’s 12 Favorite Posts of 2008

As we enter 2009, here is a look back at our favorite posts from last year — including Q&As and interviews with Tuareg freedom singers, Japanese-infused prog metallists, and a regretful folk rapper as well as columns, top-ten lists, Lollapalooza coverage, and our DIY venue spotlight.

1. Books to Give for the 2008 Holiday Season

Covering politics, comic books, nude self-portraits, futuristic architecture, and humorous basketball profiles, ALARM lists five awesome books as gift ideas for your musically, artistically, or culturally interesting friends.

2. Commentaries on the Golden Path: The Allure of Belonging to America

Columnist Andrew Williams analyzes his love of American creations and how they often conflict with his sociopolitical ideology.

3. DIY Venue Spotlight: The Dayton Dirt Collective

ALARM’s ongoing series exploring the best grassroots, non-traditional music venues profiles The Dayton Dirt Collective, a punk/experimental establishment situated near a local porn shop and church-supply outlet.

4. Lollapalooza 2008, Day 1: A Diverse Collection of Garbage

With pie chart in hand, publisher/editor Chris Force breaks down the whack hip hop, corny music for alt-jocks, sleepy singer/songwriters and more from Day 1 of last year’s Lollapalooza.

5. Q&A: East Coast Avengers Discuss War Obsessions, 9/11, and Fox News

Following national notoriety for the release of “Kill Bill O’Reilly,” politically outspoken hip-hop trio East Coast Avengers spoke with ALARM online editor Scott Morrow just before the historic 2008 election.

6. Q&A: God of Shamisen’s Shredding Cultural Collisions

Led by Tsugaru-shamisen master Kevin Kmetz, Santa Cruz’s God of Shamisen creates cultural collisions in the form of shredding, Japanese-infused progressive metal.

7. Q&A: Grails Guitarist Discusses Creating Album Art for Doomsdayer’s Holiday

Fusing Indian music, 1970s film noir, and psychedelic sounds into heavy acoustic and electric rock, Grails is a wonderful anomaly. Publisher/editor Chris Force recently spoke with guitarist Alex Hall, who created the artwork for the group’s new album.

8. Tim Fite: Tears of a Clown

Genre-defying folk rapper Tim Fite discusses the making of his most recent creation, Fair Ain’t Fair, an album of violent regrets recorded during one of the lowest emotional points in his life.

9. Tinariwen: Malian Rebel Rock and Roll

Members of the nomadic Tuareg ethnic group, Tinariwen sings of independence from the Malian government. And despite a lengthy international touring schedule, the group’s songs still tell the stories of its home — bleak tales of survival and cautious hope, desperation, and escapism.

10. The Top 10 Cover Songs by The Bad Plus

Hard-hitting jazz trio The Bad Plus knows how to pen pieces of proprietary gold. But its three members are also known for their genre-leaping renditions of rock songs, propelled by the chops of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King.

11. The Top 10 Parts of The Shape of Punk to Come

Just prior to an acrimonious breakup, Swedish hardcore group Refused released its magnum opus, The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts. It was as much an assault on capitalist philosophy as it was a striking stylistic evolution, and it did its best to advance hardcore in the way that its titular influence, Ornette Coleman‘s The Shape of Jazz to Come, did with jazz.

12. The Top 10 Songs by Faith No More

Faith No More didn’t revolutionize the rock landscape, but for much of its tenure, its members created some of the genre’s best mainstream songs while courting radio success. Along the way, Mike Patton and crew peppered other styles into their expanding repertoire, wedging lounge sounds, incoherent squeals, and even an angelic choir into songs that ran alongside pummeling rock tunes.

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