I was knocked out.
Like those two wonderful songs, Back is a masterpiece with an uncanny grasp of old-school soul and R & B, Winehouse-penned tunes packed with wry and provocative lyrics, and her immensely fresh phrasing and soulfully-swaggering-yet-fragile singing. And totally badass grooves, ace musicianship and a freakish neo-retro sound.
Plus, she balances the record's upbeat hipshakers with snakey treats ("You Know that I'm No Good") and a spare, dramatic (dig those strings!) ballad ("Love is a Losing Game") that sounds like a gem cut Etta James passed on in the Fifties.
Every time I play this disc I really dig it. I always grin and say out loud, "Wow!" I usually get up and dance and bust out a few Temptations dance steps. I marvel at how something this good became a hit in our ever-dumbing world.
Then I hit pause for a few moments to pray that the Good Lord has her back and will help her get straightened out. Ms. Winehouse is a rare one in my book, an endangered species, an updated throwback-style English IPA in a light lager world."
Marty Jones is the lead singer, publicity/marketing director and idea man for Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado.
Lift Bridge Brewery
"Dan Schwarz here of Lift Bridge. I love this idea! I will talk with the other 3 guys at our meeting tonight and get you our favorite of the year."
(the very next day...)
"We came to a consensus. Death by Sexy by Eagles of Death Metal."
Lift Bridge Brewery is a new production brewery based in Stillwater, Minnesota.
"I'm going to have to go with Modest Mouse "Lonesome Crowded West," though it's not a new album of theirs. I chose this for 2 reasons:
David (Merritt, COAST co-owner and brewer and husband to Jaime) says he would pick Blitzen Trapper Fur because it is good."
- the Grateful Dead Channel on Sirius doesn't count b/c it's not an album, but that is what I listen to the most
- I tried to figure out which cd I listened to the most and this was it.
Jaime Tenny is co-owner of COAST Brewing in North Charleston, South Carolina.
"My favorite recently purchased album would have to be Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not by Arctic Monkeys.
The reason I like it? It's good, fresh music talking about real stuff. The band is from Sheffield, U.K. -- a hard place to grow up in."
Sumit Vohra is CEO of Lone Rider Brewery, a new production brewery based in Raleigh.
Thomas Cizauskas (that's chiz-aus-cuz!)
"My favorite album that I purchased this past year? Hands-down, it would be my EBay purchase of an out-of-print LP: Cleo Laine performing Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire (1974, RCA Records).
She somehow manages to humanize the stark lines (lyrics, book, and music). Her treatment of the gorgeous final song is almost jazz-like.
A treasure from my college radio days, this is an amazing record that has never been re-released on CD or digital download. Its liquid mirror: Albert Le Coq Imperial Stout."
"Jorge Aragão: Jorge Aragão Ao Vivo 2"
"That was a tough question. Looking at my music, I realized I didn't buy much music this year. Maybe that's due to going overboard last year. :-)
I think I'd have to pick Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits (1993) as my favorite 2008 purchase. The songs on the disk date back to 1976, and later. It's probably just a nostalgic look at my college years and the years after."
David Turley is author of the beer blog Musings Over a Pint.
I just bought The Point Of It All, the new album from Anthony Hamilton. I've been waiting all year for it's release and it is quickly becoming one of my top ten CDs.
A Charlotte native, he's described as neo-soul and has appeared on American Gangster and the Dave Chappelle Show. Famous enough to be on R&B, but not enough to be played every 5 minutes on Pop. Lets hope it stays that way!!!"
Chris Mincey is the Triangle-area sales manager for Tryon Distributing.
"My favorite album of the year is My Morning Jacket -- Evil Urges. I love the layering, the 70s influences shining through, the rocking guitars, and the poetry. I'm Amazed is song of the year."
Danner Kline is the former president of Free the Hops, Alabama's grassroots group committed to raising the state's ABV cap on beer and modernizing the state's beer laws.
Adam aka the Beersage
"You can throw this in as an honorary mention as I did not purchase any music (or download any) this year. Yup, it's a been busy one! What I would recommend is an album called Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Skinny Antennas by Godspeed! You Black Emperor. I can't vouch for a majority of the album but the first 5 minutes or so of the record is that damn good. It is the first movement in a song called, "Storm." Grab a pair of quality headphones and focus for 5 minutes. You won't be disappointed."
Adam aka the Beersage runs the craft beer site beernews.org.
"As an XM and Sirius subscriber I rarely buy any new albums anymore. But the last one that I bought was the Foo Fighters' Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace. The Foos are my favorite band and I think they really know how to put it all together to rock it. I think their videos are funny as hell too. I actually was eating at Mortons at the table next to Dave Grohl and the band after their Charlotte show several years ago and was able to hear their banter...they are hilarious in person as well!"
Jason Gavin is the Southeast Regional Manager for Brooklyn Brewery.
"I think my favorite album that I bought this year is by Assembly of Dust. It's called Honest Hour and I really like the way this band sounds: a bit hippy jammy, but with some very good rock guitar solos and some loud and vocals with feeling."
Samuel Merritt is the founder and owner of Civilization of Beer, a craft beer education, events, and training company based in New York City.
"Slim's Cessna's Auto Club because they are about as original as Theobroma -- pushing the past clear into the future."
Greg Barbera is the Managing Editor of All About Beer Magazine.
"Radiohead In Rainbows and Nick Cave's new project Grinderman."
Patrick Morrison is the Circulation Manager of All About Beer Magazine.
"My favorite album "purchased" in 2008 is probably one that was actually given to me by my friend and local musician Mike Tumbarello (a.k.a. Baje One). He compiled a CD of local musicians in a group called Nuclear Family and burned me a copy...I've been listening to it in my car ever since!"
Shane Welsh is the founder, president, and brewmaster of Sixpoint Craft Ales in Brooklyn, New York.
"Lyle Lovett's newest, It's Not Big, It's Large. After all these years the category-defying quirkmaster can still yank me around. One moment I'm smiling and toe-tapping; the next I'm melting in a little weepy pool. Ah, Lyle. Dude just gets it all right."
Tammy Kennon is co-owner of Chip's Wine and Beer Market in Kill Devil Hills.